QA 50! Thoughts at sea

A funny thing happened at the Philosophy Café last month. I got lost. We all set sail on a conversation about “sadness”, but I didn’t know what they were talking about. My mind was clear and present. I just couldn’t relate, couldn’t get a grip, couldn’t participate. And the good ship “we” sailed on without me….

The ethics and politics of life: An interview about philosophical counselling

“But if they’re interested in being able to work out their life, with someone who is going to keep them company, keep them safe, and not do anything to them while they’re doing that, then they stay. And then we work.” Ran Lahav interviewed me and several other participants at the recent 13th International Conference on Philosophical Practice in…

Archives of The Bus (#JWTC2014 Archives of the Non-racial)

Did you miss the bus? Do you miss the bus? Here are two next-best things. My talk at Kalk Bay Books about my trip and the ideas that grabbed me is here. And the documentary film by Tjasa Kancler and Kirk Sides, featuring interviews with many of the participants, speakers and organisers, is up on Vimeo here.

QA 49. A motley cruise? (JWTC 2014: Archives of the non-racial)

A motley crew is a cliché for a roughly organized assembly of characters. Typical examples of motley crews are pirates, Western posses, rag-tag mercenary bands, and freedom fighters… characters of conflicting personality, varied backgrounds and, usually to the benefit of the group, a wide array of methods for overcoming adversity. Traditionally, a motley crew [that]……

New essay: PHILOSOPHICAL COUNSELLING AS A PRACTICE OF EMANCIPATION

This paper has just been published in Philosophical Practice, the journal of the American Philosophical Practice Association. You can find it here  and there … PHILOSOPHICAL COUNSELLING AS A PRACTICE OF EMANCIPATION Helen Douglas, Philosophy in Practice, Cape Town Abstract: This is a second ‘field report’ of a Levinassian philosophical counseling practice. The first part elaborates the practice by…

QA 44. Thinking about dignity

dig ni ty [L. dignus ‘worthy’] n. the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect “Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources, by doing things with your own bare hands – on the spot, properly and beautifully. You can do that even in the worst of the worst situations, you can still make your life elegant.” Chögyam…

QA 43. The meaning of transgression

But the poet’s task, Kafka says, is to lead the isolated human being into the infinite life, the contingent into the lawful. ~ Anne Carson The contingent: what sommer happens to be and could just as well be otherwise. South Africans drive on the left side, Canadians on the right. Some people wear black for…

QA 42. Notes on “Useless suffering”

A brief reading of the essay by Emmanuel Levinas Phenomenology What is the lived experience of suffering? To an extent, it’s like any other sensory experience, like seeing green or tasting sweet. What sets suffering apart is the way it is too much to bear. We can’t get on top of it or get hold…

QA 40. Apr 2013. The ignorant emancipated philosopher

Last week I attended “Phenomenology and Its Futures”, the inaugural conference of the South African Centre for Phenomenology – and a splendid conference it was! I spoke on “Philosophy as a practice of emancipation”. Followers of this blog will know I’ve been beavering away at this for a while. The paper described my philosophical counselling practice…

QA 39. Feb 2013. I am, therefore I think

“We have a duty to change our mode of thinking,” said David Harvey in a 2010 talk on the crises of capitalism, and I’ve been chanting it ever since. Recently, someone took me to task. “Do you really believe thinking changes anything?” I was astonished. (In my experience, it’s the only thing that has.) “I…