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. Huh.
It’s been a chance to rediscover that – so long as you’re not in real danger, so long as you don’t panic – being all at sea is philosophy’s home ground. Not knowing what’s happening is a condition of wonder, in every sense of the word. It’s also kind of sad. Read more
Last week’s philosophy café offered another conversation about confidence. As noted before, confidence has two levels. One is conditional: the conscious trust in one’s abilities or worth, developed through experience and familiarity (“or entitlement”, as someone pointed out, referring to the social confidence of private-school girls). The other is what John Dewey described as “unconscious faith in the possibilities of the situation”, or “the straightforwardness with which one goes at what he has to do”.
One man, I’ll call him Anthony, spoke about a friend he’d had in his twenties who led the two of them on rigorous mountain hikes. One day Read more
2012 has been my tenth year as a “philosopher in private practice”. I’m a bit surprised to find that what began with a hunch and a leap of faith has developed in unanticipated directions, yet stayed true to its roots.
The hunch concerned philosophy as a way of life. Read more
It’s Tuesday night, and I’m just home from a philosophy café. I have hosted these monthly gatherings since I started my philosophical counselling practice in 2002. This year, we’ve been generously offered space in the lovely village bookshop, after hours – a perfect setting for conversation.
We were thirteen this evening: some regulars, a couple of people who have been scarce for a while, and a few first-timers. Someone started by saying how appalled he was at Hillary Clinton’s televised reaction to the death of Muammar Gadaffi. Celebrating like a vindictive child who’s won a game of tiddlywinks! What have we come to?
Where did we go from there? Read more
If the old model is broken, what will work in its place? The answer is: Nothing will work, but everything might. Now is the time for experiments, lots and lots of experiments. Clay Shirky
We have a duty to change our mode of thinking. David Harvey
There appears to be magic simply in the willingness to tackle life’s hardest problems from the humble position of simply being one among many in a circle of individuals caring for the common lot. Alice Walker
The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. Albert Einstein (attributed)
Having these words slung my way from many directions recently, I have decided to shift the focus of my philosophy café. To change our mode of thinking. Could there be a more philosophical challenge? But how is this even possible, if the mind we use to think with is the thing we have to change? I don’t know, but I have a few clues. Read more