QA 20. (Dec 09) Reason of the heart

Talk about racism moves like a veld fire. It flares up, is spread by strong winds, then hunkers down until the next spark ignites. It would be best to stop feeding it, but mostly we keep on producing more wind. Why?

It feels like intransigence, as if people have dug in their heels, refusing to yield unless the other side meets some impossible demand. A deadlock. Couldn’t that indicate a secret longing for something alive, and open? Something unconditional, something that could surrender itself without shame. Something fearless. Something like love, or ubuntu, although these words grow more unusable by the day.

This intransigence locks us inside our skins (our culture, our side), like they were our very essence. In some sense, of course they are. But if this is the only truth, or the highest truth, then we have nothing ahead of us but the endless war of all against all.

We try to manage these conflicts of interest, but that only damps the fire down. It doesn’t bring peace. What is needed is a counter-logic, another understanding of our humanness. Read more

QA 15. (June 09) Essence of philosophical counselling


I have been explaining, exploring and writing about my philosophical counselling practice since I began in 2002. I’ve presented papers at conferences here in South Africa and in Canada and the US, which are available on my website along with other published articles. But recently a couple of friends challenged me to cut to the chase, and get down to the bare bones: what is this thing you do with people? And so here it is, in less than 300 words! – the essence of philosophical practice.

Who should come to a philosophical counsellor? Basically, anyone who finds the idea appealing – but likely candidates include those who are regularly told that they “think too much” (and get really, really annoyed by that), or those who feel blocked by worries or confusion. It’s not about being intellectual or having high language skills or being able already to clearly express yourself and your troubles. It also isn’t about studying philosophical traditions, although these provide useful resources. Philosophical practice goes back to philosophy’s roots of love (philo) and wisdom (sophia). Read more