William James On The ‘Automatic, Therapeutic Decision’

In Existential Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom, writing of conscious, directed, self-therapeutic change, writes of the ‘essential’ role of personal decisions and choices in ‘effective’ therapy, and invokes William James‘ five-fold taxonomy of decisions “only two of which, the first and the second, involve “willful” effort”: 1. Reasonable decision. We consider the arguments for and against aContinue reading “William James On The ‘Automatic, Therapeutic Decision’”

Children: The Familiar And Strange, The Known And Unknown

Parenting, and my relationship with my daughter, is persistently fraught by the presence of two seemingly incompatible states of affairs. First, my child seems utterly familiar to me, the most intimately known person in our family: I was with her at her birth, and have been a companion and guardian since then, cleaning, bathing, feeding,Continue reading “Children: The Familiar And Strange, The Known And Unknown”

Mark Twain On The ‘Growing’ Wisdom Of Our Parents

Mark Twain is famously said to have revised his assessment of his parents’ wisdom: When I was seventeen I was convinced my father was a damn fool. When I was twenty-one I was astounded by how much the old man had learned in four years. Twain’s words speak to a crucial perspectival aspect of ourContinue reading “Mark Twain On The ‘Growing’ Wisdom Of Our Parents”

Philosophy Department As ‘Houses Of Healing,’ Not ‘Houses Of Production’

In ‘Two Pedagogies for Happiness: Healing Goals and Healing Methods in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas and the Śrī Bhāsyạ of Rāmānuja,’¹ Martin Ganeri (citing Paul Griffiths) writes: [T]he root metaphor for scholastic intellectual practice is that of reading. The scholastic is one who is dominated by the text he studies, transformed by theContinue reading “Philosophy Department As ‘Houses Of Healing,’ Not ‘Houses Of Production’”

Kierkegaard On Being Educated By Possibility (And Anxiety)

In The Concept of Anxiety, Soren Kierkegaard writes Whoever is educated by anxiety is educated by possibility, and only he who is educated by possibility is educated according to his infinitude. Therefore possibility is the weightiest of all categories….in possibility all things are equally possible, and whoever has truly been brought up by possibility has graspedContinue reading “Kierkegaard On Being Educated By Possibility (And Anxiety)”

Getting Pulled Over; A Teachable Moment

Last week, while driving in Ketchum, Idaho, I was pulled over for speeding (driving 36 mph in a 25-mph zone.) The traffic stop proceeded along expected lines: the police car switched on its flashing red and blue lights as it sidled up behind me, I pulled over to the side of the road, the policemanContinue reading “Getting Pulled Over; A Teachable Moment”

The Seize The Moment Podcast On Philosophy And Anxiety

Last week (or so), I appeared on the Seize the Moment video podcast, thanks to an invitation from Leon Garber (a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Psychotherapist, specializing in existential psychotherapy, who manages a blog exploring death, self-esteem, love, freedom, life-meaning, and mental health/mental illness) and Alen Ulman (who manages Ego Ends Now, a growingContinue reading “The Seize The Moment Podcast On Philosophy And Anxiety”

The Grasshopper And The Ant Podcast On Philosophical Counseling And Anxiety

I’ve recently had the pleasure of recording an audio podcast with the folks over at the Grasshopper and the Ant on the topic of philosophical counseling and anxiety. Many thanks to Pawan Bharadwaj for having me on and for giving me the opportunity to describe philosophical counseling, its relationship to philosophical reflection, to alternative therapeuticContinue reading “The Grasshopper And The Ant Podcast On Philosophical Counseling And Anxiety”

Philosophical Counseling And Hellmuth Kaiser On Successful Therapy

In Existential Psychotherapy (Basic Books, New York, 1980), Irvin Yalom writes: The therapist healed, [Hellmuth] Kaiser believed, simply by being with the patient. Successful therapy requires “that the patient spends sufficient time with a person of certain personality characteristics.” What personality characteristics? Kaiser cited four: (1) an interest in people; (2) theoretical views on psychotherapyContinue reading “Philosophical Counseling And Hellmuth Kaiser On Successful Therapy”

Like Camus’ Caligula, The Republican Party And Donald Trump Transform ‘Philosophy Into Corpses’

In ‘Can We Call Trump A Killer?‘ Charles Blow writes: It seems that in every possible way, Trump has willfully and arrogantly put more Americans at risk of getting sick and dying, and the results have been inevitable: More Americans got sick and died. There is no way to remove Trump’s culpability in this. IfContinue reading “Like Camus’ Caligula, The Republican Party And Donald Trump Transform ‘Philosophy Into Corpses’”