Gerd Achenbach about Philosophical Counseling

As a rule, there are certain triggering moments that induce a visitor to a philosophical consultation. Usually it’s disappointments, unexpected experiences, clashes with other people, blows of fate, failures, unpleasant or simply boring life situations. As a rule, the problems that can be addressed to the philosopher-consultant are connected with painful regrets, questions that people can neither solve nor discard. According to G. Achenbach’s description, these are people who can get along with the “prose” of their daily life, but they live with a vague feeling that they never rose to the level of their real tasks. They believe, for example, that their reality does not match their capabilities. Those people who come to the consultant philosopher want not only to live or to understand something, but to realize their life, to clarify its contours, all its numerous “from where”, “why” and “for what”. Often, their need is to reflect on certain circumstances, specific difficulties, the dual course of their lives. In short, the purpose of their visit to the philosopher-consultant is understanding.

What kind of “method” used for it? According to G. Achenbach, philosophy works more on methods than with methods. Subordination to methods is a matter of science, not philosophy. Philosophizing is not a movement along previously laid paths, but an eternal search for the “right path” anew. Philosophizing does not improve the techniques of contemplation, but it clarifies them. And so the goal of philosophizing is not to show the interlocutor a philosophically adjusted life path, but to help him move forward on his own path.

Philosophy is not just “applied”, for example, by treating the problems of client through Plato, Hegel or anyone else: the lecture is not a recipe for healing. The philosopher-consultant, according to G. Achenbach, is responsible not for “something” special than he is ready to use in accordance with professional competence. The competence of a philosopher is required only for a particular problem. In short, in this special case the philosopher becomes responsible for this special case.

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