Welcome to PHI, an open international network facilitating discussions and collaborations on philosophical health and philosophical care
“Philosophical health will be in the 21st century what physical and psychological health were in the 20th century. At the beginning of the century, it is a luxury for the happy few – by the end of the century, it is a necessity for all.
Philosophical health is a state of fruitful coherence between a person’s ways of thinking and speaking and their ways of acting, such that the possibilities for a good life are increased and the needs for self- and intersubjective flourishing satisfied. A philosophically healthy individual, group, system or protocol ensures that the goals and purposes of the whole are pragmatically aligned with its highest ideals, while respecting the sustainable, plural and creal future of the parties concerned by the processes at stake.”Luis de Miranda, talk at Unesco, Paris, 29 October 2019
Historians of ideas such as Hadot, Foucault or Nussbaum, have explained how the Ancient Greeks and Romans were concerned with the effects of philosophy upon the subject’s well-being and good life. “A healthy mind in a healthy body”: Plutarch for example considered that philosophy and medicine were a single domain. After a long Christan period during which philosophy became mostly theoretical, a concern for the ideal of philosophical health is slowly re-emerging since the writings of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein among others, and it is empiricized in the last decades within the practice of philosophical counseling. This transnational movement is part of a contemporary rediscovery or recreation of philosophy as a form of care, sometimes called “therapy for the sane”.
More recently, “good health and well-being” were coalesced by the United Nations into one sustainable development goal for 2030. Health is today one of the main public concerns of humanity. In the last century, physical health and psychological health have been systematised into a societal imperative, sometimes an industry and in some cases a mode of control. In occidental societies, what was a luxury for the few in the beginning of the twentieth century (gymnastics, dietetics, psychotherapy, etc.) became by the end of the same century a necessity or imperative for many, sometimes even an obsession. States are financing and administrating programs of psychological and physical health, in the line of what Foucault called biopolitics, sometimes favouring a modality of therapy grounded on a mechanical, reductionist or dualistic view of the mind and body.
The notion of philosophical health possesses a long genealogy. In The Hermeneutics of the Subject, a seminar Foucault gave at the College de France in 1981-82, its prehistory is located in the Platonic and Socratic notion of epimeleia heautou, the care for the self or soul. For Plato, philosophical self-care was a necessary condition in order to become a good citizen or governing actor of the city: the First Alcibiades indicates that there was a correlation between the collective idea of justice and the individual idea of rational self-care. Moreover, such self-care was ultimately not individual, as it was a reconnection with the divine within ourselves, an idea epitomized by Socrates’ daimonion. The Ancient Greek notion of philosophical health articulated personal growth with a shared cosmology, cosmo-political.
In On the Concept of Creal: the Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute (2017), Luis de Miranda argued that such a bridge between the supra-collective and the infra-individual needs to be reconstructed today via a global social contract, a shared cosmology. The problem with our dominant biophysical or psychological versions of health is that they often implicitly promote a solipsistic and materialist idea of the self, sometimes based on the anthrobotic idea of tech-enhanced standardised bodies, bodies without singular spirit and without the prophylactic aspect of an autonomist esprit de corps. In the end, mechanistic views, precisely because they might seem efficient in the short-term from a functional perspective, might lead to a general adoption of implicit forms of transhumanism, a constant and anxious management of humanity via chemicals, automation, mimetism and technology that generates guilt and self-hatred among crypto-cyborgs without a deeper purpose other than competition or survival.
In a sort of vicious loop, metaphysical guilt is sometimes interpreted as “depression”, “bipolarism” or others form of mental diagnosis promoted by the medication industry. Moreover, the current high-speed development of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics is generating an artificially deterministic society in which existential choices tend to be increasingly supervised by the state or multinational corporations. Once we are statistically told by machines-who-know-better which education, partner, divertissement, profession or workplace to adapt to, the episteme of the modern subject, based on the fabulation of self-determination, might collapse, generating a wave of pathologies of free will, the premises of which are already observable today.
In recurring to a philosophical counselor or autonomous philosophical thinking, human beings are looking anew for deeper and more sustainable forms of care, more intellectual or spiritual and yet respectful of our natural embodiment and of non-human entities. Time is ripe to answer the question What is Philosophical Health? in a programmatic way.
Join our open and informal network if you think the field of Philosophical Health Studies is to be developed and if, in a way of another, you are part the movement of philosophical care, to help humans grow out of morbid groupthink, anxiety and peerless solitude. If you believe you can contribute in a way or another, get in touch or join our open web of discussion and research, in which plural views, diversity and methods are welcome.
Dr Luis de Miranda is the initiator and founder of Philosophical Health International. Author of several philosophical essays and novels translated into various languages, Luis is an academic researcher at the Center for Medical Humanities (Uppsala University) and a philosophical practitioner, the founder of The Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm, Sweden, where he offers occasional individual philosophical counseling centred around the post-analytic and post-dialectic methodology of crealectics. In the book Being & Neonness (MIT Press), among others, he synthetised his vision of a creative cosmology of the human person. In October 2019, Luis gave a presentation at UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, on “crealectical understanding” where he called for a movement of applied research in philosophical health. Luis also collaborates with some corporations on philosophical health programs and crealectic innovation, such as Vattenfall or Teaminside.
Join us now! There is no protocolar membership, simply a confluence of good faith. Below is a presentation of some of our philosophical health advocates.
Richard Levi, MD, PhD (Karolinska Institutet), MBA (Stockholm School of Economics) is professor of rehabilitation medicine at Linköping University and board certified in Neurology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. As practitioner at the Linköping University Hospital, he helps persons with severe mobility impairments regain a certain quality of life, a process for which he believes a philosophical approach is helpful. He has published on several disability issues such a living with an electric wheelchair, community dwelling, pain, anxiety and depression after a spinal-chord injury. His bookshelves are harmoniously divided between medicine texts and philosophy books.
Salim Mokaddem, PhD, is Professor of Philosophy at Montpellier University, France. He is also a counselor in education and a specialist of medical epistemology. For us he wrote the following statement: “Healing arises from philosophical attention and from the ethopoietic practice proper to the activity of judgment. Because the act of thinking consists in determining relationships of truth from self to self, from self with the other and from self with the world. In this sense, philosophy cures the will of its procrastination in history and becomes a process of self-care analogous to therapy. The philosopher is the doctor of civilisation and social culture.”
Jerneja Rebernak trusts the arts can enhace wellbeing of society, by elevating the feeling of collectiveness and nourish imagination. Based in London, Jerneja has 12 years of international experience in managing Higher Education, Arts and Cultural sectors projects engaging enhance cultural cooperation through artistic programmes on regional and urban levels. She initiated the Planetary Institute to engage with situated practice based research on altered states of consciousness through a philosophical angle to connect our material and imaginal environments. Also a practitioner of vibro-acoustic therapy, Jerneja holds Masters in Situated practice (UCL, Bartlett School of Architecture) and Media Studies (University of Amsterdam) and a BA in Communication Science (University of Ljubljana).
Suraiya Luecke is a master’s student in Mind, Language, and Embodied Cognition at the University of Edinburgh, and previously studied Neurobiology and Public Health at UC Berkeley. Her current research examines the tightly-coupled relationship between our breath and the quality of our subjective experiences. She is interested in using philosophy as a tool to bring together different sciences and practices around the subjects of mental health, interpersonal health, and ecological health. She is interested in how engaging in philosophical concepts can heal the way we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us.
Miriam van der Valk studied philosophy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as well as with the American Philosophical Practitioners Association in New York. Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, she hosts public events, moderates panel talks, organizes courses and workshops, records podcasts, writes, lectures and coaches through her philosophical practice, Filoprax. 2020 marks the start of a larger, interdisciplinary, and long awaited study on philosophical health and Eudaimonia.
Liza Haglund, Phd, is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Södertörn University in Stockholm (Sweden). Haglund has managed several “philosophy with children” projects since the middle of the 90s. Her philosophy books for children and teenagers have been translated into Arabic, Korean, German and Persian. She is a member of the board for Filosofiska, a non-for-profit organisation that runs one primary school, two pre-schools in Sweden with philosophy as the core tonality, and a school for children in need in Nepal.
André Almeida, PhD, is professor of philosophy at FDC in Brazil. He is passionate about assisting people in developing into their best version. He is particularly interested in philosophical counselling as a tool for bolstering people’s potential in business settings, and as a tool for the development of children and adolescents. André earned his PhD at the University of Sussex in the UK, where he taught philosophy for five years before going to Brazil. He is the author of Agent Particularism: The Ethics of Human Dignity.
Jarrod Hyam, PhD, teaches philosophy and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire (USA). His interdisciplinary research integrates philosophy and the anthropology of religion. He is particularly interested in how philosophical disciplines and praxis may address the ongoing mysteries of health and healing. He completed the PhD at the University of Sydney in the Department of Indian Subcontinental Studies, after conducting ethnographic fieldwork in India and Nepal.
Darija Rupčić Kelam, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of J. J. Strossmayer , in Osijek, Croatia. She is interested primarily in bioethics, philosophy of medicine, narrative medicine and how to restore, help and heal “broken life stories” through philosophical and narrative techniques. She is an expert in the bioethical aspects of the status of the human embryo. She is also the mother of three children, and her motto is: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince).
Sofia Franzén is a master student in philosophy at the Södertörn University in Stockholm, where she also has studied Existential dialogue at the Center for Studies in Practical Knowledge. She is a member of the Swedish association for philosophical practice, SSFP, and is leading philosophical dialogue at Philosophy cafés. She has been teaching philosophy at high school for several years. Member since November 2019.
Zoran Kojcic, PhD, is a philosopher and author living in Croatia. He has worked as a school teacher and philosophical counsellor and practitioner since 2011. Zoran works as a coordinator on several international projects regarding ethics, philosophical practice and dialogue practices. He received his PhD in philosophy at Sofia University in Bulgaria, with the thesis on performance oriented philosophical counselling. Member since November 2019.
Angelos Sofocleous is a PhD researcher in Philosophy at the University of York (UK). His research focuses on the phenomenology of depression. He explores how interpersonal relations are altered in depression and how the depressed individual encounters possibilities in the world as possibilities-for-others, not as possibilities-for-her, in this way becoming a spectator towards the world and other people. He is currently leading a research group by York Student Think Tank, titled Mental Health and University, aiming to identify why mental health issues arise at a university-level and how they can be resolved. Member since November 2019.
Dr Miray Yazgan teaches ethics, applied philosophy, Chinese philosophy and Indian philosophy at Istanbul University in Turkey. She has published two books: Ancient Chinese Philosophy and Science of Logic and Ancient-Medieval Indian Philosophy and Science of Logic. She is interested in applying the knowledge and methodology of Far East Philosophy to Philosophical Counseling. Member since November 2019.
Andrew Keltner is the Director of the Philosophical Practices Certificate Program and a PhD Researcher in Dublin, Ireland, with the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS), as well as a philosophical practitioner with the Institute of Philosophical Practices in Paris. He is trained in the Socratic method, and has worked with NGO’s, individuals, academic researchers, and has organized philosophical cafes. Andrew earned his MA in Philosophical Counselling and Consultancy from the West University of Timisoara. Member since November 2019.
International Ph.D. in Political Philosophy at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain, Gianluca Ronca worked on the philosophy of care from his research topic on moral responsibility and he applied it as an interpretative key to the practice of transitional justice and public reconciliation. He works on human rights norms and has edited the Italian translation of Critical Theory and Human Rights. Gianluca also works as a philosophy teacher in a high school where he takes care of a group of schoolchildren with disabilities stimulating them to problem solving and affectivity in interpersonal relationships.
Eleanor Byrne is a PhD researcher in Philosophy at the University of York (United Kingdom) interested primarily in phenomenology and the philosophy of medicine/psychiatry. Her current research focuses on philosophical issues surrounding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and depression. She is also interested in contemporary Stoicism and philosophical issues surrounding women’s reproductive health. Eleanor also currently works as an assistant on the AHRC-funded project ‘Grief: A Study of Human Emotional Experience’. Member since November 2019.
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The Philosophical Health International Movement
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