Welcome! We are PHI, an international movement facilitating philosophical health and practising or researching 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.”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 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, and it is re-affirmed in the last decades within the empirical practice of “philosophical counseling”. This transnational movement is part of a contemporary rediscovery or recreation of philosophy as a form of care or “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 concerns of humanity. In the last century, physical health and psychological health have been systematized into a societal imperative, 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 a necessity for many by the end of the same century. States are financing and administrating programs of psychological and physical health, in the line of what Foucault called biopolitics, often favouring a mode of health grounded on a mechanical and 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. For Plato, the philosophical care of the self was a necessary condition not only for itself but in order to become a good 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 self-care. Moreover, such a care of the self was ultimately not individual, as it was a reconnection with the divine within our self, an idea often illustrated by Socrates’ daemon. 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 cosmological bridge between the collective and the individual needs today to be reconstructed via a global social contract, in order to avoid the pitfalls of relativism, totalitarianism and Protagorean anthropocentrism. The problem with our dominant physical and psychological versions of health is that they often implicitly promote a solipsistic idea of the self, methodologically individualist, based on the idea of individual will and technological symbiosis or chemical scaffolding. In the end, such views might lead to a general adoption of implicit forms of transhumanism, a constant and anxious enhancement of humanity via automation and technology which generates guilt and self-hatred among those who cannot become crypto-cyborgs or well-performing individuals, even with the help of psychoactive drugs or digital prostheses. In a sort of vicious loop, such guilt is sometimes interpreted as “depression” or any other form of diagnosis validated by the medication industry via the global DSM protocol. Moreover, the current high-speed development of artificial intelligence is generating an artificially deterministic society in which existential choices will be more and more supervised by the state or multinational corporations. Once we will be statistically told by “machines who know better” which education, partner, profession and city to choose, the episteme of the modern subject, based on 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, human beings are now looking anew for other forms of care of the self, more holistic, more intellectual and yet respectful of our natural embodiment. Informed by our societal and human practice as philosophical practitioners and by the genealogy of the notion of philosophical health, time is ripe to answer the question What is Philosophical Health? in a programmatic way. Since the fields of Philosophical Health Studies and Philosophical Counseling are yet to be unified and structured academically, much work needs to be done both theoretically and practically to define the contours of the concept and its critical viability.
Dr Luis de Miranda is the initiator and founder of Philosophical Health International. Author of several philosophical essays and novels translated into several languages, Luis is the founder of The Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm, Sweden, where he offers regular individual philosophical counseling centred around the post-analytic and post-dialectic methodology of crealectics. His the book Being & Neonness (MIT Press), he presents his vision of a creative cosmology of the human person. In October 2019, he gave a presentation at UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, on “crealectical understanding” and the necessity of applied research in philosophical health.
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Suraiya Luecke is a masters 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.
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.
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.”
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. Member since November 2019.
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. Member since November 2019.
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 Uppsala university and also studies existential philosophy, psychology and dialogue at the Södertörn University in Stockholm (Sweden). She is a member of the swedish association for philosophical practice, SSFP, and is leading philosophical dialogue at Philosophy cafés. She also teaches philosophy in a secondary school. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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