Imagining the Future of Philosophical Health, a Public Workshop at Unesco

Unesco headquarters, Paris – Monday 16 December 2019 – 14h30 – free and open participation

Given the current state of the world and the feeling that modern institutions, paradigms and subjectivities are becoming obsolete, it is time for a creative tabula rasa to deal with growing pathologies of free will, polarisations and lack of faith in the future. Let’s imagine together the future of physical, psychological and philosophical health! For Nietzsche, philosophical health or “great health” was about our connection to an overflowing abundance (of life, of cosmos, of love, of creation), cheerfulness and laughter, living experimentally, and forgetting. There seems to be today an affinity between philosophical health and neurodiversity, a concept where neurological differences are to be recognised and respected, not as diseases but as variations, transmutations perhaps, possibilities for being otherwise, other forms of health potentially, albeit apparently unadapted to our current standards and norms. This participatory workshop will demonstrate the power of collective intelligence as a healthy way to manifest possible futures. Participants will feel and experience that knowledge, like the future, is not an object to be used as a commodity but a flow of intentions and anticipations in constant becoming, necessitating an attitude of care, dialogue, joy and vigilance in the present. Participants will become aware that they should avoid using the future as a predictable pattern only, and reflect on their deep desire, their ideals, their destiny in light of the collective destiny and political and existential interdependency of their fellow citizens.

Luis de Miranda, Workshop Convener:

As the author of internationally published philosophical essays and novels, and as a philosophical counselor in the premises of a psychotherapy institute (Livslinjen, Stockholm, Sweden), Luis de Miranda, PhD, works on our potential for healthier ways of life and care of ourselves based on the philosophical tradition, techniques and way of thinking/minding. He is currently designing his own method, crealectics, which he introduced in a former Unesco workshop in October 2019. He is the conductor of the Philosophical Health International network and a researcher at Örebro University, Sweden. His next book, Ensemblance, will be published by Edinburgh University Press in March 2020.

Other members of Philosophical Health International will be present: https://philosophical.health

Contact us for RSVP and more details regarding the exact location

What is Philosophical Health and How Can We Reach it?

What is Philosophical Health and How Can We Reach it? A Workshop With Dr Luis de Miranda

Thursday 12 March 2020 from 14h to 17h30

7, George Square, room G32
The University of Edinburgh: School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Health is one of the main values 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 early 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, “evidence-based” therapies inspired by cognitive-behaviourism favour an institutional mode of psychological health supporting a mechanical view of the mind.

Philosophy is often seen as a theoretical and speculative endeavour, not only unpragmatic but even avoiding commerce with human affairs in a gesture of disgust. A certain form of academic analysis has contributed to a disembodied, apolitical, ahistorical, impersonal idea of philosophy as a supercilious mind-game. A certain kind of philosophizing in writing has contributed to an elitist idea of philosophy in which hermeticism, formal opacity and abstract speculation would be a label of truth. Can philosophy take care of existing humans? The notion of philosophical care possesses a long genealogy. In The Hermeneutics of the Subject, Foucault locates the prehistory of the notion of philosophical health in the Platonic and Socratic notion of epimeleia heautou, the care of 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 citizen. The 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 soul was ultimately not individual, as it was a reconnection with the divine, an idea often illustrated in the image of Socrates’ daemon. The Ancient Greek notion of philosophical health articulated personal growth with a shared cosmology.

In On the Concept of Creal: the Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute, I 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 or Protagorean anthropocentrism. The problem with our dominant physical and psychologised 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 or chemical scaffolding. In the end, such views might lead to a general form of transhumanism, a constant and anxious human enhancement via automation and technology which might generate 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 and dominant DSM protocol. Moreover, the current development of artificial intelligence is generating an artificially deterministic society in which existential choices might 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.

In my practice as philosophical counselor at The Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm, Sweden, I have been conducting since February 2018 hundreds of consultations with human beings who are looking for a less conventional form of care of the self, more holistic, more intellectual, more natural, more philosophical. Informed by my practice, by the “crealectical” methodology I am developing, by the genealogy of the notion of philosophical health, and by discussions within the network I founded in November 2019, Philosophical Health International, I will clarify a few points allowing, in my view, to begin to answer this complex question: What is Philosophical Health and How Can We Reach It? Since the new fields of Philosophical Health Studies and Philosophical Counseling are academically undertheorized and hardly taught, much work needs to be done to define the contours of the notions and their critical viability. Eventually, the question of philosophical health, as suggested by Wittgenstein, is not only mundane, therapeutic, or political: it is also important to question the current status and practice of philosophy in academia.

 

Is a New Life Possible? Deleuze and Philosophical So(u)rcery

This is my clarification of Deleuze and Guattari and how their philosophy can be helpful in everyday life. Published in 2013 by Deleuze Studies Journal. I now realise it contains many germs of my current practice of Philosophical Counseling as transmutation. I became a so(u)rcerer.

https://philarchive.org/archive/MIRIAN

Abstract

In his dialogues with Claire Parnet, Deleuze asserts that: ‘Whether we are individuals or groups, we are made of lines’ (Deleuze and Parnet 2007: 124). In A Thousand Plateaus (with Guattari), Deleuze calls these kinds of ‘lifelines’ or ‘lines of flesh’: break line (or segmental line, or molar line), crack line (or molecular line) and rupture line (also called line of flight) (Deleuze and Guattari 2004a: 22). We will explain the difference between these three lines and how they are related to the ‘soul’. We will also explain how a singular individual or group can arise from the play of the lines. Eventually, we will introduce the concept of ‘Creal’ to develop the Deleuzian figure of the ‘Anomal’, the so(u)rcerer.

 

The Vision of Philosophical Health

“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

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 of 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 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), I have 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 embodiment, more natural, more philosophical. Informed by my societal and human practice as philosophical counselor at The Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm 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.