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.

How to Write The Book of Your Life, An Improvised Musical Talk

 

How to Write The Book of Your Life
– An Improvised Talk of Which You are the Hero, with Piano Accompaniment

by philosopher and author Luis de Miranda and pianist Peter Knudsen

FREE ENTRANCE

To create a book you need: letters, inspiration, paper or a computer, a way of transposing an inspiration and experience into sentences, and you need a reader, an audience. But where does the inspiration come from? Here we could discuss the so-called Infinite Monkey Theorem. A Monkey writing randomly on a computer for an infinite amount of time would eventually write a meaningful masterpiece, as if by coincidence. Randomness versus intentionality. The truth is we are no monkeys, we have limited time and no book is written randomly. Same thing regarding your life. It is probably not infinite, so why would you live randomly like an infinite monkey, hoping for meaning to emerge without intention, without determination, without the deep involvement of your crealectical self? How can creation be a process of healthy growth a process of destiny-shaping? That is the way Luis de Miranda, PhD, practices philosophical counseling at the Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm, after having been a professional independent publisher for many years, helping others write meaningful books, and after having written many books himself (fiction and non-fiction), translated in various languages: Luis helps each person write the alchemical and embodied book of their life, as their own masterpiece. The philosopher’s stone is a charcoal pencil.

This talk will last 20 minutes. At the beginning, Luis de Miranda will take 20 words offered by audience, and improvise a speech around these words, while Peter Knudsen, jazz composer, will accompany him.

A degustation of Port wine will close the event around 18h45

Language: English

9th December

From 18.00 to 19.00

Center Camões at Stockholm University

Stockholms universitet, Universitetsvägen 10, Södra Huset, Hus B, plan 5, Sal B522A &B522B

10691 Stockholm

The Philosophical Parlour in Stockholm

Kristina Queen of Sweden hired Descartes, the father of the modern cogito, as a philosophical counsellor already in 1649. She subsequently resigned from her position, judging there was a more important matter than being a queen: what could possibly more important than the kingdom of Sweden?

Now offering consultations on demand.

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The Creal Nature of the Philosopher’s Stone

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Drawing of the Big Bang by my daughter Svea, 7.

In my practice as a philosophical counselor, I often encourage the counselee to start with a tabula rasa within the cosy security of my parlour. The empty table is a process by which we authorise us to think as if all our certainties should be questioned, as if we were starting anew, as if new-born. This was done for example by Descartes when he supposed for the sake of truth-searching that everything was an illusion. In my view a philosophically healthy person is capable of connecting to a meta-reality that I call Creal, which is the real of absolute creation, radical alterity, novelty, the ex nihilo = ex toto without which creation would be a mere remixing of existing realities.

It is philosophically healthy to see creation not as mere fabrication, construction, but as a process that can be independent from human engineering and yet one that we can connect to in order to co-create. We are capable of the idea of radical alterity, radical novelty, infinite possibility, infinite abundance of potentialities. Connecting with this idea generates an emotion that opens the path to a deeper form of well-being. But of course it is also challenging our comfort. It is not without danger and risk. It is preferable not to be alone in this journey. Philosophy is also about friendship and love.

Now why would someone do this? Descartes was searching for the truth, for something certain, as certain as mathematics. He found, paradoxically, the cogito, which is an anti-mathematical experience. Is philosophical health about truth? This is the kind of question that might not have a universal answer, but rather needs to be elaborated singularly in a specific embodied dialogue.

Perhaps philosophical health is about living a blissful and thoughtful life, while overcoming human finitude, human suffering, contradictions, pain, conflicts, frustrations, dull routines, alienation, exploitation, etc. In the latter case, we are talking about a transmutation of the human (even Marx wanted a transmutation of the human). Is philosophical health a form of self-alchemy? Yes. But beware the new-age fuzzy uses of the notion of alchemy.

Let’s take the analogy of writing a book. Creating a book. To create a book you need: letters, inspiration, paper or a computer, a way of transposing creal-inspiration into sentences, and you need a reader, without whom there is no book (even if you are your own reader at first). Eventually you also need some form of material production of the book as object. Where does the inspiration come from? Here we could discuss the Infinite Monkey Theorem. Randomness versus intentionality. Of course no book is written randomly. It would be boring and too chaotic. Same thing regarding your life. It is probably not infinite, so why would you live randomly like an infinite monkey, hoping for meaning to emerge without intention, without determination, without the deep involvement of your crealectical self.

How can health be a process of creation? How can creation be a process of health? This connects to the idea of regeneration, transmutation but also finality. This needs to be addressed in a singular dialogue, since a universal answer might be self-contradictory by imposing a normative stance. That is the way I practice philosophical couseling (after having been a professional independent publisher for so many years, helping others write meaningful books, and after having written many books myself): I help each person write the alchemical and embodied book of their life, as their own masterpiece. The philosopher’s stone is a charcoal pencil.

Swedish Translation of Who Killed the Poet? – Launch 14 November 2019

Qui a tué le poète? continues its journey across the world. Now in Swedish language thanks to the publisher Palaver Press.

If you are in Stockholm on November 14, join us for a launch party with 20 poets on stage and pianist Peter Knudsen at Landet.

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