"We are enjoying your philo-sophia workshop," they tell her. "But we were wondering: What is the difference between philo-sophical practice and psychotherapy?"
"That’s a difficult question, because there are so many approaches to psychotherapy and to philo-sophical practice. But I would say that one important difference is this: Psychology deals with the person’s psyche -that’s why it is called ‘psycho-logy’. It focuses on the subjective processes that take place in (or between) people: emotions, thoughts, behaviors, etc.
In contrast, philo-sophical practice, or philo-sophia, focuses on somethingthat happens not in the person’s subjectivity, but between the person and something else. It focuses on the dialogue between the individual and what Icall ‘voices of human reality’.”
"When you say 'voices', do you mean ideas, meanings?"
"Not exactly, Angela. An idea, or a meaning, can be something abstract and impersonal, something that doesn’t touch me. By ‘voice’ I mean what you might call ‘a living idea’: an idea (or a meaning) that moves me, speaks to me,tempts me, creates in me a new understanding. And I can respond to it and converse with it – in other words, philo-sophize."
“Are you talking about unconscious voices in our minds? I think Freud talked about being aware of our repressed, unconscious experiences.”
“I don’t think, Phillip, that these psychological concepts would be helpful here. Let’s not translate philo-sophia into the psychological jargon. Voices of reality are not simply subjective creations of our mind. They express certain ways of understanding – they have an inner logic, assumptions, distinctions, networks of concepts. They say something to us, something we can understand and communicate and discuss. This is the focus of philo-sophia: voices of human reality, or if you prefer - ‘living ideas’.”
"I see,” Phillip says. “But I thought that psychotherapies, too, deal with ideas– for example the idea of love.”
“Most psychotherapies regard love as a psychological event – a subjective process inside the person. Therapists don’t usually philo-sophize with clientsabout the concept of love. I agree that some therapies, like existential psychotherapy, philo-sophize to some extent. They are therefore not completely psychological. They contain a philo-sophical element.”“Would you say, then, that psychotherapy and philo-sophia are two different ways to help people deal with their personal difficulties?”
“I don’t think so, and this is another important difference between psychotherapy and philo-sophia. A therapy, by definition, tries to improve theperson’s life: to resolve a personal problem, to alleviate difficult feelings,to improve functioning in the family, and so on. For me, this is not the goalof real philo-sophia.
Philo-sophia doesn’t try to solve or improve anything. Its goal is a dialogue with the voices of human reality, and the newunderstandings that this raises in us. In this sense a philo-sopher is morelike a poet than a psychologist.”
“That’s a bit abstract,” Phillip says. “Can you give an example?”
“Sure. Let's take a topic that is often discussed in standard academic philosophy: the right and the wrong.
“In order to understand this topic, let’s say you are in a moral (ethical) dilemma. For example, you can either lie to make your friend feel good, or tellthe truth and hurt her. Or, you can either make a special effort to keep yourpromise, or alternatively break your promise because nobody will ever know orcare. How do you decide which action is morally (ethically) right? How do youdetermine what you SHOULD do?
“Several ethical approaches give different answers. We can regard them as different ethical voices that speak in us and move us, at least sometimes.” »
Texto de Ran Lahav (sublinhado nosso)