Hey beautiful people,
I will be announcing openings for my philosophical coaching practice on Sunday (around 8 pm ET). They get booked up fast. If you had a philosophical inquiry with me in the fall, you’ll be messaged privately for advance booking.
Emerge has published one of my journal entries (here), which they titled Playing and Creating in an Infinite Way.
The Stoa will be doing another YouTube premiere on a short film called An Initiation to Game B. The film will be followed by a dialogos with Jim Rutt, Jordan Hall, Tyson Yunkaporta, and Daniel Schmachtenberger. The Stoa’s patron supports can attend the session live and everyone can watch the film on The Stoa’s YouTube channel on January 17th @ 6:00 PM ET. Here is the link…
Collective Journaling. Daily @ 8:00 AM ET. Patreon event. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing. Every Friday @ 8:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Collective Presencing. Every Friday @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.
Social Alchemy: Transmuting Social Awkwardness into Social Art w/ Peter Limberg & A.J. Bond. January 14th @ 4:00 PM ET. Patreon event. 90 mins.
Newly posted event:
January 13, 2022
I am going to open up my philosophical practice again, and as mentioned yesterday, I am called to explain what it looks like. I started doing this last year and I am discovering the practice while doing it.
When starting last January, I playfully called the practice “daemon whispering” instead of philosophical coaching, partly because I was too attached to jazzy phrases last year, but really, I did not feel worthy of saying I was doing philosophy. That was what I was attempting to do though. I was sensing into the daemon that is between me and my interlocutor, aka I am sensing what is most “alive,” or what Andrew Taggart and I started calling what is “existentially salient.” Once I am grounded in this, I engage in philosophical inquiry in how Andrew understands it…
An inquiry is an unrehearsed genre whose principal aims are, first, to reveal to us what we don’t know but thought we did and, second, to bring us a greater sense of clarity than we could have possibly imagined.
When I am faithful to this process, usually a catharsis happens, which is experienced as a subtle “pop,” as if the “confusion bubble” we were circling around burst. We arrive somewhere together, which may seem surprisingly obvious after the pop, but the shared sense is that we arrived where we needed to arrive, or as Andrew puts it…
The conclusion to an inquiry, accordingly, is like poetic naming: a new destination, a novel discovery, a long-sought-after homeland. ‘This,’ we say, ‘is it.’
The conversations I had with Andrew were consistently beautiful, as were many of the conversations I had in my practice. I suspect this is the case because we both approach philosophical inquiry as art. Getting better at this art is something I really want to do. I often find that people come to me with issues similar to mine, so inquiring with them has also been beneficial for me.
Journaling to myself, especially the private entries I do not share widely, is me engaging in philosophical inquiry. I tap into the daemon, hone in on what is most existentially salient, share with myself what comes alive, usually a question or thought, and slowly move towards the pop. I love engaging philosophical inquiry, both with my self via journaling and with other selves via dialogue (or dialogos), as I see both as part of the praxis of “The Path of Wisdom.”
In a journaling series I did in the summer on walking down The Path of Wisdom, I argued that in order to rediscover what Pierre Hadot calls “philosophy as a way of life,” we need to reunite practices from three disciplines that have stopped interacting with each other - philosophy proper (or theoretical philosophy), psychotherapy, and coaching.
In the entry called Planting Seeds and Pulling Weeds, I argued that coaching and psychotherapy are serving as “existential placeholders” for philosophy as a way of life. While they still offer great value, they become a form of bypassing when untethered from the superordinate aim of wisdom, with the “more or less trap” emerging...
People often get into life coaching or self-help because they want more of something, and they get into psychotherapy because they want less of something. You can get caught in the more or less trap though, and endlessly planting seeds and pulling weeds is not wise.
I notice that my practice not only weaves between coaching and psychotherapeutic modalities, but also theoretical philosophy. Philosophy sometimes is bifurcated into “theoretical philosophy” and “practical philosophy,” aka theory and practice, or theoria and praxis to sound fancier. Some have difficulty carving boundaries between these two, especially those who are overdeveloped in theoria and are underdeveloped in praxis. One key distinguishing feature for me is this: does a philosophical inquiry allow for what is existentially salient to include the personal?
The personal content is usually divvied out to psychotherapy and coaching practitioners to address, while philosophy stays with the reputation of being useless and too abstract. This is why Hadot called academic philosophers artists of reason, as they mostly do theoretical philosophy, not practical philosophy.
You can do theoretical philosophy in a way that does not engage much with practical philosophy, or engage in it in a way that makes it extremely hard for it to be bridged to the practical. Having too much theoretical architecture that does not connect with what your body ends up doing leads to disembodiment. Once you get a sense of what embodiment feels like, you quickly get the sense that most artists of reason are indeed disembodied.
I would also say that you cannot do practical philosophy without engaging in theoretical philosophy. Often, when a sense of existential stuckness occurs, one has to float up to the theoretical, tinker around up there, before floating back to the practical, towards what therapeutic or coaching modalities offer.
Perhaps a way to look at theoretical philosophy is to use Alfred Korzybski’s “map-territory” distinction and see theoretical philosophy as your map of reality. Your map of reality is not the thing in reality you are mapping. Maps of reality have many models of things within reality, and the model of the thing is not the thing being modeled. Your map can be more or less useful, accurate, or beautiful (good, true, and beautiful), and it is wise to aim for all three, but it is still a map.
I sense having a strong sensitivity to my map is why I got annoyed at all the therapists and coaches I saw before Andrew and Jordan Peterson. Unlike Andrew and Jordan these “guides” never veered towards examining my map, instead, they offered models, which often felt dubious, and methodologies, which often felt incongruent.
The models and methods they presented were not altogether bad; some were useful, but given my map was so nuanced, bespoke to me, their models and methods did not integrate well. Those guides had no capacity to be cartographers of reality, examining my map with me, editing it so the models and methods they were offering could find coherency.
It makes sense why they would not want to fuck around with somebody’s map. That is dangerous business. As mentioned in yesterday’s entry, philosophy originally disabused me of large portions of my map, which lead to a deep depression. This “do not fuck around with your map” lesson got concretized during The Club - my map got burned, leading to another round of depression.
People who have fixed maps often have a “map narcissism,” a sense of specialness with their map of reality. Most people warring in the culture war have this. A map narcissist is especially dangerous in spiritual communities, with spiritual leaders not only offering praxis to heal or get better, but also presenting a map of reality while doing two things with it: A) they completely rewrite your map to match theirs, B) they maintain sole authority over how your map is understood and improved upon.
Fuck that. This is why philosophy is so beautiful. The philosopher does float up to your map of reality, when consent is given, with two important dispositions: 1) they encourage agency for their interlocutor to eventually become their own cartographer of reality, 2) they have an existential openness for their own map to be edited, being transformed themselves in the process.
This is why I am excited to restart my practice. I want to get transformed via philosophical inquiry with you. I am discovering this practice by journaling here in front of you (sometimes literally in front of you, if you’re at Collective Journalling) and in dialogos, about what is existentially salient for you, and with increasing synchronicity, what is existentially salient for us.
Given this, here is my model - subject to change - of the three functions of the Limbergian school of practical philosophy, which are weaved together within the context of philosophical inquiry: mapping, implementing, and individuating, which itself maps over to the disciplines of theoretical philosophy, coaching, and psychotherapy. I’ll briefly look at each below…
Mapping. Discipline: theoretical philosophy. When: remodeling an aspect of reality.
Implementing. Discipline: coaching. When: creating a course of action.
Individuating. Discipline: psychotherapy. When: integrating something, or to use Bonnitta’s model of the self: moving from “Me” to “I” consciousness, so we have a chance at that delicious “We” consciousness (aka communitas).
I am not a psychotherapist and I recommend people with serious trauma go to a trained professional. That being said, I do not think any philosopher, or coach for that matter, can avoid touching on the individuation process. I recall Bonnitta saying over 90% of our culture is still in the “Me” consciousness; if true, any real guide will have to address this somehow.
Each of these functions has many existing modalities, methodologies, frameworks, and disciplines. Here are the ones I either am competent in, know enough about or am in the process of learning…
Individuating: acceptance commitment therapy, schema therapy, internal family systems, accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy, and metacognitive interpersonal therapy.
There is so much more out there, waiting to be integrated into a philosophy as a way of life. I sense the reason why the daemon led me on this wild, scattered, and undisciplined approach to philosophy, which The Stoa has also embodied, is because he wanted me to pick up the pieces from various places so they can be integrated.
Maybe this is how we blow life back into practical philosophy. Maybe this is how we bring virtue back. Maybe this is how Stoicism becomes reborn. In any case, I am back, ready to philosophize with you again.
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