What a Personal Philosopher Isn’t
I am not a counselor. That is, while we can and likely will talk about personal matters–some deeply so–and while I do protect my client’s confidentiality, I am neither a priest nor a mental health professional. My words are not advice about how you should live, except as a general exhortation to philosophical thinking and habit.
While we’re at it, Individual Guidance programs do not make me a schoolteacher or a college professor. There is no course or program to complete, and there are no rewards: no certificates, degrees, or smiley-stickers (which is true of all my services). Personal philosophical consultation has similarities to counseling, and a college course, as well as personal training, life coaching, and expert advice, but doesn’t fit neatly into any of these paradigms. It is sui generis and must be approached as such.
What would we talk about?
Anything. Literally, anything can be involved in philosophical inquiry: kitchen utensils, comic books, movies, lampshades, birth, death, marriage, God, the devil, the thickness of a mechanical pencil’s tip, the poetry of Shakespeare, the lyrics of Peter Gabriel, and the tedium of grocery lists–if you can name it, we can have a discussion about it.
That said, many of those topics would be exhausted pretty quickly; which would lead us to consider why they were found of interest in the first place, and what that tells us not only about our own states of mind but about what we are and what we do as human beings.
If you are here, you have probably already encountered the why: namely, something in your experiences, in your studies, in your life, does not make sense, and you would like to make sense of it; but therapy and formal education do not seem like the right answers, and life-coaching just seems too hokey (for the most part, it is).
As for why I am here, my experience both teaching in the university and searching for a full-time academic position taught me that traditional academia is not only an overcrowded marketplace, but that even getting your foot in the door means stepping into a stifling environment that inhibits real thinking. As more and more students in the university seek credentials rather than understanding–and philosophy departments correspondingly shrink and disappear–I thought it prudent to offer a philosophical education without credentials, to those who actually desire it, rather than those who are forced by university requirements to take a course or three.
How does it work?
For Individual Guidance, the key component is regular attention: though it varies from client to client, depending on need and what works best, consistent communication by email, messenger app, and regularly-scheduled video chat sessions are typical effective means for developing the habit of philosophical reflection.
For Online Seminars, these may be arranged by some already-existing group: a school, a local reading group, or an online community that would like some guidance. If someone wishes to participate in a Seminar as an individual, a request can be made via the Contact page and I will advertise to see if other people are interested in participating and try to make arrangements. Alternatively, an individual may wish to seek Individual Guidance, which could be conducted as a seminar at a lower cost.
For Online Courses, these will be announced months in advance and include a sign-up. If an already-existing group wishes to request a specific course at a custom time, this can also be arranged.
Theoretical Consulting is performed on an as-needed basis.