What are the characteristics of philosophical problems


In the great landscape of thinking about life practice, philosophical practice is often described as a specialization in the general. This wide, open access makes it particularly suitable for doing justice to the individual's characteristics. In contrast to university philosophy, which teaches which problems are of interest to the student, the opposite path is taken in philosophical practice. The guest comes to the Philosophical Practitioner with his concerns, his problem and his questions in order to be heard for his situation or his problem. Philosophy here is not the instructor, as in the university, but rather a servant, in the spirit of Socrates, who, as is well known, wanted his philosophizing to be understood as a “midwifery art”, an art that has to provide obstetrics.


Since brevity is required here, I would like to refer to Five Characteristics of Philosophical Practice limit, which many of the previous conversations in my philosophical practice were peculiar to. With these five characteristics I do not claim to be complete. They are kind of the lowest common denominator in the conversations I have had with my guests for many years. The five characteristics of philosophical practice as I would like to understand them are in detail:


  1. Learning the language - and thus the world - of my counterpart. This means that I do not force my counterpart into the corset of a theory or worldview or undergo a prefabricated practical procedure derived from a theory. This is perhaps the main difference to forms of counseling or therapy, in which as a rule one starts from a theory and then applies a practical procedure derived from this theory to each individual to be counseled. In complete contrast to this, I am initially the pure listener and amazed who learns the language of the other. In this I see the basic attitude of the philosophical practitioner that he becomes empty of himself and his preconceived opinions and theories, that he becomes empty so that the other, the guest of the philosophical practice, can come into his own. This being or becoming empty is less a technique than an attitude that respects and appreciates the person in his or her uniqueness. This attitude was once called in ancient Greek philosophy epoch denotes, from ep-echein, to hold back, to abstain from judgment.


  1. Make the problem connectable. Very often the visitor to the Philosophical Practice finds himself in a kind of dead end or endless loop with his problem or concern. This can sometimes also be experienced as loneliness and isolation. The search for a viable path or way out is often made easier if one looks at whether and how this problem or question has already been discussed, developed or answered in philosophy or the history of science. With this reference one leaves the dead end of loneliness and finds a connection to the public network of paths and roads. The problem is made connectable. You now share it with others who can now contribute directly or indirectly to the conversation. This refines the question and gives it more weight, which in most cases leads to one


  1. Upgrade of the question leads. By this I mean that characteristic of the Philosophical Conversation: that this gradually leads to a refinement or qualitative improvement of the question posed in the course of time. This was and is also the main contribution with which philosophy and philosophizing have enriched the world and continue to do so, namely the problematization of the question itself. The problematization requires a sense of history in a positive sense, both in the biographical as well as in the actually historical Senses, as well as practical-dialectical knowledge. Problems can thus be dialectically developed further in conversation and joint reflection. Here the philosophical practice has an obvious proximity to the development novel and film. This is also an attitude that I would like or expect from the Philosophical Practitioner: to listen to the guest with such concentration and such far-sighted thinking that can be addressed on many levels, just like reading a great novel or understanding a film requires. The goal is to read and understand the entire novel or film and to recognize the development of the character in it. Only that in the case of philosophical practice, of course, even more human commitment is required, since it is about an actual person and the happiness of his life.


  1. The reference to something thirdwhich enriches and expands the conversation. - What makes self-knowledge very often difficult is the fact that we are initially and mostly too close to ourselves. That is one of the main reasons why we visit a philosophical practitioner. In order to see and understand ourselves better, it is necessary to experience and look at ourselves from a distance from time to time. This can be done in three ways. By understanding ourselves as a being that has become historical, then by learning to see and experience ourselves from the perspective of others, and thirdly, that we refer to something that is similar to us or our problem situation. This third party can be, for example, a novel, a story, a film, a picture, a composition or a current or past scientific debate. The reference to this third also constitutes the spiritual, emotional and aesthetic fascination of philosophical practice.


  1. Optional: exercises. It is not for everyone to do regular mental and physical exercises. Most of the guests find their satisfaction in the ongoing discussions. Therefore, this characteristic of my philosophical practice is also optional. Nietzsche has in connection with the formation of character in his Untimely considerations once spoken of “regular self-activity”, which is necessary in order to cultivate and develop one's own life. I have partly adopted such exercises and partly developed them myself. With this I tie in with the ancient Greek and Roman philosophical practice. The tradition of the Stoa, for example. It also became known through the exercises through which, as the philosophical practitioner Gerd Achenbach likes to put it, “life-long partnership” can be cultivated and achieved.