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Philosophical practise as a Trojan Horse
Oyvind (Administrator) #1
User title: Children and youth philosopher
Member since Oct 2006 · 74 posts · Location: Eidsvoll, Norway
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Subject: Philosophical practise as a Trojan Horse
The fifth Nordic conference on philosophical practise will take place in Denmark, April 2015, and the theme is "Philosophical Practice as a Trojan Horse." Here is the introduction text:

When the idea of Philosophical Practice was presented in the Nordic Countries in the beginning of year 2000, focus was on the philosophical practitioner as a person you could ‘go to see’, similarly to the way one can ‘go to see’ a doctor or a psychotherapist. Philosophical Practice was then typically described and understood as an interesting alternative or supplement to psychological counseling or ‘life coaching’.

Today we see a much broader understanding of Philosophical Practice, where the philosophical practitioner also goes somewhere in order to enter all kinds of different professional practices, both in business life or the public service sector and in various contexts of scientific inquiry. Philosophical Practice – as distinct from traditional academic philosophy and ‘applied philosophy’ – calls forth a wondering as well as a critical attitude, and a phenomenological sensitivity and hermeneutic openness towards ‘the otherness’ and the wonder-ful (in Danish: det underfulde) in our daily lives. Philosophical Practice as a place for new beginnings and paradigm shifts in our thinking and doing is now welcomed and invited into organizations and communities of scientific enquiry, maybe in the name of facilitating ‘innovation’, ‘entrepreneurship’ or ‘creativity’ or perhaps ‘action learning’ and ‘action research’.

How can we understand these new opportunities and the inter- and intra-actions that the philosophical practitioner will engage in during such co-operations and co-creations? What are the challenges, and how can we protect  the very critical and wonder-driven core that ignites and nurtures philosophical thinking? How can we – in the midst of engaging in professional dialogues with action-oriented and goal-oriented organizations – remain the ‘Trojan Horse’ that reveals what no organization or scientific practice had expected to see? How can we ensure the freedom and openness of philosophical thinking when the philosophical practitioner is invited to ‘serve’ the needs of society and of the scientific community?

There seem to be some underlying premises here.

By entering the realm of science and the professional world of business and public service, as opposed to remaining in the closed circuit of the private consultation, the philosophical practician, or philosophy itself, exposes himself, or itself, to a danger which necessitates some sort of defensive or offensive counter-measure.

One such measure is to re-enact the Trojan Horse scenario where philosophy reveals what "no organisation or scientific practice had expected to see." And therein lies the danger: action- and goal-oriented organisations that focus ardently (if not zealously) on entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity etc. may not be optimally suited to appreciate the blessings of "phenomenological sensitivity and hermeneutic openness towards ‘the otherness’ and the wonder-ful," especially not when the philosopher advocating these wondrous traits seeks to associate them with the spirit of critique.

Then philosophy reveals itself as an unpredictable gift, in itself a danger in disguise, as was Ulysses' original Trojan Horse, a perilous gift which on the one hand delivers something truly beautiful and awe-inspiring, making minds and hearts leap, but on the other hand immediately retracts and destroys the grand illusion with a single critical word, question or argument. And disillusionment is not likely to be met with delight and gratification in an environment steeped in faux creativeness and innovation.

So professional business represents a danger to philosophy - and vice versa. But this is hardly any different in the private sphere. As long as organisations and individuals alike continue to define themselves as creative, innovative, open etc. there will be no unconditional surrender to the philosopher who - naively, unimaginatively, un-creatively - simply wants to divulge the essence of it all.
Retention of strangeness is the only antidote to estrangement. T. W. Adorno
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