Seville 2006

 Presentation:  Putting Sartre into Practice

One approach to philosophical practice is to emphasize the ideas of some particular philosopher as a framework for the consultations one provides. There are many philosophers whose works lend themselves to concrete personal application.   I will discuss Sartre in this light, indicating how various ideas of his lend can be creatively adapted to group or individual counseling. Discussion will include the following points:

•           Tacit vs. explicit use of a philosopher’s ideas

•           Anxiety is about freedom

•           Self-deception is about running away from the apprehension of freedom

•           Self-deception is about maintaining an illusory sense of ones identity

•           A gesture refers to a weltanschauung

•           Existential psychoanalysis seeks to reveal a fundamental project

•           Important choices are made in unreflective consciousness

•           Deliberation is often a sham

•           We are responsible for the meaning we give to our situations

•           We often try to use others to give us an identity, tell us who we are

•           Overcoming the spirit of seriousness

I will seek to indicate how I have found ideas such as these to have been useful in my 33 years of providing philosophical counseling from 1973 to the present, and my practice as a psychoanalyst from 1983 to the present.


Workshop:  Existentialist Themes in an Interactive Group:

Discussion and Demonstration of Existentialist Philosophical Practice

This will be an experiential group for a small number of volunteers from the audience, in which themes from Existentialist Philosophy will be used as a vehicle for personal exploration.  As a hybrid synthesis of philosophical themes and what used to be called an “encounter group” this workshop will demonstrate opportunities for innovative teaching within a university or philosophical practice outside academia, at a crossroad between intellectual material and personal counseling or “therapy.” 


I.  Background (roughly 25 minutes):

1.   Background of the presenter

2.   Existential philosophy as a catalyst for personal exploration

3.   Comparisons with “group therapy.”

4.   Cautions

5.   A sample existential themes

6.   A sample of contributions from existentialist philosophers

II.  Selection of a group, from audience volunteers (roughly10 minutes)

1.         Preparation of group participants

2.         Ground rules

III.  Group  (roughly 40 minutes)

1.  “Check in.”  Briefly identify participant’s issues.

2.    Group interaction and process commentary

3.   “Check out”

IV. Whole audience process commentary and discussion (roughly 10 minutes)