Philotherapy

#Philotherapy #stoicsm #stoicphilosophy #greekphilosophy #practicalphilosophy

Philotherapy is a combination of two words: philosophy and therapy. It means philosophy as a therapy, clinical and practical, alongside psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, neuroscience (which is a multidisciplinary branch of biology that combines psychology, anatomy, mathematical modelling and philosophy to understand the nervous system), yoga and their subdivisions. The characteristics of philosophy as a therapy are the following:

  • mind restructuring by pushing the person to ask the right questions to find the right answers according to the maieutic method which is the Socratic mode of inquiry that aims to bring a person’s latent ideas into clear consciousness.
  • focusing on the person’s will for him/her to turn the right conscious answers that he/she found into actions in order to solve his/her problem.

Mentioning Socrates here is no coincidence, the Greek philosophers “practiced” their different philosophies for a better life. They considered philosophy to have a higher aim: ethics and morality. Originally a Greek word, a combination of two words: philos (love, friendship) and Sophia (wisdom), Greek philosophers befriended wisdom for the higher Good. Therefore, they created a new kind of friendship, not with a living being, but with wisdom based on truth as a mind restructuring to think freely and differently for a better life. So, philosophy was a constant practice of thinking, of controlling oneself, of attitude, of desire to seek for the truth. That was the ambiance of philosophers back then. The champions of practical philosophy were the Stoics.

Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded in Athens in300 BC by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain. The Stoics are especially known for teaching that “virtue is the only good” for human beings, and that external things—such as health, wealth, and pleasure—are not good or bad in themselves, but have value as “material for virtue to act upon”. Alongside Aristotelian ethics, the Stoic tradition forms one of the major founding approaches to Western virtue ethics. The Stoics also held that certain destructive emotions resulted from errors of judgment, and they believed people should aim to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is “in accord with nature”. Because of this, the Stoics thought the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said, but how a person behaved. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature. Many Stoics—such as Seneca and Epictetus—emphasized that because “virtue is sufficient for happiness”, a sage would be emotionally resilient to misfortune.

Knowledge, virtue, resilience, emotions control, thoughts structuring are key words to stoicism, easier said then done, simply because we are not used to practice this anymore. The reason is nowadays we are all encouraged for freedom of opinion and expression (which is not a bad thing in itself) not only in the public and political sphere but in the intimate and private ones. So we are encouraged to whine, and cry, and tell our stories to the world; we became less and less resilient, more inclined to anti depressive pills than to self-control. Philotherapy is about bringing back this resilience and freedom by pushing the person to ask the right answers, to have a logical judgement and the will to act upon the problem.