Philosophy, Mental Health, and The Two Routes

Kair, L. (2022). Philosophy, Mental Health and The Two Routes.

This paper is a response to May-Lynne El-Debs paper “Introduction to Philosophy”. The link is in the next post.

I invite you to engage with the discussion about how a subject of mental health comes to know itself in reality.

Or, engage right here in the comments.

Be well.


8 responses to “Philosophy, Mental Health, and The Two Routes”

  1. microglyphics Avatar

    You know that everyone’s a critic. lol

    My ‘meta-advice’ is to connect all of the dots and over-articulate. Don’t make any assumptions about prior knowledge. At least I find papers like this: the shin bone is connected to the knee bone and the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone and…, not leaving any room for interpretation or ambiguity.

    In a way, this is how you parsed her paper at the start—with your critique of ‘critical’ and what it was modifying. So even if you need to restate something in slightly different terms to drive home a point, just do it.

    I say this because I am so guilty of leaving huge gaps and logical leaps, but when I sit down with a copyeditor—not typically aware of the subject matter—, they force me two respond to ‘how did you get from point A to point Z?’ My initial response might be something like, ‘I thought that was only A to B, but now that you mention it…’

    If only I had a copyeditor for my blog. I love those guys. haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. landzek Avatar

      I think you just reiterated the process of being a counselor. 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

  2. microglyphics Avatar

    Hey Lance, I downloaded ‘Philosophy, Mental Health and the Two Routes’ even without the Oxfords comma. lol

    I’m not sure that I should comment or am even parsing it correctly. Plus, I didn’t want to also really the referenced essay by El-Debs. To be fair, I couldn’t find a copy and the discussion link is dead, so there’s that. So, I trust that however your characterise here work is apt.

    At first, I like how in your opening paragraph you point out the ambiguity in what ‘critical’ modifies. I, too, question the orientation of reality, but she does seem to be focused on the Classical Greek tradition.

    In your second paragraph, I, too, question her characterisation of what it is to philosophise. In one manner of thinking, there are always positions to support or oppose unless we are talking about a paradigm shift, but even then this opposes the initial paradigm. But on that note, many philosophers exist to shore up the status quo or to justify some past philosopher, say, Plato or Aristotle or rescue them from the dustbin of history or obscurity, as the case might be.

    My first gap is that I don’t understand the gap between workaday philosophy and the mental health context. By the end, I’ve seen several references, but I don’t feel I understand the mental health domain and therefore the gap or the significance. I’d like to see that shoved in my face or down my neck. haha

    As you defend or attempt to reframe in your third paragraph, I feel that her Classicist defence gives her this oppositional lens, but I may be reading in or psychologising. And how much of philosophy is performative positioning and self-promotion, building a brand. Derrida had been accused of this by many, though I disagree.

    Then toward the end of this third paragraph, you invoke ‘the very ability to have agency’. I read this with two questions. First, are we assuming that agency is a binary state that one either has or doesn’t have; then I was wondering if we weren’t creating a No True Scotsman situation. And still, I am left wondering if agency is a necessary condition for all philosophical pursuits or just a subset. You call out the notion of ‘real meanings’, but that begs the question of who determines what is real, and mirrors the question at the start as to whether we have to assume a reality to play this game at all.

    In paragraph 4, you reference her ‘double idea’ of philosophy, and you don’t touch on it, but it’s not a double idea. Knowledge is a precursor to wisdom, not another entity. One cannot have wisdom without knowledge. In a way, wisdom is applied knowledge—or rather the ability to dispense this knowledge for application. It feels that knowledge is analytical and taxonomical in nature whilst wisdom is more of a Gestalt. Following, McGilchrist’s asymmetrical cerebral hemispheres metaphor, Knowledge is from the left and Wisdom is from the right, hence rarer. And so whilst wisdom is a function of age (or chronology), it is not an inevitable outcome of age, yet I digress.

    When you invoke Kiekegaard, a person whose work I have not yet personally engaged in, I felt I didn’t get any resolution beyond the setup. I guess I was expecting more exposition or elaboration on the nonphilosophical inclusiveness of self.

    In paragraph 5, this thread of knowledge and wisdom continues, and still I disagree with her characterisation. Then you point out the distinction between, sort of, knowable and unknowable, the latter being only experiential. I don’t know that I’d go as far as to say something experiential is outside of reality, so much as it is outside the dimensions of physics and material. I’d argue that these renditions are not the same.

    Then comes your postulate: there is some duality of knowledge in El-Deb’s position. So you return to the context of mental health (and the Self) versus otherwise—the philosopher and the subject. And traipsing through the double negatives, we arrive at a place where you think she would agree that both are involved. Again, because of her ontological Realism, she boxes herself in.

    In the penultimate paragraph, you highlight your divergence. I think I get lost here. I understand her Platonic ideal—a word I choose purposefully. But given her frame, she leaves no space for the Ideal, only the Real. So nothing unintelligible need apply, but that’s a big hole—that same hole Materialists leave all the time.

    The subjective sense-making, well, makes sense to me, but what of that which is beyond the senses, not in a transcendental way but in a way that slips through the cracks? I’ll try to side-step the ‘know thyself’ axiom because the very notion of Self is too contentious and I’ve been typing for what seems like days now.

    The last paragraph wants to tie all of this together. It starts with establishing this is an epistemological venture and then on calling out the inherent duality of mind and body, or perhaps thinking and phenomenological experience. Then you return to contextualise this in the realm of mental health. I’ll attempt to parse this final piece.

    Within the context of mental health, the Self doesn’t segregate ‘real’ human attributes. I think I need a definition of ‘Self’ and why this might or might not be. I don’t really subscribe to the traditional notion of ‘Self’ beyond metaphor, so by my definition, nothing of the self is real, though it is based on snapshots of what is at times real and then of only hopes, fears, and memories.

    The Subject is invoked next. I interpret this as the subject of the person, having a subjective view. And you are saying that within the mental health context, that’s not quite right. In my parlance, the Self is a local maxima, but we miss the woods for the trees if we don’t step back for a broader vantage.

    In the end, I feel I am missing the ‘so what?’ aspect of this. I don’t feel I get a satisfactory resolution. And I don’t get the closing sentence: The Self is indicated in reality. OK. How is reality expressed in the subject?

    If I diagramme this mentally, I see the common factor is reality. I am not sure that both realities are identical although they share the same term. I am, torn between imagining a Venn digramme versus and entity relationship diagramme, but I am learning toward te later. I don’t see how this would express itself as a Venn. So it feels like you are saying that the Self is wholly contained within the notion of reality—indicated in reality—, and reality is somehow expressed as subject. I got lost. I need a picture to save me a thousand words.

    So this was my drunken monkey walk through this essay. I’m not sure it matters that I didn’t read El-Debs’ work, though it feels like I’d have issues with it, I don’t feel I am grasping the intent of the two routes. As best as I can suss out is that path one is what is knowable (and in want of knowing, I suppose) and path two isn’t the unknowable but rather the unattended.


    1. landzek Avatar

      Whew! That is a great response. It’s gonna take me a minute to digest it. I’ll get back in a bit..

      Liked by 1 person

    2. landzek Avatar

      Ok. .. I read your reply. There’s a lot going on there which I think it would take an in person conversation in order to really do the discussion justice.

      I’m not arguing against her. I am saying that she is talking about reality, and I am talking about truth. And so ironically, what she is saying, with reference to Plato, is the same thing that I am saying, with reference to her, in a way.

      And the longer paper that I’m going to think about trying to get published somewhere probably has some more details that might help a little bit with this one. But I think I say it right in the first sentence: she is saying the same thing as me, yet somehow it’s different. Somehow she’s making an argument with reference to Plato, about some distinction or some position that philosophy has. And I’m not making an argument. I’m describing. When I say the self. I’m not making an argument about what the self is. I’m stating a definition of Self.
      Like I said, maybe the other paper that I’m writing, filled it out a little bit better.

      I make a distinction between “conventional philosophy”, and philosophy itself. However, due to the nature of conventional philosophy, I have to use a different term, and this different term I use is “non-philosophy”. Because, what I am calling conventional philosophy necessarily falls into a particular method of knowledge that I am contesting. I am saying there is a knowledge that arises to account for how philosophy operates, and its method, how “conventional philosophy, manifest, or otherwise postulates this thing or state that I call “reality”.

      I am stating definitions. I’m not making arguments about whether or not the reality that you think is the same as the reality that I’m thinking. I’m saying that because you use the word reality, you already understand what I’m talking about. And so I’m really drawing your attention to that we’re both using the word reality, and so there is some sort of truth that arises because we use the word reality. If there wasn’t some sort of truth in there, we would have no ability to have any sort of intelligent work conversation about what reality is.

      Anyways, maybe it might help to read her essay. That might help you with some context with mine.


      1. microglyphics Avatar

        I did have the feeling that some of the unsaid material might be in your larger document. I think what I didn’t pick up from the text was the bases of Truth and Reality.

        I saw ‘reality’ several times but don’t recall even seeing the word ‘truth’. The essay is in another room, but this is my recollection.

        I searched for her paper, but I couldn’t find a copy. If you have a PDF or digital copy you could share, I’ll give it a read.



      2. landzek Avatar

        Ah.. you’re right. I did only say “truth” a few times. I did purposely hold back from that word in this response.

        This response is actually the second part of the whole paper I wrote responding to her paper. But as it turns out, it’s only the last part that I directly address her paper.

        The first part is some 20 pages long. 😆. But, there I do make the more pronounced distinction. The first part is a more thorough involvement which I think I’m gonna try to publish it some journal try to submit it and see what happens.

        However. Looking back at the paper, since you just made me do it…Lol.. I do say at the bottom of 23 in reference to : the world of the senses… In which the thought is included… Just like every other part of the body “makes sense”. And then I put “we can know the total set of ideas due to a realization of the Logics that bind them.” I’m really saying, in different words, We can know the total ideology.
        But This is why I talk about orientation, as opposed to reduction. ..

        Much if this is in the first part . If you want to read it , I can send you that first part, if you’re interested. I would enjoy the feedback. And having another mind to process it with. Maybe I’d even have to toss the whole thing out ! 😄

        Or Maybe youd help me tighten up the paper so I could have a better chance of getting published. 🙂.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. landzek Avatar

        Oh wait. 😜 a total dork. I referenced the page number from the original whole paper. Lol. But I think it’s in the part that I posted.


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