Toward a Unified Philosophy of Counseling: Object Orientation

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Counseling and Family Therapy Scholarship Review

Volume 3 Issue 1 Article 4

An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unifified Theory of Counseling

Lance Kair

Regis University, Department of Counseling, Division of Counseling and Family Therapy, Rueckert- Hartman College of Health Professions, lkair@regis.edu

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Kair, Lance () “An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unified Theory of Counseling,” Counseling and Family Therapy Scholarship Review: Vol. 3 : Iss. 1 , Article 4.

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Kair: An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unified Theory of Counse

An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unified Theory of Counseling

LANCE KAIR

Department of Counseling, Division of Counseling and Family Therapy, Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Professions, Regis University, Thornton, CO

The Object-Oriented Ontology of Graham Harman, also known as Object-Oriented Philosophy, presumes to describe an ontology of all objects, including human beings. This essay shows how the discipline of counseling can benefit from such an ontology of objects. To move into this particular case of an Object-Oriented Ontology of human beings, and to distinguish, initially, at least, between the object that we are now concerned with, or will be soon, and the universe of subjectivity, I propose that we refer to universal objects, which is to indicate objects that exist in the universe, however we might define it. In this universal sense, we must take a step into the object that is the subject by removing obstacles which will hinder discussion along object ontological lines. The epistemological obstacles which get in the way of a discussion of the object of the subject may include (1) the science of the mind, or psychology, and what I shall term (2) conventional philosophy under which a sort of regular understanding of phenomenology is organized, which is to say the general philosophical tradition which has developed around the ontology of the subject, the subject of reason, knowledge and discourse. We will see going forward, for a unified theory of counseling, though, that the phenomenology of mind is the most pertinent obstacle.

KEYWORDS: Counseling phenomenology, object-oriented ontology, conventional philosophy, the Two Routes

The Object of Counseling

What is counseling? The subject of counseling is well known to trained counselors and philosophers alike. Counseling generally concerns the human being and its mental or psychic aspects and how these might appear to be involved with a person or persons in the world, and to help such people. Of course, definition of just what counseling might be involved with can be debated, but in a strict, open and obvious sense, the subject of counseling is what the counseling is about or for. This, however, does not get us very far. Counseling is often strongly associated with the discipline of psychology but, being still a young discipline, looks to its older siblings, which includes psychology, neurology, and social work, for its philosophical support. Nevertheless, counseling appears on the scene in its own right attempting to distinguish itself from these older family members. This essay is a part of that effort. The catalyzing issue on the table will be, what is counseling?

A primary issue addressed throughout this essay is the problem with a usual method of approach on all things counseling which supposes to grant credential to criterion to essays and proposals which best cite evidence-based research. Note, however, before reactions are engrained, I do not suggest that such an approach is inherently incorrect or misinformed. The ‘either/or’ polemic no longer central to our point, ‘and’ becomes operative. The view upon this paper which sees an argument toward how the just-mentioned method is incorrect is based in an incorrect manner of viewing the meaning of this paper. Nevertheless, counselors do often admit to a certain doubt around the scientific method; it is plain that scientific research is only capable of

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encountering and making statements upon a minority of experiential impressions and outcomes; that the outcomes by which it is able to honestly comment truthfully amount to, again, only a portion of reason for why a person may or may not be behaving or expressing in the manner she does, and that such comments say even less about what solutions are effective, and should be applicable, than they do about the purpose of the experiment.

While those so scientifically faithful will shudder at such blasphemy, we need only point to the miserable statistics representing any approach to mental health, to the effervescence of new approaches and theories of the psyche, its various ideals and healths, to understand the poverty and basic depravity involved in the continual advocation of an exclusive method called science upon a field which is so obviously resistant to its enforcements and lures. To answer this failure of myopic and stubborn assertion against the facts, this paper seeks to explore an opening; the claim is that mental health will benefit more from a sure objective philosophical bedrock which allows for honest viewing of subjects and outcomes than it has from the relative and philosophically arbitrary methodological reduction, restriction, workings of closure and career that we know of under the rubric of empirical research science.

The Empirical Problem

The substance of various counseling theories and approaches which make arguments as their main support gives rise to two main modes of counseling: (1) strict training in specific application and knowledge of theories and their protocols (Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies; Gestalt; Existential; Psychodynamic; Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; Systems Theory; etc.), (2) integrative and/or eclectic approaches which suppose their validity in not limiting their approach to one specific theoretical protocol of intervention, which further propose to be able to understand to varying degrees and aptitudes the ideas behind the various interventions and thus use a variety of such ideas in session as the client might or might not respond to them. The disciplines of psychology, social work, and counseling have only some specificity—which each might be quick to point out more than some—and often claim the same work space and client involvement. Upon looking into the particular specificities of each, and upon analysis, often we can find only further theoretical, academic difference and capitalistic difference (names and titles), while the effort is already often integrated in actual practice. Counseling appears to be involved in doing something different than its heirs, but actually is turning out to merely add more reason to not distinguish the various disciplines except in name. It seems as though counseling is the place where the most vehement differences in theoretical belief are allowed to be held at bay for the sake of having empathic kindness to all human beings as well as allowing oneself and others to have a valid opinion about the truth of our situation as mental health practitioners.

One might begin to wonder what the relationship is between the actual state of mental health and the confusing discipline which proposes to address it. In this night of theoretical assertion, one might begin to see less a correlation in attempt to solve the growing problem by adding more and more theoretical approaches to address the increase in the amount of mental issues in society, and perhaps more correlation in the growing abundance of approaches contributing to increased need. People in their turning don’t know where to turn, and where they turn could be said, if we were to ask even a few people, is already founded in a generalized ideological confusion. Indeed; if there is an actual and specific item called mental health, we should no longer assume it is similar to physical health. Despite the history of psychology which would presume to have established such a definite item, in close analysis it is not difficult to see

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that the idea of such an equity between physical and mental health is itself most often an ideological construct, at that, inflated in its conceptual ability and effectiveness. Given an honest and introspective rigorous philosophical look into the ideas of mind and mental health, it becomes more sensible to understand those tenets of what we regularly and generally know as psychology as specifically ideological, in contrast and in distinction to a usual postmodern reductionism which might argue that everything is ideological. As we shall see in Triple-O, such ideals which come forth through ideological identities, e.g. mind and mental health, are at once both only ideological and actual – different in nature – without collapsing into, contradicting, or negating the other. Yet, by contrast, where each is understood to be able to nullify the other, say, because every statement is a subjective opinion, there is the possibility of theoretical solutions that arise only as or within mental constructions put forth in argument or as empirical constructions elicited by evidence- based research. If indeed there is an actual and specific item that we can truly identify as mental health, then it has only partially to do with such methods in as much as such methods are regularly understood to be sacrosanct in their ability to grant a truth of the human mental being in the world; we see an example of an implicit cognitive distortion working in such a reduction that would suggest that it is not partial but rather entirely actual (all or nothing thinking). We say partially because we must admit that indeed there is faulty thought at root in the effort that is supposed to be informing us about what is not faulty in every such proposal, even as we might call it empirical or scientific.

The Phenomenological Problem

The issue that is drawn upon for this essay is a logistical one; namely, how is the subject- thinker able to get outside of itself sufficiently enough to find a true scientific object of mental health? How does thinking overcome its limitations to be able to consider what is not informed by that limitation? What is not only the elements which may constitute a thing, but what path do they take, and just how do such empirical elements traverse the mental barrier such that thought is able to have them in its domain? With this in mind we must then see that the seminal philosopher Immanuel Kant was actually showing how all and every human behavior (including thought, but every occurrence otherwise) merely occurs according to its own imperative; in our case, the Pure Reason. Then the problem he poses is how it may be the case that we think or believe that everything is not occurring according to some universal plan, that is, not determined in both cause and outcomes, which is, the hypothetical imperative or Practical Reason. Yet, without having to reference the whole virtual abyss of philosophical material, there is sufficient discussion about the history of psychology to now admit that such a science as presented above is at worst merely an ideological assertion and at best a theological assertion, developed by minds probably more interested in the establishment of their own names and projects than it is them actually having seen this actual scientific substance called at some times “the mind” and “mental illness” but most recently “mental health.”

Nevertheless, as we will indeed see through a philosophical discussion about the nature of counseling as a discipline which will be distinguished from its forbearers and contemporaries, the question for counseling can no longer be suspended in an ‘unknown yet acknowledged’ relativity or mere argumentative practitioner’s opinion which we leave to the barer of subjectivity. If we are to attempt to get out of this ‘chicken or egg’ conundrum of mental health supply and demand, the significant issue now is not whether any particular method towards affecting or addressing mental health issues is better than any other, but whether we will still leave the responsibility of mental health in the hands of a theologically relative subject. In other words, can we as counselors take

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the honest step to consider and accept the object of our effort, the thing that is counseling? Similar to an initial and basic therapeutic intervention where we may ask the client to slow down enough so to be able to ponder facts, the issue for a philosophical basis of counseling is: Can the counselor take a moment to stop reducing the therapeutic relation to a situation between subjects, and that only?

The Real Problem

Though it might seem strange, the answer we are seeking is not a manner which disrupts or changes the individual’s counselor’s personal theoretical ideal. Thinking from the object will not change the actual therapeutic relationship, however it may be.

Another issue which an object ontology of counseling mends is if it is responsible for us who want to be able to help someone suffering from a mental health issue to offer them a general field of helpers who have little more common ground than that they want to help, express empathy and know how to actively listen? This effort, which I have identified here of counselors, who often have no more substantial philosophy under their efforts than, basically, selling the prospective client a ‘mine is the best’ theory of recovery, basically leaving the client to the chance of the draw to what is available or to what or who is referred, or, telling the client that there are hundreds of theoretical approaches and interventions and that you, the suffering client, just need to search and choose from the plethora of varying notions of what mental health is and how we treat it? Then to ultimately settle on what has been handed to them by cohort or Google or what counsellor they like the best? Can we not by now be honest and consider the possibility that the internal confusion involved in the effort to help (psychiatry, psychology, neurology, social work and counseling) could have something to do with exacerbating the explosion of mental health issues that we now face everywhere? If we include philosophy as indeed a valid way to discern knowledge and wisdom, we would do well as counselors to have a philosophy that is not mere “whatever you think”; this is to say, some actual reflective and insightful reasoning could move counseling off from where it has been epistemologically beached.

Again, this is not to suggest a new way to counsel. The point here is to develop a legitimate philosophical ground for counseling as a discipline that is more than just artistic, spiritual or scientific license upon evidence-based research; such methods amounts to no philosophy at all. Such a philosophy, if we must reduce and assign a philosophy to that kind of intentional myopia, is itself what we know as a conventionally informed phenomenalism but without the actual knowledge of what phenomenalism is. This doubly mistaken understanding of a phenomenology of mind is an insufficient philosophy to address real things; i.e. real things are intentional, neither real nor a thing beyond the thought involved in a discursive negotiation of them. I suggest presently psychology has no philosophy of reality because it draws upon a history of scientific truth, then as well, where the assumption is that true reality is accessible by the mind is not a philosophy either. They are merely examples of a reflexive method, or a philosophy of reflexivity, that is, subjectivity without reflection.

Perhaps it is not the creativity for coming up with ways to help presenting clients with their issues that is the true issue, but the philosophical platform upon which we are placing such theoretical givens toward praxis. It seems we need a philosophy which makes room for all such theoretical approaches, one which only disclaims those approaches which propose to be outside of its philosophical description. Our effort here then is like every good philosophical effort, which is, to be inclusive of what is most broad of the category given us, and this is to say, to allow counselors to be counselors, to do what they do, and allow counseling to be, without the interference of their

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having to assert particular theoretical righteousness of effort amidst an ontological inconsistency or generalized ignorance. A philosophy of counseling would include all forms of counseling, their individual theories, methods, applications, ideals and interventions, and would present to us what the object of counseling is.

The Two Basic Philosophical Questions

The Object-Oriented Ontology of Graham Harman is able to be viewed, like no other theory before and despite its specific argument, as evidencing an answer to two questions that plague philosophy at every turn. The first question: Is philosophy a name for what thoughts thinkers are able to do, as in thinkers are able to think thoughts? In other words, is philosophy confined to an approach upon things and the universe where one must and can only spend philosophical energy analyzing all the ways thoughts can fill or otherwise occupy thinking? Or, the second question: Does philosophy get to, address and then speak from what may or may not be essence itself, as they say, the thing in-itself? These questions revolve specifically and irrevocably around thought and nothing else, for the failure to address this phenomenon represents a decision that has already been made and assumed in the presentation of the philosophical position. Due to the nature of philosophy itself, then, because it indeed most often appears in some context of thought, it seems that it would be naturally subject to an effort which does not pull punches when it comes to what exactly is being done; the logic of the psyche makes its primary claims to the workings of thought. The issue thus falls plainly in the realm of the subject of psychology where the subject must become a philosophical issue. A psychology without a philosophy which informs its ontology is also primarily problematic philosophically; this is also the issue I hope to address and make some constructive suggestions upon.

Everything philosophical first must rely upon an answer to the questions above before anything else happens, at least as much as we might be thinking about it, or we are simply reiterating the post-modern theological mantra of the special human being suspended in new discourses—much of philosophy since the 19th century can be understood as the new kind of monotheistic religious apology for the modern human. By contrast, the maxim here, upon an object ontological ground, is a rose by any other name would smell as sweet because it is a rose. We are not quibbling about terms, meanings and definitions. It is becoming apparent that the various counseling and psychological theories are complimentary in practice despite their arguments of exclusivity. The philosophical approach which would problematize statements is always in large, phenomenological – which is to say, based in an unquestioned ability of a human thinking subject that is making meaning. Yet one is never dissuaded from asking the meaning of “stop,” for example, and never see that the meaning is different than the definition. The question which splits thought unto itself, though, to mark religion as a vital and inseparable element of the being of human in every arena is whether thoughts do anything or are anything in-themselves. The question is no longer either how to remove the religious component of all thinking, or what we mean by thought and thinking, that is, it is no longer what is thought and how to correct our conception of it. No longer is mere questioning itself automatically a credible method for finding out what a thing is: Such a method finds that a thing is always a thought or a definition that arises out of thought; altering the definition of the term does nothing to change the fact that we now have come across and are forced thus to admit.

The significant question is the relation of thought to its definition, or in other words, how we organize what thought actually is. To continue to proceed into thought by asking what it is

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through the same method is a redundant operation. To reiterate; the deconstruction of words by reorganizing definitions assumes an ability that is left unquestioned, that is thinking. If we deconstruct the term ‘thinking’ by the same manner, we must deny whatever definition we come up for how we are to proceed to know the truth of things through definition. The issues for psychology in general then are whether we can indeed find a thing that we can identify as thought, and what does it do. However, it is a non sequitur to suggest that thought is the name for a conflation of neural processes, for again we are being philosophically loose in the estimation, relying upon a certain kind of ungrounded faith to overcome the redundancy which has been implemented. Likewise, sense, as a simple body action-stimulus, as the five senses, does not except in pain or extreme pleasure ever overcome sense as in the coming upon things of knowing, as something might make sense to us, and there is more going on than whether or not we consciously are actively noticing thoughts occurring.

The next question arises how we would know of something that is outside of the knowing of it? Traditionally, this is the phenomenological question of the thing in-itself, to which the answer has justified science to allow it to make its own claims upon a domain which is assumed to be particularly given to the human being. Science merely must rely upon a philosophy that it denies by its internal logic of method and operation, however, to thereby retroactively assert what it is not, e.g. not relying upon a philosophy which is never disclosed to thereby assert a philosophy of the activity that has already occurred. This is redundancy, but this time a suspended judgement upon an inherent contradiction, that is, a judgement made to dispel the suspension. Must we really simply redefine the parameters of thinking, at that, redefine what we mean by the word thinking in order to ‘not’ think something else, such as the given object of science? Are we really allowed to merely talk about what we speak of? Where does that leave thinking?

I refer to this methodological redundancy as a theological suspension because it operates despite seeing it for what it is. Despite the conventional philosophical method which calls for changing anything which is noticed, this notice is just a notice for the purpose of being able to see and observe. Also, for the purpose of epistemological distinction as opposed to logical elimination, I call the approach that is not theologically suspended, description. Nevertheless, the method of theological suspension, and its modern correlate science, seems to be what the philosophy of at least the past couple hundred years would have us operate by; whether specifically stated or not, thoughts are assumed and implicitly rely upon a human ability to commune with transcendence, something ‘other’ which calls to the individual to action, albeit, immanently. The question is about how we discern what action is to be taken. Is the activity implicit to the scene, or is there some work to be done in order to be able to actually notice what is being presented at that moment? Simple philosophical definition, even a definition of thought or thinking, while evident in history, is revealed as a philosophically lazy method for the discerning of things, and probably a questionable means to discern a vector of action; philosophy and indeed science of mind would have it that we are able to define ourselves into a definite world, or at least have a definite world that we are defining. The problem of the chicken or the egg seems always best solved by an implicit theological faith; one wonders though, how a mind would be able to accomplish such a miracle, that is, believe something into existence, but even the science of neurology relies upon this ability.

Graham Harman refers to this general kind of ability or state of modern identity as knowledge; it works and gets things done, but it never achieves what the doing actually is while also positing what allows for the object of knowledge, and just as thoroughly and often never is able to find us the thing in-itself. The suggestion in this odd, believable and widely relatable suspension (modern knowledge) is that we should be cautious when we posit a phenomenology,

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then, because the usual phenomenological arguments any graduate student knows stop holding all the water here. If we wish to get to something substantial, as opposed to something which just works at times but at all times, then we might wish to begin to apply what we know of mental health into the process of philosophical reckoning.

An Entrance into a New Teleology is a Closure of an Old Ontology

The two questions now arrive at the beginning of philosophy, apparently assumed or missed in history. They were missed because the assumption is that a common reason can allow for a common ground amidst a field that is otherwise unknown yet knowable through the definition of a common ground (suspension). Yet these two questions go to the heart of what philosophy is as opposed to what philosophy means. If it means anything, then whenever we begin to say we are involved with philosophy we are allowed to play an old school game and feign one or the other depending on what is given us, what suits our need to be right and validated, to avoid claiming responsibility for our acts; we insinuate a vacant, or perhaps negative, phenomenology, what is known in Triple-O as the object that withdraws from view, but in other circles the result is the same; e.g., the indivisible remainder (Zizek) and even void (Badiou). Any consensus is merely an arbitrary stopping point – faith – but also one parameter of limit by which we can discern an object.

The notion of withdrawn object is relevant to counseling. Counselors are trained to suspend their own judgement and bias, to be curious into the client’s phenomenology which appears in the discourse they use; counselors persistently poke holes in their own ideas (preconceptions and implicit biases) about the client by being aware upon multiple levels and often evoking responses from or outright asking the client about what she really means by any statement they make, though other kinds of involvement are also used. In short, the counselor must be and not be while the client is allowed to be, but the discipline regularly avoids this contradiction through having the client and counselor to be together or at least at the same time. We might be inclined to ask if they likewise be in the same space. From that kind of implicit denial, though, in counseling as well as philosophy, somehow, we are dissuaded from asking questions of that kind let alone about those three kinds of Being. We are silently persuaded to uphold a faith. Whether or not we find any actual substance in these methods, actually, does not matter because those methods are the way we avoid the issue at hand, which is the philosophical issue of method, for the sake of justifying the subject thinker to presence – not Being withdrawn – and their ‘personal theory’ which moves then toward a non-unified and idealistic discipline.

Further, the general way counselors approach the therapeutic relationship is through validating the client’s experience – little concern is given to the counselor’s experience – in the therapeutic encounter; the counselor may indeed grow from it, but by definition, it is about the client. In one light, we have the medical model, aka. neurology, psychiatry and often psychology (such as psychoanalysis and psychodynamic but also cognitive and behavioral therapies, and most likely others), and we have the blatant failure pointed out earlier of the orientation which supposes that the mind has a structure, can be diagnosed like a physical organ and that solutions can be organized and mapped in the same manner; these theories overtly present and rely upon an ‘expert/patient’ dichotomy. Here, the expert is ‘absent’ by definition of the relationship, his presence arriving through the reliance on the compendium of research, that is, what is not really there or there only by virtue the expert who is not unloading the theoretical postulates upon the client. Then in another light, a salient philosophical issue arises in the therapeutic theories which suppose, theoretically, the counselor and client to be involved with or otherwise co-create a

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transparent therapeutic environment (such as Feminist theory) in a neutral therapeutic space. A philosophical problem appears because there is a contradiction founded in a space occupied by two people of unequal power (the counselor/therapist holds more power). Hence, there is no ‘consensus’ between the counselor and client, no ‘agreement’ on method. Thus, we can say that any agreement is already implicitly ‘outside’ of the client’s ability to make an informed decision about any co-creation or transparency. It is the power that the counselor is already wielding (for ideological presence) which allows for the client to agree or for the two of them to come to a consensus.

One must continue to keep in mind, though, that this essay does not propose to negate by reduction of argument through the mere showing or revealing of the situation. We are involved with a description of the situation as it is philosophically – the object of counseling – while not necessarily suggesting a problem with any particular method of counseling or that an improvement can or should be made; any argument would be a part of the contradiction, a part of what we must allow to remain suspended. The two therapeutic examples above can characterize two extremes, or parameters, of possible professional psychotherapeutic involvements; though the format of the essay can convey an appearance of critique, the intention is involved with only the facts of situation. There is no ulterior meaning to glean from the situation at this point but that there are indeed these different manners of therapeutic approach and that these manners have good analogue for a segue into a philosophical consideration of the object of counseling.

The afore mentioned contradiction upheld by a methodologically withdrawn aspect is suspended in the following manner. If I am doing philosophy in an effort to get to something significantly essential (say, for counseling, a therapeutic consensus) or to say something about it and I find, in response to sustained barrage of questions about meaning and definition, that there is nothing essential that I can communicate, then I can revert to the argument that we are really only dealing with a multiplicity of thinking human beings who are all allowed (according to modern philosophy, at least) to see things differently, i.e. have different realities and worlds, and admitting that, we then move to find a reasonable common ground – which then is the phenomenological intentional consensus where what is absent is suspended. Then on the other hand, if philosophy is merely a name for what thought is capable of doing, and the arguments cycle down to suggest that thought is not doing anything, that indeed thought reflects, views and expresses only itself at all times in both perception and assertion, then I can take up an argument that there is something more essential than thought, or something else of which thought is but a weak reflection and retain the absence in presence, for example; again, the consensus. Where then are we finding a reasonable ground which conjoins these two manners of argument? In every case, the reduction must fall into a choice of subjective reason – what can we do – since there is no phenomenologically subjective manner which can objectively weight proof to either side. Any argument I would wish to propose merely relies upon one of those methods (truth procedures) which I have chosen in advance for any condition. In order to retain my subjective philosophical primacy, I will choose not to agree depending upon which condition arises: If thought has an essence, if thought is an object in-itself, then the argument will be that it has no essence, but if thought has no essence, then I will argue that I have subjective intentional primacy and privilege to create my own reality. The issue here is thus whether a common ground has any meaning, and this is to say, what ground are we speaking of? Hence, this last is the significance of the object: In terms of counseling, it is the therapeutic relationship at every instance, the consensus implied by the expert or made overt through transparency.

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In the case of much of our current eclectic and integrative approach to counseling, that which appears as more essential are the products of science, neurology and supporting research- based results to which both client and counselor are subjects. Yet, as I have already submitted, this is only because counseling as a discipline has no overt substantial philosophical basis; its philosophy (if we can indeed generalize the multiplicity of theoretical approaches to counseling into one category) tends to develop in hindsight as a theological apology. Such vacillation (between assertion of the common science and the apology for the realization of nothing common) can be seen all through the ages of Western philosophy and its concurrent events and practices. The most infamous is (the conventional misreading that is) Kant’s idealism, but the simplest example is in Jean-Paul Sartre’s primacy of existence over essence. The contradiction of having the meaning of his proposals have no initiating essence, which is to say, having really nothing to be able to comprehend because everything merely exists, including the argument, demands a theological apology, which comes in the form of the given philosophical assumption of thought – which, rather un-ironically, itself is argued to be grounded in nothing. If everything is grounded only in thought, then what grounds thought? And what grounds nothing?

In the end, both conservative and integrative approaches to counseling merely refuse to attempt to say anything about an essential ground due to the implicit idealism inherent to a certain philosophical extension of phenomenology. I submit that the refusal is based in a theological ideal which inadvertently and ironically allows, on one hand, for a philosophically unsubstantiated recourse to the scientific ‘evidence,’ mentioned above, provided by technology but without, again, having a rigorous understanding of just what technology actually is in any sense that it can or should be applied to mental health in general but what could better be called the individual psychic manifestation. Then on the other hand, creative or artistic improvisation makes up for the implicit ‘lack’ of science. In short, counseling relies upon a sort of religious hope that its methods might work. However, far from suggesting a solution to this conundrum, as though we might be able to overcome this methodological issue, this essay will instead attempt to describe how such a conundrum forms the essence of a substantial theoretical ground for the collective effort of mental health counselors, that is, the object of counseling.

The General Theory

This essay is an attempt to lay some groundwork toward a unified theory of counseling. The general topic proposes that an orientation upon objects is central to a philosophy of counseling. This philosophical approach arises in some coordination with Graham Harman’s seminal treatise on objects called Object Oriented Ontology. This essay also describes how essence has been placed as further removed from knowledge, to be defined redundantly as an ‘essential place’ or thing in-itself that is out of reach, and how this situation reveals an actual truth which can serve as the substance from which counseling as a free, curious and creative effort toward solving problems of mentality and psychic forms, may derive a sure practical validity. Essence, in this case, is what we all know as essence, the essence of which is defined in whatever manner which stays consistent with what we already understand as essence before we apply the operation of philosophy; essence is foundational as definition is itself indeed defined without having to be defined. If the subject is Existential, then the object is essential. We concede the point that whatever we define as a specific essence is itself indicating an essence as we understand it regularly. As the anthropologist cum philosopher Bruno Latour might agree, we deal with what is in front of us before it is reduced to nothing by modern phenomenalistic philosophies. While new

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ideas and philosophies should and can arise, understanding where philosophy has brought us thus far, the task of philosophy as a category, the self-identity that is philosophy and nothing else, is in our case no longer to create new arguments toward reductive metaphysical truth or to support the assertions of subjective priority. The task now is to take responsibility for what we have before us, whether it be of the past, present or future, to organize the chaos which informs us to our phenomenological nothingness, our relative chaotic realities. In the words of mental health, as counselors, our task is to be able to present viable ground upon which the generally discomforted, disorganized or disordered mentality may find a certain reflexive solace, that is, a substantial ground upon which therapy may do its work. As witnessed by the overwhelming surge of mental health issues in our society, the present philosophical ground of an unknown and unknowable relative creative or scientific therapeutic license has proven to be insufficient.

Modern philosophy shows us that there is, at once, no one method by which to ascertain the truth of a situation in order to apply a solution, but also, no multiplicity of methods which likewise is able to address all problems with success; a specific set of determined values is required in order to arrive at any solution, and this involves a question of access to excess. Access never occurs anywhere; it always occurs at a specific place, even if that place is a multiplicity of places (the place is multiple). A case in point is the generally acknowledged failure of the ‘top down’ (which is actually redundant and retroactive) psychoanalytical manner of grafting a theoretical model of psychology (the excess that the theory relies upon) upon all human beings (the point of access). This assumption of a general but specific validation of methodological activity gives rise to the discipline of counseling acquiescing silently to a “whatever works” approach that encourages creativity, intuition and empathy that we call integrative. Every creative endeavor is accepted if it produces results (and no egregious complaint) and whether or not the results can be measured; this is what phenomenology is, the phenomenon always in the end avoids ‘the other’ and slips through our fingers, under or over our grasp; discursive, narrative and open. We thus teach and seek conceptual and practical flexibility over rigidness. Whether a theoretical system of counseling, or an improvisational approach, whether religious, spiritual, or scientific, each often achieves results (within particular social and ideological limits or circumstances). Definition, while useful to get things done, does not really tell us very much about the thing in question across theoretical paradigms; always there is some aspect of the thing which alludes our understanding, which exceeds knowledge. We may indeed have a theoretically closed explanation and correspondent application, but always some, if not many subjects do not respond. Always, some are left out, by definition, that is, due to definition. It seems any conventional method is actually only concerned with most and not all suffering human beings, and this is significant to the object of counseling as a whole, that is, in-itself.

In general, the role of the counselor is to allow the client, with some guidance, to fill out their own meaning and enact their own solution, or for any term, to become empowered to themselves in the world. Again, we are dealing with essence and not merely existential definitions, not merely argumentative or researched ‘proofs’ of effectiveness; no matter what terms we use to inscribe particular theoretical methods to effect outcomes, as counselors, we want people to be able to come to their own sense of ability in the world, a solution that they own, embody or otherwise Be, whatever that is. This essay is not attempting to argue a new way to counsel nor a new theoretical approach; we have enough of them, and people will undoubtedly come up with more. What we find, though, in the general effort of counseling, inscribed by postmodern ‘idealism’ and scientific empiricism, is that even as we encourage creative and integrative approaches, the allowance for multiple effective treatments is itself an existential contradiction in

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terms solved by defining ‘universes of terms’ (the theory) and the conditions that must be enacted or brought about by both counselor and client. We find this everywhere in practitioners decrying other methods as well as adhering to their own ways despite the failures: Denial and assertion, or, reduction and assertion.

Indeed, the French philosopher François Laruelle describes for us this condition. That which is philosophically sufficient unto itself, i.e. the therapeutic approach which serves some issues but not all of them, necessarily denotes a common and unitive ‘non-philosophical’ solution outside of the particular therapy’s ability to reckon, outside of the theory’s accounting. This is to say, the contradiction involved in the general approach of counseling shows that any solution always arises in correlation, but as well as in the failures (contradiction of contradiction). In order to allow for the general effort of counseling in its own manner or manners, without negating any particular approach, while also accounting for the unique effectiveness of each under a common and specific conceptual paradigm, we call the therapeutic correlation which arises in existence, an object.

Consistency and Cohesion

The genius of Graham Harman is that he simply told us that now, with his Object-Oriented Philosophy, we going to talk about objects; in this essay, Object Oriented Philosophy (O.O.P.) will necessarily be involved with and communicate Object Oriented Ontology (O.O.O., pronounced “Triple-O”). The problem of his philosophy, at least from the phenomenological standpoint, though, is that he didn’t give us a way there. One is simply supposed to understand the conversion involved without a philosophical path to get us there. How one gets from the centralized thinking subject, or in our case, the relation of subjects such as between the therapist and the client, each who is always involved with itself, to a consideration of an object in-itself that lay outside of the thinking subject’s purview, is never shown to us or explained; it is implied in his philosophy but the method of argumentation has often yet to succeed in pulling us out of our correlational subjectivity. This is to say that his philosophy behaves from the standpoint of the not correlational, i.e. a subject ultimately free in its phenomenological ability to make meaning. Nevertheless, the simplicity of finding this apparently esoteric path comes when we understand what Harman the philosopher is doing outside of the conceptual paradigm of his philosophical proposal; by simply moving to talk about objects, he implies that all along philosophy has been invested in and constructed by a generalizable human grounding essence called thought. Martin Heidegger could not even be so forthright in his discussion What is it we call thinking? So indeed, not so ironically, it is very possible that a certain general historical effort of philosophy has been more about the doing thinking, while psychology and counseling has been upon thought and thinking. The untying of the knot of eternal subjective relativity (the given of the subject of meaning, where psychology assumes; yet, philosophy assumes) is in order for an object to be truly known in-itself. We can begin to talk about the being of thinking.

The notion is nearly ridiculous when we think about it. Here, not only do we not need to go on to reference and compare voluminous lists of philosophers and theoreticians and their respective ideas, but if we were to do so then we would have to ask why we would need to take notice about thought in this way; because, the reference would be assuming a reflex that philosophy has the monopoly for designating everything that has to do with thought (which it indeed does argue through a whole linage of ideas about language, discourse, text, sign, signifier, etcetera, the meanings of which get so convoluted, one has to wonder where one begins and one ends and if there is indeed a common thing that any discussion concerning those items really involves just

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because they use the same terms) as opposed to or within a context of various disciplines, in which philosophy is but one. We have then to wonder if philosophy is able to suggest anything about anything if indeed its method will conveniently refer out an answer to another discipline which, at any moment, it does not wish to address.

The question on the table is whether or not we are involved with philosophy itself or merely a definition of it. Triple-O refrains from reifying the centralized thinker, so many might reply, “of course Harman’s philosophy is involved with thinking, this notice merely shows the contradiction within Harman’s philosophy that makes his move weak”; or in the terms of counseling, “how could mental health not concern thought?” However, my point is that this contradiction allows for a strong move, a move which allows for a substantial ground of practice. In other words, a phenomenology of a subject never exceeds itself for anyone else to be able to apprehend or comprehend because always something is missed in the appropriation, and because any appropriation (comprehension, conceptualization, perception) is made by another subject of the same limit. Any difference, such as that posed by Jacques Derrida in his grammatology, is ultimately based in a contradiction of the phenomenal subject; this is point that Kierkegaard makes of Hegel and is also why what I shall generalize to call the Continental tradition of philosophy mainly concerns itself with the issue of transcendence or immanence: Because the contradiction that is come upon by an unproblematized given of thought and thinking (and its step-brother, reason) can only be solved by relying upon the idea, which is merely another name of spirit. Hence, phenomenological idealism and the realist counterpart Harman calls Object Oriented Ontology. Any subjective application of solution (totality) is therefore always denying the validity of the theoretical subject (definition), and that this is the significant theoretical feature that faces us for a philosophy of counseling. Harman, in effect, is saying that the philosophy which we call phenomenalism describes a condition (a totality) whereby thought is contained by itself and thus never reaches the object in-itself, and that this philosophy is but a particular manner (a definition) of thinking about things. This is a radically different take than a philosophy which historically might have typically posited (or denied) a path of itself getting to essence, or even existence. This is the crucial and significant matter at hand, for philosophy and as well, as I propose, for a unified effort for counseling; an object-oriented foundation of counseling concerns the counselor herself – “in-herself,” so to speak, or the in-itself object that is her subjectivity – and not so much the theories or methods she employs. Less how a counselor ‘sees,’ but how that seeing might miss the object: Once a counselor is indeed a counselor, involved with the therapeutic relationship, she is concerned with how the client sees because the client is the object of the subject of the matter at hand.

The Object That is The Subject

Because the distinction brought to light above is not usually made overt but is rather mixed within an idea of a common arena of philosophy, the insinuation by assumption – that a philosophy of counseling must and can only make a statement about what the therapeutic relationship is made of and or what it is supposed to do – works on our emotion, but which is here mainly our sense of want to be included in a valid community. The lack of clarity which is built into the idea of a common arena, whether we call it philosophy or counseling (the category ‘philosophy’ also speaks to a ‘philosophy of…’ counseling, in this case) is what calls for a conversion, or a change in view or orientation upon objects, for it to have any weight. By the conveying of a sense accompanying or beside what we are actually doing in philosophy (or counseling), Harman’s move communicates a norm that we did not know was in operation, which is that in the actuality of philosophy we had

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been dealing only with thought and thinking the whole time and nothing else. Thought is assumed so common that no discussion about it is even suggested outside of the traditional philosophical lineage; we find the only avenues into discussing thought is by avoiding it through speaking of where it is located or what it is made of (neurons, brain) or what it does (traditional psychology and the various theories of counseling). The significance of O.O.P. is that Harman holds this up in front of our face and defines for us this tradition by relying upon it without our explicit consent. We are thus shocked out of the love of wisdom every time we rely upon thought as an assumed philosophical given.

The confusion persists paired with this silent influence and is noticed as the assumption that we have been actually and indeed dealing with a certain kind of phenomenalism but which we did not fully acknowledge or realize we were involved with. We are hit below the belt, not only because as avowed phenomenologists we figured we did not have to be explicit in this (it was assumed a common knowledge by the term), but also because the practitioners of this system, such as within Harman’s brand of philosophy, a species of (speculative) realism as we stay in modern knowledge-cognition, we find a secret motor that reveals Object Oriented Philosophy as another name for a confused stratagem that we have come to know as postmodernism. Despite what Jean- François Lyotard, who is noted for the term, may have indicated by incredulity toward metanarratives, it is possible to view speculative realism and O.O.P. more clearly through the lens of a postmodern rehashing of phenomenalism rewritten in different terms, a central thinking subject secreted into an absolute realism by the magic of misdirection. This is all to say that this is speculative only where everything arises as a type of thought.

Further, a very short version of postmodernism allows for a ground of a thinking subject in her world justified through the ability to manipulate discourse. Harman relies upon a decried yet strangely involved speculative realist interpretation of this ability for intentional manipulation and proclaims it through the assumption as the fair game. In other words, orientation upon knowledge-cognition by simply using different words and a different palate of terms, Harman understands his playing of the game is entirely justified by the arguments that he is able to make, the main or pivotal argument of his Object Oriented Philosophy being the one that he decides needs not to be made; that is, the thinker using discourse gets to choose his topic and thereby intentionally talk about anything one wants by changing the foundational or central term around which a constellation of terms orbit; the center of gravity shifted, the map of the universe and each body within it likewise shifts; the definitional center changed, the definitions of the objects change such that they appear thus different or in a different light; the whole universe changes.

This then goes back to the gut punch which communicates that philosophy was never really about what we think it was, because in a semantic universe terms can be changed arbitrarily and at random. This is the question that Quentin Meillassoux voices concerning how if the universe is indeed discursive, or is merely a phenomenological correlation, then how there is any consistency at all? As he writes: We should then be prepared for waking up one day, or even walking to dinner one evening, to the universe suddenly having completely changed beyond recognition or totally fallen apart. In this light, we might begin to entertain what Cedric Nathaniel ponders of Slavoj Zizek’s exercise; namely, if we are able to change the basis upon which the very notion of change is understood and yet notice this change, then the very discussion of an idea of a universe is found to be about nothing, which is to say, that the only continuity in philosophy is in the argument that one is able to construct successfully. Hence, no one could have thought differently because we are dealing with a ubiquitous essence that we call thought which is able to notice this kind of change. Harman takes what was at one time (note Heidegger) only implicit and makes it explicit as though

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it was always, or should have been, obvious: We are dealing only with thought and not merely its contents. This is the significance of Harman’s extended argument presented in his book “Tool Being.” However, because Harman makes the move there to speak only about the possibility of conceptualizing thought’s contents (in this case, objects) which lay outside of phenomenological omnipresence and omnipotence, through approaching things in opposition to the phenomenological approach which analyzed the inclusivity and correspondence of thinking, he thus left a gaping hole – a conceptual vacuum – into which philosophy disappears (as we see in the recent issues of the end of philosophy, end of history, post-humanism, post-capitalism, etc., which arise after nothing, or after brute existence or after finitude) to thus leave us with the issue of how philosophy is ever suspended as an epistemological foundation by which to look into every activity, event or object that could be or have been, in the first place. This resultant conceptual force arises outside of the phenomenological primacy to point our concern directly toward what is left: Objects in general, but the specific object at the heart of the great philosophical hole, thought itself. It is this philosophical vacancy which brings about the occasion for a new psychological intervention called the discipline of counseling.

Nothing is Substantial to the Universal Object

Nihilism, or the act based in nothing and hence the act which is likewise ontologically empty, the result that is the reduction to absurdity that is called ‘nothing,’ the unproblematized given located at the center of every conventional philosophical issue, is that which is actively and intentionally denied, that which shall not be spoken of due to the embarrassment implemented by someone else making a definitive move upon a meaning which no one wanted to (really) know themselves. When nihilism is spoken, the term is itself is split into either a meaning of something that it is not, i.e. the talk about nihilism, or the embodiment of the ‘tremendous mystery’, the object by which nihilism is knowable. It is the emperor’s new clothes either upheld by the most beautiful outfit that has been made, or revealed for what they are: The new clothes allow Being to be denied through reference to something that we are able to have opinions upon but is not really there, or to be finally admitted, and thus viewable, for what it is.

We call the embarrassment which accompanies the revealing of the truth which lay at the heart of nihilism, offense. We do not know nothing even as we might know of nothing; the embarrassment is shown not by the intellectual argument around embarrassment, but by the reaction that is the intellectualism – because the intellectualized act would always wish to have nothing identify a particular essence which is not itself – to refer out to something else, instead of what it is. The discussion which continues around the topic of nothing is itself an intellectualization of a basic offense in the thinking itself and a quick move to pave over it, to act – ironically – like the problem is moot, like it is nothing. Zizek references this kind of response to the Vichy Government in World War Two; namely, a government in name only which functions but has no effective power. Similarly, philosophy, left in shambles to be a fractured ideal by the foreclosure of Laruelle’s Non-philosophy and powerless to hold itself together on its own, can only be resurrected through the act that disregards the rule which no longer has teeth. No rational act can arise except to act outside of what the argument would denote, and no argument can piece back together what has been torn asunder; the only way to hold it together is to deny that the rational act is something that arises outside of the argument, behave then as though it is inherent and within it, and to assert itself as indeed implicit to the argument. Yet by this notice, the rift is already apparent. Philosophy thereby becomes something other than what we thought it was.

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The argument that Harman successfully makes, in as much that it was the only one that has to be made for his philosophy to meet success, is that no one is able to call him out on the argument that he feels he does not have to make: It is the argument that he makes anyways, it is the O.O.P. argument. This behavior (in contrast to what it likes to make believe of itself in rationality) then agrees with Victor Frankl’s logotherapeutic assertion that meaning is that capacity of the human being which arises out of situations wherein the human being is subject to determinative powers against which she is completely powerless. Incidentally, it is possible to read Harman’s ontology as the determinative aspect of love involved with gaining wisdom.

This argument, as mentioned a couple times already, is the essence of phenomenological irony; namely, the philosopher is signaled to the embarrassment that she thought philosophy was concerned with something more than asserting the power of thinking and manipulating discourse, and due to this emotional reaction, that which is argumentatively consistent, or, that which we might enjoy seeing in the history of philosophy or the intellectual linage that can be associated with all things philosophical, must turn to some other manner to uphold its cogency. For Harman, it is simply objects. A discussion of objects which includes the human being as an object has no direct link, as yet, no bridge which connects the subject-thinker to the object outside of its thoughtful and reasonable domain. Such a move has relied upon something that exists outside of the traditional or conventional phenomenological method of coming upon the world. Indeed, Harman gives us entrance into a new world.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having conversations or changing the topic; it happens all the time and wonderful ideas arise from them. One of the things Harman has done, though, is put that orientation upon things which I am calling conventional philosophy on notice that it no longer holds a special place for doing anything; his O.O.P. is the perfect example, i.e., it does nothing: The nothing it does is the conversion. Instead, as Harman suggests here and there, his philosophy, as well as any philosophy – now – can be put to use. Philosophers are historically in the middle of thought that is using things, such as, the use of finding out what a thing is made of or what it does; now we move into how philosophy itself is being used. Nothing, as opposed to another philosophical idea to play with, becomes a foundational substance of things and thus allows for a different kind of view upon the universe—because it is nothing to be concerned with.

Another thing Triple-O does nothing for is modernity and progress. Following Bruno Latour into his networks and time, the drum major Harman with his object-oriented ontology has signaled philosophy to ‘mark time’, or march in place, despite itself, still keeping the locked and stable tempo, but moving nowhere. The philosophical tune still plays, the drums create a sound like the band is moving, the people further along the parade route can hear the band, but the band is not coming. By now, some have gone home, but many of the people just started entertaining themselves, and we can still hear them humming the phenomenological, intentional, speculative philosophical tune with a nice motif of realism. No longer following the band into the center of town, people are forced to do their own thing. The irony inherent to this kind of philosophical presence, as well and thus the postmodern brand of phenomenalism embedded in an Object Ontology, thus allows for some reorganization, albeit vicariously caused, a building of a sort of kinetic energy, but a new kind of energy. The tumbleweeds blow down the street, the children lap their lollipops, the parade parishioners cool themselves with ornate as well as newspaper-folded and handy battery fans while leaning on street signs and light posts glancing at smartphones; some people are happy, some curious, others sad and anxious, some are mad. As well, there is people, there is happiness, there is sadness, there is curiosity, anxiety and madness. Objects begin to appear as if out of nowhere, such as the color of the street and sky, the echoes of the band around the

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corner, the scent of one’s neighbor standing there on the hot day, and the feelings of hope, as well as annoyance and irritation—a whole field of objects never encountered before. All the while the band still marks time, playing the real tune, but not moving, or as Latour might say, standing in still time. All this time, created by the move into realism, allows for things to get done, or, as might be better described, allows for things to fill out the subject that is based, now, on nothing, that is, the subject of Object-Oriented Philosophy, to its objectivity. The subject is brought out of time to be what it is as an object of the universe, or as I say, a universal object.

The Object is Substantial where The Subject is Correlational

We find significance with Harman’s ideas, even if we might disagree with his arguments, for now the question that faces philosophy has to do with how such a simple assumption disrupts what we know to call history. As discussed by Nathaniel, the problem becomes noticeable as realism just before Harman’s proposals appear, concerned with the assumed general philosophical method (the ubiquity, as philosophy is automatically assumed to be inseparable from a particular method) and not so much with any particular arguments, philosophy (the object we can call philosophy) would appear to make. In fact, as we see with Laruelle’s Non-philosophy, it is the method of argument, that which is assumed inherent to the or a ubiquitous method, through which the problem of philosophy itself arises. This is the problem of irony, but the more specific and true manner of discerning a problem located also by Latour, which is, reductionism, the flipside or mirror image of correlationalism; once the last reduction is understood we are left with a vision arising from impasse. In his book Beyond Finitude Quentin Meillassoux coined the term correlationalism to indicate the problem of how philosophy might be able to get outside of its own subjective limits.

The issue that Harman then shows us in relief of his own work is in his attempts to argue (reduce) that we are able to get outside of philosophical correlationalism by simply using different words and phrases. For example, instead of philosophy being at all times an application of the intellect to discern and solve problems of reason, philosophy is now and again the love of wisdom. However, we can also surmise why or how he came to such a solution: Less that he was dissatisfied with so many arguments and more that he was bored with the usual post-modern phenomenological developments, which is to say that he was already in love, so to speak, not alienated from it. Yet the formulation of how he was able to make such a big splash in the philosophical world now should be obvious. Thought is determined in knowledge understood as sacrosanct to philosophy and unimpeachable, and the discourse apparent to thought is allowed to be manipulated by a withdrawn aspect (the thinker) which is the subject inspired through intuition. The key to this kind of magic which occurs right in front of us is found when we understand that philosophy is addressing that which is outside of it already, which is reality itself. Hence, Harman’s philosophical position arises within and without the postmodern phenomenalism; to a fish in water swimming in a medium it cannot discern which is its natural and obvious universe, Triple-O is like a bubble floating up from some never before known ‘beneath’ to a never imagined surface beyond which a new medium can be found; Triple-O reveals not only the water to its being, but also the water to its actual universality, which is to say, as water with a threshold beyond which is air, for example.

Those Speculative philosophers in general, and Harman in particular with his Object- Oriented Philosophy, make their whole claim upon a thought that is able to address things that are not thought, not bound by thoughtful intensions; hence the speculative disclaimer. However,

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where Harman shows himself is in his rejection of what some philosophers have been noticing is more theological than philosophical; that is, in the doubling-down and raising the phenomenological stakes to its spiritual (in the local) sense and religious (in the global) sense. This downplaying of the theological reason to thus make what is ‘other than’ a philosophy appears to restate that reality has to do with communing with a transcendent, and appears rather myopic as much as it might take the theological tact in this way, for it tends toward an advocacy of thought that misses the responsibility to the world it inhabits and makes claims to for the sake of ontological authenticity as it appears to only restate postmodern phenomenalism in new clothes, or new terms, as the case may be. This faux pas is due to the implicit assumption of thought as it is conveyed into history accompanied by a philosophically proper manner of understanding the world. Harman proposes to avoid this fall into transcendence by speaking of objects that are defined as not subject to the thinker of thoughts; though beyond the scope of this essay, where Harman closes off that connection, interestingly enough at least one philosopher, Adam Miller, in his book Speculative Grace, has attempted, with some success, at opening wide this unavoidable conflation of elements.

Harman thus is involved with an intentional denial of the philosophy with which he is implicit for the sake of speaking about objects, and not subjects, and counseling typically does the same thing but subjects not objects. This is the irony at the heart of his move: There is no intellectual argumentative justification for his move beyond the actuality of the move itself. This is to say, the move is determined by emotion, or rather, love; counseling could do as well by getting out of the intellectual justification of the emotional task which is the therapeutic encounter. The intellectualization would then be left to the subject of the particular psychotherapeutic theory, whether it be for the counselor or the client. Perhaps psychology is motivated by the intellect, but we could hope that the desire to help is more motivated by love for the client, or people in general. So, by his decisive move, Harman thus is able to indeed address objects—objects that are typically and regularly understood as common, empirical, physical, “out-there”, non-subjective objects, as well as the object that has been typically assumed in the term subject, i.e. the human being. The problem highlighted by Harman’s move for us is thus indeed the subject. Yet, because Harman, in his career, is involved with a more architectural project of how objects might inscribe spaces of knowing, or how this might be the case, I take up the yoke of the object that we call the subject, or in our case, the object of counseling which is the therapeutic relationship itself.

How can this be? How can Harman actually be talking about the subject? His is called Object Ontology, the being of objects; how can I now say that the significant issue at the heart of his work is the subject? We have already been over this earlier in this essay. It is here that we find the real significance of his move: The object of his object-oriented ontology is the subject of his philosophy. In the final analysis, the analysis which once took philosophical knowledge as getting to something essential, phenomenology was found to be insoluble, which is to say, contradictory to its effort, or as I will say, contradictory to a particular manner of viewing philosophy’s (world- ) historical effort. This conclusion, or the conclusions, of phenomenological investigation such as with Alfred Whitehead, Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and what can be understood as phenomenological political extensions as we find with Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, was that the phenomenon often enough is a self-justifying effort, and that this kind of philosophical justification is located in the power of the argument to concord with reason as a world-invested manifestation. Not one conventionally understood philosophy that we can label phenomenological has at its root a non-insular, expansive or inclusive justification of the subject itself, whatever that may be. The subject is routinely understood to be infinitely justified by itself including what is knowable of any ‘other’, because, as well, any ‘other-ness’ is mediated

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by the subject. This is the whole of intentional phenomenology and this is why, often enough, any example categorized as phenomenological will do to indicate a belief system, worldview, or rationale of the speaking person for any instance or circumstance. The contradiction though, again as we already have noted, is that somehow every ‘other’ gets to do the same thing. The common theoretical use of phenomenology, or the idea of it, no matter how philosophically imprecise or incorrect in its rendering, means the meaning that an individual person attests to, but without accounting for the contradiction involved in knowing phenomenologically what the other phenomenal subject is meaning; hence the speculative theological gap-stop of theology, spirituality and religion. For how could a subject have a universe of meaning into which everything is mediated and still be able to comprehend or even come across a meaning which is not that subjective meaning? It is a phenomenon, an unexplainable feature that this essay highlights. To recoup the proper phenomenology to the various authors and their own particular arguments is therefore merely to point out the proof of my assertion here; namely that phenomenology as a philosophical foundation has no actual common foundation; before the late 20th century it was called irony, but in truth it is contradictory to the nature of a certain manner of viewing objects. Phenomenology is, most regularly, the analytical attempt to reduce an inherently contradictory condition to something non-contradictory: An idea which then posits itself as involved with something that is the not itself which we regularly call ideology. It is thus by this contradiction that the subject is able to be found in-itself, which is to say, as an object, albeit, irregular to the modern conventional understanding. Triple-O accounts for the contradiction of phenomenology as contradiction itself; in Kierkegaardian terms, the thing in-itself which arises outside of the phenomenological reduction is contradiction cannot be gained through a qualitative leap.

To round back to a philosophy of counseling: The point to be gleaned here is that it is not incumbent upon the client to know about or have any access whatsoever to such philosophical gradations of argument such as their status as a human Being. The point, thus, is exactly a Non- philosophical maxim: The potential of the phenomenological manifestation of any individual, what we could call ‘soul’, is intact and not impinged upon even as conventional philosophical arguments might leave such phenomenology as an ideological residue, a contradiction and its qualia which lay at the heart of a modern ideological subject or what can be correctly called a theological, ideal spirit. In other words, the subject that is a philosophical object is indeed a subject of counseling, however the activity of counseling might proceed into its efforts. We are able to allow what is of spirit (see Derrida’s article on Heidegger called “Of Spirit”) to retain its spirituality without being engulfed by a phenomenological theoretical universe. An object-oriented approach to counseling does not say anything about how such therapy is allowed to occur or what a counselor is supposed to do—what counseling does— within that therapeutic involvement with a client; in this way, every conventionally permitted theoretical activity is not negated but only explained as to a common thing that is the therapeutic relationship.

Phenomenology identifies the space characterized by an inability to come upon the ends of thinking reasonably or even philosophically – phenomenology is the space – and amounts to the conceptual basis for why a philosophical foundation of counseling as an effort or discipline need not pry into the rooms where help can occur. Instead, the object that is counseling is more definitely outlined for what it is (a universal real object) even while it is also able to be understood only as what it is made out of or what it does (a subject of an all-encompassing universe). So far in modern philosophy, we have only entertained the subject of a ubiquitous semantic universe grounded in nothing; this could be contributing to why counseling, psychiatry, psychology, and social work – the disciplines of mental health – and all the various theories have not, in large portion, helped.

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Individual theory addresses particular instances of problem, but we are implicitly confirmed in our (post-)modern phenomenal subjectivity that our inspiration, reason and sense should allow us to apply a particular theory to every issue of mental health that arises.

The short answer to the question of how the subject is an object is usually not realized for what it means, so the long answer is found in the myriads of voluminous treatise of past authors who were concerned with the subject of the universe: The object that is typically called the subject that is regularly associated with the human being is conveyed in those works; the parameters of the subject, its limits and constitution, have been laid before us. Anything further philosophy might propose as to the constitution of the human being as a subject, such as various ways humans deal with any current real manifestation of world, biology, politics, economics, etcetera—what it is through what it is made of or what it does—ultimately has already been outlined to the philosophical possibility of how such doing does. Human creativity is endless. We will always have to deal with ideological ramifications of the subject coming up against oppressive limits, no matter what discourse appears to account for them, or vice-versa; hence the need for counseling but as well a substantial ideal for what it might be. In the end, the call for Harman’s work is the realization of the last instance of subjectivity, where, begun with Ludwig Wittgenstein, as Nathaniel describes, the subject is to be found a universal object. Once the long and the short answers have been taken, the simple answer is the term ‘subject’ is already taken. The subject is found to be contradictory in its essence, which is to say, the philosophical investigation into the essence of the subject showed only the subject and nothing else.

This conclusion of only nothing is intolerable to the knowledge understood by conventional philosophy because it means that any proposal is ultimately self-referential absolutely; as Harman has noted, it does not account for or allow room for change. The philosophical recourse to the finding of this end, then, was historically to typically and simply deny that the investigation was investigating something essential. This was the move Jean-Paul Sartre made. Sartre gave philosophy an essential justification to a subject which is ultimately self-referential, a subject which finds at its ends a freedom which extends into nothingness, into an abyss of limitlessness. His solution was that the individual must then simply deny the truth of the analysis, revolt from it, and assert its own idea of sense within the renewed limits of the common existence as though freedom itself can be redefined in its essence. We find then that the core of subsequent French philosophy simply followed suit by remaining in a silent Hegelian universe of phenomenal synthesis, which is to say, synthesizing what is able to come to mind as though what comes to mind is justified in-itself, but in a manner where the ‘in-itself’ mind stays out of the picture for the purpose of justifying its own inspired intuition, or, something that arises from nothing. With Harman’s move, the conventional philosophical method arises in opposition to staying with the limit that had already proven itself by that mind and its ways; with his move objects are allowed to be various ‘in-itself’ objects, and the human being is allowed to retain the character its philosophy may have argued for the category of the subject to become an object in-itself as well, albeit, a universal object that we can now identify as the human being. Hence, the identity we call human correlates with the condition that Meillassoux coined correlationalism, but also the sure way out of it that no conventional philosophical subject seems to want to grant credence or even notice.

Coming to Present

We have only what is presented before us, obviously and apparently. For a thing to be true, to be found in-itself, we do not have to find predecessors nor make an argument of how this may

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be the case for it indeed to be the case. The argument (any argument) that is made in this regard (that no one else, including myself in the debate, has formulated or is able to formulate a reason which proves that what is before us is universally accessible) arises in the conditions available to everyone under particular conditions; the phenomenal subject with its various personal constructions, representations and qualia of worlds and realties need only to look at the fact of its own world-constructing ability and limit to understand the subject as an object, hence, where the therapeutic relationship is the object that arises of the subject in a direct encounter with itself thus the other.

The object that is a tree is always a tree no matter what meaning we attach to it or term we use to designate it; the bat made from its wood still will break noses, the noses will always be noses and blood will spill. The meaning we make from such objects, that is, the subject, is some thing different; in coming upon this difference one either revolts or accepts, there is no middle ground. One either changes or not. Yet, the stranglehold of the existential revolt of the modern individual into a theology of subjective correlational and conventional phenomenological ubiquity can be loosened by an empathic view of one’s self. The self is where all subjects and objects reside exclusive from one another. The issue, then, is less how to get out of the infinite regression of subjective meaning, the philosophical condition wherein a counselor will never be able to encounter a client or vice versa and where theory is hopefully applied, and more to simply to see that meaning itself grants an egress by the fact that there is a specific instance of meaning which understands itself through contradiction, as contradiction, which is, that there is another subject which is doing the same thing of being eternally correlated to its own semantics (aka, Derrida’s difference). The relation to be noticed then less concerns knowledge than emotion. Rather than a soft plying of phenomenological community upon either/or reductionism and denied contradiction, the significance here is a hardline philosophical conversion; the universe fills what ideology flattens. The universe is not simply meaning made from the intentional subject, but also the meaning gained through intention offered through the universal object, which Alphonso Lingis may have liked to call a universal imperative. In session, by ethical definition, the opening is made by the counselor just as it is the counselor who establishes the therapeutic environment; the confidence implied of the encounter now gains an added measure of integrity because the counselor’s activity is grounded in a universal philosophical substance which supports her own theory of knowing, being and intervening, in contrast to a mere intellectual assertion that every Being be subject to an exclusive practical theory.

Plurality is now epistemologically permitted to actually be plural, for Being to be in its plurality considerate of multiplicity. Now open and expanding, one simply draws upon the network of objects which occur regardless of what argument one would want to make; subjective relativity now adheres to the rules which have established its justification for sensible pell-mell meaning- making instead of reifying the simple intuitive capriciousness by which it justifies the random pulling of reasonable meaning out of a transcendentally justified magic hat. The argument, instead of witnessing an eternally inspired phenomenal subjectivity, now becomes the transparent evidence of its own objectivity. This is the move from a hypothetically suspended justification of universal subjective semantic relativity (subjective praxis suspended in an essential unknown) into a substantial and categorically philosophical ground for such relation (a ground of praxis from which unknowns may be encountered in-themselves and the subject thus investigated).

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Kair: An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unified Theory of Counse

Moving Forward: Intension Evidences the Orientation of Sense

Within this field, now defined, we have the condition described so far, of Harman’s business, the reasons for it, the repercussions of it, the ontological basis for it, as well a basis for its practical application to the discipline of counseling; i.e. an object-oriented ontology of counseling. Yet, it is this last which shows that the argument that Harman is making does and does not follow his intension. It follows his intension in as much as he mainly uses arguments to establish a cognitive position for himself in a field of objects which have nothing to do with subjects except as a philosophical counterpart and platform from which to move onward to assert the ideas of his mind. He is able to do this and we are able to understand intuitively what he is doing due to a view upon philosophy which has thought as its impetus and foundation, a view which holds history in place and the thinker as central such that the thinker is able and validated in redefining terms and discourse to his liking, even to the extent that the thinker need no longer be confined by that historical lineage but can indeed use it to justify a flight from it, all the while remaining true to such linage.

Strangely enough, the intention appearing above makes no room for a commonality of human interaction called counseling because the ontological basis of counseling and Harman’s philosophical intention are thus equivocal, that is, both arise as phenomenologically real items (subjects of ideology and therefore argumentative); the ground is lifted again. Nevertheless, the ability to locate and describe what Harman is doing phenomenologically thus allows us to identify the objectivity involved and say that it reflects a particular orientation upon things; I submit that where Harman’s O.O.P. argues and deals with a particular and real ontology of objects, by contrast, a true philosophical effort as might imply activity (in-itself) in contrast to having been derived from activity (philosophical or phenomenological reason) concerns orientation upon objects. This concern is quantitative in the Kierkegaardian sense (faith is that which is already a leap, as opposed to the basis from which we leap in hoping); from this position we now move into an object orientation of counseling. It is a true effort because the effort does not attempt to isolate intension to a singular thinker or thought such as concerns real agency. Rather, the effort merely moves to describe the sensible situation of a particular object, albeit, one that is doing its ontological activity, or its teleology, such as the object of the therapeutic encounter. The truth of this effort allows for the objects of philosophy, which are, the central thinking subject of mind and or spirit (phenomenological, ideological or power derived, narrative, existential, cognitive, and neurological, amongst others), and the object of the subject, to rest together with equity in a very real and responsive non-philosophical, unilaterally dual space and which occur together and simultaneously, interactively and intentionally of a universe, while not necessarily reducing to one or the other, not making claims upon the other’s veracity and effectiveness, in what can be called an asymmetrical, non-zero-sum, ontological state. Here, on one hand, phenomenological Being must by its analytically synthetical (or synthetically analytical) nature, begin in knowledge to reduce all phenomenon to contradiction, and then in order to retain its real identity, anticipatorily revolt from the ideological collapse which would develop if it were not for the premature rejection/revolt: This is the subject retained in its ontological activity, of intuitively generating meaning and intentionality enacting its world through it, which is, of the subject finding itself in a meaningful field of subjects of that meaning (correlation).

Then also, yet on the other hand, there is the Being which is involved with the integrity of, what Harman calls real objects, which includes the subject itself without falling into its dominion, without reducing to a totalizing subjective semantic (which is contradictory when coupled with

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another subject). In other words, allowing for the conventional philosophical or cognitive center and the intentional subject, and due to the noticeable limits which constrain the subject as well as nullify its own essential substance (alienation), the object which arises as the subject of intension is able to be viewed, understood, analyzed and put to use without having to answer to the contradiction of reduction toward ideological unity into which its phenomenon perpetually falls and out of which the existential revolt conveniently saves. I call this the situation wherein the phenomenology of the subject is able to be an object the Two Routes upon things.

We should be careful to note such routes do not fall neatly into conventional categories of scientific and phenomenalistic; rather the two routes allow for the infinitely inclusive phenomenological subject of story and meaning to be retained while a multiplicity of such subjects likewise remain real and individual things to be encountered in-themselves. Before this distinction, philosophy and science were at odds, counted up as two of a number of human abilities, thoughts or cognitions that stem, we are to suppose, from some unknowable but arguable difference which arises spontaneously in the universe through the human being. The model of the Two Routes is suited to philosophically ground the practice of counseling in the reality of both a specific theoretical conservative ideal, such as the science of psychology, as well as a liberal integrative approach, which can likewise adhere or otherwise appropriate to various degrees—or not— scientific ideals. For example; the medical-scientific disease model which sees the psyche and mental health as a problem contained entirely by empirical science (the brain and body), the various systematic theories which suppose to explain an inclusive universe of therapeutic praxis (examples such as Psychodynamic, Cognitive and Behavioral therapies, Systems theory as well as Gestalt therapy) , and the integrative approach which tends to issues with solutions which accord with various minutiae of the therapeutic encounter, all can be specifically accounted for and retained in their unique validity through the ontological concern founded in the Two Routes, or an object oriented ontology for the discipline of counseling.

Bibliography

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Derrida, J. (1976). On grammatology. (G.C. Spivak, trans.). Baltimore and London: The John

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Derrida, J. (1987). Of spirit: Heidegger and the question. (G. Bennington & R. Bowlby, trans.)

Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Frankl, V. E. (1992). Man’s search for meaning. (I. Lasche, trans.)

Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press.

Harman, G. (2002). Tool-being. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois: Open Court.

Harman, G. (2005). Guerrilla metaphysics. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois: Open Court.

Harman, G. (2007). On Vicarious causation. Collapse, 2. 171-206

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Trans.) Cambridge University Press.

Kierkegaard, S. (1983). Fear and trembling; repetition. (H. Hong & E. Hong, eds. and

Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Kierkegaard, S. (1989). The concept of irony. (H. Hong & E. Hong, eds. and trans.) Princeton,

New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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Kair: An Essay Concerning the Possibility of a Unified Theory of Counse

Laruelle, F. (2013). Principles of nonphilosophy. (N. Rubczak & A.P. Smith, eds. and trans.) Harvard University Press.

Latour, B. (1988). The pasteurization of France. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Lingis, A. (1998). The imperative. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Lyotard, J.F. (1984). The postmodern condition. Minnesota University Press.

Meillassoux, Q. (2008) After finitude: an essay on the necessity of contingency.

(R. Brassier, trans.) London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic, Miller, A. S. (2013). Speculative grace. New York: Fordham University Press.

Nathaniel, C. (2018). The philosophical hack: the concluding unscientific postscript to

event. Boulder, Colorado: Od Parcel.

Sartre, J. (1978). Being and nothingness: a phenomenological essay on ontology. (H. E. Barnes, trans.) Pocket Books.

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Melville House.

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The Contradiction in the Imperative

The Mask situation has brought Some interesting philosophical issues and insights.

COVID-19, as largely an entirely random occurrence from the chaos which exists beyond our ever reckoning, is not really the philosophical issue, unless we want to speculate about the various ideological imperatives.

Science arises outside of these ideological imperatives, or rather one could say “on the threshold”, or the borderlands or — I forget the intellectual word…something that starts with an “m”, I think…On the margins, but there is a academic word for that which I’m not bringing to mind right at this moment–  Science arises in our world as half in and half out, seemingly arising from nowhere, yet somehow firmly predicting and describing our real world. At once, making no ontological sense while inscribing to us what is ontologically sure.

Nevertheless…

It is the mask which is the symbol of our time, one could say. Covid, in this way, is just an occasion to mark out a social significance.

I don’t think I am too far off the mark in describing the main issue that developed around the masks but now perpetuated in the wearing of masks is: am I protected?

I think the whole freak out and the whole big thing that arose (arises) around the masks was whether or not I will be protected from getting the novel Covid. (The conspiracy theories arise in frustration of purpose and ignorance of one’s self, I’d say).  And while this is generally ideologically proper to what is human today and now, scientifically what they tell us is that these masks are not protecting me from the virus. This is to say, I am not wearing a mask because I’m trying to protect specifically and only myself from getting the virus. The only time I’m wearing an N 95 mask is when I am having to be in close proximity to people that indeed do have the virus; the reasons to wear an N95 anywhere else verges to almost pathological. Cloth masks are not a barrier to the virus getting into me; I am not wearing my mask to protect me from you. On the contrary; they are a barrier for my saliva and particulates which are carrying the virus from getting out to you.

In other words, The reason I am Wearing masks is to protect you from me, because I could be carrying the virus and not know it, and not showing any symptoms.

I think this sentiment is largely unknown; the reason why most people wear masks is because they think they’re protecting themselves. Whereas, the only way that they’re protecting themselves by wearing a mask is to symbolize and or model to other people that’s socially it’s OK to wear a mask, because if we all wear masks then we are all protecting each other from each other — And we wash our hands and don’t touch our face.  The virus staying alive on surfaces, at least the CDC in the United States says, is not a significant factor in the transmission of Covid. Even though animals and surfaces may have Covid on them, they are not transferred well into our bodies to give us the sickness. The main source we are worried about is transmission and that Has to do from humans to other humans directly. 

*

Now, here is where we get in to philosophy and the imperative.

I am consciously acting, I am consciously wearing a mask for the purpose of protecting you, of protecting other people. I have no concept that I carry within my mind or reasoning that tells me that Covid is going to be prevented from getting in me by wearing a cloth mask; there is nothing about my wearing a cloth mask which involves my knowledge, which makes me feel secure, which makes me feel protected from getting the novel Covid. I mean; It can make me feel protected, of course…

Hence by extension philosophically, one Could say that I do not differentiate things that I do upon a level or unitive ontological platform; i am able to do things socially for different reasons, for example, for my own good consciously, and then for other peoples good consciously, to help myself as opposed to others, or to help others as opposed to myself, but that is not upheld in that I might choose to do one thing altruistically. If I am choosing, then I have really chosen only for my self intrest with what I am able to view as other’s choices.

Indeed in so much as I might have the idea that I am partially protected from wearing a cloth mask from Covid and partially also protecting other people, we might say that I hold on to this unitive platform from which I occur or as which I occur as a subject in the world, as a human being as opposed to the world that I walk upon or in. In this frame I have all sorts of motivations at all sorts of times, from selfish to altruistic whether I’m alone or with other people. Yes.

On the other hand, once I understand that in no way am I wearing a mask to protect my self at all, but only for the sake of protecting someone else from me having the virus unknowingly, which is to say, that I am not having a pretense about other people wearing masks, even though the idea is that if we all wear masks then we are all safe, then I am able to differentiate what is in truth social and what is in truth the activity of myself. In short, AI am able to discern the truth of the matter that rises above relative opinion (that I ought to have chosen be-cause…)

The imperative here is that there is nothing that I am doing for myself socially.  What I am doing for myself socially is ultimately what I am doing for other people. If I choose, then I am choosing for other’s benefit.

Or I am not. Where I might decide wheather what I do is in my intrest or another’s, there am I invested in what Kierkegaard calls the ethical-universal. It is not that I am unable to arise outside of this universe, but that if I do then I exist by an absurdity, which is determined in my choosing, or what is called the choice that cannot be made.

Somehow, This can sound eerily similar to mid 20th century existentialism, but I would say that the difference is that the imperative carries only to the parameter where what is ideologically social stops enforcing its dictates upon what truth is able to be, which by all ethical standards, never happens.

For agency is ideological, but ideology is not informing a total occurrence of being.

The Imperative is irony. What never happens is happening. The question now, is then, can you see it?



x

x

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Emotion and Reason. Part 5

I got this from Philosophics Blog who was commenting on my series of post.

lets see if i can get to my point of all this.

In Parts 1 and 2 I posed an exercise of monitoring and then graphing ones emotional intensity over a period of time. Then I pondered if it would be possible to develop a similarly construed graph of Reason intensity. I received a number of comments from friends and readers about this. And the issue was all the same: How could we graph an intensity of Reason ? Some asked or attempted to grapple with such a monitoring and scaling and others wanted a definition or are trying to find a definition by which we could then appraise Reason graphically.

^

I was not trying to trick anyone. I honestly was wondering what people thought about it. It just crossed my mind that we so easily could make a chart of emotional intensity over time regardless of what the emotion was — could we do the same with reason?

I guess the answer is apparently not.

The graph above I think came close to what I was formulating in my mind about how, if I could rate an intensity of Reason, how emotion might relate to it.

I was also thinking quite similar to:

However, I think my original idea behind this series was more about how inseparable Reason and Emotion is; less polemical and more correspondent.

The reason I was asking folks to think of charting emotional intensity was for a setting up of a different model for how Reason and emotion relate, one where Reason is not a mitigating or taming aspect of emotion but rather the converse.

So let’s use the hypothetical graph.

As an instructional analogy, I suggest that Reason is that part of human consciousness which is the graphed line, and emotion the space below the line. Instead of taming or stifling or controlling emotion, Reason rides the line of emotional intensity usually exhibiting an unaware and incognizant state of awareness–while regularly dismissive –of its emotional affect: The thing we usually understand as Reason is when consciousness is not acknowledging the emotional state involved with its operating, which is to say, Reason is seen, viewed or understood as by definition not being influenced by emotion — or at least this is a common idealized goal for “being reasonable”. This seems to be such an ideal mandate that where we might conflate Reason declares Reason as a flat exemption from emotion such that “what is able to see truth” has been compromised and thus develops a compensation for its (reason’s) own lack called irrationality, say, and as though Reason has stepped out of the picture in the being able to identify the irrational and the rational state.

{I advise one take counsel from the non-philosophical idea of unilateral duality, which I have talked about often in my posts recent and long past.}

Reason thus may identify a particular manner by which consciousness establishes the human being in the world as indeed an object which has only reasonable connections with the universe. And this is to say, the polemic such as the figures above could represent what is able to arise once Reason is picked out, so to speak, to distinguish the human being as special and self-evidently separate from the universe, that is, except along those specific junctures that reason dictates or reflexively understands of itself or allows for such an understanding, those junctures by which the human being may or is permitted to know of her interaction with the operating universe. Such Reasonable manner can be said to be inherently disembodied knowledge.

This could explain why so many people, perhaps especially in the West, have a low “emotional intelligence”, difficulty understanding emotional connection, as well as how emotion can be involved in how one is able to perceive (know) the world. As well, my explanation could make a contribution to explaining why the modern human being is involved with a world which seems to be responding negatively to human activity despite our best intentions: Becuase our reasonable intentions are necessarily disembodied, the knowledge which is produced through such a naive reasonable state is necessarily maladaptive to the problems it perceives; in other words, the problem itself is already formulated in a mistaken manner of coming upon the true universe.

Ok. Let’s munch on those cookies for a second.

Reason and Emotion.part 4

OK.

The concept behind my idea of the relationship between reason and emotion is that emotion is the significant factor in what reason is able to accomplish.

We can go back to the hypothetical charting of our emotions (and Reason?) the past few days that all of us have been doing because we are so eager to pay attention to ourselves and our emotional (and reasonable ?) states. 😄. OK so we have this hypothetical chart, we’ve graphed all of our values of emotional intensity on the Y axis and the X axis is time. So we have this graph that looks kind of like a stock market chart maybe; In any case, you probably have in mind, at least, what the chart looks like, the ups and downs as the line that connects all the plot points.

Now;

How do we usually conceive reason? Correct me if I’m wrong, but when I think of reason I think of it as this kind of force for activity of myself that will shut down or off otherwise irrational surges of emotion. As we might be having emotion, reason automatically takes over to tell us why we are having that emotion, what may be good or bad or right or wrong about that feeling, as well as how to stop having that emotion. “Levelheaded” is a term that comes to mind to right now. “Rational” is generally understood as not emotional.

Even as irrationality does not necessarily have to do with passion or emotion, I think it is not too difficult to make the association that I’m trying to bring about for your reading concept. So I am pretty much also relating the term “reason” to “sanity”, and “Sensibility” Is also another concept we could lump under what reason is. The category of reason includes all these kinds of descriptors. Yet, I am also not being so general as to equate “reason” to any sort of activity of thinking or the results there of, that goes on to make a truth from subjectivity or subjective opinion or thinking. I’m not taking the postmodern kind of relative position to say that reason is just something that individual human subjects do whether or not they are rational or make sense. I am definitely using the term “reason” as the non-standardized truth of postmodern subjectivity, before reason enters into pluralist relation; likewise, this is not Kantian or Hegelian “world” Reason, here necessarily.

Reason in-itself is this thing that establishes subjective truth within a world of relativity. But also, and I think this is significant: reason is that which is denied in so much as the object called “reason” is excluded within that world of subjectivity, which is to say, as much as it is not excluded from the condition of relativity of the world. The issue involved here is what I call “the founding term”; in the usual conventional sense, the founding term is assumed to be “relativity”, whereas this discourse that we are involved with right now has a founding term of “reason”.

OK, I hope that makes enough sense to you to understand what I’m saying when I say “reason”. If I was to talk about the tree over there you would not have to ask me what I mean by “tree”; nevertheless, I believe that I have given the reader enough descriptors to understand what I’m talking about when I say “reason”. Beyond a few stray orientating questions, any other doubt would be extraneous and somehow, I feel, purposely obstinate about not wishing to understand what I’m talking about; I.e. It would be involved in establishing the One Route.

– A pertinent guiding question here: Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical?

And a tentative guiding answer: Everything you’ve been taught about Kierkegaard is wrong.

👽

All right; I’ll let you suck The juices out of that fruit for a bit. I suppose there will have to be a part five.

Emotion and Reason. Part 3

So back to my original intention behind this post that I have now divided up into three parts.

I am challenging the notion that reason is the crowning authority of human existence and consciousness. And, as a commenter on Part 2 pointed out: I do agree with the observation that what we often think is rational or reasonable is often hardly that.

But I would even counter this observation by saying that such an observation is based in an assumption of reason: it is by reason it’s self that we are able to make such distinctions.

I suggest keeping in mind the idea of the Two Routes, which is an extrapolation of the non-philosophical premise of unilateral duality: by pointing something out and describing it I am not therefore suggesting that something is wrong with it nor making an argument that I have a better idea: I am simply describing a fact. If I say the tree is green and it has bark, I am not suggesting that I have a better way that the tree should be. Of course we can fall down the rabbit hole of what I call conventional philosophical speculation and consider all the probability and possibility of subjective experience of that tree. We can talk about how these subjective reality is may be true and that how our world is constituent of a plurality of subjective worlds. I am not making any argument about whether or not phenomenal subjective worlds are true or false; The veracity of any subjective opinion is absolutely up for debate.

What becomes evident by the contradiction that arises between these two types of understanding, though, is called a unilateral duality. This is to say that we take each of those two situations as situations that indeed are true, but then also note that the activity of the attempt to reconcile those two situations into a further reconciled state only speaks of the One Route. Hence what I am proposing as The Two Routes. Readers can look back at some of my posts to try and wrap ones head around this more fully, one can read Francois Laruelle’s non-philosophical books, and one can investigate what other people have to say about non-philosophy, if really need to comprehend all those details to be able to move over into the issue of an orientation upon objects. It’s OK. No shame there.

Nonetheless; The example that I’m working with here is the strange paradox that (1) reason can somehow analyze it self to say that this situation over here is not reasonable or not rational, and then this situation over there we’re going to categorize another various sort of system, and then this over yonder is what we call actual reason in comparison to these two or three or more possibilities, and then the whole thing amounts to an argument that we can negotiate over about what reason is, and (2) That reason as an object in-itself is characterized by point (1). This is an example of a unilateral duality, and it characterizes a particular manner or approach by which we can begin to understand what the human being is doing.

*

This approach is not dissimilar to the way that counseling might approach someone with, say, anxiety or depression or some sort of neurosis, to use an older term, or some pervading issue that a client may come in for psychological help.

I believe a particular theory that I am nodding toward right here is called Internal Family Systems (IFS). But there are a few theoretical approaches that incorporate a similar manner.

I think the idea is not very new: A client comes in complaining of an inability to stop Behaving in a certain manner, say for example, avoiding parties or social situations because of accute social anxiety, say. Keep in mind that I am not a practicing counselor but I’m just beginning to learn.

In any case, a possible approach to this situation is to get the client to externalize the problem. In other words, what the client is having trouble with is this whole thing that she calls her self which manifests in general as a thinking subject that is her self. The point of the intervention is to help the client see or look at the presenting issue as though it is not part of a whole system that is “her Self”, to help her to To gain sufficient distance from the issue in order to view the issue and address the issue as though it is affecting her self rather than being constituent of her singular whole person.

The issue here is not a speculation or a negotiation about whether or not there is this whole subject called the client herself. We treat the client as though she is an interrelation of various effectual aspects as the primary methodological material, as opposed to a “whole” person who is screwed up in various ways.

In reference to what I’m talking about so far as reason, or as I tend to call “philosophy” sometimes, by suggesting that the client may be affected by a problem rather than being the problem itself, I am thereby not suggesting that the problem may indeed not have to do with a whole system. Rather, I am suggesting that we can approach the whole system by viewing the system in a different manner yet while the system is still functioning and operating as a whole system, which is to say, excluding nothing.

So I will repeat; to point out the fact that reason itself is implied in the activity of indicating things that are not reasonable or indeed irrational as opposed to reasonable or rational, does not negate the fact that indeed reason is allowing for this division of itself. Developing different terms in order to compensate for this apparent paradox gets us nowhere significant into understanding what the human being actually does as it is, except that it gives us insight in that this is indeed what the human being consciousness does: A fact of the object that is the human being. Developing new terms in this way maintains and reifies the one route. Reason is not negated by describing what reason does, neither does such an honest description suggest that there is another way that reason might be operating. The conventional philosophical route Is thus characterized by a method wherein a fact can only be argued with by denying the fact itself. Hence, I say the conventional philosophical method is based in denial. Yet I am not suggesting that there is a better way, or that philosophy/reason should do or be something different. I am merely stating a fact about conventional philosophy.

*

I believe by this line of reasoning I have come up with a second fact of the phenomenal subject. I think I came up with a first fact a year or two or so and you would have to look in my past posts for it. I think the first fact is that a phenomenal subject is bounded by nothing. But I could be wrong. Lol. Actually, with these two facts in place we could thereby come up with a third fact of the phenomenal subject that we have been calling “correlationalism”. Science is based on an honest acceptance of the facts, even while the facts might be tested.

OK. Well it looks like I’ve gotten done with part three and I still haven’t gotten to the original intention behind the whole post so it looks like there’s going to be a part 4

👾

Reason and Emotion part 2: A reason scale?

In part one of this post I ended with the idea of making a kind of “emotion scale”.

In thinking about finishing the post that I started, the one that I am chopping up in to different parts right now, it crossed my mind: I wonder if we could make a “reason scale” similar to how we could chart emotions, as I suggested.

It seems so obvious to me that we would be able to chart intensity of emotion regardless of what emotion is being felt. I think everyone with little difficulty could understand how they could rate a feeling of emotional intensity on a scale of 1 to 43, 43 meaning that you can no longer function and you will have to be committed. 😁

This morning, though, I was wondering if we could do the same with reason. Would it be possible to get people to rate her some quantity of reason that they might be noticing of them selves at any moment of the day?

I don’t know. Today I think I’m going to go along and there times of the day I’m going to try and gauge myself on a scale of 1 to 43 how reasonable I’m being.

Perhaps where zero on the rreason scale would mean that you are acting so unreasonably that you would have to be committed. 🤪

Maybe you readers might want to try and do the same, just as an exercise.

Can you?

Think about it. Just using this instruction: go through your day and periodically rate you’re reasonable Ness or your reason on a scale of 1 to 43, 1 being low intensity of reason.

What difficulties are you having with this instruction?

What is easy?

Reason and Emotion. part 1

As a budding counselor philosopher I find myself pondering what reason and what emotion might actually be in the determination of the human being in the world.

I might be wrong, and please, anyone who knows any authors or has any suggestions– I don’t think the idea of “reason” has been parsed out. Even when I am writing about reason, I am relying upon two different ideas of what reason is. In general, though, in my philosophy I don’t really have a requirement for the discernment that I’m making right here, because of the way that I address the topic.

But it when it comes to actually applying the practicality of counseling upon a truth of philosophy, I am noticing that I just might have to try and make a distinction.

Of course we have the Kant Kind of reason which really echoes out into time and tradition in both directions of past and future from his point but also in the continuing reverberations as we have supplied for as now I think of him and the reason and the like.

The distinction I’m thinking about — and I’m just kind of playing around with ideas here, kind of using this as a workspace, and if people want to help me with this – totally welcome. There is the kind of philosophy “reason” that we, I think we, think of when we talk about reason philosophically; I think this kind of reason is the thing that most philosophers are considering when they talk about the phenomenon or phenomenology or reflection or any of the kind of continental authors. It is against this philosophical reason that people come to spiritual ideas such as transcendence or “one consciousness” or some sort of universal truth in which we are spiritually a part of or something like that, like a sort of “one spiritual fulfillment of emptiness”. But also the Judaic “unknowable God”. Or the mystical “veil-cloud of unknowing”. As though Reason is “full” existence, and without reason we have what is left: spiritual nothing.

But also just philosophy in general: reason is taken as that mode which is going into philosophical treaties (sp) while also being the object of its reflection, that is the topic of whatever piece. Personally, I think we’ve figured out what this “philosophical reason” is, would it produces, what it does, all that stuff. (but showing this is also part of my work). It may have taken us 250 years or something like that or 2500 years, or 25,0000, depending on what people wanna argue, but I think we have a pretty good picture, a pretty good workable picture. And of course people will continue to say that no we haven’t and so here we going to talk about it some more. I definitely see this “talking about it some more” as a from a Kierkegaard perspective and ask “where is everyone going”? And then I sort of Mark that place of departure where people continue past, and I call that “conventional philosophy”, that philosophical area which “has gone past”.

My work involves establishing parameters to some thing which is understood to not have parameters.

So: reason.

Or: that which has parameters beyond which is not knowable.

The first definition of reason I would say is the philosophical one that I tried to lay out above. It imposes, rejects, reduces, denies and enforces, amongst other matters of discernment. And through those operations allows for ethical choices.

The second definition of reason I would put more as something that I am not doing right now. And I say this in the sense that of course I am using reason right now, but also something else is going on. It is a philosophical non-Sequitur to reduce everything to the sort of physical empirical true one unitive universe that human beings have access to through cognitive ability, for a term. Butt, and I say this as your ass: I am not arguing that there is not such a unitive real universe.

I am not arguing a metaphysical truth. I am looking at what is. Of course there are papers to be written and I’m sure I will write them one day and publish them.

For now what is, what is being, I just go with the phenomenal subject: for another term: Dasien (and sure people can argue all they want that this is not the same as the phenomenological reduction and they can argue all the distinctions between the various ways that authors want to put things. And I concede to that method, and I say that it is not incorrect and that I am not attempting to prove that that method of coming up on real things or discerning real things is somehow false or incorrect. I am simply talking In a different manner, using, what I call, a different method-o-logical basis.)

I just go with it. I understand it as a thing in itself, in the sense of Graham Harman’s object oriented philosophy. You can go read some of his stuff and figure that out. 😜

And for all you phenomenologists out there, the question of how we get outside of the phenomenal correlation, Cedric Nathaniel discusses that in his book “the philosophical hack: the concluding unscientific postscript to event”. And you can buy the first part for three dollars right now! 👽

So likewise I understand reason as a thing in-itself, an object. And then I ask myself what is this reason doing and then I attempt to find out what it actually is by what it is doing. I do not attempt to make an argument about what it is through what it might actually be; like I said go read Graham Harman, my approach is not very dissimilar to what he lays down. (But I don’t think he would say we can find a thing by what it does.)

And once I detach myself from this thing called reason to be able to see this object, this universal object, called reason, Then I am able to notice that it indeed is not a crowning head of human consciousness in a Kabbalistic , Tree of Life, kind of fashion. Like I said, for sure it is, but I’m not talking about it from that standpoint right now.

And so, if reason is not some transcendental-immanent Universo-Hegelian historically real aspect that I can Will or make myself become in alignment with through any sort of the use of reason, then I have to ask myself : what is reason involved with, what is it dependent on in order to achieve this status that appears to everyone as sacrosanct human subjective consciousness?

OK.

So here’s what I’m pondering.

Let us say there was some sort of instrument that we developed to measure emotional states, like a quantitative assessment that we could take a group of people and get data from them, numerical data, as to, say, intensity of emotion in a general sense. Maybe they carry around an app and at various times of the day and they would just rate themselves, say, on a scale of 1 to 43. Of how intense their emotions are at any particular time in the day. It doesn’t matter necessarily what emotion it is; maybe we could even put something in the app about what emotion they think they’re feeling and the intensity, but really we could , I’m just thinking of emotional intensity.

So and then we chart this, we graph it. And we get this chart that has varying numerical representations of the feeling or the intensity of feeling of any emotion over a period of time.

Maybe I’ll leave it here. And do a part 2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=82cJgPXU-ik#dialog

Another stab at: What is Philosophy? A non-philosophical concise definition.

Finally a Concise Definition of Philosophy.

Cedric Nathaniel

Regis University

{KEYWORDS: concise, definition, non-philosophy, orientation, philosophy, reality, route}

Finally a Concise Definition of Philosophy.

Continental philosophy has become a caricature of itself.  Its intensions found lacking, every definition philosophers have given over the decades have left many of us in a virtual state of trauma.  We wonder; does philosophy require such a verbose and convoluted definition which basically becomes a philosophical enigma itself?  While many of us thought we had come across the answer in the book length definitions, upon a second look, we now realize that it was really smoke and mirrors, and in the end, a religious fantasy of philosophical fiction.

Philosophy is, at root, the application of reason upon a field of data.  Reason is understood here not to be a stable category, not so much grounded in an immanent knowledge of intuited transcendental truths, but is indeed the field that is defined by the philosophical process itself.  Logic is a tool; the human being is a conditional state, and reality is a particular coupling of logic and reason toward ontological certainty.  What this says then, is that philosophy is involved in an orientation upon reality.  The two possible routes of philosophy are thus toward ontological certainty, or a conditional state.  These routes are mutually exclusive, since to reduce certainty to a condition results in a certain state that we call ideology in one instance, and religion in another.  We thus are speaking of coming to terms with what philosophy is able to do.  The definition of philosophy thus refers what is commonly understood as ontological certainty to the conditional state; or more precisely, philosophy as a method reduces conditions to real ontological certainties, and as a practice destabilizes ontological certainty towards a realization of it’s conditional state.

published on Academia.edu

december 2018

Climate Change and Pascal’s Wager.

In this Era of Prehistory, everything gets turned on its head, just like in the Pirate’s of the Caribbean movie…

As I have put forth in various places a “turned on its head” version of faith in the spirit of Kierkegaard (somewhere in my posts Im sure Ive spelled it out, but I surely address it in my book The Moment of Decisive Significance); I am applying Pascals Wager to the issue of climate change.

The deep adaptation that I have a link to in my previous posts signals more than drastic political and financial maneuvers, and more than ideological change; maybe I’ll write about that kind of depth in a post to come.

For right now, perhaps as a way to begin to chart the depths we can meet at the crossroads of the wager.

In the original wager, Pascal places what what can occur against what will occur. For example, what can occur is God’s existence, and our ability to believe, and what will occur is ‘nothing’. This is to say that the Wager is balanced upon what is removed from the possibility of it being removed., that if God does not exist, what will occur no matter what we believe is nothing. Yet, what can occur if God exists against our belief is that either we will be eternally damned or we will be saved.

So the turning on it head of climate change in this regard is placed in this framework:

What can occur:

  • the world only changes a little bit, not drastically different than any other change, big or little, in respect to our ability to live through it and adapt: This is to say, the world keeps changing.
  • Humans still exist and deal with the universe.

What will occur:

  • nothing.
  • The world’s end.

My point is that if the world as we know it ends, then there is no amount of believing or behaving that will have had any effect. So, it is better to keep on as we have, as though the world, ourselves, and the climate is changing.

Extension, and perhaps a little more philosophical:

The idea that we will have to adapt deeply regardless of what happens with the climate, coincides with the climate despite what activity we will write papers about or the scientific studies about the Earth. The basic question which stabs at the heart of this whole issue is that if indeed the world beyond a doubt, scientifically, will end, then why are we still arguing about it? Why, if it so certain, must we still try and effect some sort of human business in any way?

I submit, it is because all of it is a human organization. Not an overdetermined basis of utopian solution, not an underdetermined basis of nihilism (or a overdetermined nihilism or underdetermined utopia).

My wager is that the Earth’s climate is changing, but human Beings (as a generality to indicate what ideological Being is) want desperately to keep the climate of knowledge the same even as they might argue drastic change is needed; as Zizek has formulated, their argument is to enact drastic change within the normalized field wherein change is able to be reckoned as change (Postmodern expertise). In other words, keep the basis of knowing of such thing, how the human Being shows up the its world, the same, without the human Being actually having understand it self and the universe in a different manner, which is to say, in the actual manner. My wager is that human Beings will indeed survive to thrive, that the climate will change and will continue to change with human Beings involved with it.

And I argue that this ‘same way’ is Enlightened Reason: The special universal case of the modern manner through which human Beings shows up in the world.

#theactualendoftheworld

#prehistory

(Not-so?) New Hypothesis:

Reason is subordinate to emotion. Emotion determines the capacity of reason to apprehend the world. Emotion manifest either as a static state or a fluid state; typically what we associate with Emotion is the fluid state; we notice that when emotion is not fluid that reason as a neutral and uninhibited Avenue towards true things can function As indeed it sees itself : with no irony intended: Reason indeed sees, it views, it’s self as and unaffected identity, it axiomatically and reflexively sees its view as an un-inhibited clear vision.

My hypothesis is that the static state of emotion represents aspects of the world that are offensive to ones being; The shape or condition where the fluidity of emotion rests to thus attain relative stasis gives reason the platform to function, gives reason its field of data as well as its capacity to mean. This is to say that reason only is able to process the view that is allowed by the manifestation or state of emotion that exists for the individual.

The clarity it sees is but the clarity that is allowed by the emotional terrain, The emotional geography, if you will.

.

This is completely opposite of our traditional model of reason. But it could explain why the world manifests in the way It does, particularly in light of how we might be able to view scientific facts.