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Events and Conferences

15-18 August 2014. Philosophical Practice as a New Paradigm in Philosophy: 13th International Conference on Philosophical Practice. (Belgrade, Serbia). Paper: "Giving Birth to Derrida's Mother: Philosophical Practice at the End of Philosophy".

June 29-July 11 2014. Archives of the Non-Racial: Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (South Africa).

12-13 February 2014. Levinas and Glissant: Re-Thinking Alterity with the Postcolony. (U. Cape Town, South Africa). Paper: "The Scene of the Disaster".

29-31 March 2013. Phenomenology and its Futures: Conference of the Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa. (U. Johannesburg, South Africa). Paper: "Philosophical Practice as an Emancipatory Practice".

26 March 2013. Workshop on Just War Theory. (U. Johannesburg, South Africa). Paper: "The Paradox of Just Violence".

2-4 November 2012. Philosophy and the Moral Life. (U. Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa). Paper: "Emancipatory Practice".

4-9 July 2010. Readings of Difficult Freedom: SIREL/NALS International Conference. (Toulouse, France). Paper: "Difficult Liberation: Reading Levinas in Africa".

20-22 January 2010. Philosophical Society of Southern Africa Annual Conference. (Monash U., Johannesburg, South Africa). Paper: "Difficult Liberation".

12-15 June 2008. Madness, Citizenship and Social Justice: A Human Rights Conference. (SFU, Vancouver, Canada). Paper: "Stranger Neighbours".

3-5 June 2008. About the Things Themselves: Society of Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture. (UBC, Vancouver, Canada). Paper: "Response to Kathy Kiloh, 'The Experience of our Bodies: Levinas's Radical Ethical Materialism".

10-12 June 2007. Levinas and Community: North American Levinas Society. (Purdue, Indiana, USA). Paper: "Levinas in Practice: Face to Face and Side by Side".

18-20 May 2007. American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, and Psychotherapy 2nd International Conference. (Purdue Callumet, Indiana, USA). Paper: "Levinas in Practice".

17-19 January 2007. Philosophical Society of Southern Africa Annual Conference (U. Stellenbosch, South Africa). Paper: "Levinas in Practice".

Philosophy Society Seminar Series

Helen Douglas (Philosophy in Practice, Kalk Bay)

Date: Tuesday 29 March 2005
Time: 8pm
Venue: Room 6C, Level 6 Robert Leslie Social Science Building

"The emerging field of philosophical counselling is simply the latest expression of a perennial desire that philosophy should help us to live well. It takes a line from Epicurus as its motto: "Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering." This talk will sketch various historical philosophical practices, from the schools of the classic age to the Socratic Method of Leonard Nelson (1882-1927), as well as a range of contemporary practices, including my own which is oriented to the ethical phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas."

Paper presented to the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa, Pietermaritzburg, 24-26 January 2005.

ABSTRACT: Proximity, the relationship with the Other, is at the heart of Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy. This paper is a close account of how subjectivity comes to be in respect of this relationship, as awakening to responsibility for one's neighbour. Levinas's accounts of the passage between the orders of proximity and being tend to describe the interruption of being by the alterity of the other, where essence is exceeded by the Infinite, where the self-referral of identity is catastrophically called into question by the revelation of the Face. My purpose here is to go the other way, from proximity into being, to discover how the Infinite passes into essence as substitution or ethics.


Practising philosophy: a workshop

Helen Douglas, philosopher and freelance lecturer, Cape Town

Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Assuming that all of us have lives worth examining, this discussion-based course will give students a chance to practise the arts of philosophy, examine their own experience and understanding of the world, and think together about what matters in life. There is no pre-set agenda as participants will take up issues which arise within the class. However, topics may include perception and reality, good, evil, truth, scepticism, love, death and meaning itself.

The first session will chart key questions and concerns, and will look at the process of how questions arise and what they signify. As the course progresses, participants will use brief readings from a variety of sources to explore specific topics. Rather than offer a selection from the menu of traditional philosophy, the intention is to reconsider what is taken for granted, to interact with other points of view, and to practise philosophising by one's own lights. Students need no experience with formal philosophy, but require a lively curiosity about self and world and a willingness to engage in dialogue with others.

17 - 21 January 2005
3.30 - 5.00 pm
No admission to single sessions
Maximum: 20 participants

Course: R325.00
Staff: R160.00
Reduced: R90.00

Enquiries: (021) 650-2888
Write to:
Centre for Extra-Mural Studies UCT
Private Bag

Please note
:Registration forms can be printed from this website.


8 August 2004
Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, University of Cape Town.
Enquiries: Renaissance Magazine 021 762 3965


24 June 2004
I will be speaking about meaning and the loss of it, and the risks and consolations of philosophy, a bit of my own story, and why philosophy is always relational or "between us".
BOOKING - not needed. All welcome. R25 entrance. Refreshments provided.
TIME & PLACE: 7.00 for 7.30pm at The Lecture Hall, Meadowridge Public Library, Howard Drive, Meadowridge (opposite Shopping Centre)
DIRECTIONS: At the roundabout, top of Ladies Mile Road, follow signs to Meadowridge, which takes you into Firgrove Way. Howard Drive is second on the left.


Ref: 0026

Contrary to popular opinion, philosophy is not simply a collection of dense and incomprehensible writings which are of no relevance to our everyday concerns. Whenever we make a choice between one thing and another, or a judgement about the way things are, we are expressing our personal philosophy. When we learn how to question aspects of those judgements or beliefs, that's when we become philosophers ourselves. This talk/discussion will consider philosophy as an essential human activity, and also take a look at the new roles that philosophers are taking up in society.

Monday, 16 February 2004 19h00-20h30.
R30, or R50 for both Fish Hoek talks.
To register, call 789-1876 or e-mail

Ref: 0027

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. - Alice in Wonderland

The modern practice of philosophical counselling has been growing internationally for twenty years. Simply put, it is for people with questions who wish to engage in dialogue with a philosopher in order to resolve those questions. Like Alice's guide, the philosopher doesn't provide instant answers. Instead, visitors are encouraged and assisted to understand where they want to 'get to' and to determine their own best way forward - in other words, to discover and develop their own guiding wisdom. This talk and discussion will look at who goes to a counselling philosopher, who they might expect to find there, and at what happens when they do.

Monday, 23 February 2004 19h00-20h30.
R30, or R50 for both Fish Hoek talks.
To register, call 789-1876 or e-mail



The practice of philosophy - of following the questions life poses us - leads to greater awareness, freedom and confidence. But it can be a surprisingly risky business. Why is this so? What is at stake, and what is the danger? How can we follow our own quests for meaning? And what can we learn from each other? Come prepared for discovery!

Wednesday, 24 March 2004 20h00-21h00. Classroom 4A, Kramer Law Faculty, UCT
R35 at the door; book through Computicket
For details, go to


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