Philosophy in Practice | Cape Town

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No us and them

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On March 30, 2023
There is no us and them, only us. The white supremacy thing, the patriarchy thing, the class thing: binary structures of inequality and violence. The antidote? Affirming equality already here and getting ourselves together, mixing it up, messing with it. Laugh at it, blow kisses. These structures depend on division, difference. They need walls. They’re […]
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Otherwise philosophy, Philosophy otherwise

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On November 25, 2021
Levinasian philosophical practices Friday 26 November 2021, 1:00pm–6pm EST. Live-streaming on MS Teams 1:00pm: Welcome and Introduction 1:15pm (8:15 pm in South Africa): Helen Douglas, Philosophical Counsellor, Cape Town, South Africa, “Otherwise Philosophy or Philosophy Otherwise: Levinasian Philosophical Practices”. I’ll be talking about my counselling work as an interpersonal Levinasian practice of ethics and emancipation […]
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The Housekeeper’s Tale

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On August 2, 2021
International Solidarity in Apartheid South Africa Keynote Address North American Levinas Society “Solidarity and Community” 29 July 2021 Need I remind anyone again / that armed struggle is an act of love? ~ Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile In 1987, my husband Rob and I were recruited in Canada to move to Johannesburg to run a safehouse […]
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Making sense

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On November 17, 2020
Like consciousness is always consciousness of something (if you believe Husserl), making sense is always to someone, to some particular first-person singular. It’s interior, private, personal. That makes sense to me. But I have to ask you, Does this make sense to you?
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QA 60. None the wiser (On the obligation and cultivation of wisdom)

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On October 2, 2018
Last week, I had the pleasure of addressing a conference of family mediators in Cape Town on the topic of “Wisdom in mediation”. Two stories First story. An ethics professor once said to an undergraduate philosophy class, “If you believe that a professor of ethics is an ethical person, you are making a category mistake.” […]
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equivocation, ambivalence

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On August 17, 2018
These “mixed feelings” of yours. If you have no reason to feel the way you do, and yet you do, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no reason (you are irrational), or that you’re wrong to feel that way (you are mistaken), or that you should feel otherwise (you are dissolute).
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QA 58. “But it doesn’t work like that!”

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On May 12, 2017
Annals of philosophical counselling/practice with others “But it doesn’t work like that!” I say this in response to some proposed scheme or strategy of yours. I mean that, in terms of what you want to achieve, what you are doing seems either futile or malicious because you have a mistaken view about what’s going on. […]
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QA 56. Four touchstones for thinking about peace

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On July 18, 2016
For Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and because I’m reading Thula Simpson’s Umkhonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle, thinking about and respecting the lives of everyone who stood against apartheid, those whose names are known or unknown, remembered or forgotten. Thinking that the aim of the struggle was peace, and how we’re not there yet. Thinking […]
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QA 55. Tenebrae

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On March 27, 2016
Tenebrae (the Latin word for “darkness”) is the only Christian service I ever trusted. It’s made up of psalms of grief and lamentations of the lost and forsaken. The evening of Holy Saturday. The messiah is crucified, god has abandoned his people to their enemies. Why God? There are no signs for us to see; there […]
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QA 50! Thoughts at sea

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On October 26, 2014
A funny thing happened at the Philosophy Café last month. I got lost. We all set sail on a conversation about “sadness”, but I didn’t know what they were talking about. My mind was clear and present. I just couldn’t relate, couldn’t get a grip, couldn’t participate. And the good ship “we” sailed on without me. […]
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