Pierre Grimes is the founder of the philosophical midwifery movement, which is an adaption of Socratic midwifery, and is a mode of philosophical counseling. The name Philosophical Midwifery comes from Plato’s dialogue, The Theaetetus.
In that dialogue, Socrates refers to his art as midwifery because he assists in the delivery of men who are pregnant with either true ideas or false beliefs.
Socrates calls it an art because it is the application of a knowledge that benefits the subject. It is a purely rational method of pursing questions, a dialectic, that uncovers false beliefs, traces them to their origins, and by understanding their roots and influence on one’s life — deflates their influence.
For Pierre Grimes, the exploration of the dialectic as a mode of psychotherapy was the consequence of counseling alcoholics at a rehabilitation center. As a result, he authored two articles, Alcibiades and Vinodorus, written as Socratic dialogues that presented the dialectic as a mode of psychotherapy.
The Noetic Society was founded in Huntington Beach in 1967 for the study of dialogue and the exploration of the dialectic. When the Noetic Society was incorporated in 1978, he became the Director of its Philosophical Midwifery Program, where he demonstrated and taught the art of philosophical midwifery.
As a result, he co-authored with Dr. Regina Uliana an in-depth study of two subjects’ philosophical midwife dialogues and used them as the basis of a validation study. The study — A Validation of the Grimes Dialectic as a Mode of Rational Psychotherapy — was presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Uliana has lectured on the material of this work since 1981. The work was expanded upon and completed in 1990 and resulted in the book, Philosophical Midwifery: A New Paradigm for Understanding Human Problems With its Validation, published by Hyparxis Press.
During the exploration of philosophical midwifery at the Noetic Society, a team was formed – Joseph Grimes, Carole Duncan and Pierre Grimes — to produce a computer program based on Pierre Grimes’ work.
The program, To Artemis: The Challenge to Know Thyself, was designed to guide users through 400 structured questions that were modeled as a dialogue requiring users to record their answers, which, as a result, outlined their own problems.
Currently, Pierre is a professor of philosophy at Goldenwest College in Huntington Beach, CA. As a consequence of his reflections with students, he identified a set of social beliefs — fictions — that are irreconcilable with the attainment of the kind of excellence that is associated with the development of understanding.
As a result, he authored the philosophical play, Is It All Relative?: A Play on Plato’s Theaetetus.
Pierre has been a student of Eastern thought for many years and has been called a Jnana yogi by Alan Watts.
In 1982, the Son (Zen) master Chong-An (who was later given the name Myo Bong) of the Chogye Buddhist order of Korea, suggested the creation of a center that would combine Buddhism and Platonic Philosophy.
Chong-An was present when Pierre conducted classes on midwifery before the members of the Noetic Society. As Pierre describes it in the New Paradigm for Understanding:
“It was during these talks (with Chong-An) that I realized only too well what a task I had been engaged in since I was reviving and adapting parts of what was once a magnificent system of philosophy. In contrast, Buddhism had a different history; it had been fortunate in being able to continue into the present age, even adding to its rich philosophical and contemplative traditions, while Platonic thought had been thoroughly suppressed and has only managed to survive as an object of scholarly research rather than as a vital and profound spiritual system alongside of the Eastern contemplative systems.
One day over a cup of tea, Chong-An offered me an opportunity and challenge that surprised me. He said that I was a teacher who was disguising himself as a student and that I should drop the mask and be myself, a teacher. I laughed and tried to hold to my belief that I knew nothing that could benefit students. He simply said that if I do it, I would see for myself that I was a teacher.
I accepted the challenge and I became Hui-An, the Master Dharma Teacher and was sealed as his Dharma Successor. Myo Bong, the Patriarchal Dharma successor of Venerable Hye-Am, the 33rd patriarch from Lin Chi, has founded several temples and is presently in Korea.”
A short while later, in the Spring of 1983, Pierre started the Opening Mind Academy as part of his Virtue Mountain Temple for the training of philosophical midwifery, the exploration and study of dreams and for reviewing problems that students experienced with meditation.
The Noetic Society currently practices midwifery at our Friday night meetings.