An Introduction to Platonic Philosophy

By Pierre Grimes, Ph. D.

Man is a curious creature. There appears to be nothing he will not try if it offers the slightest chance of overcoming his sense of alienation. He will go to war, use drugs, get married, and even play golf. Even if it has only the slimmest chance of ending his sense of futility, he will gamble on it.

The sense of being incomplete has driven many into psychotherapy, it can lead one to search the heavens for some clue to one’s destiny, it can awaken a need to meditate in Zen, it can draw one into the priesthood or to coaching little league, and for some it can motivate them to exchange their talent and life’s energies to enrich a corporation in return for a vague promise of financial gain and, possibly, retirement.

But, while nearly anything will be tried, there is one thing that nearly everyone rules out, something that they are sure will never work and that is relying upon one’s own reason to lead to resolvement of their conflicts and their dissatisfaction with life. For, life is lived through the mind, conflicts are only resolved through the mind, and through that solution the unity of life and the mind is recognized.

The realization of the profound unity of our existence is the foundation for a deeper understanding of the mystery of our existence. The way to that realization and understanding is the ancient path of philosophy.

However, the idea of philosophy most people are acquainted with is derived from a European tradition that is hostile, or indifferent, to spiritual goals and metaphysics. Philosophy in the European tradition is an attempt to discover a place for knowledge in history, language, science, and even common sense but not in the quest to know thyself.

Those that have turned to the most profound of Eastern philosophies have discovered in their very quest for the Self that reason and intellect do not play a primary role there either. In our own educational institutions the idea of pursuing a philosophy that is centered around the quest for wisdom would be regarded by most as not only unscientific but irrelevant if not heretical to the direction of contemporary thought and philosophy.

It has been argued by some that in our society that there is a pervasive skepticism and distrust of reason; clearly, it is not that reason has failed, for the truth is that we have ignored our past, not rejected it; our culture has not kept alive the profound traditions of our past. Thus, the claim that philosophy can reach meaning and can explain the dynamics of mind is something most people would find hard to understand.

The ancient Greeks, in contrast with European tradition, had cultivated a philosophy and traditions that centered around the quest for wisdom that had granted them profound spiritual goals.

An adaptation of this philosophy has disclosed that we are in the grip of a strange kind of problem, one that we hadn’t suspected we have. It has been demonstrated that any false belief about oneself and the nature of reality has sufficient force to block one from the attainment of one’s highest aspirations and most meaningful goals.

A further difficulty: They are virtually invisible to the believer. Since they are not identified by the believer as something they themselves believe, they cannot recall it nor reflect upon it. Curiously, then, these false beliefs are accepted as intuitively certain yet are not recognized as being believed by the believer.

Clearly, this is the worst of ignorance, to believe one is intelligent and good enough without realizing the depth of our ignorance and just how far we have slipped from realizing our ideals; while the need for understanding oneself and reality is desperate, we remain indifferent to our plight.

It might be asked, if we are ignorant, how can philosophy offer an approach to the problem of ignorance? The practice of philosophy starts with ignorance, or not knowing, and charts a journey through the intellectual domain to right opinion to understanding and to knowledge or wisdom; it moves as if by a flight of stairs, until one reaches that perfect learning called wisdom.

Being ignorant is the state of mind when one’s false beliefs about oneself and reality block one’s own development. It has been demonstrated that since these false beliefs are irreconcilable with one’s highest goals and aspirations that they are the inevitable cause of our failures and disillusionment with our lives.

When you learn the right opinion you have the right answer without understanding the reasons why it is a right opinion. The way to discover these reasons is, of course, the exercise of reason. Again, someone may ask what kind of reasoning and practice is this that can eliminate those beliefs that you never knew you believed?

Well, reason is what it is, whenever the conditions allow it to be, then it naturally emerges. The way reason functions in philosophy is no different than the way it functions in the sciences. Consider, do we not say that reason allows us to discover the causes of the patterns we observe? The patterns can be in our behavior, in our dreams, or into the sub-atomic world of quarks and super-strings.

When we search into the causes of the patterns discovered in the heavens, it is called cosmology; when it is into the causes of our believing false beliefs, into the processes of reaching understanding, and into the nature of mind, it is called philosophy. If what is found to lie at the root of man’s irrational behavior are false beliefs, then the discipline that identifies and resolves these false beliefs through the exercise of understanding is what should be cultivated. The struggle to reach understanding develops the understanding; the struggle to get out of problems is the cultivation of understanding.

Surely, now, if this is true there should be a way to lead another to an exploration of their particular problem. There should be a way to find the false beliefs that underlie each problem. Each problem has its own unique roots but since the general form of all problems is much the same, then, a set of questions should be designed to serve this need. Indeed, a set of questions has been developed to meet this very need.

These questions have introduced people into self reflection and many people to the art of delivering oneself of false beliefs. They were designed to be part of a program to teach this art. It was called “A Guide For Your Reflections: A Journey into Philosophical Midwifery” and we have adapted them for your reflections.

These questions will bring to the surface the nature of a person’s problem, either your own problem or someone you might care to share them with. It does take some skill to fully understand the material brought up by the questions, but when they are reflected upon again and again, the mind is brought to see distinctions and connections in the material and that network of connections found in the material becomes the basis of a new understanding of oneself and reality.

It is like the polishing of a gem – it can gain luster by repeated polishing.

A New Discovery: A Philosopher’s Reflection on Christianity

By Pierre Grimes, Ph. D.

To Theodorus, the Alexandrine Philosopher,

No, I regret having to report to you that we have not escaped the fury of the mob, as you call it. For even now we are in the midst of the struggle against them. As for our surrounding cities it is unlikely that any will escape the fury of this storm. Nor do I think that any part of the Hellenes will escape similar devastation. We liken it to a plague because it strikes this person and not that one for reasons no one can explain. As far as we know, once one has been seized by its deadliness, there is no remedy. It is a perverse thing that they laud to the sky but for all their zeal they are unable to comprehend that in trying to seize the citadels of heaven they use what shackles and binds men to the deepest part of Hades, Tartarus. Surely you know how difficult it is to fight against this storm of irrationality. It engulfs even those whom we had thought were secure and strong enough to resist its absurdities.

It is your understanding of what you call the absurdity of belief that we have found most intriguing. Curiously enough, we had not fully realized the significance of their leader’s last words until you made it clear. You said that in the last desperate hour of his life their leader revealed that he believed that God had abandoned and forsaken him. Surely, then, to believe in him and his message it is necessary to deny they know what he believed in his last hour. Unquestioned belief comes, as you have often said, when one willingly accepts as true what one knows is false. So, as children do, in believing as true what is known to be false we give up our own right to judge. Yet, even as with children a part of us knows that we only do that to preserve a vital relationship for us.

Reflecting on this, we could only wonder why these people hadn’t recognized that what they believe is in reality a tragic drama that could have competed in Athens for the first prize against Sophocles¹ plays. We found it hard to believe others had not noticed this work of Mark has all the formal divisions of a tragedy with a prologue, the proposito, the peripetia, the katastrophe, and the fifth act, the pathos. We were more than surprised and could only wonder about the keepers of their tradition when, as you informed us, that the physical resurrection theme was not in the original work and that it was added several hundred years after it was first written.

When we point out to them that the soul needs careful cultivation and training for its true and proper nurture and growth they exclaim, “Who needs a cow when milk is free?” And, “Jerusalem that has conquered Rome, what need is there for Athens ?” They argue that it is foolish to strive for perfection when it can so easily be had in one leap of faith. Faith can reach, in a single leap, they insist, what philosophers have only dreamt about achieving.

If philosophy were sufficient, they argue, there would be no need for Christ. What we have found as the loftiest of quests, they heap scorn upon. When we try to explain to them what is the most essential of all tasks they wrap themselves contentedly around their faith believing that it offers divine protection against any need to awaken their own minds. They bind together, like to like, in a holy war against those who reject their belief. They pour hatred and do violence to those who find reasons for rejecting their faith.

Because they are unable to silence reason’s claims they reject what cannot serve their faith. To prove their faith they must convert others because otherwise they would not know their belief is believable. To keep their faith secure from doubt they must depreciate the very nature of the mind’s grasp of Being so that in the end they deny what they cannot comprehend.

The conflict intensifies into a war. From within, it goes without. It becomes an inferno that sweeps away all opposition and, since reason objects to the irrational, things of the mind are sacrificed to preserve unquestioned faith. They have to band together for strength because alone they are cowards. Mutual support and agreement become the bonds that tie them together.

They believe they have created a new people, a new brotherhood of man for a new age, and that they are superior to both Hellenes and Jews. However, they easily become confused and furious when they recognize that there are other tribes much like their own that harbor slightly different beliefs of what they have taken to have the certainty of truth.

Thus, these tribes must fight one another over differences that do not make a difference or else they must deny their own allegiance and the literalness of their faith. What is this they have done? They live without nous and elevate thumos, they sacrifice the intellect and raise feelings as the sole arbitrator of the soul. What do we have here but a war against states of mind: one that treasures a seeing through the mind and devalues belief and the other that ends in belief and denies any significance to such seeing?

A while ago we talked to one of these people who visited with us and learned some of the reasons they reject our idea of reincarnation. We explained that at death one carries all that one has learned and nurtured into the next realm, to Hades, and after receiving due benefits and punishments one returns to another existence.

Our visitor experienced a deep sense of dismay and futility at this idea because he knew how impossible it has been for him to become free of his own errors. In contrast with our view, they want death to put an end to it all. They want to be accepted by a heavenly father without regard to their sinful ways, as they call it.

They believe all they need to be saved is to recognize the true nature of the Father, or if not that then his Son, whom they call their messiah. The entire movement depends on this one issue, Hell. Which is it, is this life a stage in a learning process? Are we here to figure out why we are here and apply there what we have learnt here? Must we ignore the mystery of our own being? Or, does this existence of ours turn about this single issue: that you and I will burn in a Hell if we can not believe as they do?

As you know when we used to meet fellow Pythagoreans we would find leisure to discuss together in public the furthermost reach of our vision and in those discussions we would carefully follow the logos to gain greater clarity and understanding in what matters most to us.

When we found that there was a deviation in the words or deeds of another we would gently bring them to discover what belief they, unknowingly, must still cling to that could have caused them to miss the mark. They banish those who dare correct another, insisting that since God alone is their judge no man can do what is God’s sole task. They allow each others absurdities but only as long as they agree that in their brotherhood they are above all criticism and have no need for the sages.

What then is our task? Are we to descend into the darkness and seek some way to hold up a candle of light for others like ourselves? Perhaps, but I think we should try to discover why we failed to bring the light to those who desperately needed it. For they lived amongst us in a darkness and we ignored or could not meet their need. Or, shall we say that some can never participate in things divine because they lack the means to enter the noetic realm? I ask you, Theodorus, if justice permeates existence as it does Being then how is it that it is so difficult for man to perceive its nature?

I do not think we could have realized all this had you not sent a copy of the work of Mark so that we could see it for ourselves. It may be, as some have said, that our age is coming to a close, much like what once happened to us during the Doric invasions. Consider, neither private sacrifice to the divine is permitted nor any purgation save that of public confession.

More and more we do in secret what once blossomed in the light of day. So much may I say in a letter. You are able to fill in what I omit and to bring to your reflections what I have yet to grasp for myself. It is your destiny to be among those like yourself and to study and contemplate what has been brought together from distant places and ancient times. The realization that there are those continuing our rich heritage at the library gives us a measure of hope for the future.

sealed: Agathon, the son of Dionysius

Philosophical Midwifery and Professionalism

By Pierre Grimes, Ph. D.

Clearly, there is no need to professionalize Philosophical Midwifery; since no academic program can qualify anyone. The qualifications to the title of PM are simple. If you can do it you are one, if you can’t you’re not. The standards are public and available on demand. The questions that PM explore are available and can be adapted by anyone.

There should be no difficulty for anyone to determine whether or not someone is competent or not in this art since after any demonstration it can be compared and judged against the many examples of Philosophical Midwifery that we have on video tape, audiotape,pamphlets, a workbook, there is also the To Artemis Macintosh program that outlines in detail a philosophical midwife exploration and a book on the subject with an accompanying validation study that covers multiple issues of Philosophical Midwifery.

However, while there is no need to turn Philosophical Midwifery into a licensed profession or to create licensing procedures that does not mean that participating in training programs at our Academy have no merit.

Our programs are designed to include

1. Carefully selected literature that reflects our fundamental concerns,

2. offers a method to practice in depth individual explorations,

3. and we supervise reviews of PM explorations,

4. we encourage all participants in our program to participate in telephone conferences,

5. to attend our regional conferences,

6. and to demonstrate their art before judges who have themselves demonstrated a level of competency in PM.

It will be expected that members will conduct themselves in such a way that their interactions will manifest the ideals which are the subject of Plato’s Republic. Obviously, those who depart from these ideals will include that departure as the subject of their own PM explorations.

As a natural consequence of our art of PM it is expected that at some point in the training the Philosophical Midwife will become an intern at the APM and volunteer their service to help others learn the art. This function will be managed through the e-mail and supervised by the staff of APM. The difficulties and problems that the philosophical midwife experiences will become the subject of reviews and they will be explored by the member of the APM who is in charge.

As one develops in the art of PM it is expected that the participant will be managed and direct other members in a meditation retreat based upon the highest principles of Platonic philosophy. It is expected, that to some degree, the past meditation retreats will be used as a model and they will explore and help others understand and encounter the Idea of the Good, Beauty Itself, Providence, and The Good. The problems participants experience will become the subject of reviews during these sessions and they will be explored by the member of the APM who is in charge. These meditation retreats will be in addition to managing and directing PM seminars. It is understood that these will also be supervised and reviewed.

Successful candidates are given recognition and as a sign of that achievement are given the title of Masters in Philosophical Midwifery by our Academy.

A Study of Philosophical Midwifery Presented at 3rd Int’l Conference on PC, NYC 1997

© 1997 By Pierre Grimes. Ph.D

In this paper I propose to cover the following four areas concerning philosophicalmidwifery:)

  1. Philosophical Midiwifery and the transmission of the pathologos;
  2. verification, prediction, and validation in Philosophical Midiwifery;
  3. how Philosophical Midiwifery differs from philosophical counseling and psychotherapy;
  4. Philosophical Midiwifery as a new paradigm and exemplar.

Brief history of Philosophical Midiwifery:

Following the publication in the early 1960’s of my two articles exploring dialectic as a frame of reference for the dialectic as a mode of psychotherapy and the founding of the Noetic Society for the Study of Dialogue and the Exploration of the Dialectic in 1967, a philosophical midwife program under my direction was begun in 1978for the Noetic Society and has continued to this day.

Philosophical Midwifery as defined here is an adaptation of Socratic midwifery that utilizes a dialectic as a mode of psychotherapy and as a method for philosophical counseling.

As a dialectic it follows a formal course of questioning; these questions are designed to surface unsuspected false beliefs about oneself that are irreconcilable with the attainment of one’s most meaningful and profound goals.

These false beliefs are unspoken conclusions one has drawn from scenes early in one’s life, when parents or authorities used critical situations to express their own deeply felt opinions about themselves, the world, and the child. We call such false beliefs the pathologos. There may be several of these pathologos’ that are linked together forming the basic structure of one’s image of oneself.

The pathologos is supported by themes or ideas that express the pathologos in a secondary way. These themes, in turn, become internalized and turn against oneself as a barrage of thoughts, attitudes and even gestures.

So central is this image of oneself that those in PM face a crisis when they must choose between challenging that mask and living without it. During an examination of the roots of these problems the subject may terminate their exploration because they recognize how much of their interactions with family and friends depends upon the perpetuation of this mask.

The pathologos forms a new center within the individual because they are split from their own past. The impact of the pathologos diminishes the significance of the past so that a kind of amnesia takes place as the present becomes dominated by the pathologos.

The conclusion, the pathologos, is never discussed, but its lesson survives. Thus, this learning carries great force, partially because it is unknown. Yet we know that we have been restricted, that we must limit ourselves, so that a growing resentment and anger marks the pathologos.

This learning produces images in our mind, it forms ideals that are shadows of thereal.

The Transmission of the Pathologos

The transmission of the pathologos occurs in scenes that are structured to make certain conclusions indubitable. The transmission takes place when the subject is in an open,receptive, and creative state of mind. It is when the subject is drawn into their own interests and becomes absorbed in their own challenges that the crisis occurs. If the family were to allow any of their children to continue to be absorbed in their own private world it would be granting the child freedom to determine their own direction in life. The family’s own interests would not be the center around which its members must show concern and devotion. It would mean the child could choose their own direction without the guidance, concern, and teachings of the family.

The authority takes this occasion to indicate or draw a boundary around what is possible, and what is permissible. The conclusion they want drawn is that only they have the experience to truly know what is real. The limits they set become the boundary of what is real. They know the limit of their being, and no one should expect them to go further,it is realistic to compromise. The absorbed free state is judged selfish, indifferent, and must be challenged. Regardless of how the alternative is stated, even it is negative and divisive, the acceptance of it becomes the acceptance of that boundary. It becomes the arena of the family teaching and membership and roles follow from its acceptance.

Skillful use of benefits, praise, love, intimidation, humiliation, exile, and coercion reminds all of that boundary.

Thus, through what appears to be genuine sharing and an expression of love, the fundamental ideas that shape and mold one’s patterns of thought and future behavior are transmitted.

These scenes for the transmission are not discipline or punishment scenes but are scenes where authorities reveal with or without words their fundamental values. Each of these transmissions has a specific action, some logos – or intended meaning, and an accompanying state of mind.

Whenever the subject returns to that state or engages in what is most significant to them they encounter an inner prohibition against continuing that activity and either fail in their pursuit or change their goals to more practical goals.

From unique scenes that had a compelling force we concluded falsely about the self and relationships.

Primarily the scene must create the impression that whatever is being said and done is for the subject’s benefit. Those who appear as authorities must appear confident,sharing, sincere, noble and proud. For some subjects the authority appears their best,giving the appearance of beauty, and beauty is persuasive. The authority must give the appearance that they care enough to emerge as knowers.

To be convinced by someone that we are ignorant about our very being and deluded about what we regarded as real and important to us requires a very special situation. For the belief to become believable requires great talent.

What is shared at this time becomes the message and the authorities become believable as they transmit the belief. The way they appear becomes the ideal for knowing and for truth. In the presence of what seems like greatness we become like that ideal. When it is the subject’s turn to play the knower they can imitate that scene; the gestures,expressions, and attitudes displayed become part of the reservoir of responses.

These beliefs were transmitted to us in our youth in scenes designed to convince us that in the very act of sharing beliefs we can gain membership in group belief and a role within the family. Rejecting these beliefs would challenge what was presented as truth and that would run the risk of losing a relationship important for one’s survival. But to persuade others about the truth of reality when one is ignorant of its nature is a form of sophistry.

The pathologos scenes are relatively rare but their importance is far reaching. The learning can’t be challenged for to do so would question the integrity and role of authority. These scenes are enacted when subjects are young and still dependent upon the family for survival.

The beliefs and attitudes of the family that are communicated at such times are always at variance with one’s own immediate experience, but to reject these false beliefs would be tantamount to rejecting the sincerity and truth of the authority. The scene is a model for sharing, it becomes a model for revealing, and it is when the authority appears most confident and knowing.

The pathologos functions as a model since our behavior is consistent with the pathologos we learned. The learning frames the model as the behavior is its copy. Thus,when we find ourselves in scenes that are analogous to those early scenes in which we learned the pathologos we use that learning as a strategy for dealing with the present. This is the origin of the cyclical nature of the pathologos. Unknowingly we apply lessons learned in the past to circumstances that appear similar.

As one explores how the model relates to its copy one understands most directly just how the copy is generated and how it is derived from the model. It is through such encounters that one grasps the essence of the dynamics of the model and copy. Thus, what may appear to be irrational in man’s behavior proceeds from false beliefs about one’s self, and with the discovery of their particular origins and the reasons why they were maintained, a person can be free of the consequences of such beliefs, free of the pathologos.

Through these events the subject accepts that they are wrong and the authority is right. It is never openly discussed and so a conclusion is formed that has not been put into words.

The transmission of the pathologos can be traced through generations; it defines the family-clan beliefs and becomes a sign of acceptance.

When we risk seeking for ourselves our highest and most personally meaning goals we surface the pathologos and it becomes fully manifest. The art that can surface these beliefs, can demonstrate the reasons for their persistence, can trace their influence upon one’s present difficulties, assist in the struggles, and resolve them is called Philosophical Midwifery.

Verification, prediction, and validation of Philosophical Midiwifery

The conclusions of such dialectical sessions are always tested in one’s experience, which are then reflected upon to determine what other explorations are required in the quest to resolve and eliminate the causes of one’s ignorance and its disastrous effects upon one’s life. The challenge to test one’s conclusions in everyday events that are analogous to pathologos scenes is no easy task because it requires courage to face those events with a new understanding, it takes a cool headedness to remain fair to the events discussed.

Prediction: The patterns of behavior discovered provide a basis for prediction in general. In their particular occurrence they are unpredictable but why they occur in their particular occurrence is understandable. Those who gain insight into their problems learn to anticipate the manifestation of the pathologos and can predict their occurrence.

Validation: Since the questions form the basic method for surfacing these previously unknown beliefs, and for the subsequent analysis, then both the process of surfacing and the analysis are parts of a repeatable methodology.

A validation study of the Grimes adaptation of this Socratic Philosophical Midiwifery was presented before the 94th annual American Psychological Association in 1986. It demonstrated that “significant elements of GDRP (Grimes’ Dialectic as a Rational Psychotherapy) are prescriptive and have the capacity for verification and evaluation without requiring external diagnostic criteria such as the DSM-III. Thus, the long held belief that a rational psychology is, in principle, incapable of either being empirically verified, or of affecting emotionalized behavior, is rejected.”

The resultant data provides a base line from which changes can be distinguished and, if necessary, psychological profiles can be constructed. The data is also analyzable according to the basic categories of Philosophical Midwifery.

Since both the method and the analysis of its data are based upon only the language and ideas of the subject there is no need for any external interpretation. The level of human behavior explored is not superficial since it reaches the depth of “emotionalized behavior.” Once surfaced it can be effectively engaged and resolved.

Those sharing the procedures and methods of Philosophical Midwifery can validate its findings and come together to pursue a set of common goals and ideals. Its practitioners can reach relatively unanimous conclusions about this field of study. In becoming members of a common intellectual tradition they become part of a culture whose roots are Hellenic yet it reaches into the present. It can be expected that in the future practitioners will extend this dialectical approach to the study of the mind, not only into areas of belief but also into areas of understanding and knowing.

It is for these reasons we say that we are introducing Philosophical Midwifery as a new paradigm for the understanding of human problems.

Psychotherapy, Philosophical Counseling and PM

As it was necessary to distinguish Philosophical Midwifery (PM) from psychotherapy it is now important to distinguish it from philosophical counseling while accepting the fact that it is a mode of philosophical counseling.

The basic differences that separate PM from both psychotherapy and PC are

  1. that the kind of problems it explores are already well defined,
  2. its method is well established,
  3. its subjects are pre-selected, and
  4. that its goals are clearly philosophical.

PM did not come into existence full blown, rather it has gone through many changes in its some forty years of development and I should say that much of it was the result of working not only with others but for working on my own problems.

Those entering this kind of dialectic know the kind of questions that will be asked, they know that they will uncover unsuspected beliefs that have blocked their own most meaningful pursuits, and they know that this exploration will bring them to recognize the origin of such false beliefs, what maintains them, and how the process of discovery brings them to a new kind of understanding. But, most importantly, they recognize that this kind of exploration will challenge their most fundamental beliefs, that it is likely to make them reexamine their life goals, and in the process little if anything they formerly believed will remain as it was. Both parties of the PM dialogue are aware that the possibility of such a turning about of their lives is the theme of the larger search for meaning within a Platonic context. Thus, PM is not for everyone, but it is for those whose vision of their life can benefit by learning and exploring Platonic philosophy.

Indeed, the need for PM is for those who desire to pursue a Platonic vision of philosophy. This is because the pursuit entails not only mastering the literary works of the Platonic tradition but attempting to confirm in one’s own experience the most profound ideals of Platonic philosophy. Now, this necessarily includes not only learning to dialogue and exploring the dialectic but entering into the contemplative path. It is for this reason that PM is essential to those aspiring to be Platonic philosophers because the blocks and obstacles one experiences in this noblest of quests manifest most clearly the pathologos. Thus, they become the proper objects of study for PM. In PM both parties learn most directly, not from theory, how false beliefs arise, how they are made believable, how they are transmitted, and what chains us to them. For in understanding this we can be released from its chains and folly.

Challenging the sophistry on this level is facing the task of freeing ourselves from the shackles of the cave. In addition, PM also challenges the sophistry of the many, of society, and as it does so it helps put an end to an ignorance that is expressed in another kind of false belief.

PM is an essential part of philosophy since philosophy regards as its domain the identifying, challenging, and the eradication of ignorance and sophistry through the exercise of understanding. In so far as Platonic philosophy encourages the practice of contemplation for a vision of beauty and to behold the Good, it also has a need for a way to understand and overcome the blocks and obstacles encountered along the path.

However, this is not to suggest that the many forms of PC should adopt this approach in its counseling since the many forms of PC may be guided and influenced by a different kind of thought than that of the philosophy of Plato.

It is for these reasons that we say that PM is a mode of PC. Again, since psychotherapy does not identify false beliefs as the psychogenic cause of behavior and emotional problems, PM is not part of psychotherapy but PM may resemble it in some respects,therefore it is a mode of psychotherapy. But both psychotherapy and PC may be able to adopt some part of this method in their practice and if it benefits others then it is serving a good purpose.

Kuhn’s Criterion for a new Paradigm and Exemplar

The practice and methods of PM conform to Thomas Kuhn’s criterion

for a new paradigm and exemplar. In this book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” he argued that scientific revolutions proceeded from new creative idea she called paradigms. His work generated much discussion, conferences were held to discuss his idea, articles praised and criticized his notions, and as a result Kuhn’s added an appendix to his work to answer his critics and to reformulate his idea of a paradigm. We shall use this reformulation of Kuhn’s in our discussion of a paradigm since with it we can bring several distinctions together under the name of paradigm and in doing so we swill adapt it to our purpose.

According to Kuhn’s idea a paradigm should be understood in two senses. He says that,

“On the one hand, it stands for the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community.

And on the other hand, it denotes one sort of element in that constellation, the concrete puzzle-solutions which, employed as models or examples, can replace explicit rules as a basis for the solution of the remaining puzzles of normal science. (185) ”

In this respect PM equally shares with the members of its community an entire constellation of beliefs, values and techniques.

PM applies its methods to concrete problem solutions which are the application of models and examples that are the basis for a wide range of solutions for a class of human problems.

Kuhn substitutes the idea of exemplar for his notion of models or examples and in so doing he distinguishes the role of exemplars in science.

Kuhn’s description (p.186-7) includes:

1. Concrete problem-solutions which can be studied by students in their education;

2. technical problem solutions published in journals detailing findings of the research conducted by scientists which serve as further examples of the application of the exemplars to particular sciences;

3. symbolic generalizations of these exemplars which are studied and learned by all members of the particular science;

4. and, acquiring exemplars provides learners with the “ability to recognize a given situation as like some and unlike others that one has seen before” .

These four ideas are most important for Kuhn since as he says these “first led me to the choice of that word (paradigm)”( 187).

In the practice and methods of PM the following points parallel the above:

1. PM’s methods are clearly stated for the practice of PM, problem solutions and case examples have been provided, and are distributed to those wishing to learn of its methods and philosophy;

2. the publications of PM have detailed its findings, and set out its methods, which can serve as examples of the application of exemplars of this study;

3. generalizations and models are provided which are studied by practitioners and are learned by all of its participants, but these are not symbolic generalizations of its methods.

4. the exemplars of PM provide the learners with the ability to recognize a given situation as like and unlike others that have been studied and encountered previously. Thus, the exemplars provide rules, procedures, and the ability to apply them. Once learned, as Kuhn says, the “recognition of similarity must be as fully systematic as the beating of our hearts.”

Kuhn’s second sense of a paradigm includes the sociological function of exemplars.He says,

“One of the fundamental techniques by which the members of a group, whether an entire culture or a specialists’ sub-community within it learn to see the same things when confronted with the same stimulus is by being shown examples of situations that their predecessors in the group have already learned to see as like each other and as different from other sorts of situations.(193)”

This last point can be said of PM, for those sharing these ideas come together as a sub-community of learners. They explore the principles of PM and learn to apply them to a wide range of cognitive functions such as daydreams, spontaneous fantasy, and dreams since the same dynamics of believe formation underlie all these functions.

Kuhn’s insistence that the practitioners of science are fundamentally puzzle-solvers separates him from those who understand theoretical constructs to be more than conventionalist hypotheses. However, in respect to the problem- solving in Philosophical Midwifery, we regard our theoretical constructs as possible insights into the nature of mind and into the hierarchical structure of our reality. In this way we contribute to a tradition whose roots are Platonic.

As with the introduction of a new paradigm, PM has introduced a set of analogical structures, metaphors, and similes to express the pathologos. In this way PM provides the group with a set of preferred permissible language constructs to communicate their findings. (184).

We have shown that PM is “simple, self-consistent, and plausible” (185) and while it may not be compatible with other theories currently employed it is consistent with the Platonic tradition. Further, PM is much like the sciences, in that it values simplicity, scope, and precision in its constructs. Our procedures and analyses of human problems employ methods that are capable of refinement and so are capable of being self-correcting mechanisms. Again, since our models are based upon understanding the dynamics of pathologos problems, these models are always provisional and as more precision is introduced it is expected that more accurate models will be constructed to exhibit additional insights.

But Philosophical Midwifery differs from the sciences in its predictive power since in the sciences it is the particular that must be determined, while in philosophical midwifery prediction lies in understanding general patterns of behavior and thought.

As a result of our work it is possible to discuss Philosophical Midwifery in its own terms, in terms of its models, and its traditions. Thus, its practitioners can reach relatively unanimous conclusions about this field of study. In becoming members of a common intellectual tradition they become part of a culture whose roots are Hellenic.

As we have noted, examples of Philosophical Midwifery can be studied and reflected upon by its practitioners. From these examples learners will be able to recognize patterns of pathologos behavior that express themselves in key words. These words or expressions must be recognized because they lead to the recognition of similarity underlying pathologos behavior. Once their role is identified these case studies can be selected and presented as exemplars in various education programs. Clearly, this study will have an impact on our culture because it presents a plausible and self-consistent theory that is supported by a body of evidence that is compatible with other theories and can be discussed as having parallels to existing mathematical and theoretical models.

It can be expected that in the future practitioners will extend this approach to the study of the mind, not only into areas of belief but also into areas of understanding and knowing.

It is for these reasons we say that we are introducing Philosophical Midwifery as a new paradigm for the understanding of human problems.

In conclusion it is the author’s opinion that the study of Philosophical Midwifery would benefit by a formal institutional setting, one that could provide the conditions for further exploration and research into:

  • a model of the dynamics of false belief (the pathologos) which has been made based upon Clifford parallels, hyperspace models, and can be discussed as having parallels to existing mathematical and theoretical models;
  • the study of dialogue as an exploratory tool for understanding the cognitive dimension of man and in so doing bring an understanding to the struggles and paths of man’s most significant and profound achievements;
  • the study of dialectic that includes not only Plato, Plotinus, and Proclus but key Eastern authors, such as Nagarjuna, Chinul, and Shankara;
  • the application of the principles of dialogue for research into institutional and social problems;
  • the identification of the range of problems that are most effectively dealt with through Philosophical Midwifery;
  • providing the conditions for joint ventures with cognitive psychology, trans personal psychology, theoretical physics and mathematics;
  • providing for the publication and distribution of all relevant findings.

Clearly, if such resources and conditions were in place it would return philosophy to its origins while bringing to it scientific procedures that would verify and corroborate its findings. It is likely it would present a vision of man that has long range implications for the future of society and its institutions.

Reference: Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, third edition,1996, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Pierre Grimes Workshop, Introductory Remarks and Exploration

One of the distinguishing marks that separates Philosophical Midwifery from philosophical counseling (PC) is that all such subjects are required to be thoroughly familiar with the set of questions that guides the midwifery exploration. These questions also function as an outline for its procedures and insure that both parties in the exploration are following the methods of APM. It is understood that these questions may be varied and to some degree improvised upon but only when their direction functions within the outlined procedures. The sessions of APM may vary in length but the advice is not to go beyond 90 minutes unless there is some clear justification for it that is shared by both parties. It is possible to explore all these questions and reach a solution to the subject’s problem in one session but that is unusual since many sessions may be required depending on the nature of the problem presented, levels of difficulty encountered, and the experience of the midwife.

These dialogue sessions of APM are audio taped, they become the property of the subject, and it is expected that they will studied between APM dialogue sessions. The particular causes or roots of the problems explored have as their common source the acceptance of a false belief about oneself and the nature of reality. The false belief that generated and sustained the problem is called the pathologos. The pathologos is always, in principle, incompatible with the attainment of one’s meaningful goals. Most subjects have a small finite number of basic problems. These problems interrelate and form the basis for cycles of subject’s continued inability to realize and maintain their most profound goals. As a result subject’s are urged to pursue these goals because it is in this way that the pathologos will most clearly manifest itself. After a subject has explored several APM dialogue sessions, they are encouraged to outline them, pin them on the wall, and discuss their underlying themes.

These themes can readily be seen in a subject’s dreams because many of our dreams focuses on what we ignore in our waking world and presenting them in our dreams offers an opportunity to realize the significance of what we have ignored in our past and present.The study of dreams is perfectly consistent with Plato’ Republic because there we find Socrates urging the study of dreams as a way to perceive and ponder what is not known about our present, past and future. The analysis of dreams utilizes the same method as that for the exploration of the pathologos.

It is of the utmost importance for a philosopher to explore dreams in this way because it can be seen, most directly, that the mind is working for one’s benefit. The realization that in dreams we are presented with the nature of our pathologos becomes evidence that the mind functions as beneficial creative power through an artful dramatic setting that mirrors those events of our waking world that we ignored but which are most significant to our own development.

Now, we are going to do a workshop on the APM. But, first let us be sure we understand the difference between a problem and a difficulty. A problem is a block, it keeps one from their goal; it has steps or stages to it and it causes one to depreciate the goal once it is gained. Further it is cyclical and that means one has experienced something like it again and again. A difficulty on the other hand are those troubles one faces and can overcome in the quest of one’s goals but they are not of the kind that necessarily blocks one from the attainment of those goals.

Let me first outline the stages through which I will proceed to explore a problem. I will ask when those very blocks occur, the state of mind or feeling that accompanies it,how similar it is one’s other recent experiences, and I will explore the history of that kind of experience in order to discover what beliefs lie at their root. The exploration will search for the reason why one believed the false beliefs about oneself since they block one’s own maturity and development.

I will, however, not explore a problem here if to do so might surface material that might embarrass the subject. If such material appears to be immanent I will shift and explore it in more general terms and invite the volunteer to continue in private any issue that does surface, if they choose.

Learning to do Philosophy

© 1998 by Pierre Grimes, Ph.D.

Philosophy has often been said to have similar goals with some religions in that it seeks knowledge of the divine and so provides us with an ideal for our lives.

However, what separates philosophy from religion is the means it uses to achieve those goals, for, in philosophy understanding is cultivated as the primary condition for reaching knowledge and wisdom.

But this path of understanding doesn’t just jump into view spontaneously; it must be cultivated by the use of models and many examples. The movement from understanding to knowledge requires the mastery of the art of contemplation because there, too, understanding plays a leading role.

The models our philosophy follows are those of Plato because within his dialogues are the models we need to master for the pursuit of our study. We will, of course, include other thinkers in the Platonic tradition as well as those who complement the Platonic vision.

Those seeking to master Philosophical Midiwifery will quickly learn that the kind of problems they experience can be identified as blocks to their goals and as such they can become fit objects for a Philosophical Midiwifery exploration.

If one were to add to one’s goal the study of ancient Greek, the Greek tragedies, Homer, and Euclid one would be able to see more deeply into what it is to be a Hellene.

Those who desire to study Platonic thought more deeply will be asked to answer a series of questions on Plato’s dialogues, Plotinus’ Enneads, Proclus’ Elements of Theology, and other works.

Since deeper study of Platonic thought, by its nature, will surface more intense philosophical problems, those who desire deeper study will be expected to practice midwifery in both roles: pregnant with a problem as well as midwife.

It is expected that they will also agree to have their Philosophical Midiwifery sessions reviewed. With continued application to this learning it is expected that they will be willing to demonstrate their competence in the art before those who have already been tested and have gained recognition for their own practice of Philosophical Midiwifery.

It is also expected that these candidates will attend work shops, seminars, and contemplative retreats at specific times and places to be announced. It is expected that they will be able to engage in Platonic dialogues on such topics as Excellence, Justice, Beauty, Art, the Idea of the Good, and the Good, or the One.

Our program is as rigorous a program as it is a profound challenge, and we certify only those who have met our standards of excellence. Any person who has been denied certification can appeal the decision, and if additional evidence is given, a change in decision is possible.

However, this does not mean that those who have been denied certification will be unable to participate in other aspects of our program; it only means certification will be delayed until deficiencies are made up and corrected.

It is expected that those who encounter difficulties and fail to achieve the degree of excellence required in our program will take these difficulties and failures as their object of exploration in their Philosophical Midwife sessions.