A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Foreground: Philosophy as Therapy of the Soul// Affectivity and Time. The Background: In Quest of, and Encounters with "the Canadian" (at last!)

By now it feels like home on many levels in Canada. I found my focal concerns of my research and teaching to come (affectivity and time: more on this concern and its development in due time) and had my best upper-level seminar (on pleasure in ancient philosophy), with a good number of people accepted in Oxford and Toronto and getting 40/40 for essays.

Moreover, for, all the above is not enough to make someone feel at home, I ended up ...loving (yes, loving; no, it is not the love/amor fati that Marcus Aurelius highlights in his Meditations) "the Canadian". How come and where did I encounter "the Canadian"? Not in the statements of older and younger people about the Canadian identity: very often I did receive the answer along the following lines: "not as bad as the Americans in this or that", or "much better than the Americans in this or that". Not that illuminating, to say the least. So I decided to suspend my judgment and postpone my answer, or, in any case, my getting a great help for my question, considering Rachel's recommendation for the AGO in Toronto. And the right time arrived and I went there last week. It was in one of the first rooms I entered on the second level, with paintings by Thompson and "the Group of Seven", that I fell in love with "the Canadian", especially as expressed in Thompson's paintings. Such things happen. All of a sudden, one loves Canada, and one feels at home. One cannot exactly explain in which moment this turn occurs nor meticulously reconstruct the entire process of how things developed and paved the way for this turn, but only notice afterwards: Wonders of life and shaping (and being shaped by) life.

One of the Thompsons at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

PS: I am definitely not following Bernard Williams on his criticisms of Stoic philosophy and therapy of the soul, but rather agree with Sorabji and Nussbaum and many others who have, in the meantime, developed and argued for the contribution of the Stoic analysis of emotions to therapy of emotions (yes, cognitive behaviourist therapy): "For us, what gets a hold on the emotions, if it consists of speech at all, is likely to consist of some other kind of speech, such as a narrative of development or a self-discovery", in: Stoic Philosophy and the Emotions, a Reply to Richard Sorabji, in: Aristotle and After (R. Sorabji). Great issues here. When a student with (serious) affective issues comes to speak to me, I chat Epictetus and Marcus with him or her and explain the so-called "automatic thoughts" and the so-called moods, into which one is supposedly thrown"; not Plato nor Heidegger (Gott beh├╝te!). And when the student, one of the most talented and promising (I didn't say "smart"; smartness being a virtue I am not able to appreciate, it seems to me), by the way, comes after three weeks to shine in a new chat and to say he started CBT, I anticipate only good development and raise the expectation that he will become not just stronger, but even better than before. When it comes to therapies, I do not care the least about theories or theorists: I become utilitarian and wish to see results, with all due patience, as it suits, therein supporting all scientists as long as they have learnt from Gilbert Ryle not to make category-mistakes when investigating into the brain.

PPS: Berlin needs to take some lessons from Toronto regarding culture. "Infinity", a theatre play which resulted from the fruitful collaboration between a physicist and a playwright, and concerns the reality of (lived) time, is the best contemporary theatre play I have experienced on stage (Tarragon Theatre). Hats off for Canadian avant garde. That said, I will keep on not trusting the North Americans on classical theatre (no Hamlet at Stratford this summer, for example). Furthermore, Anna Karenina, by the famous St. Petersburg Eifman ballet, made all jaws drop, especially in the last scene. Toronto rocks, and so I am very-well rested after a wonderful academic year, and back to my things, as busy as ever.

Some of the breathtakingly beautiful nature of Canada, which I recently experienced. I had promised to daddy I would take him to Niagara Falls. I kept my promise one year after his death. My dearest would have been thrilled.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings to you, and thank you for the Sorabji reference. I will look him up. Glad to hear you've come around to my beloved Stoics :-)

2 May 2015 at 03:50  
Blogger Georgia Mouroutsou said...

Cheers. So have I. Que Sera, Sera :)

3 May 2015 at 02:25  

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