One of the key practical applications of philosophy is individual and group coaching. This involves working with people who have issues with their worldview, problems in understanding the context and consequences of various events in their lives, and difficulties in making decisions, often ones that may change their lives. We all have such issues, and we are all, to various extents, ‘conditioned’ to attempting to resolve them in very similar ways throughout our lives. The learned ways of responding to life challenge are by definition limited, and more often than not confine us within what Plato used to call ‘a cave’: a personal space which, while providing an illusion of comfort and safety, in fact cuts us off from the variety of tools available to really solve our problems. Most of these tools tend to be ‘outside the cave’, but the courage and individual strategy (often consisting of a number of distinct steps) to venture out of the cave present serious difficulties.
Philosophical coaching is intended to bring the methods and concepts of philosophy to bear on individual life situations. It is intended for mentally healthy people who have life issues that are resolved by understanding their context and meaning, and by uncovering new ways of thinking that will lead to a more fulfilling life.
The philosophical practice movement, which started in the 1970s and has since considerably developed, primarily in the US, Canada and Asia, largely follows the echo of Pierre Hadot’s view of Philosophy as a Way of Life (also the title of his influential book). This is a view based in the ancient philosophical tradition: centuries before Christ, the Greek philosopher Epicurus claimed that a philosophy which does not address any human distress is not real philosophy. The tradition of using philosophy to achieve ‘the good life’ has accumulated many conceptual and methodological tools, some of which have been successfully integrated into various psychotherapeutic and counseling techniques, while others remain unknown or insufficiently familiar to mainstream philosophy or psychology. The recent interest in the 17th century Jewish Dutch philosopher Baruch de Spinosa, for example shows just how great historical ideas with large potential to contribute to philosophical coaching and to solving life issues can be forgotten by mainstream intelligentsia globally. Philosophical practice is largely a re-awakening of the dormant power of the philosophical tradition to contribute to solving the problems and suffering of the modern man and woman.
An application of philosophy closely related to that of individual and group coaching is corporate and government consulting. Philosophers across the world advise government ministries and agencies, as well as companies both large and small, on ethics codes of conduct, resolution of conflicts, team-building, social responsibility or humane and ethically justified models of effective management. The methods used for corporate consultancy include both coaching and training: working with individuals to maximize their potential while at the same time strengthening their personal and professional integrity, and teaching collectives to think clearly and logically on matters of corporate importance. One of the most important segments of training involves ethics training of public servants and government officials, something that Aleksandar had coordinated for the past 10 years within various inter-governmental cooperation programmes, within the Ethics Study Group of the Centre for Security Studies in Belgrade.
Aleksandar is available for individual and group philosophical coaching and for corporate and government training sessions internationally. He can be reached through this website.