Stephen Lin (China)


Stephen Lin (China) - PhD Candidate (Beijing Normal University), MSc (London School of Economics and Political Science), philosophical consultant certified by the National Philosophical Counseling Association (NPCA), member of The International Society for Humor Studies and Taiwan Philosophical Counseling Association, founder of a Hong Kong social enterprise specializing in philosophical counseling for the aged.

Philosophical Counseling by Tragicomedy (Presentation) 

Presentation Language: English

Humor and laughter are increasingly considered as important devices in philosophical counseling and practice, yet it remains unclear as to the nature of the working mechanisms underlying this kind of philosophical practice. The problem is that unless we have a better understanding of the operative processes involved, we cannot devise effective sessions for the implementation of this unique philosophical practice. This presentation aims to show that comedy should be the guiding and organizing idea which is able to embrace not only humors, jokes and laughers as independent constitutive elements, but also the sort of narratives necessary to character identification. Identification is a complex psychological process, I shall demonstrate that it is cognitive in nature but at the same time involves evaluation and imagination. Thus illustrated, they are understood to be the sort of human capabilities that could otherwise be deficient, blunt or underdeveloped, therefore calling for improvement and training. This therapeutic approach to the problem is suggested by Martha Nussbaum whose philosophical works related to Greek and Stoic tragedies and comedies are highly relevant. To Nussbaum, the comedies of Aristophanes are dealing with serious matters of tragic human vulnerabilities while the tragic-comic poetries of Seneca are a kind of cognitive therapy for the spectator. The presentation will finally show that the emphasis of this Nussbaumian model of tragicomedy on our evaluations of the world is particularly important for philosophical counseling in that it puts self-understanding at the center and in this sense superior to the predominant incongruity theory of comedy.