What is Protreptic?

Protreptic is a philosophical conversation that was developed at the classical, Greek, executive academies around 400 B.C. It was founded on the idea of symmetrical dialogues where the individual is guided towards justice, decency and responsibility through the protreptic dialogue.

The Oxford dictionary defines protreptic as:

from Greek protreptikos ‘instructive’, from pro- ‘before’ + trepein ‘to turn’

Oxford Dictionary

The discipline of protreptic is in accordance with the above definition to turn the individual towards what is good and important for the individual as well as society through this type of dialogue at the academy.

At the Greek academies protreptic was the art of advising, tutoring and educating men in power to make good decisions and do what is best for themselves as well as society. Hence the purpose of the education at the Greek executive academies was preparatory to statesmanship.

Instead of zooming in on the assessing, understanding and changing the individual’s psychological condition as is done in schema theory. The protreptic approach is concerned with our common understanding of abstract concepts, values and principles for living a balanced life. A life that is fulfilling and a life that encourages each individual to reach his or her potential within the “Greek square”. The corners of the “Greek square” is defined by the concepts of truth, goodness, justice and beauty.

The philosophical protreptic approach in coaching helps you to learn new and deeper ways of thinking.

The aim of this type of conversation is to conduct a rational, logical and analytical investigation of the truth of things and thereby cultivate our intelligence to learn through life.

The philosophical protreptic dialogue encourages us to learn from our experiences and learn from the experience of others. This implies receiving advise from those who have the courage to tell the truth.

The goal of my services is to sketch a path towards freeing the mind from its ‘slave condition’ of ‘quiet desperation’ as Henry David Thoreau describes it in this famous quote:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Henry David Thoreau

Ultimately only the individual can translate and apply this new awareness about the state of the conditioning of his or her mind and transform this awareness into ‘practical wisdom’. Once we have the awareness of our unhappy conditioning we can take the necessary action of ‘dropping the rock’.

This conditioning can be visualized in the shape of a heavy rock or suitcase hanging around our neck, that prevents us from being free and reaching our potential:

To become the person we can become, we must drop the rock – all the grasping and holding on to old patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling that are harmful to ourselves and to others

Bill P. et al: Drop the rock, 2005

Through my services my goal is to help you become aware of the conditioning of the mind through philosophical inquiry of the thoughts and beliefs we live by. The next step is to put this new awareness into practice for real improvement of life to happen. to free yourself from your past and the individual and cultural conditioning of your mind in order to become happy, joyous and free.

I offer philosophical coaching and consulting for individuals and organisations. And I offer masterclasses if you want to learn how to conduct a philosophical protreptic conversation on your own.

Click here if you want to read more about my services.

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