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Philosophical counselor Morten Fastvold


I am a philosophical counselor residing in Oslo, Norway, and have had a practice of my own since 2005. Before that I was a student for two years at the Norwegian Society of Philosophical Practice, and have since 2005 been a member of that society. I have a master in philosophy from the University of Oslo (1995), and have a former career as a journalist.


Today I consider myself both a counselor and a writer, and am doing freelance work of different kinds, especially for the Norwegian Humanist Association. I have also written two books (in Norwegian) on how to do critical thinking in the classroom, and one book on the philosophy of health.


During my student years and later on, I wrote a number of papers on philosophical counseling, in order to probe into different ways of doing one-to-one-consultations and to facilitate group conversations. Here I sought inspiration from collegues outside Norway, particulary the French counselor Oscar Brenifier. This is mainly why I wrote these papers in English. I have, however, also written two papers for the American journal Philosophical Practice, edited by Lou Marinoff.


My papers in English are listed below chronologically, with the most recent ones on top.   


How Dewey's View on Aesthetics is Relevant to Philosophical Counseling

The object of this paper, which I have co-written with Gabrielle Aruta, is to counter the misguided view on aesthetics as something superficial, residing at the top of a Maslowian pyramid of needs. Instead the aesthetic dimension is profound in human life, as John Dewey shows in his book Art as Experience. The paper was printed in the journal Philosophical Practice, vol 7 #2, July 2012. Read or download PDF-file


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Designing Exercises with a Wittgensteinian streak. 
Some reflections upon the La Chapelle workshop July 7.–13. 2008

In this paper I discuss the notion of speaking in or outside "context" in the Socratic terms of the philosopher Oscar Brenifier, and compares this with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's investigations on language and "language games". May exercises for doing philosophy in schools be made more interesting by looking to Wittgenstein? 


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Wish you were here, where you don't want to be
On the aristocratic Nature of philosophical consultations, Oscar Brenifier style

In August 2006 the French philosophical counselor Oscar Brenifier held a seminar on his particular way of doing philosophical consultations. I present in this paper the main points of his methology, and his basic points of view.


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Rooting Philosophy in Lived Experience: some Notes on Petra von Morstein’s Lecture and Workshop in Oslo, March 2005

The German-Canadian philosopher Petra von Morstein is well reknown in the field of philosophical counseling, and has influenced counselors worldwide. I present in this paper von Morstein’s way of doing philosophical counseling, based on her lecture and seminar during her visit to Oslo in spring 2005.


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On Getting Beyond Idle Talk – some Additional Reflections on Oscar Brenifier’s Sessions

My efforts to understand and defend the counseling method of Oscar Brenifier ignited a debate among Norwegian philosophical counselors in spring 2004. In this paper I respond to criticism from some of my collegues, and present an alternative method of counseling, advocated by the Canadian counselor Peter Raabe.


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Socrates versus Peter Pan
The Difficulties of Thinking Critically

Thinking critically does not come naturally, but is a culturally developed faculty that has to be learnt. Socrates is the protagonist of such a useful, but unnatural activity, while Peter Pan incarnates our natural tendency to jump from one thought to another, without dwelling with anything at all.


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Conversation or interrogation: two different approaches to philosophical counseling

In this paper, presented on the international UNESCO conference New philosophical practice i Paris, November 15.–16. 2006, I compare two different ways of doing philosophical consultations; either by focusing on a method, or by focusing on the counselor’s personality.


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Beyond Method, Anders Lindseth Style: The Quest for Opening up the Philosophical Space in the Consultation Room

The philosopher Anders Lindseth is the father of Norwegian philosophical counseling, and has inspired Norwegian counselors since the 1990’s. In this paper, published in the international academic journal Philosophical Practice vol.1 no. 3, Nov. 2005, edited by Lou Marinoff, I present the main principles of Lindseth’s way of doing philosophical counseling, and give a critical assessment of his «beyond method» approach, which is also that of Gert Achenbach, with whom Lindseth has worked a lot.


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On Serious Games and the possible Reshaping of a Philosophical Paradigm: Some Reflection on the Sessions of Oscar Brenifier

During his visit to Norway in spring 2004, the French philosopher Oscar Brenifier gave a demonstration of his way of doing philosophical counseling. In this paper I try to understand what his method amounts to, as it is radically different from the Norwegian way of counseling. What does this difference amount to, and why do many precieve his method as even chockingly different? This paper is published in a French translation in the journal L'Agora – revue internationale de didactique de la philosophie, nr. 28, 1. trimester 2006.


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The Policeman Approach to Philosophical Counseling

During a workshop i Oslo in fall 2004, Oscar Brenifier explained further his views on how to do philosophical counseling. He at one point described himself as a benevolent policeman who interogates the client in order to find the truth. I compare this approach with the predominant Norwegian stance on philosophical counseling, and give som excerpts of a demonstration counseling held by Brenifier.


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