Comment: Get off the couch and think

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The Independent Online
We are rather weary of being told that our marital problems are rooted in our unresolved feelings towards our mothers and fathers. And that Prozac is the answer to our perceived dysfunctional behaviour. So we are delighted to hear that New Yorkers, after fruitless decades on the psychiatrist's couch, have had enough of Freud and Jung and are turning to Plato and Kant instead. According to Louis Marinoff, a New York professor of philosophy and a pioneer of the new treatment, Woody Allen-style angst about mid-life crises is distinctly passe. What we are all really suffering is a "crisis of values".

Exploring this to its logical conclusion (and logic is paramount for a philosopher), we find a thinker for almost every ill. Feeling depressed? Turn to JS Mill and become a follower of the Utilitarian doctrine of "the greatest happiness for the greatest number". Always bickering with your loved ones? Pursue reason and moderation in all things, as advocated by Aristotle. Those niggling male problems? As Bishop Berkeley might have said: "The physical world doesn't exist anyway." And don't sublimate those urges to run naked through the park. Rousseau's "noble savage" is right behind you. As for EastEnders' Patsy Palmer, who spent a week in a clinic recovering from the ending of a two-year relationship with her Nick Love, she could do worse than read Plato on the subject of amorous friendship.

But maybe the man most in need of a bit of philosophising right now is Tony Blair. He's sounding increasingly authoritarian. Our suggestion: anything but Nietzsche.

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