Professor of Philosophy, CUNY/Kingsborough
VP of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA)
APPA-Certified Philosophical Counselor
Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Practitioner
Certified Mindfulness Practitioner
Certified Life Coach
Trained in Gestalt Psychotherapy
As a professional philosopher (Ph.D/CUNY 2005), I focus on research, writing, teaching, meditation, philosophical dialogue, and related practices. My core scholarly research is on mindfulness meditation and free will, and how meditation increases our agency while transforming our sense of self. My greatest joys revolve around philosophical counseling and “philosophy to the people”: practices that bring the tools of philosophy to the general public, such as philosophy cafés, “street philosophy”, “cyber street philosophy”, “ask a philosophical counselor”, and “meditation to the people”. (See other tabs for descriptions of these.)
I'm a "street philosopher" because I grew up on the streets in a low-income public housing development in Queens, NYC, in a large Italian-American family, with blue collar, working class parents, worked my way through college after many years of various jobs (pizza maker, chimney cleaner, and tractor trailer driver, among many others), and eventually became a Ph.D philosopher, but always knew everyone has a philosophy and is, to an extent, a philosopher. I love bringing philosophy to awareness in the proverbial ‘man (or woman) on the street', awakening the inner philosopher. I value what I learned in academia, just like I value what I learned in the martial arts dojo, but was a philosopher and a fighter long before any formal training in either. I needed to be, just to survive.
Philosophical skills—analytic thought, mindfulness, critical thinking, logic, perspective-shifting, examining hidden assumptions, etc.—are my core life tools and everyone is capable of developing them. Bringing them to address issues in everyday life, with everyday people, and everyday concerns inspires me.
Passionate about Bringing Philosophy to the People
The most rewarding—and, I think, impactful—philosophical work I have done involves applied or practical philosophy: leading Socratic dialogues, working with students one-on-one in my office, philosophy-café-type discussions in philosophy clubs, and working directly with clients, as a Yoga Therapist, a Gestalt psychotherapist, and/or as a Philosophical Counselor. The main reason for this is that those engaging in these activities are self-selecting, in which case their intrinsic interests and motivations are very high. As my favorite (late) karate teacher, Sensei Warren Kaye, used to say, at the start of every class in the Bushido Karate Dojo in Brooklyn, “You will get out of this exactly what you put into it”. Because self-selecting philosophical practice clients come to the practice eager to engage in philosophical dialogue, this work is reliably rich in philosophical insight, inherently rewarding, and significantly empowering.
Sometimes people experience what I have described as “existential indigestion”—that is, they have not fully processed the meaning and implications of their existence, experiences, choices, and actions, nor taken the time to fully figure out what they believe, value, and desire. Anyone who is uncertain what to think about their next step is at a crossroads—is unsatisfied with their present operating procedures, thinks they need to re-evaluate their lives, doubts some of their beliefs, values, or commitments, is facing a practical dilemma, torn decision, or conflict, has a question about the meaning of life, about their purpose, or their identity, or any other philosophical issue with practical dimensions in their daily life—is someone who can benefit from engaging in sustained, penetrating dialogue about their issue(s) with a professional philosopher who is trained and certified to apply philosophical knowledge, theory, methods, and skills to practical matters. Combining these issues, what most clients have in common is that they either lack a conscious philosophy of life or, for the minority who have a conscious philosophy of life, they realize that they need to more deeply examine and adjust it. Otherwise, they would not have much reason to seek philosophical counseling.
VP, American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA)
APPA Certified Philosophical Counselor
Trained at Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy & Training
Ph.D in Philosophy, CUNY Graduate School (2005)
Editorial Board member, Science, Religion & Culture.
Co-founder/facilitator, CUNY Contemplatives Network
Fellow, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Member: APA, APPA, ACMHE