28.11.2016 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

UNESCO makes philosophy accessible to all ...

© UNESCO / P. van Vucht Tijssen

On the occasion of World Philosophy Day 2016, UNESCO welcomed more than 3000 visitors in Paris: an exceptional crowd for the celebration of philosophy. Observed this year on 17 November, a day after International Day for Tolerance, the Day was intended to be both innovative and participatory, as a means to reflect on the complexity of the human being.

Over three days, the Organization proposed access to philosophical questioning to all, including through:

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, called on the world to open spaces for free, open and tolerant thinking. She emphasized that "Philosophy is an art of living together, with due regard to rights and common values," recalling that this celebration is a way to reaffirm the founding values of the Organization and "make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development. (...) This is the best way to educate enlightened citizens, equipped to fight stupidity and prejudice."

In this context, the celebration culminated on 18 November in a Night of Philosophy, an unprecedented celebration of human thought and creativity, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 7 pm to 7 am. The watchword of the night: to bring philosophy to all audiences and to life in all its forms. Children, adults and many young people were present during the 12-hour event. Everyone was able to create its own unique and multiform philosophical journey, moving from passionate listening to one of the 48 conferences of renowned philosophers from all over the world, to questioning or amazement in front of the 24 artistic installations and performances organized throughout the night.

Confined in a closed world, philosophy might impoverish and paralyze. By stimulating sensitive and cognitive participation of the public, the Night was an opportunity to "take philosophy out of the university context, out of the box, and move it without affecting the quality of its content," said Mériam Korichi, designer and organizer of the Night of Philosophy since 2010.

By celebrating World Philosophy Day each year, on the third Thursday of November, UNESCO underlines the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual.




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