World Philosophy Day 2017        

Message from Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

Philosophy is an inspiring discipline as well as an everyday practice that can transform societies. By enabling us to discover the diversity of the intellectual currents in the world, philosophy stimulates intercultural dialogue. By awakening minds to the exercise of thinking and the reasoned confrontation of opinions, philosophy helps to build a more tolerant, more respectful society.

   (...) philosophy is a bastion against the narrowing of opinions (..)  

Audrey Azoulay
UNESCO Director-General

For UNESCO, it is also the way to unleash humanity’s creative potential and generate new ideas. Philosophy creates the intellectual conditions for change, sustainable development and peace.

The World Humanities Conference held in Belgium in August 2017 set out guidelines for teaching the humanities. UNESCO is striving to share this vision and shed light on the new practices that have revolutionized the subject in recent years, among young people, including outside school, on new media, as well as the way in which philosophers now use drawing, music and visual culture.

Pascal wrote, “Man is but a reed (…) but he is a thinking reed. (…) All our dignity consists, then, in thought”. Even today, philosophy is a bastion against the narrowing of opinions, a way to cultivate critical distance in the face of the onslaught of information and simplistic rhetoric that seek to set cultures against one another. There is an urgent need for philosophy. It does not give answers, but enables us to ask the right questions. It invites us, in the words of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, to “come out of the bounds of our sensibility and mental vision into a wider freedom”. The opportunity should be seized, and I call upon all Member States to take up this message, which resounds in the heart of UNESCO’s mandate.

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Why celebrate philosophy?

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

UNESCO leads World Philosophy Day – but does not own it. It belongs to everyone, everywhere, who cares about philosophy.

On this Day of collective exercise in free, reasoned and informed thinking on the major challenges of our time, all of UNESCO’s partners (national governments, their public institutions and organizations, including National Commissions for UNESCO, relevant non-governmental organizations, associations, universities, institutes, schools, UNESCO/UNITWIN Chairs, Associated Schools and Clubs and so forth) are encouraged to organize various types of activities - philosophical dialogues, debates, conferences, workshops, cultural events and presentations around the general theme of the Day, with the participation of philosophers and scientists from all branches of natural and social sciences, educators, teachers, students, press journalists and other mass media representatives, and the general public.




17-19 November 2017


18-19 November 2017




Join the celebration

  • Radio show. Contact popular local/national radio stations to request a slot to have a discussion with distinguished philosophers.

  • Organize a public meeting, debate or café philosophique on philosophical questions.

  • Initiate round table discussions among adults and young people to promote intergenerational understanding.

  • Organize a concert to promote World Philosophy Day. Invite your local musicians.

  • Get permission to use a public space for an arts exhibit or a book fair in relation to philosophy.