The philosophy cafés of World Philosophy Day 2011

©Ruedi Baur
Poster for the Celebration of World Philosophy Day 2011 at UNESCO

Three philosophy cafés will take place throughout World Philosophy Day 2011, engaging the public in philosophical discussion and reflection, in a convivial context.

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Do we need citizen-philosophers?

Moderated by Gunter Gorhan (Philosopher), in partnership with PHILOLAB Association

The subject will be introduced (about ten minutes) by some ideas for consideration, such as the simultaneous birth of democracy and philosophy in Ancient Greece, the “philosopher king” of Plato’s Republic, the social and political “production” of the subject in democracy (Castoriadis), and Marcel Gauchet’s necessary anthropological mutation. The moderator, open to other approaches – he is not the sole authority – will endeavour to stimulate the individual thinking of the participants and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak.

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Political movements for change: What ethics?

Moderated by H.E. Dr Dayan Jayatilleka (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to UNESCO), together with Mgr Francesco Follo (Permanant Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO)

H.E. Dr Dayan Jayatilleka and Msgr. Francesco Follo will lead a discussion around the complex synthesis of idealism and realism in political actions. The debate will address questions such as: Are there moral and ethical resources for movements for political change and transformation? Can there be an ethical or legitimate violence in the struggle for freedom and justice? Can and should the dichotomy between absolute non-violence and the unrestrained use of violence for political ends be overcome? Important questions at a time when the ethical dimension of politics – both the politics of those in power and the political struggles of those resisting it - are of acute relevance and human significance. Jayatilleka attempts to discuss these questions, and re-define the terms of a moral ideal of resistance/rebellion/revolution with reference to the Camus-Sartre debate of half a century ago. He confronts the issue of revolutionary violence and its containment, and re-interrogates the nature and value and contemporaneity of the example of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution.

2.15 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Philosophy and theatre: what is their role in a time of crisis?

Moderated by Guila Clara Kessous (actress) and Yves Cusset (philosopher), in partnership with the association Rencontres et Débats Autrement.

Guila Clara Kessous and Yves Cusset propose a philosophy café session combining philosophical debate and the performing arts illustrated by extracts from their shows.

Talking about human rights in the context of the theatre means not only considering texts of direct relevance to the great causes with which we are all familiar, but also the essence of how effective the medium can be in discussing these values. What is the role of the theatre in a time of crisis? The same role it has always played, a mirror for society. It is today a medium that can no longer be overlooked in a social context. Using some specific examples of the theatre’s effectiveness as a means of communication (genocide, prison, disability), G.C. Kessous will talk about the newest techniques of “healing” through drama, the only art of “acting together” and “understanding together”. (Guila Clara Kessous)

For a number of years now, even though a philosopher by training and the author of essays on philosophy, I have engaged in the somewhat unusual activity for this type of animal cogitans of the café-theatre. However, at a time when under the title of one man show, we see more often than not a hyper-conformist sense of comedy that, on the pretext of laughing at reality actually makes it peace with it, as did religion in times gone by, I have sought to make the stage a place to address the audience, to challenge it directly, a place to rediscover shared wonderment and the criticism of prejudices, as the singular orality of philosophers in the City might have done in ancient times. It is with this in mind, and in advance of any explicitly political theme, that my commitment begins. (Yves Cusset)


Type of Event Category 7-Seminar and Workshop
Start 17.11.2011 09:00 local time
End 17.11.2011 15:00 local time
Date to be fixed 0
Focal point Goucha, Moufida
Organizer UNESCO
Contact Philosophy and Democracy Section,, +33 (0)1 45 68 45 52
Country France
City Paris
Venue UNESCO Headquarters
Street 7, place de Fontenoy
Room Salle Pas Perdus
Permanent Delegation Contact
Major Programme
Language of Event French
Estimated number of participants 100
Official Website World Philosophy Day 2011
Link 1 Association Philolab (website in French)
Link 2 Programme [PDF, 39 KB]
Link 3
Link 4