Although it is often said that fate is a good provider, sometimes it is dates that coincide with very positive effect. World Philosophy Day – celebrated each year on the third Thursday in November – falls this year on the same day as the International Day for Tolerance, 16 November. It thus presents an excellent opportunity both to organize events all over the world in celebration of philosophical reflection and to encourage everyone to welcome different ideas and ways of thinking.
In 2002, when UNESCO first celebrated Philosophy Day, the idea behind the initiative was to encourage people in different parts of the world to share their particular philosophy with others and to open up their ways of thinking to new ideas, while fostering public debate among intellectuals and civil society on the challenges now facing our societies.
· Last year, Philosophy Day became World Philosophy Day with its inclusion on the UN list of international days. Special celebrations took place in Chile to honour the event. This year, the flagship event will take place in the country that first put forward this initiative – Morocco.
From 15 to 17 November 2006, in Rabat, there will be an opening lecture on “Philosophy and the condition of the modern world”, and there will be several round tables discussing a variety of topics. In the course of the Day, other events such as a Philosophy Café, a book fair and art exhibition will be organized alongside the round tables, as well as an Interregional Philosophical Dialogue: Asia and the Arab World.
Countries in all regions of the world will be organizing events in celebration of World Philosophy Day: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, U.S.A., Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.
At UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, two international seminars will be held in the week beginning 13 November. Topics for discussion will be “A century with Levinas: Levinas-Blanchot, thinking the difference” and “Philosophy as a cultural and educational practice: a new citizenship”. That same week, also at UNESCO, there will be an exhibition of Philippe Maurice’s paintings and a dramatic “Installation” by the Collectif fragmentaliste entitled “From the Fragment to the Series”.
For a more detailed look at the World Philosophy Day programme, click on www.unesco.org/shs/philosophy/2006.
· In celebration of International Day for Tolerance, the 2006 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence will be awarded at a ceremony to take place at 6 p.m. in Room I at UNESCO House in Paris.
Thanks to the generosity of writer, diplomat and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Madanjeet Singh, this Prize was established to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandi. The Prize is presented every two years to individuals or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the promotion of tolerance and non-violence.
Two years ago, in 2004, the Prize was awarded to Bangladeshi writer and journalist, Taslima Nasreen, and the 2006 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize will be awarded to Veerasingham Anandasangaree from Sri Lanka. He is President of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). A tireless defender of democracy and peaceful conflict resolution, Veerasingham Anandasangaree has helped improve knowledge of the Tamul cause, through dialogue, through the promotion of non-violent solutions in Sri Lanka and by taking a stand against terrorism.