November 18- World Philosophy Day

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 each individual.

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The root word of philosophy is phílosophía, which means ‘the love of wisdom.’ It is one of the most important fields of human thought as it aspires to get at the very meaning of life. The Day promotes an academic exchange of philosophy for the development of human thought.

World Philosophy Day was initially established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 21 November 2002. The Day was recognized in order to praise and universalize the teachings of philosophy. The aim was also to raise a certain level of awareness around the importance of philosophy in the world. In 2005, UNESCO General Conference declared World Philosophy Day, mentioning that it will be celebrated on the third Thursday of November every year.

Importance of the World Philosophy Day

The philosophical exchange of thought and respect for global diversity is encouraged through the observance of World Philosophy Day. UNESCO also believes that philosophy forms the basis of human rights, equality, democracy, and justice, the values responsible for maintaining world peace. The field is not only seen as a form of creative thought but also gives birth to several concepts and ideas. A philosophical approach to life contributes towards self-reflection. It serves as a mirror in understanding well-established truths and also helps us to arrive at conclusions. The discipline of philosophy also fosters global interactions and dialogue and can bring significant changes in society. Facilitation and respect of diverse cultures are also learned through philosophical discourses.

Theme of 2021

World Philosophy Day 2021 opens the discussion on the different interactions of human beings with their social, cultural, geographical, and political environment, with the underlying objective of better understanding the contribution of philosophy in our contemporary societies and the challenges they face, the pandemic in particular. Philosophy, and even more so intercultural philosophy, is concerned with context and is, therefore, in its very essence, concerned with the transformation of society.

UNESCO and Philosophy 

Philosophy – which is part of the humanities – questions every dimension of human life. UNESCO has always been closely linked to philosophy, which is defined as a “School of Freedom” in one of its major publications. Through critical questioning, philosophy gives meaning to life and action in the international context. The link between philosophy and UNESCO stems from the inquiry on the possibility of and necessary conditions for establishing long-term peace and security in the world. 

UNESCO strives to promote an international culture of philosophical debate that respects human dignity and diversity in establishing World Philosophy Day. The Day encourages academic exchange and highlights the contribution of philosophical knowledge in addressing global issues.

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Shristi Banerjee

Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)

Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice