York joins World Philosophy Day celebrations

In celebration of UNESCO’s World Philosophy Day, York will host a one-day conference discussing the importance of philosophy to modern citizenship and society on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 10am to 5pm at Founder’s College Assembly Hall, room 152. The event is presented by the Canadian Philosophical Association and York’s Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts.

World Philosophy Day was launched by UNESCO in 2002 to highlight the importance of philosophical thinking and to create connections between philosophers and the public. “For centuries, philosophy has given birth to concepts, ideas and works of sustained analysis, and has laid the foundations for critical thinking,” Koichiro Matsuraexplained Koichiro Matsura (left), director-general of UNESCO. With World Philosophy Day, Matsura said, UNESCO hopes “to encourage people to share their philosophical heritage, to open up their sphere of daily thinking to new ideas and to foster a public debate amongst thinkers and civil society on the challenges facing societies today.”

The inception of World Philosophy Day has inspired schools, community groups, and over 80 UNESCO member states, including Zambia, Slovakia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Hungary, Egypt, Cuba, and Chile, to celebrate the role of philosophy in society. This year, York University philosophers are joining the celebration by participating in a one-day conference organized around the question: “Does philosophy matter?”

The conference, says York professor and Canadian Philosophical Association president Gerard Naddaf, will illustrate how philosophy promotes the kinds of thinking that leads to free citizens. “Philosophy invites us to think for ourselves about some very fundamental questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, morality and the good life,” says Naddaf. “Thinking about these questions requires critical reflection, logical argument, careful analysis and respect for the opinions of others. Above all, philosophy fosters genuine freedom of thought, freedom from dogmas, and credible, if not uncontested, wisdom.” 

A large group of faculty members and graduate students from Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and the Department of Philosophy, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, will be participating in the conference, which promises lively discussion on a wide range of topics related to philosophy’s role in society. Every hour, starting at 10am, there will be three 15-minute talks, followed by 15 minutes of discussion. The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend and join the discussion. For more information, contact the Department of Philosophy at ext. 55113.