Message of the Secretary-General on the occasion of
World Philosophy Day, 18 November 2010
Philosophy helps us to define who we are and how we relate to each other – and to the world we live in.
From the belief systems of ancient civilizations to the new frontiers of medical ethics, philosophical inquiry and exploration continue to make significant contributions to human progress.
This year, World Philosophy Day celebrates the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures, an initiative of UNESCO.
It also falls during the observance of the International Year of Youth, which is promoting dialogue and mutual understanding.
Philosophy deals routinely in universals – in broadly shared questions about human existence, beliefs and behaviour. That gives it uncommon and unexpected power to help build bridges between people, and to open channels for communication among cultures.
So let us use this essential expression of the human mind to change the minds of men and women – for that is where, as UNESCO's own Charter so memorably states, true peace begins.
On this international Philosophy Day, let us pledge to do our part to guard against the politics of polarization, and to reject stereotypes, ignorance and hatred.
Let us instead fortify our societies through reason and dialogue – the lifeblood of philosophical debate.
And let us recognize the critical role that the age-old tradition of philosophy can play in our modern, interconnected world.