From The Chonicle of Higher Education, November 27, 2007
World Philosophy Day has come and gone. Perhaps you noticed; more likely you didn’t. The festivities, sponsored by Unesco, commenced on November 15 and included symposia on “Philosophy and Its Future,” the essayist Frantz Fanon, and “The Philosophical Foundations of Peace and Human Rights.”
The purpose of World Philosophy Day, according to Koichiro Matsuura, director general of Unesco, is to “set out the conditions for such a universal dialogue by opening up to the diversity of interlocutors, and of philosophical currents and traditions, in an endeavor to take stock, to provide a perspective on the world, and to engage in a critical rereading of our concepts and ways of thinking.”
But what, exactly, is World Philosophy Day intended to celebrate? That is the question posed by Julian Baggini, editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine. After reciting some quips from Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Wittgenstein, Baggini concludes that “the matter is inconclusive.” After all, what power does philosophy have to usher in a more humane, peaceful world?
To emphasize his skepticism, Baggini turns to the Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Foder, who writes in the forthcoming issue of the magazine: “Anybody who thinks that philosophers as such have access to large resources of practical wisdom hasn’t been going to faculty meetings.”