Happy World Philosophy Day!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christine McKenna Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Did you know today is World Philosophy Day? Introduced in 2002 by UNESCO, World Philosophy Day is marked each year on the third Thursday of November by a range of activities organized by governments, public institutions and organizations, associations, universities, and “everyone, everywhere, who cares about philosophy.”

The idea is to promote “free, reasoned and informed thinking on the major challenges of our time,” and to encourage people from around the world to share their philosophies, exchange ideas, and “inspire a public debate between intellectuals and civil society.”

This year’s theme is “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet”, which asks us to consider how increasingly diverse and interconnected societies can address issues of inclusion and sustainability “between themselves and with their environment.”

This morning, as part of our Big Thinking lecture series, the Federation (along with a large group of MPs, students, researchers, and other members of the public) heard Dr. Ron Deibert discuss the implications of our increasingly open and connected digital lives, which exist in an environment of surveillance and precarious cyber security. While it was only coincidental that his lecture took place on World Philosophy Day, it’s interesting to consider his subject matter in relation to the 2013 theme: is a society that prioritizes (or perhaps depends on) the Internet sustainable? It’s certainly not inclusive, because not everyone has access to the technology required to participate. Does cyber surveillance have any effect beyond our digital environments, into our physical ones? How can an “inclusive society” accommodate both its citizens’ right to information and the secret operations of its security agencies?

Today is a great day for pondering, discussing, and generating ideas – big ones, smaller ones, and even seemingly ridiculous ones. Open your eyes, philosophize!

Image courtesy of Bobotmedia.