Education? Philosophy

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The first thing that the new Director-General of the UNESCO -Mrs. Audrey Azoulay- has done is to send a message to the world on the occasion of the World Philosophy Day -November 16th- which also coincided with the day she took office as head of the Directorate General of  UNESCO.

Philosophy is essential if we aim to be “free and responsible” -such as an “educated human being” should be according to article 1 of the UNESCO’s Constitution. Philosophy is a must if we want to fully exercise the unique capacities of human beings: thinking, imagining, foreseeing, creating! As stated by the Director-General in the first part of her message, philosophy shall allow us “to transform human societies”, to implement all radical changes that the current worldwide situation urgently needs. “Progress -told me once in Oxford Prof. Hans Krebs- consists in seeing what others too can see..., and thinking what no one else has ever thought”.

Today it is essential and most urgent to promote Philosophy at all levels of education, taking into account that most approaches and reports   mistakenly consider education to be the same than training, and knowledge to be the same than information (and what is even worse, the same than news).

Philosophy and arts education are essential to be able to “direct one’s own life with sense”, according to the wise words of Francisco Giner de los Ríos. “Philosophy creates the intellectual conditions for change, sustainable development and peace”, as highlighted by the Director-General. And she ends up saying: “I call upon all Member States to take up this message, which resounds in the heart of UNESCO’s mandate”

What a good start for Director-General Audrey Azoulay and her difficult mission! It’s a very positive sign. I wish her all the best.

P.S.: President Trump has announced once again -he’s done it already twice!- that United States shall withdraw from the UNESCO at the end of 2018. It is obvious that Trump -who has scorned the agreements signed by his predecessor on the Earth’s habitability- does not realize, with his habit of only looking at himself, the damage that his attitude could cause not only to American young people and children, but also to the entire world. The remedy, which can still be effective, lies in Philosophy, in UNESCO...