Philosophy, western philosophy but above all also the philosophical mysticism of Islam, is popular today among young Iranians, because it is perceived as a form of resistance against Iran’s political ideologies and religious dogmatism. Even today Tehran is a place where people read Habermas and Hannah Arendt, it is just that there may well be more philosophers detained in the Evin prison that present on the regime’s podium in November.
In a country where students of philosophy like Neda Agha Soltan are shot dead and philosophy professor are accused of preparing velvet revolutions, it would be difficult to take seriously an invitation to Tehran for a free philosophical discussion. The UNESCO Philosophy Day in Tehran will happen in a new context of cultural warfare represented by the rising concept of “soft war” as it is formulated by the Supreme Leader and other officials of the Iranian regime.
On November 9th Unesco’s Secretary General Irina Bokova announced that World Philosophy Day will no longer be held in Teheran, where the 2010 edition had originally been scheduled, and that not even secondary events will be held in the Iranian capital. All recognition from Unesco has been officially withdrawn. The decision at last ended Unesco’s embarrassment and made Tehran’s isolation even more obvious (Click here to read the Iranian regime's outraged reaction.) The merit also goes to the debate that resulted from protests from Resetdoc, which started with the letter we sent to UNESCO’s director. After receiving much support for our appeal, we opened a webpage dedicated to launching an alternative World Philosophy Day (philosophy4freedom.org). As The New York Times wrote when reporting on our initiative, UNESCO risked «turning its “school of freedom” into a propaganda exercise for a brutal regime.» (See also the aricles that The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Il Corriere della Sera, Pbs.org (Hamid Dabashi and Binesh Hass) and Insidehighered have written about our protest.)Unesco at last cancels the Tehran World Philosophy DayOur small victoryThe Civic Task of Philosophy Ramin JahanbeglooWhy The Guardian is wrong Fred DallmayrMore articles
Giuliano Amato, Giancarlo Bosetti and Ramin Jahanbegloo, members of Resetdoc’s scientific committee, have written a letter to UNESCO’s General Director Irina Bokova to prevent the 2010 World Philosophy Day from being hosted by Iran. Doing so would make mockery of the victims of repression, in a country where one can be imprisoned or killed for expressing one’s ideas. “We are certain that we will not be alone in our concern in presenting such an urgent appeal – the authors write – and invite philosophers and intellectuals from all over the world to join us in this by sending a message of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
World Philosophy Day, held under the aegis of Unesco, will no longer be held in Tehran where the 2010 event had originally been scheduled. The protest by Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations, which had opened the debate at the very beginning of the year with a letter signed by Giuliano Amato, Giancarlo Bosetti and Ramin Jahanbegloo, has therefore achieved its objective in spite of many long months of hesitations and postponements.
Also the New York Times writes about the controversial issue of this year's UNESCO “World Philosophy Day”. Although the event was originally planned to be held in Tehran, it has now been moved to Paris. Although the day in Tehran has not disappeared, is now presented as one among many other events of the same set. This is also due to ResetDoc's protest, supported by many important philosophers and intellectuals around the world.
It is the civic task of philosophy to resist to the very idea of a total theory of reality. The civic questioning is not restricted here to what Martin Luther King called “the thin paper” of democracy, but signifies the critical dimension of civic action that actively and practically forms and educates individuals. And herein resides the sphere of conflict between philosophical interrogation as critical questioning of established norms and meanings and as a mode of thinking positively oriented to freedom and democracy, and an onto-theological closure of all forms of questioning and expressed by a form of what Cornelius Castoriadis calls an “instituted heternomy”. This entails the further assertion that where Gods rule, there is no philosophy.
Habermas, Benhabib, Moghadam, Dallmayr, Schwarzenberg, Kermani and many others. View all the signatures
World Philosophy Day in Iran? No thank you. This is a list of Resetdoc readers and friends who have signed the appeal addressed to UNESCO's President Irina Bokova by Giuliano Amato, Giancarlo Bosetti e Ramin Jahanbegloo, to prevent the 2010 World Philosophy Day being held in Iran.