The Impact of the Beijing World Congress of Philosophy


“To change the perception of philosophy forever.”

That’s one possible outcome of the recent Beijing World Congress of Philosophy, according to Dermot Moran (Boston College), a former president of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP), the organization responsible for the World Congresses of Philosophy.

Moran is quoted in an article about the Congress that emphasizes its size and diversity. Held this past August, it had by some estimates 6,000 – 8,000 attendees and lasted five days.

Many of its hundreds of sessions were dedicated to Asian, African, and Latin American philosophy and among the aims of the Congress were “to globalize philosophical investigations to encompass the diverse forms of philosophizing by past and present thinkers across cultures, with special attention to critical reflections on philosophy itself and the tasks and functions of philosophy in the contemporary world.”

Moran says, “We have much to learn from each other, if we open our ears and hearts, and come prepared to have our presuppositions challenged in a friendly atmosphere.”

In other coverage of the Congress, Luca Maria Scarantino (IULM, Milan), secretary-general of FISP, is quoted as saying, “Because of its inclusiveness and scholarly influence, this Congress may therefore represent a historical opportunity for reassessing the sense of philosophy, for enhancing the theoretical diversity of philosophical concepts, and for rethinking in widely comprehensive ways the notion of ‘being’ – or ‘becoming’ – human.”

In a tweet about the Congress, John Symons (University of Kansas) noted the lack of coverage of it here, and hoped for conversation about it, given that it was “historically significant and problematic on a range of levels.”  He didn’t further elaborate, but discussion of any aspect of the Congress is welcome in the comments.

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