By St. Bonaventure University Dean of Studies Godfrey Marera MA
at the World Philosophy day 2021
The Minister of Education, Hon. Douglas Syakalima
Representatives from the Ministry of Health,
All Government Officials
The Chairman of the Executive Board for SBU and his Executive members present
All Religious Superiors and Representatives of various Religious congregations present
Representatives of Our Sponsors, Savendah
Representatives of Different Universities Present, UNZA, Cavendish, Unilus, St. Dominic, St. Augustine, Kabwe
All teaching and non teaching staff from SBU and all the participating universities
All Students from SBU, UNZA, Cavendish, Unilus, St. Dominic, St. Augustine and other learning Institutions here present,
All invited Guests here present,
I would like to please welcome you to this year’s World Philosophy Day.
World Philosophy Day was introduced in 2002 by UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the following objectives:
- to renew the national, subregional, regional and international commitment to philosophy;
- to foster philosophical analysis, research and studies on major contemporary issues, so as to respond more effectively to the challenges that are confronting humanity today;
- to raise public awareness of the importance of philosophy and its critical use in the choices arising for many societies from the effects of globalization or entry into modernity;
- to appraise the state of philosophy teaching throughout the world, with special emphasis on unequal access;
- to underline the importance of the universalization of philosophy teaching for future generations.
In establishing World Philosophy Day UNESCO strives to promote an international culture of philosophical debate that respects human dignity and diversity. The Day encourages academic exchange and highlights the contribution of philosophical knowledge in addressing global issues.
Why a Philosophy Day?
For UNESCO, philosophy provides the conceptual bases of principles and values on which world peace depends: democracy, human rights, justice, and equality.
Philosophy helps consolidate these authentic foundations of peaceful coexistence.
World Philosophy Day 2021 opens the discussion on the different interactions of human beings with their social, cultural, geographical and political environment, with the underlying objective of better understanding the contribution of philosophy in our contemporary societies and the challenges they face, the pandemic in particular. Philosophy, and even more so intercultural philosophy, is concerned with context and is therefore, in its very essence, concerned with the transformation of society.
For us Here at MICC
It is from the above that the organisers of this event, St Bonaventure University and their partnering universities, are inviting us to reflect on the place of philosophy in education curricula and pandemics, particularly covid-19 virus.
As will be intimated by some of the speakers, philosophy is a love of wisdom or a seeking after wisdom. It is a discipline that equips us with the arsenal to reflect on the fundamental questions of life, the questions that makes the foreground and background of existence. It opens up our minds to critically think about who we are, why we are here and where we are going. It is because of this noble agenda that one speaker wants to challenge us to consider including the study of philosophy early in the Zambian curriculum. Just as the world at large has been incessantly ravaged by so many mishaps rendering human existence unpalatable hence requiring philosophical reflection, Zambia as a nation has also had a share of its unique issues that require this reflection. It is from this background that one speaker will come up with a proposal for a Philosophy Association of Zambia. We need to have our own think tank so that we don’t become comfortable and gullible to receive ready-made answers from elsewhere, whether in the curriculum, in policy or elsewhere.
As shall be seen in the proceedings, one branch of philosophy is ethics. This brings us to the main theme of the day, which is on the moral obligation to get vaccinated. When we reflect on covid-19 from a philosophical ontological perspective, we see the human person as a being in the world who is called to be a being with the other. He and she is both subjectivity and intersubjectivity, both immanence and transcendence. Therefore, has duties to care for him or herself as well as for the other. The problem is, when does intersubjectivity take precedence over subjectivity and vice-versa. We hope that the proceedings of this day will make this predicament more lucid. If they don’t. don’t worry, it’s the nature of philosophy to provoke thought, perplex and challenge until one gets the answer on their own. Thank you for now.
On behalf of the organisers, I would like to thank everyone who participated on this rare but great event where we gathered to celebrate philosophy. One of the criticisms usually leveled against this discipline is that it does not bring food to the table. As we conclude this event, let me give you an analogy that may help us reflect about philosophy as we go back home.
Imagine a family of four, two children and their parents. These two children are toddlers and spend the whole day at home with one of the two parents who bathes them, feeds them and does all the house chores. The other parent leaves home very early in the morning to come back in the evening sometimes the children do not even see this member of the family because they are sleeping when he or she leaves and returns home. Imagine that these little children are not yet familiar with the idea of people leaving home early and returning late because of work. If one day they would be asked which of their parents is more loving and productive, what would be their answer? I can imagine them saying that it is the one who spends the whole day with them at home. They cannot think of what is happening beyond what they are seeing. The invisible hand that brings the food to the table not on the table.
This is the fate of philosophy. Behind every science that you can think of there is a philosophy. There is a way of perceiving reality, there are principles that work as guidelines to all the activities that make that science. This is the reason why the highest qualification in every field is a PhD in … meaning a doctor of philosophy.
As we go, let us reflect on how we can restore the place this invisible science so that it takes its rightful place and does not come by by the way.