Café-philo on ethics
I am the founder of the Café-philo on ethics, which was originally launched on 20 May 2021 at UNESCO. It has evolved from a discussion and reading group engaging with topics and academic texts pertaining to ethics and metaethics that met fortnightly predominantly at UNESCO HQ in Paris into an experimental public Telegram channel. The name takes from the concept of café philosophique or café-philo, which are fora for philosophical discussion that emerged in cafés bringing people together in a relaxed atmosphere. As I completed my service at UNESCO, the café-philo has been transformed into a public Telegram channel, which you are welcome to join.
The original idea behind it was to learn more about well-established and novel philosophical ideas and engage in deep thinking about ethics and ethical issues. Readings and meetings on other philosophical topics beyond ethics also happened sporadically. We engaged with philosophical ideas and texts spanning from ancient times to modern days. All approaches and methods were discussed in an open and critical environment. The meetings used to take place fortnightly on Thursdays from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. CET. The meetings were held in a hybrid format both with physical presence at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and with a possibility to connect distantly.
This café-philo was also open to participants outside of UNESCO subject to approval by members. You can see the events that took place in the calendar below.On the one hand, the purpose was to collectively acquire knowledge, share new ideas and interpretations, have philosophical discussions and, more broadly, self-development. On the other hand, this also helped in advancing UNESCO’s work by constantly informing our professional activities with ethical ideas. As Julian Huxley, the first Director-General of UNESCO, wrote in his UNESCO: Its Purpose and Philosophy back in 1946: “Unesco cannot be neutral in the face of competing values. . . Unesco must accordingly promote the study of philosophy as an aid in the clarification of [ethical] values, for the benefit of mankind in general. It must also do so in order to have its own clearly thought-out scale of values to guide it in its own operations, both positively in what it should undertake or assist, and negatively in what it should avoid or discourage.”