Philosophy night kicks off in Prague

If you’re in Prague on Thursday night and see a lot of serious discussions and gesticulations, it might not just be about Czech football chances in Euro 2016. There is a French connection though, and the Czech capital is in fact hosting its first ever philosophy night with events and discussions planned until the very early hours.

“Unintelligible answers to insoluble problems,” that is how one wit described philosophy. It should be added though that he was an American and that such words could not come out of a French mouth.

France’s contribution to mulling the unintelligible, intangible, and insoluble is probably undisputed and it’s due to that Gallic inspiration that Prague’s first ever Night of Philosophy is being held on Thursday.

Organiser of the event Anne Gléonec, herself a philosopher, explained to our French colleagues where the inspiration came from.

“The Night of Philosophy in Prague is an event which stems from the tradition of the Nights of Philosophy which began in Paris in 2010 from an initiative of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the French Institute. This special night in Prague follows in that tradition and it is innovative in the sense that it groups five countries, the countries of the Visegrad Four and France and is an initiative of the platform CEFRES linked to Charles University and The Academy of Sciences.”

The Visegrad Four is composed of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. And she says the events and subjects have been selected to make it as accessible to the wider public as possible.

“This festive event takes place during the night from seven in the evening till three in the morning. The idea is to offer the public everything from a range of mini conferences to discussions. The conferences will be short and lively and the discussions will deal with current issues but not just that. There will also be exhibitions, films, and concerts which we hope will contribute to making the Night of Philosophy a festive occasion.”

Anne Gléonec,  photo: archive of The Night of Philosophy in Prague
All in all, around 60 philosophers, many of them the top names in their particular subjects and who are experienced in bringing philosophy out of the academic ivory towers and into the public arena or the streets have been signed up for the Prague event.

And just in case they or the public get carried away, a general theme for the discussions has been selected. The theme is “Images, science and politics,” with the main focus on the interface between science and politics in many current issues such as ecology, ecological security and bio ethics and the way these questions are being represented.

Such topics, Anne Gléonec suggests could even be widened out to take a rather different view of ongoing questions such as immigration than they are treated in the mainstream media. She hopes that the Night of Philosophers can expand in future years with more participants and a wider offering of events if this initial offer turns out to be a hit.