“Philosophy as an antidote to barbarism”
The Regional Governor of Attica, Ms Rena Dourou, delivered a welcome address at the press conference during the presentation of the Philosophy Festival in Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece (Festival della Filosofia in Magna Grecia, FFMG), at the Italian Cultural Institute of Athens. This is the third year running that we are hosting the Philosophy Festival (20-26 March) with the participation of 700 Italian pupils and their teachers. The aim of this festival is the initiation of adolescents into philosophy through experiential activities.
The Regional Governor’s address was as follows:
“We are hosting for the third year running the Magna Grecia Philosophy Festival, with the participation of Italian pupils and teachers. I would like to start by thanking everyone who worked on carrying out this Festival.
A unique cultural event, aiming to familiarize young people with culture, classical philosophy and ancient Greek drama.
A cultural event, which we, in the Region of Attica, hope to make it a permanent institution in Greece hosting knowledge and culture from all over Europe, and pupils from all the Regions of Europe.
Dear friends, if the Magna Grecia Philosophy Festival did not exist, we would have to invent it. To invent it urgently, especially nowadays when the principles of Democracy, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Solidarity and Tolerance are under attack, whether it be the migration/refugee phenomenon or the future of European societies.
Today, it is even more urgent that we raise the walls of Philosophy and Knowledge against the walls of ignorance, intolerance and all forms of fundamentalism.
Forms of fundamentalism that detest the teaching of Philosophy, which is the antidote to barbarism, an expression of humanism.
Nowadays, Aristotle's answer to the question “what is the use of philosophy?” is particularly timely, as it was also conveyed by Professor, Nuccio Ordine, in his speech here in Athens two years ago. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle used to say, and we were recently reminded about that by Prof. Nuccio Ordine, that philosophy is “not useful” because it does not “offer a service”, it is not ‘in someone’s service’ because it is a self-existent science that teaches us the way to freedom: just as a free person “exists for himself and not for another”.
For yet another year, the Italians pupils will walk along the path of freedom, the path of free people, the path of knowledge and self-awareness in Attica, Epidaurus and Delphi.
They will walk along paths of knowledge focusing this year on Friendship, selfless communication, bridges of knowledge and understanding one another.
Today, all of us, elected officials, teachers, parents and pupils, we ought to build these bridges that unite the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean.
And we are doing exactly that by supporting institutions such as the Philosophy Festival.
Institutions that provide answers to the questions and doubts that permeate European societies, referring to the most authentic traditions of thought: the universal principles of Greek philosophy.
The Region of Attica supports this effort, as it supports every effort showcasing Culture and Knowledge as the foundation of a collective proposal for our common future. Away from nationalist isolationism, away from the views of those who consider philosophy an “unnecessary luxury”, something like “collateral damage”, as Zygmunt Bauman wrote.
No, dear friends. Philosophy, the values of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates are not an “unnecessary luxury”. They are a prerequisite for tackling the crisis of Democracy and the moral crisis we are experiencing nowadays. They are the foundation for a society of citizens, not a society of consumers. They are our lifeline for today and tomorrow. It is our duty to familiarize young people with these values. We have the obligation to talk to the new generation about maintaining the principles and values of humanity, and about resisting the supposedly one-way street of a narrowly-defined economic logic approach. This is a great challenge and we have no right to fail.
You can count on the Region of Attica to be a lifelong friend, a faithful supporter.