The history of the World Congresses of Philosophy had its inception at the beginning of the XXth Century. The first World Congress of Philosophy was held in 1900 in Paris, organized with the initiative of a group of renowned philosophers.
After the establishment of UNESCO and along with it of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISHP) in 1948, the organization of the World Congresses has become one of the main activities of FISP. Since 1948, FISP has organized ten World Congresses in collaboration with one of its member societies.
These Congresses, in which thousands of philosophers participate, are the most important events in the life of the world philosophical community. They are open to all philosophers, irrespective of race, nationality, religion or political opinion. The host country guarantees this free participation which is one of the conditions of FISP for accepting an invitation to host a World Congress.
In these Congresses philosophers from all over the world come together and each of them presents what he or she thinks to be the most characteristic aspect of his or her work at that moment, in one of the five official languages of the Congress, which are English, French, German, Russian and Spanish.
These face to face encounters, which, in any opinion, can not be substituted by anything else, create occasions for the establishment of new links and cooperation among philosophers, as well as for the application of philosophy in everyday life.
As a whole, these Congresses mirror the Zeitgeist in philosophy. Their Proceedings constitute perhaps the most compact source for those who wish to study the main trends in philosophy in a given period of time.
Up to now the World Congresses of Philosophy were held, with four exceptions, in Europe. These exceptions were the two World Congresses held in Boston in 1926 and 1998 and the ones held in Mexico in 1963 and in Montreal in 1983. This time the Twenty-first World Congress of Philosophy will be held in Istanbul which constitutes, not only geographically but also culturally, the bridge between Europe and Asia. Turkish philosophers are honored and happy to be entrusted with the organization of the first World Congress of Philosophy in the XXIst Century.
The Memorandum of Agreement between FISP and the Turkish Organizing Committee (TOC) concerning the preparation and the implementation of the XXIst World Congress of Philosophy to be held in Istanbul (Turkey) in August 2003 was signed on May 22, 1999 in Copenhagen by the Secretary General of FISP and the President of the Philosophical Society of Turkey.
The Congress will be held in Istanbul, on August 10-17, 2003, at the Lütfi Kırdar International Congress and Fair Center.
As was decided by the Steering Committee of FISP on October 7, 1999 in Naples, the main theme of the Congress will be Philosophy Facing World Problems.
By selecting this theme, among others proposed by the member societies of FISP, we wish to accent the need of philosophical, including ethical, knowledge in dealing with global problems at the outset of the new century.
This main theme will be elaborated, in accordance with the tradition of the World Congresses, in four plenary sessions and four colloquia or symposia. A fifth symposium will be devoted to the developments of philosophy in the host country. There will be sections on the general and special field of philosophy, in which contributed papers will be presented and discussed, international round tables on themes selected by their organizers, and poster sessions. The "invited sessions" which were introduced as a novelty at the Boston Congress will be continued.
Besides the Maimonides Lecture, a ceremonial evening lecture of the past three World Congresses, the first Ibn Roshd (Averroes) Lecture established by a donation of the Philosophical Society of Turkey to FISP, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Ibn Roshd's death, will be delivered by an eminent philosopher on an issue related to enlightenment and/or human rights.
International member societies of FISP will have the opportunity to hold their meetings during the Congress in Istanbul, or in other fascinating historical sites of Turkey before or after the Congress.
The Philosophical Society of Turkey wishes to organize, among other things, a special event for young philosophers from all over the world.
The participants of the Congress will also have the opportunity to visit, if they wish, different historical sites in Istanbul and all over Turkey which is the home of more than eight civilizations and cultures in the history of humanity-e.g., those of the Urartus, Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans - and to get acquainted with modern Turkey and its cultural achievements.
We are well aware of the role of philosophy in the endeavour to create a world "free from fear and want", the advent of which "has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We wish that this first World Congress of the 21st. century not only affords the opportunity to world philosophers to meet, but also that a message concerning the vocation of philosophy and the special contribution it could make to the efforts for the creation "of a world free from fear and want", transgresses the frontiers of the world philosophical community and reaches the ears of the decision-makers during the dawn of the new century.