Friends of Philosophy, today Philosophy is celebrating, together we celebrate philosophy! Philosophy is an agent of encouragement and a cure for anxiety. Philosophy is connected with the development of humanity, human thought and culture, cultural development-cultural phenomenon. Philosophy studies fundamental problems, such as our concept of reality, our existence and what it means, knowledge, speech, mind-brain dichotomy and language, our values. The World Philosophical Forum next year in Athens will examine the relationship between biology and philosophy, namely, the philosophy of life or bio-philosophy.
Celebrating World Philosophy Day, which was introduced by UNESCO (2002) has a special meaning for Greece, the Greece of austerity, migration and the denigrated and falsely questioned Greece and its values. It is an emphasis of its cultural potential, which can bring new thinking into life, into the current complex problem space and contribute to growth and development at this a time of decline. It can help turn the current situation around. It offers an opportunity to strengthen resistance and resilience of the Greek people. At the same time, however, the integrity of the Greek political system must be improved and strengthened, citizens must acquire more social responsibility and political power, and the intellectual elite must contribute to solving problems and especially helping to restore, rehabilitate, and consolidate the spiritual and ethical dimensions of the country in line with its significant competences. Philosophy can help strengthen dialogue and decision-making, legitimacy and stability. Greek society should make critical use of philosophy and its other considerable strengths in decision making, political and socio-economic.
Greek society must now once again show its heroism. I have proposed that the Nobel Peace Prize be given to the Aegean grandmothers, who saved migrant babies from the dangerous waters of the Aegean Sea.
Greece has given much to humanity, health, education, philosophy, and to the evolution of Europe. Prometheus gave fire to man to warm him up, Demeter, bread to feed him, and Hygiene public health to protect him. But mankind everywhere is in crisis. Climate change is mishandling the planet. Today, the inequality gap on it is shocking. Both national and international systems are being manipulated by the powerful for their own benefit, leaving the rest behind. A double tax code is now in place, one for the few and rich the other for the multitude. There is a serious malfunction in the White House at a time when east west rapprochement is more than ever necessary.
The Greek political leadership needs to better recognize and take into account that its citizens are living a nightmare to a background and in a context of silent despair, that growing populism hinders progress and encourages backward thinking and violent behaviors. It is estimated that Greek newly born will live fewer years than their parents and have a lower quality of life. Life expectancy and child mortality are issues of concern, issues to worry about. Early and avoidable deaths another.
Today, people are paying more and more from what they do not have. They are paying for erroneous policies, distorted ideologies, and misuse of the public sector by each sequential government which has condemned it to function displaced from its intended purpose. They are, paying heavily for the feathering of nests by the political, commercial and trading systems and the creditors of Greece. But what is owed to Greece, historically and from WWII is sidestepped and obfuscated.
They live from substantially reduced wages and pensions of parents and grandparents. The number of young people forced to borrow to cover just basic subsistence, is rising. What is owed here and now, is repaid in multiple monthly installments with different packaging and for even the most basic commodities like water. A significant number have had their homes seized for debt and loan default.
Many live in unhealthy and inappropriate conditions without knowing when they will be infected with infectious diseases. Many have difficulty in having daily bread and medications; the number of mentally depressed and suicidal incidents are rising while unemployment is close to 20%, with that for youth approaching 60%. Well-trained young people are leaving Greece, and those who stay behind are increasingly sinking into insecurity, whether it concerns their daily lives, the right treatment of health-related incidents and ultimately for their lives. According to one Greek song: and you seek happiness, but happiness not yet is found.
News in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists places their watch at two and a half minutes to midnight. If humanity is not threatened of being hurled back to the Stone Age, covered by an eternity of radioactive dust, it is threatened with an increasing frequency of disasters, a result of climate change, earth warming, nuclear weapons, epidemics.
Another serious scientific scenario sees mankind facing the scourge of food and water scarcity while the pollution in cities will take lives, prematurely. Greece is little prepared in management, in disaster management and has minimal preparedness in social and health policy; recent forest fires, oil spills, flooding. Access to services for patients with diabetics and cancer becomes more and more difficult. Many children are waiting for a bone marrow transplant while access to drugs for rare diseases is difficult.
Humanity has not always been that way. There have been moments that surmounted such difficulties and for which we have great admiration. But ignorant of their arrogance, seasons have followed that paid the price. Correction can come when we follow again the giant philosophical steps of ancient Greece and make modern use of their achievements.
Asklepios and his children, his daughter the Goddess of health, Hygiene ... Hippocrates the father of medicine and his teacher, Asklepios,… taught amazingly and taught amazing things, all useful for today and for our future. Asklepios said to his student: we have an opinion… let’s consider it ... if it is not confirmed we can change it! We are talking about concepts that characterize cultured minds, minds that have the capacity to examine a proposal without necessarily accepting it. We are talking of philosophy as a bastion against the narrowing of opinions (Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General) and the narrowing of minds.
Greece has never been alien to disasters or heroic acts. And she has suffered as a result. Not only the Asia Minor disaster, plagued the country! There were disasters and situations of infectious diseases such as endemic malaria and a pandemic of dengue fever that arrived from Syria through Beirut. It struck down the whole of Greece, which was closed for months and spread panic in the capitals of Europe. Its death rate was 6% , its morbidity or sickness more than 80%. These disastrous blows-problems, arrows of despair were dealt with by local means and forces, very impressive and effective. The days of dengue brought nights of incredible suffering.
I would say that due to the wretched conditions in 1930 a public health revolution occurred that rocked Greece and shook Europe. It is then that the health of the Greek people began to improve and dramatically, while a new scientific culture flourished and Greece was accepted as a member of the international community. I would also say that at that time, the highly capable scientific personal enormously combative in public health brought Greece forward into modernity something that all later governments more or less ignored. Indeed several of them have gone against their own stated and correct policies.
For many reasons, today’s celebration in New Smyrna, Athens has great symbolism and it promotes hope. Yes there is hope but it can be aided by thinking great things and thinking philosophically. Not though the philosophy of scholasticism!
We have said the disasters are not new to Greece. Turning the clock back to the end of the Bronze Age, the population in what today is referred to as the Balkan peninsula declined by three quarters, and commerce and trade stopped. Cities were burnt and abandoned. Great civilizations collapsed, and large migrations took place. Over the following centuries descriptions of chaos were passed down by popular singers, troubadours and folk storytellers to later find their way into literature, in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer described the first epidemic in (the) history outside of the walls of Troy and its destruction. Athens survived, living on in poverty.
Renewal came centuries later, out of chaos and long periods of darkness. New colonies flourished like Miletos in Asia Minor. There, with the clever and wise Thales, philosophy and science emerged and at a time of drought and hunger, a result of sustained olive crop failure. Anticipating a rich olive harvest the crafty Thales, gradually bought up olive presses in the area that were slowly rusting from non-use. When the rich harvest began to show, Thales rented back the presses at considerable profit and became extremely wealthy. Afterwards, the people of Ionia left him alone in quiet to philosophize for the rest of his natural life.
The despair of mankind may never have been better expressed than in the words of Aeschylus: pain so intense, not forgotten, even in sleep, ... falling from the heart, drop-by drop, until in our despair, against our will, Wisdom comes, through the terrible grace of God. They are the words spoken at the funeral of Martin Luther King. The wisdom in Aeschylus is philosophy, and we are its friends.
Growth, appropriate development and salvation in Greece requires meritocracy and multilateral policies in all systems applied diligently and without favoritism based on a politically favored status, transparency in all processes, respect for all, and a framework of holistic education. The help of Greek philosophy is mandatory. So let's celebrate the values of Philosophy and World Philosophy Day, 2017.
 A talk on behalf of the World Philosophical Forum given in New Smyrna, Athens