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Dialogue and Working Group Strategy

While one model of dialogue is to have philosophers from different regions join together at conferences, presenting papers and then discussing the papers from different perspectives, it is proposed that between Arab and Asian philosophers the dialogue itself will be integral to the process. This will involve the establishment of small working groups on particular themes, under a chair, working together to produce a coauthored paper as a result of dialogue. During the process of dialogue using communication technology and face to face meetings the different working groups and other philosophers will come together to comment on the papers and develop dialogue across the themes of each group.

A variety of themes for working groups are being considered, such as:

  • The traditional roles of philosophy in structuring social values
  • Philosophy facing the challenges of modern technology
  • Challenges of globalization to philosophy and democracy
  • The roles of philosophy in war and peace
  • Can philosophical answers on the value of life withstand modernity?

as well topics such as:

  • Environment versus humans
  • Ecocentric visions versus economics
  • Obligations to future generations
  • Social Justice
  • The impact of globalization on community structures
  • The Notion of  ‘Other’ in the Asian and the Arab Religions and Lived Worlds
  • Is current globalization different to past colonization?
  • Individual rights and community rights
  • Indigenous traditions versus the major religions
  • Freedom of thought and dialogue
  • Non-violence and terrorism
  • Ethics of artificial intelligence
  • Bioethics topics
  • Human rights topics

Other topics can be suggested by those willing to convene working groups, noting that the topics should make a new contribution to the discipline of philosophy; The topics should be problem-oriented, either considering a problem of a contemporary public policy or a concept;and the topics should be of interest to both regions or tackle a question linking the two regions.

Membership of Working Groups
We seek those who wish to volunteer to become members and to chair such groups. The chair will be responsible for maintaining the group activity in close coordination with UNESCO . Some philosophers have expressed enthusiasm for particular themes, and some others have known expertise in particular areas. Membership is at the discretion of the chair and UNESCO, in order to ensure group harmony and productive working relations.

Scope of Working Groups
Each member of the working groups may, through their own initiative, obtain local input from meetings and events to contribute to the group. This may also link into topics for UNESCO Philosophy Day activities in each country. In some countries in Asia there are philosophers from both Arab and South or East Asian traditions, thus we hope that these dialogues can improve communication between different schools of thought at the local level as well. These could be envisaged as sub-regional Asia-Arab dialogues, and are appropriate in countries such as the Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. There are also opportunities for this in some Arab states which employ large numbers of Asian workers.

Working groups will be able to meet in the context of other events that participants attend. Where possible meetings will be timed  coincide with other philosophy events, so a wide range of philosophers can participate, given funding restraints. Such events include the World Congress of Philosophy (including the World Congress of Philosophy in July/August 2008 in Seoul), regional association meetings (e.g. APPEND) and national meetings or forums of Philosophy Associations and groups of interested persons.

UNESCO  encourages working groups to apply for additional external funding to support these events. Efforts will be made by UNESCO to apply to partners for co-funding of inter-regional dialogues as interest has already been expressed by several countries.

UNESCO will not specifically fund participants to produce working papers, thus each participant is contributing their time and energy to the dialogue project beyond the remuneration available. The motivation comes from academic interest.

The practical results of to the Interregional philosophical dialogue may include:

1. Academic visits, such as postdoctoral fellowships and visiting professorships. In order to generate sustainable friendships and working relationships, the objectives need to be stipulated among the working group members as level of personal commitment and interaction increases. This will in turn improve the capacity of the philosophers in the region.

2. The papers produced and the dialogue would be published as books, also available on-line. Publication of materials and dialogue in hard copy as well as in electronic media, on-line, as dialogue opportunities in cyber-space are also explored.

3. Publication of cross-cultural philosophy texts for school and university teaching (a working group could be established in the future for developing a core curriculum in global philosophy).

4. Development of an active Internet portal for philosophical dialogue and exchange.

5. Identification of major gaps and new thematic areas for future work.

6. The involvement of policy makers in working groups could led to strengthening the impact of philosophy. However, it is suggested that this  integration be introduced as the philosophers from the different regions have reached some common conclusions.

7. In the case of a successful working group it is expected that members will wish to continue to collaborate on future projects, within this framework, and beyond it.

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Inquiries to rushsap.bgk[at]


There have been a variety of background events, and reports are available on other pages. The occasion of World Philosophy Day  in Rabat, Morocco on 15-16 November, 2006 was one example, and many further activities were arranged with the coordination between UNESCO Bangkok and UNESCO Rabat []

Themes of 3006 roundtables included:

I. Philosophy, cultural diversity and communication 
II. Modernity and the condition of women 
III. Philosophy and the obstacles to a coalition of cultures 
IV. Philosophy: teaching, discussing and translating 
V. Philosophy and the North-South dialogue: What difficulties? What future? 
VI. Citizenship and human rights 
VII. What bases for a just and cooperative world order? 
VIII. Religious reform, open society and human rights

Asia-Arab Inter-regional Philosophical Dialogues: Encounters of Asia and the Arab Regions with Modernity 
17-18 November 
Rabat, Morocco

Three working groups in the project met at that satellite: 
1) Challenges of globalization to philosophy and democracy 
2) Philosophy facing the challenges of modern technology
3) The roles of philosophy in war and peace

For more recent reports see the Dialogues page of UNESCO Bangkok.  On other philosophical dialogues in UNESCO.



Page updated: 28 December 2012.