Association Internationale des Professeurs de Philosophie

Declaration on the Importance of Teaching Philosophy
for Environmental Education Brig (Switzerland), June 2022

As philosophers and professionals in related areas of study, we contend that the discipline of philosophy can make particularly good contributions to environmental education. This is a complement to and continuation of the Paris Philosophical Declaration of 1995, which took place in the context of a UNESCO meeting, and which highlighted the global importance of philosophical education, and brought to the fore the very timely question of an ethics of nature.
A global development of philosophical education can be of great assistance in this effort – most especially in the current climate crisis.

Since ancient times, reflection on the position of humanity in its world has been a topic of inquiry in various cultures. Most particularly, the critique of the anthropocentrism of the utilitarian (or goal-orientated) ethic has promulgated several insights: that humans should be seen as a part of nature, that not everything in nature need be driven by humanity’s goals, and that we are all connected in ecological interdependence. The concept of the environment (as the world which surrounds us) should therefore be replaced by the concept of a shared world (the world in which we take part), in the way that for example East Asian and African philosophies have already long conceived of the coexistence and transcendence of humanity and nature.

Philosophy can hark back to holistic models, not only in non-European cultures, which concern themselves with the concept of biocentrism. Such conceptions can help to resolve the dichotomy between human being and nature, and so achieve a respectful partnership with nature. Towards this end, reflection about establishing different goals can lead to the insight that in the long run, humanity’s goals are better served when the foundations of human life are protected and valued.

This is clearly evident in our time, as nature is being overhauled by technology and thrown off balance, as biodiversity is being lost, and as the very foundations of human life are being massively threatened. The inherent value of nature was recognized by philosophy long before the current ecological crisis, and should be infused into the teaching of philosophy in schools, high schools and universities. For this reason, we are calling for the promotion of philosophical education in various fields, which we urge as a means of support in the current situation of our threatened humanity. Because critical reflection about varying conceptions of our relationship with nature (and the consequences thereof) can help lead to meaningfully responsible actions with regard to a nature that is seen as worthy of being protected.
All of these – anthropology, philosophy of nature, philosophy of technology, and ethics – as subfields of philosophy, should be given space in this conversation, since they are all needed in order to yield the required formation of consciousness, especially for the young, by which the appropriate dispositions for acting may emerge.

Therefore we want to

- Remind, that since the beginning, all philosophy in East, West and South has been orientated towards the flourishing of humankind based on nature itself.

- Remark, that for instance the stoic principle to live according to nature or the Buddhist way of a togetherness of all living beings show a similar direction of thinking.

- Note, that, wherever in philosophy the special role of mankind is outlined, rationality ends in accepting responsibility for humankind and nature.

- point out, that philosophical concepts correspond to the whole of life on earth, since ecological systems as well as philosophy as expression of global and intercultural thinking have neither limits nor frontiers.

- Make aware, that confidence in the critical power of philosophy produced and will produce fruitful solutions for maintaining essential conditions of nature and humankind.

- Notice, that philosophy is capable to reflect critically technological and digital systems in order to lead to responsible use, respecting both humans and nature.

- Stress, that war, besides entailing the destruction of human life, is a terrible menace for the environment and climate.

- Convince, that training in philosophy is able to foster human activities towards biodiversity, sustainability, stability of climate and a peaceful development of humankind, based on the dignity of every species of life.

- Suggest, that philosophical dialogues should be established as the core of UNESCO educational programs.

- Conclude, that the former efforts of UNESCO for teaching philosophy in all educational institutions of the world thus must be efficiently maintained.

Michael Zurwerra, Rektor der Fernfachhochschule Schweiz/ Dr. Gabriele Osthoff-Münnix, Düsseldorf, Präsidentin der Association Internationale des Professeurs de Philosophie / Prof. Richard Stahel, Direktor der Slovakischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bratislava / Dr. Natascha Hebestreit, Fernfachhochschule Schweiz / Prof. Hans Bringeland, Universität Bergen, Norwegen/ Prof. Andrzej Kaniowski, Institut für Ethik, Universität Lodz, Polen/ Michael Henzen, Fernfachhochschule Schweiz, Dr. Anna Deplazes-Zemp, Ethikforschungszentrum der Universität Zürich / Dr. Bernd Rolf, Kevelaer/ Dr. Gisela Raupach-Strey, Universität Halle / Yvonne Ganz, CH Effretikon ZH / Prof. Nancy Billias, University College St. Joseph, West Hartford, Connecticut / David Christie, Zürich / Dr. Klaus Feldmann, Universität Wuppertal / Dr. Bianca Boteva-Richter, Universität Wien / Graham Parkes, Professsional Research Fellow der Universität Wien / Nathalie Jossen, CH Naters VS / Prof. Aneta Karageorgieva und Prof. Nikoleta Nikolova, beide Universität Sofia, Bulgarien / Prof. Hsueh-i Chen, Universität Taipeh, Taiwan / Anja Bouron, Fernfachhochschule Schweiz / Dr. Werner Busch, Melsdorf, Ehrenpräsident der Association Internationale des Professeurs de Philosophie / Dr. Ewa Wyrebska- Dermanovic, Berlin / Michael Hof, CH Hochfelden / Prof. Andreas Oberprantacher, Universität Innsbruck / Prof. Riccardo Sirello, Savona, Italien / Eva Dedeckova, PhD, Institut für Philosophie, Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bratislava, Slovakei / Prof. Aleksandar Chumakov, Lomonossov Universität Moskau, Prof. Ram Adhar Mall, Ehrenpräsident der Gesellschaft für Interkulturelle Philosophie / Prof. Mohamed Turki, Tunis /Recklinghausen / Dr. Evrim Kutlu, Universität Köln/Istanbul / Dr. Barbora Badurova, Bratislava / Marco Schepers, Vorsitzender des Fachverbands Philosophie Deutschland / PD Dr. Markus Wirtz, Universität Köln / Satu Honkala, Finish National Agency for Education / Prof. Stephan Grätzel, Universität Mainz / Prof. René Torkler, Universität Kiel