(November 23, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) On November 17, 2011, UNESCO’s World Philosophy Day, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka (Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO) was invited by the Democracy and Philosophy section of the Social and Human Sciences sector to moderate a discussion on the topic of “Political Movements for Change: What Ethics?” and to introduce his book “Fidel’s Ethics of Violence” in support of his presentation. Msgr. Francesco Follo, Professor of History Philosophy and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, presented a critical response as a co-moderator.
The discussion revolved around the questions of whether there moral and ethical resources for movements for political change and transformation. Can there be an ethical or legitimate violence in the struggle for freedom and justice? What are the limits of such violence? Can and should the dichotomy between absolute non-violence and the unrestrained use of violence for political ends be overcome?
In an attempt to answer these questions that were debated half a century ago by Sartre and Camus, Dr. Jayatilleka provided his view of ethics and violence by analyzing the Cuban revolution. He comes to the conclusion that: “[…] a rebellion can remain within the bound of humanism.” According to him: “The moral high ground is the most valuable of political territory and it is possible to hold this territory even if one has to engage in violence as resistance to repression or as a mode of transformation.”
The presentations were followed by a question and answer session during which a lively debate too place among the participants which included Ambassador of Serbia, a former Professor of Philosophy at the University of Belgrade, Ambassador of Macedonia, Ambassador of Turkey, Ambassador of Cuba and DPR of Senegal among other diplomats and members of the general public.
Celebrated at UNESCO’s initiative every third Thursday of November since 2002, the World Philosophy Day is the opportunity to make philosophical reflection accessible to all (professors and students, scholars and the general public) thereby enlarging the opportunities and spaces for the stimulation of critical thinking and debate. A series of events (symposiums, round tables, philosophy workshops) were organized throughout the day at UNESCO Headquarters.