The International Federation of Philosophical Societies (IFPS), or the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie (FISP) is an International Federation of Philosophical Societies, whose member-societies arguably include every country where there is significant academic philosophy. It was established in 1948, and every five years, the society sponsors the World Congress of Philosophy. This year it was held in Athens, which is described as the home of philosophy.

Being in the Hellenistic (on-line) community for a while (Dutch Hellenists, send me an e-mail if you read this? I would love to meet!), I think the inclusion of philosophy as part of Hellenismos is perhaps the biggest disagreement we still have to work through. Whether you are a philosophy buff, or a practitioner without direct ties to any philosophical school, one cannot deny that philosophy was a part of ancient Hellenic life, and it was and is one of the driving examples of the status ancient Hellas has as the foundation of civilized life.

According to Wikipedia, the World Congress of Philosophy is a global meeting of philosophers held every five years in a different country under the auspices of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP). First organized in 1900, these events became firmly established after the Second World War. Each World Congress is sponsored by one of the member societies, which assumes responsibility for the organization of that Congress. The purpose of these events is to contribute to the development of professional relations between philosophers of all countries, promote philosophical education, and contribute to the impact of philosophical knowledge on global problems. This year, the congress came to Athens, and they looked at a weighty subject, indeed: the crisis in modern Greece. According to this article on the Congress:

"It's very important to find oneself in the place where philosophy was born," said Ivorian professor Tanella Boni, one of over 2,000 philosophers from 105 countries who attended the seven-day event which wrapped this weekend. [...] "To have the congress at this time of crisis is important because it is a reminder that Greece has a huge history and heritage," said Marietta Stepanyants, a Russian professor of comparative philosophy. [...] "For philosophers it is something special since every place here has a special meaning to us," added Stepanyants, who is also the vice-president of the FISP congress organisers. And for crisis-hit Greeks, "it's moral support" to be reminded of their country's special history, she said."

Those attending discussed topics ranging from philosophy of politics, language, science and religion to ethics, cosmology and contemporary interpretations of the writings of Aristotle, Descartes, Heidegger, Kant, Nietzsche, Plato, Rousseau, Socrates and Spinoza. The setting? the Athens University's philosophy department, but also Plato's Academy, the Pnyx--a hill near the Acropolis that hosted citizen assemblies in classical antiquity--and the Lyceum of Aristotle, which is not yet open to the general public as excavations are still underway.

Kant specialist Scott Forschler was quoted in the article, saying that: "One thing that philosophy can give us is perspective.... It emanates from ordinary life, not some special place. Philosophy gives you the big picture, what is important beyond the daily thing."

While philosophical schools are not important to me in my daily practice, I do think about the nature of the Theoi a lot, and I might turn to the philosophers eventually to compare notes. Forschler has a good point saying that philosophy stems from, and encompasses, daily life and should not be seen as something separate.

Personally, I would love to have been part of this Congress, and not just because it was held on Greek soil. I like philosophical discussions, and find them wonderful fuel for thought. At the end of the day, though, philosophy in ancient Hellas was optional. It was your own choice if you wanted to interpret the divine and mythology along the lines of another's thought process. It still is today. I have enough of a philosophical base to interpret both to my satisfaction, so I do not feel the need to know and apply the way Plato saw the world and the divine, or the Stoics, or any other group. I might foray into their thought domains on occasion, but I do not need them to relate to the Theoi. Others disagree, feeling that understanding the divine and themselves though philosophy is one of the greatest goods the ancient Hellenes left us.

This philosophical debate has not yet ran is course. Where you stand is wholly up to you; I just wish for you a fulfilling household practice and life, and for you to enjoy philosophy--as much or as little of it as you wish to incorporate.