UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Parallel form(s) of name

  • UNESCO. Division de la philosophie et de l'éthique

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • SHC/PH
  • SS/PHS
  • SHS/PHS
  • DRG/PHE
  • SHS/PHE
  • DRG/PHS
  • SDG/PHE

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1965 - 2000-09-30

History

Over time, UNESCO’s way of differentiating the fields of social sciences, humanities and philosophy, has shaped the related administrative structure. Philosophy has both occupied its own distinct space in the Programme of the Organization and has been integrated into the Culture Programme or the Social and Human Sciences Programme. The first list of personnel published in January 1947 after UNESCO formally came into existence in November 1946 showed a unit called Social Sciences and Philosophy. Later in 1947, there was rather a Philosophy and Humanities Section. When departments were introduced in 1948, a Division of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies appeared in the Department of Cultural Activities. By 1952, however, the Division was replaced by a more general Division of Development of International Cultural Cooperation. In 1956, a smaller Philosophy and Humanistic Studies unit appeared under what was called then the International Cultural Exchanges Division. By 1959, the Section of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies was moved under the Office of the Director and by the beginning of 1962, it was renamed the Section of Humanistic Studies. In 1963 there was a brief resurgence when a new Division of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies and the Major Project on the Mutual Appreciation of Eastern and Western Cultural Values was created. This unit with the long name did not last, being replaced by the Division of Cultural Studies in 1964.

Philosophical reflection as a programme activity was given renewed focus in the Draft Programme and Budget for 1965-1966, also the time when Sectors were introduced as the largest structural unit at UNESCO. In the Director-General’s introduction, he writes: “there is no doubt at all that it is to philosophical reflection that we must look for the development of that humanistic thought whose influence must gradually converge the whole body of Unesco’s activities” (UNESCO, General Conference, 13th Session, 1964). He further wrote: “I hope that the Division of Philosophy may be able, over the years, methodically to bring about the elucidation of the ethical imperatives which such [economic] development must satisfy in respect of education, science, culture and information if it is to be authentic development from the human standpoint” (UNESCO, General Conference, 13th Session, 1964). The Division was created in 1965 directly under the Office of the Assistant-Director General for Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Culture in order to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of philosophical reflection. Without a Director for its first two years, it was called the Division of Interdisciplinary Co-operation and Philosophy in the Draft Budget for 1967-1968, but was renamed the Division of Philosophy in the Approved Budget. Its work for the first years was centered on three studies: society and education; the diversity of cultures as against the universality of science and technology; and, human rights and the identification of universal human values.

The Division supported programme sectors by producing studies in UNESCO’s fields of competence based on philosophical and interdisciplinary inquiry. The Division further collaborated with the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies and the International Centre for the Humanities and Development in Byblos. When the Secretariat as a whole was reorganized in 1975-1976, Director-General M’Bow first proposed that the Division merge with the Human Rights Coordination Unit to form a Division of Philosophy, Human Rights and Peace. Instead two separate divisions were created within the new Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications. The structure remained stable even as the Sector was renamed the Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS) in 1984. In 1990, the Secretariat was restructured and the Division of Philosophy was moved with other interdisciplinary and intersectoral programs to the Directorate, reporting to the Deputy Director-General for Programme. The Division was moved back to SHS in 1993. The Programme and Budget for 1994-1995 added the study of the ethical implications of contemporary problems to the philosophy programme, and the Division was renamed the Division of Philosophy and Ethics (SHS/PHE). At this time, the series of Philosophy Forums was launched. When SHS was reorganized shortly after in 1994, the Division was moved directly under the Directorate.

The Division moved back to SHS in 1999 upon the streamlining of services attached to the Director-General. The following year, during an organization-wide restructuring, it was renamed the Division of Human Sciences and Philosophy (SHS/HSP). The decade saw the philosophy programme being paired first with foresight activities, with a Philosophy and Human Sciences Section (PHS) within the Division of Foresight, Philosophy and Human Sciences (SHS/FPH) from 2002 to 2006; then with human rights activities in the Division of Human Rights, Human Security and Philosophy (SHS/RSP) from 2006 to 2010. The Division of Human Rights, Philosophy and Democracy (SHS/HPD) existed from 2010 to 2011. After the restructuring of the Sector in 2011, philosophy activities were integrated into the work of the new Division for Inclusive Societies and Social Innovation (SHS/SII) and the Division for Ethics and Sustainable Development (SHS/ETD). Philosophical reflection was considered a cross-cutting activity by 2012 and integrated into the policy work of the Sector.

The Division of Philosophy and its immediate successors had the following heads: Jeanne Hersch, 1966-1968; Marie Pierre Herzog, 1970-1973; René Habachi, 1974-1976; Mohammed-Allal Sinaceur, 1977-1993; Yersu Kim, 1996-2000; Georges Kutukdjian, 2000-2001; Jérôme Bindé, 2002?-2006; Assistant Director-General Maria del Pilar Álvarez-Las, 2006-2009; and, Angela Melo, 2009-2011.

Places

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General context

Relationships area

Related entity

UNESCO. Division of Human Rights, Human Security and Philosophy (2006-01-09 - 2010)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

temporal

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Division of Philosophy and Ethics (SHS/PHE) is a predecessor of the Division of Human Rights, Human Security and Philosophy. See SHS/PHE administrative history.

Related entity

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector (1984 -)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1999-11-15 - 2000-09-30

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Directorate

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Directorate controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1994-05-01 - 1999-11-14

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector (1984 -)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1993-02-26 - 1994-04-30

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Directorate

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Directorate controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1990-02-28 - 1993-02-25

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector (1984 -)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Social and Human Sciences Sector controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1984 - 1990-02-27

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications (1976-04-01 - 1984)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1976-04-01 - 1984

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Sector of Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Culture (1966-07-01 - 1976-03-31)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

hierarchical

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Sector of Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Culture controls UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

1965 - 1976-03-31

Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO. Division of Human Sciences and Philosophy (2000-10-01 - 2002-01-01)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

temporal

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Division of Human Sciences and Philosophy is the successor of UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Division of Philosophy and Ethics (SHS/PHE) is a predecessor of the Division of Human Sciences and Philosophy. See SHS/PHE administrative history.

Related entity

UNESCO. Division of Foresight, Philosophy and Human Sciences (2002-01-02 - 2006-01-08)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

temporal

Type of relationship

UNESCO. Division of Foresight, Philosophy and Human Sciences is the successor of UNESCO. Division of Philosophy and Ethics

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Division of Philosophy and Ethics (SHS/PHE) is a predecessor of the Division of Foresight, Philosophy and Human Sciences. See SHS/PHE administrative history.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created after review by Chief Archivist, AWT, 10-08-2015. Revised slightly with addition of 1986 Lengyel source, AWT, 24-08-2015. Administrative history revised, new review by Chief Archivist, AWT, 7-5-2016.

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