Beyond dry academic lectures, local organizers have designed their program in response to concerns and characteristic obsessions of the places they’re in. In New York City, for instance, the 12-hour event at the Brooklyn Public Library features lectures about identity, power, and neurosis, punctuated by performance art. Kwame Anthony Appiah, who pens the popular New York Times column “The Ethicist,” will deliver the keynote address. Throughout the evening, the French art collective Les Souffleurs will whisper lines of poetry into people’s ears. 

In Washington, DC, a place recovering from the 35-day government shutdown, the conversation will center on the politics of everyday relationships. Featured speakers include feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer, and Judith Revel, a specialist in the political philosophy of Michel Foucault. Eminent “voguing” performer Marquis Revlon and the Marching Band Baltimore will entertain the  crowds during the six-hour program. “In our mind, art and ideas are fundamentally connected and furthermore, enrich each other,” says Elise Giraud, deputy press counselor at the French Embassy.

In Los Angeles, Houston, and San Francisco, the programming is focused on ecology in relation to the Paris Climate Accord. (Inevitably, a vegan fashion show part of the LA program.)

“It’s obvious that there’s a thirst for this kind of intellectual moment,” says Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the US. “Every where we organize it, it works.”

As more locally-organized Night of Philosophy happenings pop up in cities and towns around the world each year, it’s curious that Silicon Valley—the one place that arguably most needs this type of moral reckoning—is absent from the roster. “I think that would be really a good thing,” Montlaur says. Montlaur says that she hopes that public programs like the Consulate’s “After Tomorrow” series about the repercussions of science, tech and art will inspire technologists to convene around the these issues.

A list of cities hosting Night of Philosophy events can be found on the La Nuit de la Philosophie website.

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