Simon Critchley, a professor of philosophy at The New School in New York City, brought the house down at the 23d World Congress of Philosophy meeting in Athens when he said the Parthenon Marbles stolen from the Acropolis nearly 200 years ago and now in the British Museum should be returned to Greece.
Critchley, who is British, was speaking to an audience on the banks of the Ilissos and had them cheering when he said, “I never understood why England has the Parthenon Marbles. The Parthenon Marbles belong to Greece and to Athens and they must return to their homeland”.
A little later, the British philosopher said that, “The attitude of the British government surprises me. All these years they have been claiming that there was no special area (for the Marbles), but now there’s the Acropolis Museum,” which was built to house the marbles, but the British Museum still refuses to return the stolen goods.
The congress of more than 2,000 philosophers ran Aug. 4-10 and was held for the first time in the real birthplace of philosophy with talks centering on philosophy as a lifestyle.
Most discussions take place at the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens, however, some of them are carried out in the places where the ancient Greek philosophers were writing, thinking and living. The conference’s last discussion on Aug. 9 was a meeting with a special symbolism, as it took place at the area of the ancient Callirhoe spring of the Ilissos river, behind the Agia Fotini church.
This area is associated with Plato’s Phaedrus, which particularly refers to love, so the speeches were relevant to this topic.
Among the speakers was Critchley, Myrto Dragona-Monachou, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Athens and Jonathan Lear, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.