The free 12-hour think fest features philosophical debate, performances, screenings and music by more than 60 philosophers and performers from around the world.
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The third annual gathering of the thinkers returns this Saturday, February 2, as the French Embassy and the Brooklyn Public Library present A Night of Philosophy and Ideas at the Central Library.

From sundown to sunrise, the free 12-hour fest of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings and music will feature more than 60 philosophers and performers from around the world.

“Night of Philosophy has become one of the most anticipated programs Brooklyn Public Library offers, providing patrons with the chance to discover and debate ideas within the safe space of the library all night long,” said Linda E. Johnson, BPL president and CEO. “Alongside the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, we are excited to host thousands of people for 12 hours in our flagship branch on Grand Army Plaza for the third consecutive year.”

This year’s idea marathon will be dedicated to the theme Facing the Present and the most pressing issues in contemporary society in simultaneous conversations, performances, screenings, VR and 360 experiences. Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU professor of philosophy and law and the author of The Ethicist column in the New York Times will deliver the night’s keynote address on identity and freedom.

“We believe that it is essential, in this time of uncertainty, to call upon the power of intellectuals and artists to engage with the general public and encourage critical thinking,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, cultural counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.

The free 12-hour think fest features philosophical debate, performances, screenings and music by more than 60 philosophers and performers from around the world.Photo credit: BPL

Throughout the night and into the early morning, philosophers will present and debate ideas on a wide range of issues in 20-minute mini-lectures. The popular Dilemma Series—in which philosophers will lead discussions about modern-day concerns from gentrification to sexual harassment—will return with lead questions developed by Professor George Yancy, a regular contributor to The New York Times philosophy forum The Stone and author of Dear White America. Additional subjects the contemporary philosopher may want to explore include Concepts of Social Justice, Philosophy and Happiness, Why Voltaire Today or How to Err Wisely.

Other highlights are a discussion on What is Decency in an Indecent Present? led by Dr. Todd May, professor of philosophy and philosophical advisor to the NBC show The Good Place; WNYC’s 10 Things That Scare Me podcast will invite participants to share their own fears in a special midnight program, accompanied by a live cello performance; a live edition of the ACLU podcast At Liberty, as well as Manufacturing Mischief, a puppet show featuring wood puppets of Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx and Elon Musk presented by MIT and Mexican artist Pedro Reyes.

With segments ranging from music to screenings, acrobats, virtual reality to group yoga, A Night of Philosophy boasts a full program of events that is bound to keep attendees thinking and wondering all night long. And if you wondering, wandering souls should make it to sunrise…breakfast will be served at 5:00am!

The full list of events can be found at

A Night of Philosophy and Ideas

When: Saturday, February 2, to Sunday, February 3, 7:00pm – 7:00am.

Where: Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238


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