Charlotte Casiraghi, Grace Kelly's granddaughter, wants to put philosophy back into the forefront of public life.
It started when Charlotte Casiraghi met philosophy teacher Robert Maggiori in high school, changing the way she looked at life itself. A few years later, together with Joseph Cohen and Raphael Zagury-Orly, the quarto created the think tank Les Rencontres Philosophiques de Monaco, with the aim of providing a platform for the discipline. They discuss contemporary issues and new publications in the field of philosophy. Working hand in hand with schools, and the French ministry of education, Rencontres organises workshops and gatherings around an annual theme. The editorial team also publishes quality books and mentors a handful of students in writing their end-of-year essay. Earlier this year, Casiraghi and Maggiori published a Kindle book called Archipel des Passions (Archipelago of the Passions). It is a series of dialogues between the professor and the student about the various passions (i.e. arrogance, joy, cruelty, love) and their affects.
BILLIONAIRE speaks to Charlotte Casiraghi about the group’s work.
How did Rencontres Philosophiques start?
Robert Maggiori was my philosophy teacher in high school and it changed the way I looked at life and dealt with my own intensity. Further, philosophy quietened my anxieties and gave me guidance. I continued studying philosophy while at the Sciences Po Doctoral School. As time went on it played an even bigger, brighter, role in my life. It became evident that gathering talented people sharing a common passion for the discipline was the next step forward. Yet, I had bigger ambitions than creating a simple prize. My vision was to anchor year-round philosophy in Monaco’s cultural life and export it, as soon as I could, to Paris.
How did you get this project off the ground?
I received the support of the government and the ministry of education. Our first goal was to reinvent and reintroduce philosophy in schools, a discipline often overlooked as too intellectual. Philosophy is in crisis in European universities, mostly because its formats haven’t evolved for decades. Our idea was to approach it differently, create a ‘house for philosophy’ where one can learn and exchange; a place where dialogue prevails.
Should philosophy be accessible to all?
Of course. No one is excluded from philosophical thinking: death, love, justice, time and so on are universal notions philosophy revolves around. There is no age restriction to learning philosophy. We need to bring it back into the social space, and use other creative disciplines such as dance, music, theatre, cinema and poetry to open the dialogue. Philosophical questions are embedded in these disciplines at least as much as in essays and books. Philosophy needs to be exposed to all ways of thinking; it shouldn’t be segregated, nor intellectualised. On the contrary, I want to bring philosophy to primary schools and initiate small children to philosophy via myths. When you think about it, children are the ones who have the most questions about life, death, space or love.
What use is philosophy in our modern world?
Philosophy is fundamental: it raises urgent matters and puts ethics in the foreground. Philosophy is a powerful tool to cast light on problems and find adequate solutions. Where is AI leading us? What is human today? Philosophy keeps fundamental questions alive; it is the only discipline that thrives through transmission. The more it is shared, the more powerful it becomes. Philosophy is a common language.
You want to create a ‘house for philosophy’? The theme of hospitality seems important to you.
It is key that we address the question of hospitality today: it means reassessing the notions of borders (especially those of a democratic Europe); the acceptance of strangers and refugees; and the question of knowledge, to name just a few. But without a ‘house for philosophy’ that opens its doors to all ways of thinking, we couldn’t achieve as much. A house is both a meeting point and an anchor; solid ground to start building on.
This article originally appeared in Billionaire's Discovery Issue, September 2018. To subscribe contact