All about Opium Philosophie

Opium Philosophie is a student association that has been operating since 2011. Originally created by Sciences Po students in Paris, it is now present in multiple higher education establishments. Its aim is to promote philosophy as a critical thinking about the contemporary world among students and young people, through various activities.

The association believes that philosophy is far from being a discipline reserved for a circle of experts; it has a practical function. It must therefore be considered in connection with the challenges of the contemporary world and for this it has to be able to collaborate freely with other fields of study (human sciences, science and technology, arts and literature, etc.).
Maintaining multidisciplinarity, the association presumes the usefulness and accessibility of the philosophy to everyone, regardless of their age and background.

1/ Beginning
At the start of the September 2011, a dozen of Sciences Po, Paris students are proposing to set up a philosophy association, after almost 10 years of having no such society within the institution. At the time philosophy is almost absent from the Institute of Political Studies and is only considered in the academic setups, so the founders want to create an open space for reflection and promotion of philosophy on important issues in the modern world. The group submits the project to the school. The name "opium" comes from a humorous acronym imagined by the founders – ‘ordre des philosophes inutiles utopiques et machiavéliens’ (‘order of useless utopian and Machiavellian philosophers’). The administration of sciences po Paris is initially reluctant to approve the name "Opium philosophie".

The newly born association organises café-philosophy, a radio programme and conferences, and even a ‘Night of culture’ at Sciences Po, Paris. From the outset, these events bring students and external speakers together to discuss unusual topics such as a conference on drunking culture led by Raphael Enthoven or a discussion on ‘Courage in politics’ with Cynthia Fleury.

2/ Development
Opium Philosophie quickly develops beyond its birthplace of Sciences Po Paris (where it nevertheless remains very present), spreading to the faculties of philosophy in Paris and Ile-de-France before reaching Lyon and Milan in 2017. In 2018-2019 , the majority of members come from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, followed by Paris IV Sorbonne University, Paris X Nanterre, Sciences Po and Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL). The universities of Paris II, Panthéon-Assas, Paris V Descartes, Paris VII Diderot, Dauphine and ENS Lyon are also represented in the association.

Opium Philosophie soon becomes the main philosophy association of Parisian students. In June 2018, a philosophy programme on channel ‘France culture’ called ‘le journal de la philo’ introduced the idea of philosophy magazine to the general public. In December of the same year, the Cinesthesies of Opium Philosophie receives Isabelle Huppert and François Ozon to present the film ‘8 women’.

The association organises various events, changing each year. At the moment it offers:
- conferences,
- coffee meetings and debates,
- an annual magazine,
- articles in the online magazine - monthly screenings and debates at Christine 21, ‘Cinésthésies d’opium’,
- a radio programme, the ‘Radiopium’,
- philosophy workshops in primary schools,
- philosophy workshops in prisons, in partnership with ‘l’association champ libre’ and with the Génépi,
- debates after stage performances at the Châtillon Theater and the Théâtre des Sources, ‘plateaux-philo’,
- artistic-philosophical performances (at the ephemeral point in January 2018, at the silent club during the year 2018-2019 ...).
Opium Philosophie is sometimes invited to participate in philosophy debates and events, such as the 2018 Night of Ideas in Paris and Lyon or the May 68 celebrations.

The Opium Philosophie magazine
In June 2012, a small team decided to create a student philosophy magazine. Thanks to the enthusiastic participation of more than fifty young authors and artists, they created a journal bringing together students from various backgrounds, in order to open up a new space for philosophy discussions. The members of the magazine's artistic direction form the artistic DNA of the journal.

Detailed in the manifesto, the magazine project is based on four pillars, summarised as follows:
‘We demand the opening of a publication space for young non-professionals of philosophy by rejecting a strictly academic philosophy. We want to make this student's philosophical work legitimate.
We intend to create a healthy competition by bringing together students from various backgrounds. We are therefore opposed to a compartmentalisation of disciplines.
We defend a thought nourished by greater creativity. Our approach brings the arts, literature and philosophy into dialogue in a free manner.
We believe in the need for philosophy to invest in the contemporary world. We reject the stiff thought and reliance on the absolute fruitfulness of philosophy.

The first issue, ‘Les sens du voyage’ (“The meanings of the journey”), saw the light of day in April 2013. Dedicated to travel, the magazine combined philosophical reflections, travel diaries and artistic contributions, with the main aim to better embody this desire for philosophical openness. With 1,000 copies printed, the magazine was sold out in the first year of its publication.
The first issue was succeeded by “Se nourrir au xxie siècle” (“To feed oneself during the XXIst century”) (2014), “L’énigme du jeu” (“The game’s enigma”) ( (2015), “Les voies de la ville” (The city’s ways”) (2016), “Projections” (2017), “La nuit” (“The night”) (2018), “Le rythme” (“The rhythm") (2019), “La fête” (“The celebration”) (2020). The ninth issue, “Faire corps” (“To make body”), will be released in spring 2021. Being the result of contributions from students from a wide variety of backgrounds, the journal seeks to provide an overview of contemporary philosophical thought. Each review includes one or more interviews with famous people from the world of thought, such as Michaël Foessel, philosopher, or Zarca, holder of the prize Flora 2017.

The Opium Philosophie journal is supported by public partners - the universities of Paris 1, and Paris 4, Sciences Po, the Crous de Paris, and Paris Sciences et Letters - as well as by a few private sponsors such as the cabinet Ecobra. These partners vary slightly from issue to issue.
Until 2018 the magazine was distributed by members to bookstores, but now Opium Philosophie signed a distribution contract with the philosophical bookstores ‘J .Vrin’ which has been organising the representation and distribution of the journal since then.

Under the 1901 law, Opium Philosophie is an association, operating with an office and members. Composed of a president, a treasurer and a secretary general, the office is renewed every year. According to the statutes of the association, it is always composed exclusively of students.

Membership in Opium Philosophy is free. The active members are not necessary students on philosophy courses. The association affirms that it wants to "create an inter-university dialogue with all students, regardless their training". Depending on the year, the association has around 40 or 50 members. It now includes a few young graduates among the students.
The members of Opium Philosophie are divided into different poles corresponding to the activities of the association. These are initiated by members and therefore evolve from year to year.

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