History of the Portal

The Philosophie.ch portal celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022! We took this as a welcome occasion to do a little retrospection.

The portal Philosophie.ch (www.philosophie.ch) began in 1997 at the University of Bern, initiated by Professor Gerhard Seel. Since 2002, Philipp Blum (née Keller) has managed the project and developed the first contents together with the student council of the University of Geneva. However, the portal only really got off the ground when Anja Leser took over the management in 2007 and, under the direction of Jiri Benovsky and with the help of the philosophy institutes, the event calendar was developed, which provides information about current events. Since 2008, Philosophie.ch has coordinated the enrollment for future students of philosophical institutes in Switzerland.


On 4 July 2008, Anja Leser, Jonas Pfister and Philipp Blum founded the association "Philosophie.ch - Swiss Portal for Philosophy". The association pursues the goal of developing the homepage further and to provide academic philosophical discourse available to the general public:

"The intended goal is the creation and maintenance of the homepage at the address www.philosophie.ch. On this website, as much information as possible that deals with philosophy or relates to activities around philosophy and originates from Switzerland is to be compiled and presented. The association "Philosophie.ch - Swiss Portal for Philosophy", founded for this purpose, also aims to facilitate the flow of information between the public and the academic discourse on philosophy. In addition, the Philosophie.ch platform is intended to create new opportunities for exchange for students, doctoral candidates, secondary school students and those interested in studying philosophy, and to make information about the university operations of philosophy in Switzerland accessible in a bundled form by means of links and brief presentations of the institutes and study programmes.

The homepage is also intended to bring together existing philosophical societies, associations and, where appropriate, companies that deal with philosophy, by means of links or portraits.
For private persons interested in philosophy, the possibility should be created at www.philosophie.ch to learn interesting facts about famous philosophers and philosophical works. This website is also intended to provide the general public with an instrument to inform themselves about the academic discourse on philosophy as well as other activities related to philosophy and to obtain up-to-date information.

The homepage also manages an email newsletter, which at this point is already being sent regularly to 400 people, highlighting current events and lectures in Switzerland."

In 2008, the "Swiss Philosophical Preprint Series" was founded and a first project was carried out with the Philomaton Mobile. The 2008/09 annual report lists as internal staff: Anja Leser, Simon Berwert, Cédric Eysette, Laurent Cesalli, Daniel Burkhard, Maksymilian DelMar, Fabian Dorsch, Fabrice Correia, Alessandro Facchini, Florian Wüstholz, Benoît Gaillard, Reto Givel, Jeannine König, Jessica Pallie, Jiri Benovsky, Jonas Pfister, Julien Dutant, Christoph Laszlo, Alessandro Lazzari, Lena Tichy, Marcel Weber, Christian Maurer, Anne Meylan, Olivier Massin, Philipp Keller, Rosalia Blum, Rim Essafi, Susanne Schmetkamp, Gian-Andri Toendury, Valeria Stucki, Christian Wüthrich.


The Presidency of Anja Leser

Through the devoted and largely unpaid work of Anja Leser and with the energetic help of board member Florian Wüstholz, the information on offer was expanded. Over the course of 2009 and 2010, "Career Days" were held and initial funding efforts were made. The annual report 2010/11 lists Anja Leser, Philip Pohlodek and Sébastian Rinsoz as collaborators and records income for 2009 from the Science Olympiad (5000 CHF), the Faculty of Theology in Lugano (600 CHF), the Universities of Lucerne (437.50 CHF), Basel (1000 CHF), Lausanne (1000 CHF) Neuchâtel (500 CHF), Fribourg (1000 CHF) and Constance (600 CHF).

In 2011, a new version of the flyer "Why study philosophy?" was produced (in a print run of 5000). It was supported by the universities of Geneva (600 CHF), Fribourg (1000 CHF) and Zurich (1000 CHF).

At the beginning of 2012, Philosophie.ch submitted an application for tax exemption to the tax authorities of the Canton of Bern and was recognised as tax-exempt retroactively to 2010 due to the non-profit nature of the association. According to the objectives of Philosophie.ch, the association does not pursue any economic purposes: In order to make philosophy accessible to the widest audience possible, all services of the portal are available free of charge (blogs, job platform, online journal, event calendar and also the topic dossiers).

Thanks to the generous support of the Charles Hummel Foundation, it was possible to start editing thematic dossiers in 2012, which were published at monthly intervals between August 2012 and December 2013. The annual report writes:

“The cooperation between the Dr. Charles Hummel Foundation and the Philosophie.ch association represents one of the most important milestones in the development of Philosophie.ch. The shared vision of making academic philosophy accessible to the public and bringing the usefulness of philosophy closer to a wider audience through activities in the field of science communication deeply connects both parties. Philosophie.ch sees itself as having a great responsibility to take account of the importance of this cooperation through innovative and sustainable projects. The association Philosophie.ch is highly motivated to maintain and further develop the friendly support of the Dr. Charles Hummel Foundation in the long term through successful projects.”

The association was also supported in 2013 by the SAGW (6500 CHF), the VSPM, 7 Platinum and 2 200-Club members. Another milestone was the "Big Questions" series in the Tagesanzeiger initiated by Philosophie.ch in March 2013. Volunteers were Sandro Räss, Lena Tichy, Franziska Kohler and Carole Berset. Angela Krenger (3 months 2013 at 40%) and Franziska Wettstein (6 months 2014, at 20%) supported the portal as (very poorly paid) interns.

In 2014, the association was accepted as a member society of the SPG (and thus the SAGW), and the support of the Charles Hummel Foundation made possible thematic dossiers and foci on the "Good Life", "Human Dignity" and "Unconditional Basic Income". While working voluntarily, Sandro Räss realised the alumni project "The Philosophical Island" (which was integrated into the portal during the relaunch in 2017). In addition to President Anja Leser and Vice-President Philipp Blum, Franziska Wettstein, Sandro Räss, Mark Sommerhalder, Tobias Zürcher, Jonathan Erhardt and Johan Rochel were members of the Board of Directors.

In particular, the role of Sandro Räss deserves to be highlighted. He has been with the portal since 2013, and from 2015 onwards he has spent countless working hours, initially entirely free of charge and later only very poorly paid, taking care of the technical aspects of the portal, developing new functionalities, taking over user support and administration, and writing a large amount of content himself. The preparation of the relaunch and the cooperation with the portal programmer Emanuel Imhof is also largely due to Sandro Räss.

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Sandro Räss

Webmaster and kind spirit of the portal.



In 2015, thanks to the support of the Cogito Foundation, the event cycle "Reflecting on Natural Science" was held and, thanks to the support of the Charles Hummel Foundation, the two-year project "Philosophy and the Future" was launched, with the article series "Philosophy in Everyday Life" and "Political Philosophy" in 2015. Carole Berset, who was entrusted with setting up the French section, curated four thematic dossiers and a thematic focus on "Amélioration humaine".

In order to improve the financial situation of the portal and to be able to offer something to the Platinum and 200 Club members in particular, a personalised newsletter was designed and sent out in 2014:

The Presidency of Sahra Styger

At the General Assembly on 11.8.2016, Sahra Styger was elected President and Franz Josef Ast was elected Auditor, Anja Leser was appointed Executive Director and Philipp Blum remained Vice President.

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Anja Leser

President 2008-2016

Managing Director 2016-2020

Thanks to the support of the SAGW and the Migros Kulturprozent, the first bilingual project "Gesundheit"/"Santé" was carried out in 2016, the article series "Future" was curated with the Charles Hummel Foundation and the thematic focus "Human" was created. In addition to the patronage committee, Olivia Bosshart, Philipp Burkard, Otfried Höffe and Matthias Zehnder were recruited as ambassadors of the portal. In addition to the staff members Anja Leser, Benjamin Ilg, Carole Berset, Franziska Wettstein, Sahra Styger and Sandro Räss, David Styger, Jan Stehle, Franz Josef Ast, Jonas Pfister, Mark Sommerhalder and Philipp Blum worked voluntarily for the association in 2016.

The autumn of 2016 was dedicated to the "relocation" of around 400 "blog posts" (articles) in preparation for the relaunch of the website, which was successfully carried out on 1.1.2017. The new website differentiated the topics of the articles by colour:


Users could now create profiles and personalise the newsletter according to their interests and level of education (layman/expert):

In 2017, the support of the Charles Hummel Foundation enabled the creation of a thematic dossier and a thematic focus on "Love and Community", and the support of the SAGW enabled the creation of a thematic focus on "Reflecting on Home".

The 2017 annual report mentions that user numbers are developing positively:

"Philosophie.ch was able to record a strong increase in user numbers following the relaunch on 1 January 2017: A total of 56,957 users visited the portal and generated around 207,000 page views. Compared with the user numbers of previous years (2016: 9000 and 2015: 13420 and 2014: 6670 and 2013: around 3800), it can be clearly concluded that the relaunch of Philosophie.ch has been successful and that the portal is gaining in popularity."

(For comparison, even if the figures are only comparable to a limited extent: Page views in 2022 around 520,000, in 2021 around 630,000, visitors in 2022 around 250,000, in 2021 around 350,000).

The year 2018 was marked by the project "Philosophie aktuell", divided into three thematic complexes "Responsibility", "Truth" and "Thoughts", and the philosophy portal was a cooperation partner of the "Long Night of Philosophy" for the first time.

In addition to the staff members Anja Leser, Carole Berset, Franziska Wettstein, Sahra Styger and Sandro Räss, the following are mentioned as volunteers in the 2018 annual report: Andreas Heise, Anna Wimmer, Arianna Corti, David Styger, Gianna Blum, Ilaria Fornacciari, Nora Erlich, Philip Pohlodek. An increase in the number of users is recorded (163,000 visitors, 360,000 page views), with 642 user profiles according to the following areas of interest and expenditure on education level:


The following projects were carried out in 2019:

Through Ilaria Fornacciari, the Italian section could be established in 2019 and after Sahra Styger's departure, Carole Berset took over the presidency ad interim. Anja Leser took over the newly created position of Executive Director. Ilaria Fornacciari and Gianna Blum were newly elected to the Board, Nick Dauw and Sabine Hohl new volunteers. The event series "Philosophising with children and adults" was launched in Bern and a weekly Café Philo was held at Café Kairo.

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The beginning of Wolfgang Rother's presidency, as of 2020

On 25 April 2020, Wolfgang Rother was elected as President, while Carole Berset and David Styger stepped down from the Board. Which is now composed as follows:

Phil Pohlodek serves as treasurer, Franz Josef Ast as auditor.

It was decided to integrate the philosophy journal Dialectica, edited by Philipp Blum and Fabrice Correia, into the administrative structure of the association: the journal, which was administratively independent until now, will now be continued as an independent and scientifically independent "project" of the portal, which will make the administration of the journal easier and improve the financial key figures of the association. An additional written agreement between Anja Leser and Philipp Blum ensures mutual financial independence.

The "Claw" cartoons are turned into a pretty annual calendar, which, however, does not become a bestseller as hoped:

With coordination and input meetings with representatives of various institutes, preparations began in 2020 for a major national philosophy festival in 2021, which would be dedicated to the theme of "Taboo".

Philexpo prasentation may16

Auf der Basis eines Konzepts (deutsch, französisch, italienisch) wurde die Planung vorangetrieben. Am ersten Treffen am 16.5.2020 nahmen neben den drei Philosophie.ch Vertreterinnen Anja Leser, Ilaria Fornacciari und Emilie Bretton verschiedenste Akteure der Schweizer Philosophie teil, u.a.: Urs Siegfried (Zürcher Philosophie Festival), Michel Schibler (Basler Philosophietage), Jonas Pfister (VSPM), Michael Hofer (Lange Nacht der Philosophie), Detlef Staude (für philopraxis.ch), Arthur Schwaninger, Willi Fillinger (ZIPPRA), Guenda Bernegger (SPG), Ruth Wiederkehr (Philothik). Das Protokoll findet sich hier auf Deutsch und auf Englisch.

On the basis of a concept (German, French, Italian), the planning was driven forward. The first meeting on 16.5.2020 was attended not only by the three Philosophie.ch representatives Anja Leser, Ilaria Fornacciari and Emilie Bretton, but also by a wide range of players in Swiss philosophy, including: Urs Siegfried (Zürcher Philosophie Festival), Michel Schibler (Basler Philosophietage), Jonas Pfister (VSPM), Michael Hofer (Lange Nacht der Philosophie), Detlef Staude (for philopraxis.ch), Arthur Schwaninger, Willi Fillinger (ZIPPRA), Guenda Bernegger (SPG), Ruth Wiederkehr (Philothik). The protocol can be found here in German and in English.

A similar meeting in French, on 13.6.2020, gathered, besides Anja Leser and Emilie Bretton, David André (Société vaudoise), Joshua Babic (UniGE), Wissam Balays and Cédric Pillet (Société valaisanne), Santiago Basurto (Orphi), Oriana Brücker (philopraxis), Markus Christen (journées philosophiques de Bienne), Catherine Christodoulidis et Eva Rittmeyer (prophilo), Philip Clark, Gabriel Dorthe (Projet Socrate), Michael Groneberg (UniL), Alexandre Herriger (eduphilo). The protocol can be found here.

At a further meeting on 30.8. 2020, which was attended by Stephanie Deig (SW*IP), Stefano Franceschini, Martin Götz (VHSZH), Imre Hofmann (Elenchos), Silvio Joller (Il colore dei margini - flosofa in movimento), Isabelle Kaeslin (UniFr), Cyril Mamin (UniLu), Sebastian Muders (UniZh), Carla Peri (Ratio), Detlef Staude (Philocom), Maria-Julia Stonborough Eisinger (prophilo), Nadine Tobler (PhiloThik) and Christian Wüthrich (UniGe) took part, the rough plan was confirmed again, but because of the pandemic the festival was postponed until 2022 (the protocol is here).

The turbulent year of 2021

On 18 November 2020, Anja Leser surprisingly informed President Wolfgang Rother and Vice-President Philipp Blum that she had been on sick leave for two months and was no longer able to manage the association's business, but proposed Dr Martin Götz as her deputy. In this extraordinary situation, it was fortunately possible to hire Martin Götz quickly and without complications as Managing Director on 1 December 2020, who was thus able to take care of the most important things before the end of the year.

Despite Martin Götz's tireless efforts, the first months of 2021 were very difficult. The association was in the red and at times insolvent, the preparatory work for philExpo22 was overshadowed by the second wave of the pandemic and the work on the applications for philExpo22 also progressed very slowly.

On 28.3. 2021, another meeting on philExpo22 took place, attended by Martin Götz, Illaria Fornacchiari, Wissam Balays and Emilie Bretton, Guenda Bernegger (SPG), Markus Christen (Bieler Philosophietage), Gregorio Demarchi, Rolphe Fehlmann (Bieler Philosophietage), Anna Garoflid (PhilEAs), Paolo Gigli (USI), Caroline Guerlet (Bieler Philosophietage), Christoph Haffter (UniFr), MIchael Hofer (Treffpunkt Philosophie), Silvio Joller (Il colore dei margini - filosofia in movimento), Timo Junger (Fachschaft Universität Bern), Csongor Kozma (Paulus Akademie), Cyril Mamin (UniLu), Annemarie Regez (Volkshochschule Schwyz), Detlef Staude (Philopraxis.ch), Arianna Sforzini (UniFr) and Nadine Tobler (PhiloThik Baden) took part (protocol is here). It is decided that the official theme of philExpo22 "What do we want to know? Que voulons-nous savoir? Cosa vogliamo sapere?".

Again surprisingly, but for understandable reasons that can be read in the annual report 2021, Martin Götz resigned from his position as managing director at short notice and on 15.5.21. In this difficult situation, the previous vice-president of the association Philipp Blum decided to offer himself to the board as managing director. As a result, he was hired in mid-May and took over the management of the portal.

In order to achieve a clear separation of operational and strategic responsibilities and to avoid conflicts of interest, the board of the association was reappointed. At the ordinary general assembly of 5.6.21, Wolfgang Rother was re-elected as president and Fabrice Correia, Jonas Pfister, Martino Mona and Gianfranco Soldati made themselves available as board members, the former also as vice-president. At the same time, organisational regulations were adopted in order to regulate the distinction between the portal itself and its projects. Anja Leser and Martin Götz were thanked for their work with prolonged applause.

In addition to Wissam Balays, who already took over as head of the French section in March, Andrin Kohler joined the team in summer 2021. In the Italian section of the portal, Ilaria Fornacciari was able to continue the series "Che cos'è?" and realise two episodes of the new format "Abécédaire de la recherche en philosophie". Anne-Marie Gaillard, who did an unpaid internship in the second half of the year, took care of the French section devotedly, with great enthusiasm and much success.

A lot of work went into the applications for support for philExpo22: Mercator, Pro Helvetia, Migros Kulturprozent, Federal Office of Culture, Loterie romande, Swisslos Basel, Kultur Kt. Zürich, Lotteriefonds Kt. Basel-Landschaft, Sandoz, Vontobel, Wilsdorf, Kultur Stadt Bern were the addressees, only the lottery funds of French-speaking Switzerland, Basel-Landschaft and the Canton of Bern and the Cultural Promotion of the City of Bern agreed, in each case for significantly lower amounts than requested.

Fortunately, after the association's pro bono investment in philExpo22 in 2021 amounting to around CHF 63,000, it was possible to at least make the implementation of the project in 2022 (with a budget of CHF 65,120) cost-neutral for the rest of the association.

At the biennial congress of the Swiss Philosophical Society "Wissen - Macht - Handeln", which took place in Lugano from 27 to 29 August 2021, the portal organised the implementation of the virtual programme.

In May and June 2021, the concepts of philExpo22 (in French, Italian and German) were sent to all co-organising partner organisations, which formalised their cooperation through a "letter of intent". At the end of the year, a more detailed dossier was sent out, followed by a beautifully designed "brochure" in March 2022 (again in German, French and Italian).

2022 - Consolidation and expansion

The philExpo22 was held from 06 to 15 May 2022. It was Switzerland's first national philosophy event and attracted interested audiences across Switzerland with over 80 events (73 individual events, some with multiple iterations) in all national languages. During philExpo22, ideas were exhibited rather than objects or consumer goods that are the subject of exchange, barter and negotiation. The aim of the event was to create and offer spaces for discussion, dialogue, exchange and reflection in order to bring structured thinking in its dialogical form back to the centre of public discourse.

The initiatives organised as part of the event were aimed at all curious minds and involved researchers, teachers, students and writers. The "network" that made the event possible includes many people who practice, teach, disseminate or are simply interested in philosophy in Switzerland and neighbouring countries. The organising team succeeded in winning over more than 45 organisations of all kinds as partners and coordinating the content and organisation of the week with them in an elaborate and participatory process. The events were well attended and received wide media coverage.