The anatomy of a ‘writer of honor,’ İonna Kuçuradi

The anatomy of a ‘writer of honor,’ İonna Kuçuradi

Philosopher and Professor İonna Kuçuradi is the Writer of Honor of this year’s TÜYAP Book Fair in Istanbul. Information on Kuçuradi’s life and work is presented in the special related book prepared by Faruk Şüyün. The book is formed as a series of questions and answers, and is titled: “In Pursuit of Human Values – Persistently and with Hope – İonna Kuçuradi.”

Kuçuradi has long scrutinized the essence and functions of philosophy in her studies, focusing on the aspects of philosophy and the complexities of what makes us human. She has written many books, founded associations and spoken at conferences. 

A philosopher we studied at university, Kuçuradi has always maintained and reminded us how literature is ingrained in philosophy, and she has always written about the place philosophy occupies in our lives. If philosophy is not related to life, then it cannot contribute much to the reader and will always remain a kind of abstract knowledge. Throughout her life, Kuçuradi has emphasized the importance of philosophical praxis for humans. She has crafted her intellectual identity not only with her philosophical works, but also with her social studies. You can understand her work more clearly after reading her biography, her family history, and her wise predictions of social and political realities. When you read about her experiences of the Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogrom against minorities in Istanbul and the coup d’états she has lived through, you realize how they significantly shaped her philosophy.

I read, with a lot of sorrow and very little surprise about what she went through since graduating from university to reach her professorship, and how her intellectual work has been formed. A significant part of the book contains her thoughts on the advantages of a philosophy education and what kind of education can add value to us. “Why did I choose to major in philosophy in university?” she says at one point. “When I look back, what made me study philosophy most probably is because of the phenomenon we encounter every day.

The same people, the same acts of people, the same situations, the same incidents, the same masterpieces, etc. are evaluated differently by different people. This is called pluralism. This view, which has been longstanding and which became popular again toward the end of the 20th century with postmodernism and culturalism, does not relate to where ‘pluralism’ is applicable and where it is not applicable. I tried to explain the phenomenon of different assessments of the same things. I theorized it.”

In the book, we see how several of Kuçuradi’s works were formed within an Istanbul-Erzurum-Ankara triangle, and how several of her friendships were formed.  

My memories flashed back when I read about the Yankı Publishing House and the many marvelous books we have read thanks to it. Faruk Şüyün puts forward well-prepared and keen questions in the book. He reminds us of an old quote by Kuçuradi, when she once asked publisher Kemal Demirel to open a publishing house that publishes books with the “human scent.” I particularly recommend Kuçuradi’s work “Human Rights: Concepts and Issues” to get a better understanding of certain contemporary issues on human rights in multiethnic and multi-faith societies. 

The Turkey Philosophy Institution Association (TFK) that Kuçuradi founded is now 42 years old. Over the course of her long career she has pioneered work in a number of nongovernmental organizations, and is currently the director of Maltepe University’s Human Rights Research Center. 

Do not only read Kuçuradi’s books. Take her life as a reference point to draw inspiration from. It may help us reach a more equal and free world.