Identity is a perennial philosophical problem.

At least, since Parmenides listed the two routes, the one that It is, and that it is impossible for it not to be, and the one that It is not, and that it must need not be, declaring only the first as the one that leads to the truth, the questions of identity have been, directly or indirectly, present in the philosophical arena.


However, an essential part of the contemporary philosophical debate has focused on personal identity, more specifically on personal identity over time or even across possible worlds.

The reflection on identity, both in numerical and qualitative terms, remains open, but, in contemporary times, it acquires ethical and political implications, produced by the technological possibilities that, in a mixture of hope and threat, are preparing, or are already, reconfiguring the foundations of our supposed identity as humans who, together with all other beings, inhabit the fragile planet Earth.

Today, as always, it is essential to think about who we are and what we want to be and what we want the future to be.

The work of Fernando Pessoa,("pessoa" is the Portuguese word for "person") the greatest poet in Lisbon, who left his mark in multiple spaces in the city, is a multidimensional reflection on identity, due to the absolutely unique character of his heteronomy and poems like "The Tobacco Shop", where the poet confronts the paradoxes and ambiguities generated by the multiple selves that appear and disappear in the theater of the mind, having as stage an apparent numerical identity that, in an elusive way,  escapes us permanently.






During the XXVIII International Philosophy Olympiad, that take place in the city of Lisbon, who is also trying to maintain it's identity without refusing to change, the work of Pessoa will be the leitmotiv for, in our condition as philosophical animals, continue to think about identity in its multiple dimensions, trying, as the poet says, "to be plural as the universe!"

We strongly hope and desire that these days correspond for you all to the best of all possible worlds.


If you want to hear the poem "The Tobacco Shop", play the video