- Jun 28, 2015
A series of three classes was given by Professor Hisashi Fujita of Kyushu Sangyo University. The title of the lectures was "Ricoeur and the shadow of Bergson". The lectures concerned the two philosophers, Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) and Henri Bergson (1859-1941).
A thinker always has a shadow. The shadow is not an enemy, nor can it be confronted, yet it follows one around like a ghost. Attempts to distort or conceal it are in vain as it can still be recognised. For Ricoeur, was that shadow not Bergson? - Professor Fujita's lectures had this hypothesis as their starting point.
The philosophy of Ricoeur can be divided into three main periods. In all three periods we can detect the shadow of Bergson, be it in differing ways in each. Our lectures were conducted in relation to the inner dialogues that take place between Ricoeur and his shadow, Bergson, on time, and also on metaphor and memory.
The first class focussed on Ricoeur's phenomenological period of the 1950s and 60s, and referred to Bergson's Time and free will: an essay on the immediate data of consciousness, and Ricoeur's Freedom and nature: the voluntary and the involuntary. In the second class that turned to Ricoeur's hermeneutic period of the 1970s and 80s, we read Bergson's The creative mind: an introduction to metaphysics (La Pensée et le mouvant) considering it alongside Ricoeur's The rule of metaphor: the creation of meaning in language (La métaphore vive), and in the third class, on Ricoeur's notions of memory and time of 1990s and 2000s, Bergson's Matter and Memory with Ricoeur's Memory, history, forgetting.
Professor Fujita gives clear explanations using simple words in a rhythmical way, so that the classes were most enjoyable despite their difficult content. I very much wished I could master French in the same way. During the second class, in a discussion about language, he repeated the example of "Tu es mon âme (You are my soul)" many times. His words, "We cannot explain everything that we want to say in normal language. So that is when we use metaphor." stayed in my memory.
Professor Fujita took every opportunity to seek the impressions, and encourage an exchange of opinions, of the Japanese students participating in the lectures, as well as of the students from Europe. Thanks to this, the classes were attended in a positive way by all those present, and proved a valuable experience.