Hosei Erasmus Mundus Program Euro Pholosophy

Hosei Erasmus Mundus Program, Euro Pholosophy - Over the two academic years 2008-9 and 2009-10 at Hosei University, classes for the first semester of "Euro Philosophy", an EU Erasmus Mundus Master Program, have taken the form of one-month intensive lecture series. This is the first instance in Japan of administering such a large-scale intensive lecture series within the Erasmus Mundus Master Program.


Review Meeting (2015)

A review meeting for the 2015 EuroPhilosophie Hosei Program was held on 26 June in classroom 701 of Boissonade Tower, Hosei University.

This was preceded by lunch at the staff club on 25th floor of the same tower. As this was the last mealtime that all the participating students and Japanese student assistants would spend together, it was a time for laughs as we talked about our plans for the future, as well as a time of sadness as we bade our farewells.

At lunch

During the review meeting, chaired by Professor Shin Abiko of Hosei University who is also the Japanese team leader for the program, we exchanged opinions, in some detail, on aspects of the classes and aspects of life in Japan. The students participating in the Hosei Program, were, on the whole, satisfied with the interesting content of the lectures, and would have liked to have learnt more about Japanese philosophy and thought. On aspects of daily life, they seem to have each spent a rewarding time in Japan. We hope to be able to put into effect next year the several things ascertained from everyone on this occasion.

Scene of the review meeting
Everyone together

The Program has again come to a successful conclusion this year. Through studying Western philosophy together, whilst sharing close experiences of everyday life, I believe we achieved real cultural exchange across our nations. I would like to reiterate our gratitude towards the teaching staff who came from near and far - and abroad - to offer their lectures. We look forward to everyone's support again next year.

Classes by Professor Chiara Mengozzi (2015)

A series of six lectures was given by Professor Chiara Mengozzi of the University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. The theme of the lectures was "The struggle for recognition between philosophy and literature : post-colonial scenarios".

Professor Mengozzi's classes began with a commentary on the well-known passage, the "Master-slave dialectic", in Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit. The passage asserts that for humans to exist freely and independently necessitates others' recognition; although struggles emerge when striving for a mutual recognition between people, the slave, who has at first a subordinate existence, will, through his work, make the master reliant upon himself, and finally achieve independence. This "Master-slave dialectic" has featured in many varied interpretations of post-colonial literature.

With this commentary still in mind, the second and following sessions were taken up mainly by student presentations. The first topic to be raised was that of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961). Hegel's issue of self-consciousness is expressed strongly in Fanon's Black skin, white masks (1952). We found that Fanon, in this work, however, takes a skeptical attitude towards the ability of the "Master-slave dialectic" to explain the distortion in the relationship with others brought about by a consciousness of being black.

We next turned to Being and nothingness (1943) and Black Orpheus (1948), both by Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). This led to a debate of proletarian literature in general, and its successive post-colonial literature. With the "Master-slave dialectic" as axis, issues were raised, in particular, of language. Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache (an anthology of work by African poets in French colonies; compiled by Léopold Senghor), for which Sartre's "Orphée Noir" (Black Orpheus) served as Introduction, established an African-style of writing, be it in French. Those of minority languages have continued to make use of the colonial languages, with "stereoptype" intellectual literary achievement later succeeded by Nuruddin Farah, Chinua Achebe etc., and even those such as Kazuo Ishiguro.

The second half of the lectures looked exclusively at literary works by post-colonial authors including Ennio Flaiano and Michel Tournier. Of Tournier's works, Vendredi ou les Limbes du Pacifique (Friday, or the other island) was chosen whose story is set on an unihabited island. Through the two opposite-type protagonists, Robinson and Friday, who embody "civilisation" and "barbarism" respectively, and their peculiar subordinate-superior relationship, it achieves a spectacular parody of the various issues surrounding Hegel's "Master-slave dialectic" of self acceptance and the acceptance of the other.

Professor Mengozzi's classes used problems of philosophy to facilitate further interpretation of literary works, as well as using literary works to question philosophy and to reconsider philosophy more deeply. Literature with particular narrative style and linguistic use delves into the realms of philosophy, providing philosophy with new ways to develop. Participants in the classes thus spent an incredibly stimulating six days coming in contact with the philosophical, poetical, and political life-force of present-day literature.

Class scene
Students giving presentations

Classes by Professor Masato Goda (2015)

A series of three lectures was given by Professor Masato Goda of Meiji University. The theme of the lectures was "The wandering ellipse: the Derrida-Deleuze struggle (polemos)".

First session of the classes

Professor Goda is originally from the island of Shikoku, so it seemed fit that the lectures begin with discussion of the islands of Japan. Japan is made up from over 6,000 islands, with inhabitants and fishermen on each island and in each bay. We then considered the question: when we think about "area" or "territory", where does that boundary (French: limite) exist, and what decides that up till here is Japan, and from here on is Korea, China, Russia...?

This led on to the theme of the lectures, the two philosophers Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) and Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and the wandering ellipse between them; that is, the question of where is the limit of their two opinions? Deleuze and Derrida were in fact philosophers active over the same period, and although their thought clashed, they had some points in common. It was Professor Goda who picked up on those points, and was the first to engage in their comparative research.

These two same-generational philosophers, in their own particular ways, delved into things that had never been considered before, forming, as it were, an island in the open sea. To which of them does it belong? It is like asking whether the island belongs to Japan, China, Korea or Russia. Deleuze, under the influence of Jean Hyppolite, read Hegel, and saw a limit in the expressions used by Hegel in particular in his theory of language. Meanwhile Derrida saw a limit in the imagination and signs that Kant identified as the common roots of sensibility and understanding. A limit, in other words, the drawing of a boundary line, can be found in both Deleuze and Derrida.

For the last class, in response to a request by the students from Europe, Professor Goda altered his original lecture plan and kindly gave an introduction to the thought of Japanese philosophers such as Hajime Tanabe (1885-1962), Shunsuke Tsurumi (1922- ) and Yoshimi Takeuchi (1910-1977). Having not learnt about Japanese philosophy before, this lecture provided a new and valuable opportunity for the students from Europe.

Scene from the class