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.


Classes by Dr. Elie During (2014)

Dr. Elie During of the University of Paris West : Nanterre gave a series of three classes on the theme of « What does not exist ? ».

The first provided a critical introduction to the concept of « non-existence » that is extremely peculiar in ontological terms. For example, although « the unicorn » or « Sherlock Holmes » exist as something of an object for us, they do not really exist. Also, the « connection » or « phenomenon » that Man A loves Woman B is, strictly speaking, only something of uncertain content of meaning for us. Then, how about « hallucinations » ? This phenomenon is difficult to handle as it has nothing by which to grasp it, and breaks with that which is actually seen - in other words - reality. Despite this, we are now prepared to say, and are also able to say, that the phenomenon of « hallucinations » clearly exists. What does this actually mean ? One thing we can say is that they are not « nothingness ».

Although such ambiguity of existence was criticised in the first class, the second class went on to use Bertrand Russell's Theory of Description to interpret the « non-existence » that we had said does exist. If we say, « the King of France is bald », is this proposition true or is it false ? Russell judged this proposition to be simply false. This is, of course, because in the time in which he lived there was no longer a monarchy in France. Yet how is it that we can put forward such a proposition and consider it in our minds ? Put another way, why was he able to interpret as false a proposition whose referent (in this case the French monarchy) does not actually exist ? Russell deciphered this puzzle by creating artificial language. Through translation into an artificial language, even propositions which are difficult to interpret could be determined to be true or false without firstly being judged as simply meaningless. The important point here is that through Russell's Theory of Description we have attained the right to talk of « non-existence » as our object. In an epistemological sense, we can say that at last we stand at our starting point.

In the third class, Dr. During attempted a translation in relation to « non-existence ». In the first class we saw confirmed that non-existence is not nothingness, and, in continuation, the second class supplied us with the right to refer to non-existence. This time, a fascinating argument developed that non-existence can be explained by existence, and existence, by non-existence. As one example, we considered the connection between light and shade. The existence of shade is a type of non-existence of light that is created by light. Also, the existence of light is the non-existence of shade. Existence and non-existence exist as a pair, and if one increases to its ultimate limit, the other decreases in relation to it. Here is established the relationship of « degree ». What is important is that light and shade cannot both move between the degree of 1 and the degree of 0 of existence or non-existence. In other words, there can never be neither light nor shade. Dr. During used this example as starting point to mention Kant, as well as Souriau, Sartre, Bergson and Deleuze. In particular these last two thinkers discuss the dualistic or dialectical combination of the « virtualization of the present » and the « actualization of the virtual », and the accompanying link between present, past and future. I found this the most thrilling from a philosophical point of view.

Dr. Elie During
Scene of the Class (1)
Scene of the Class (2)

Student Workshop (University of Osaka) (2014)

On 29th of May 2014, the Erasmus Mundus EuroPhilosophie students were welcomed at the University of Osaka. There they had a special opportunity to meet Osaka philosophy students of similar age and exchange both their impression of Japan as well as philosophical ideas and each other's research. The student's symposium was organized with the courtesy of Professor MURAKAMI Yasuhiko of the host university.

The presentations were marked by an elegant symmetry: three presentations in French, three in English, with three works presented by the European students and three by the Japanese students.
The topics varied from Philosophy of Biology and Psychoanalysis over French contemporary Phenomenology to presentations concerning the non-European philosophical traditions.

Takuya Ogura presented his research on Melanie Klein entitled "From Mother to Matricide". His presentation included also the Lacanien and the Deleuzien interpretation of Klein's work. The next one to present was Jan Lockenbauer who talked about Morice Merleau-Ponty with the text "Lebenswelt- ni le fatum, ni l'acte libre: penser l'histoire et l'intersubjectivité dans l'oeuvre du jeune Merleau-Ponty". He discussed the famous French philosopher's view of history in connection with intersubjectivity and also his less known political philosophy. For something uniquely Japanese: Yusuke Morino presented his research on the first modern Japanese philosopher and founder of the Kyoto School- Kitaro Nishida. The presentation was called "Impulsion of Body as Root of Empirical Time and Space: From Early Thought of Nishida". After learning something about Nishida's philosophy (or rather being a step further confused by its complexity), we moved on to the philosophy of biology and the question of the origin of life: Tsubasa Yoneda read his text called "Que'est-ce que la vie: la connaissance de la vie chez Malaterre, Bergson et Simondon". The positions such as emergence theory, reductionism and vitalism were all discussed. Going back to the French phenomenology, István Fazakas presented his work on living philosopher Mark Richir with the topic: "Le virtuel, et le transcendental en phénoménologie". His presentation lead into a very rich discussion about Richir's phenomenology and the notions of self, virtuality and the absolute transcendence. The last, by not the least, Filip Gurjanov read his presentation about "Nietzsche's View and Use of Buddhism in The Antichrist- and Beyond". He discussed both Nietzsche's positive views of Buddhism, which are to be found mainly in his last oeuvre entitled "The Antichrist", as well as the negative aspects, which are problematic for Nietzsche's own philosophical position and the cultural project, and for which reason Nietzsche discussed them.

The discussions were lead by Professor Murakami who reported to be very content with the overall atmosphere, presentations and discussion of the symposium. Several Japanese students, who did not present themselves were nevertheless present and contributed to the discussions.

After going through serious questions of life, an activity peculiar to philosophy students, everybody had the chance to relax together with pizza's and drinks and have more casual talks, for example about the Japanese Music scene and "The Japanese Idol". (Filip Gurjanov)