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 and Closing Party (2013)

On Friday, 28 June a review meeting for the 2013 "Europhilosophie" Hosei Program was held on 25th floor of Boissonade Tower, Hosei University, which was followed by the last social occasion on 26th floor.

The review meeting was hosted by Professor Shin Abiko of Hosei University who was in charge of proceedings in Japan for this program. It was attended by Professor Vincent Giraud, the three overseas students who were visiting Japan on the program, and members of staff from Hosei University International Center. Items discussed ranged from the content of classes to life in Japan for the overseas students during the three months' duration of the program, reflecting upon this year and planning for next year.

After the two-hour review meeting, the final party was held in relaxed spirits. The students from overseas came to Japan greeted by the cherry blossom in spring; although lost in a busy schedule, it seems that they gradually became familiar with life in Japan over the three months, and at the end had grown quite attached to it. During the party we sensed their reluctance to leave Japan.

Worth special mention concerning the program is firstly the fact that classes were given by so many specialists on particularly diverse themes. Also, as is present in the concept of "Mobility (Mobilité)" in "Europhilosophie", the overseas students were able to reconsider Western philosophy through the prism of its acceptance in Japan whilst immersing themselves in Japanese culture; this was an opportunity they will not have again. Furthermore, it was an excellent opportunity for the Japanese students who welcomed them to form close ties with young people from Europe who make philosophy their life-work. This year's program thus came to a successful close with achievements on all levels. We would like to express our thanks for the cooperation of all those involved, and wish for their continued support next year.

Professors Abiko and Giraud at the review meeting
Students from overseas giving their thoughts
Farewells from the overseas students
Scene in the hall
Commemorative photograph

Classes by Professor Yasuhiko Murakami (2013)

There were three classes held over the two days, 6 and 18 June, given by Professor Yasuhiko Murakami.

Professor Murakami specializes in phenomenology; he researches the phenomenological structures found in situations of the practice of human relationships, through interviews with people involved in scenes of medical treatment. These lectures were based on interviews with nurses conducted by Professor Murakami, and aimed at explaining from a phenomenological viewpoint the structure that determines the practice of medicine.

The first day of lectures (two lectures) focused on an interview with Nurse D who works in the artificial dialysis room of a hospital. Dialysis is a method of treatment that employs a machine to remove waste matter from blood, and is used upon individuals with dysfunctional kidneys. Interviewee, Nurse D, is a veteran of the artificial dialysis room, and is in a position to oversee the state of patients and the work of other colleagues. The dialysis room has a distinctive layout: the beds where patients lie are arranged along the walls, and the nurse station is located in the centre of the room. The conditions are such that from the nurse station Nurse D can see the patients and the care given to the patients by the other nurses. Artificial dialysis is a method of treatment that takes a very long time - one round of dialysis takes 5-6 hours. As patients must remain lying during that whole time, it is necessary for medical staff to observe the patients at all times. This means that, watching patients and other medical staff, the "gaze" of Nurse D displays strong authority over the form of standard care given in the room. Of importance, however, is the fact that such an authoritative relationship originates in the spacial structure of the room. This structure closely resembles the famous panopticon (a system for observing a complete view) devised by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), and a similar thing to what occurs in the artificial dialysis room was also pointed out by Michel Foucault (1926-1984). To put it another way: the whole of the room can be seen from the nurse station, and that fact itself achieves the function of overseeing (regardless of whether there is actually someone there watching).

Another problem is the structure of time. Patients who visit the dialysis room must do so three times a week for 5-6 hours of medical treatment each time, and medical staff spend that long time with them. For this reason the dependent relationship that patients have upon nurses arises quite naturally.

It was clear from the interview with Nurse D that although Nurse D watches the surroundings in person and is aware of being in a position that must act authoritatively over colleagues and patients, she is not conscious of that being determined by the structure of space and time in dialysis treatment. She herself believes that this practice is carried out entirely for the sake of the patients. According to Professor Murakami, it is essentially an unconscious structure, and it performs the role of a "horizon" by which behaviour is facilitated on a conscious level. It is different from psychological unconsiousness that is said to exist within the inner consciousness, and should rather be called "phenomenological unconsiousness (inconscient phénoménologique)". In fact, after the interview, Nurse D left the dialysis room and began working in the sphere of home-visit nursing. Her views on nursing practice held hitherto changed, and she began to think not about falling into a dependent relationship with patients, but about wishing them to "move on".

The second lecture day (one lecture) analysed an interview with a nurse in a chidren's clinic (Nurse F) who has severely disabled younger sisters. Nurse F's two younger sisters have brain damage, to the extent that the older one is unable to speak; when Nurse F was a child and that sister collapsed with convulsions she was not allowed to see her. Her family gave no explanation as to what had happened to her sister, but would merely say to Nurse F, "you understand (=keep quiet)" concerning her sisters' disability. In other words, what we have here is a lack of "visibility" regarding the sisters' disability, and "alienation", and this lies in the background of Nurse F's choice to become a nurse at a children's clinic.

Nurse F felt somehow embarrassed if her sisters were seen by other people, and tried not to speak about them, but as a nurse and by coming into contact with patients with disabilities and observing their lives she began to think that "disability is no big thing". She says that she can now talk normally about her sisters. This situation can be analysed in the following way: with the "visibility" of the physical body of patients as starting point, Nurse F discovered a horizon for action

The lecture then introduced an example of how Nurse F gained a horizon for new action through contact with a terminally ill patient, which facilitated action that surpassed the care given as a nurse (helping to write consent for a dignified death, etc.). These examples show that actions have a structure that is a horizon for relationships, and that even in such personal and particular actions as these we can find some universality in that structure.

Professor Yasuhiko Murakami