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.


Scene of Classes : Number 8 (2012)

Dr. Vincent GIRAUD, presently engaged in research as the University of Kyoto, gave a series of 3 lectures.

The lecture theme on this occasion was "Nishitani Keiji and Metaphysics". Nishitani Keiji (1900-1990) of the Kyoto School was introduced, centring on his work, What is Religion? (1961). Discussion led in particular to how Nishitani, whilst studying under Nishida Kitarô (1870-1945) and M. Heidegger (1889-1976), managed to surpass them both.

Of great interest in his relationship with Western thought was his plan to overcome "Nihilism". For this end, Nishitani ultimately fixed upon the standpoint of "emptiness" that is at the root of the tradition of Mahāyān Buddhism. In other words, Nishitani, in his Nihilism (1949), considered critically Heidegger's interpretation of F. Nietzsche (1844-1900) at the same time as handling the main topic of the connection between "nihilism" and "emptiness". Based on this, the concept repeatedly emphasised in What is Religion? is the turn from the standpoint of "nothingness" to that of "emptiness" that enables true conquest of nihilism.

Professor Giraud's original specialisation is the philosophy of Augustine, and his ability to attain insight from classical Western philosophy to contemporary east Asian thinking felt very much in tune with the ideals of the Erasmus Program.

Professor Vincent GIRAUD

Scene of Classes : Number 7 (2012)

Professor Shin ABIKO of Hosei University gave a series of 3 lectures.

Theme of the lectures was "The Taxonomy of the Sciences and Philosophy", and they began with an attempt at commentary on A. Comte (1798-1857) and his early-period thought, quoting extensively from his A Course in Positive Philosophy (1830-42).

Social conditions in post-revolutionary France were in spiralling confusion due to the rise and fall of Napoleon. Upon this backdrop, Comte saw the bad influence of "metaphysical philosophy" that could not rid itself of "negativism", and proposed in its place "positive philosophy". Comte brought "positive philosophy" to life in the form of "sociology".

Comte's sociology of "positivity" depended upon "observations" and "laws". Lectures explained "the law of the three stages", and in particular "the law of classification", and showed how these two laws in principle put an end to "metaphysical philosophy".

Lectures next introduced Nishi Amane (1829-1897), a representative of Japanese enlightenment who is also known for his coining of the word "tetsugaku" as the translation for "philosophy". In his early days he studied the Cheng-Zhu School, but turned to Western studies following the impact caused by the Black Ship invasion, learning Western philosophy during a stay of study in the Netherlands. Upon his return, Nishi incorporated Comte's "positive philosophy", in particular "the law of classification", in the making of an academic system.

This set of lectures thus reconfirmed how the work of Comte, that established a new relationship between "the sciences" and "philosophy" in the first half of the 19th century, reached as far as Japan, and also played a decisive role in the emergence of the human sciences from the second half of the 19th century.

Professor Shin ABIKO

Scene of Classes : Number 6 (2012)

A series of 3 lectures were given by Professor Izumi SUZUKI of the University of Tokyo.

The theme of the lectures was "Spinoza and Issues in Contemporary French Philosophy". The first lecture, subtitled "The Philosophy of Ritornello: Deleuze, Guattari and Pop music", discussed the concepts of "ritornello" and "territory" raised in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980) by Gilles Deleuze(1925-1995)and Pierre-Félix Guattari(1930-1992).

The second lecture presented a study entitled « 'Degree of Reality' and Potential : Remarks on Spinoza's Principia Philosophiae Cartesiana Part I Proposition 7 ». It discussed the significance of how the notion of « potentia », that is imbedded at the heart of Descartes philosophy, disappears in Principia Philosophiae Cartesiana (1663) by Spinoza (1632-1677) but reveals itself in Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrate (1677).

The third lecture then introduced thinkers renown in Spinoza research other than Deleuze, author of Spinoza and the Problem of Expression, namely: Martial Gueroult (1891-1976), Ada Negri (1870-1945) and Alexandre Matheron. This was followed by an attempt at discussion of the notions of "univocity", "immanence" and "individuation".

In this way, although revolving around Spinoza, these lectures had more to tell about contemporary French philosophy.

Professor Izumi SUZUKI

Scene of Classes : Number 5 (2012)

Professor Masato GODA of Meiji University gave a series of 3 lectures.

Title of the lectures was « Direction of Diaspora System Theory», and this perspective was used to reconsider « Japanese-ness » through a focus on « Okinawa studies », « Japanese psychiatry» and «Ideology of Yoshimoto Takaaki ».

Lectures began with a geographical commentary about « Ryukyu », and an introduction of the life and works of the folklore scholar known as the founder of « Okinawa studies », Iha Fuyu (1876-1947), with mention along the way of photographer, Higa Toyomitsu (1950-) as well as the artist, Okamato Taro (1911-1996) who left essays on the subject of Okinawa.

The second lecture handled the theme of "schizophrenia" in psychiatry, and introcuced Kimura Bin (1931-) and Nakai Hisao (1934). The third lecture then discussed Essay on Collective Fantasy (1968) by Yoshimoto Takaaki (1924-2012), who passed away just this year. (Professor Goda work on Yoshimoto Takaaki has been published as Yoshimoto Takaaki and Karatani Kojin, PHP Shinsho, 2011)

The lectures provided students on the Erasmus programme with a new and invaluable opportunity to tread unusual cultural territory through raising themes of great significance to Japan as well as to other countries.

Professor Masato GODA

Scene of Classes : Number 4 (2012)

Classes during April given by the 3 teachers from the EU came to a successful close, and after the May break, classes resumed centring on teachers from Japan. They began with a series of 3 lectures given by Professor Kazuyuki HARA of the University of Tokyo.

The title of the lectures was "Lacanian Elaboration of the Notion of 'Desire' and the Recasting of the Oedipus Complex". (Professor Hara's research upon which these lectures were based can be found in the following work: Kazuyuki HARA, Love and Knowledge: Lacanian Studies, Collection UTCP, 2011)

Lectures began with the notion of "desire", bringing attention to interest in it shown by S. Freud (1856-1939) and J. Lacan (1901-1981), and explaining Lacan's main keywords. Next, the relationship between G.W.F. Hegel and Lacan was observed in quotes chiefly from Introduction to Reading Hegel (1947) by A.Kojève (1902-1968).

The relationship between F. Saussure (1857-1913) and Lacan over "signification" was then examined centring on Saussure's A Course in General Linguistics (1916). Although Lacan might initially appear to depend upon Saussure, commentary was given on ways in which he parted from Saussure.

Lastly came an outline of the "Oedipus complex" that is essential for understanding Lacan's thought, and an explanation of Lacan's "Graph".

In this way, the lectures provided a meticulous explanation using projected and quoted material, with clarity given to the meaning of the thinking left by Lacan, even for the French students on this programme.

Professor Kazuyuki HARA