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 1 (2012)

The first classes of the EuroPhilosophie Program, "Philosophy of Science" given by Professor Arnaud François (University of Toulouse II, France), were held from 3-11 April. Theme of the classes was "Sciences in Bergson's Creative Evolution".

The philosophy of Bergson (1859-1941), whose "philosophy of life" dominated the early 20th century, cannot be isolated from contemporary developments in the sciences such as psychology, physics and biology. In the book Bergson launches into his own philosophical themes whilst confronting the scientific issues relevant in each case.

The 6 days of lectures drew plan forms of Darwin's theory of evolution and the biological evolution theory of neo-Lamarckism that are referred to in Creative Evolution (1907), and indicated upon them the main points of Bergson's criticism. Issues raised also included the relationship of vitalism and mechanism, and the aspects of conventionalism present in science.

Having carried out the above analysis of science, lectures then focussed on Bergson's criticism of the evolution theory philosophy of British philosopher, Spencer (1820-1903) that inspired the central concept in Creative Evolution of "élan vital", and is even described as bringing about the birth of Bergson philosophy. Professor François' lectures came to a thrilling end with commentary on the keywords of Bergson philosophy such as time and duration, space and movement, and furthermore with a broad consideration of the relationship between science and philosophy. It should also be mentioned how enthusiastic were the question and answer sessions among the participants.

Class Scene
Class Scene

Shrine Visits and Cherry Blossom Viewing (2012)

With the cherries now in full bloom in Tokyo, the clear skies on 8th April made it an excellent day for a walk.
We, the EuroPhilosophie members set out to make a tour of some shrines and to see the cherry blossom.

Our first stop was Kanda-myojin.

At the front entrance of Kanda-myojin

This is a shrine with a history of nearly 1,300 years, and which serves as guardian of 108 communities including Nihonbashi, Akihabara and Tsukiji Market.
Japanese shrines are each dedicated to their own guardian deities called Uji-gami.
Kanda-myojin is dedicated to the gods of commerce, Daikoku-sama and Ebisu-sama, and it has long been an attraction for nearby residents and tourists alike.
A wedding ceremony was being held at the shrine on that day, and it was also bustling with tourists.

Kanda-myojin attracting visitors

It was then time to pay our respects.
Worshipping at a shrine involves a sequence of actions and accompanying rules which are familiar to Japanese people, but which seemed to prove very new to the overseas students.

First we cleanse ourselves (Misogi). This is an act of purification prior to worship.

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Change in Schedule of Professor Hara's Class

The first class by Professor Kazuyuki Hara scheduled for Friday, 11 May 14:00-16:00 has been postponed, and will now take place on Monday, 14 May 16:00-18:00. The classroom remains unchanged, Room 702 of the Graduate School Block. Please make a note of the new date and time.

Aurélie Névot Lecture Meeting (2012)

On the evening of 12th, the day that saw the start of second course classes by Professor Alexander Schnell, a lecture was given by cultural anthropologist, Ms Névot, researcher of Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France (CNRS) and also wife of Professor Schnell, having accompanied him to Japan. The lecture was sponsored by Hosei University Research Center for International Japanese Studies (HIJAS), and held in Research Center for International Japanese Studies seminar room.

The title of the lecture was "Shanghai as Centre of the New World: 'Crown of the East' China Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo", and those attending from Erasmus Mundus were, in addition to the Schnells, Chair for the evening, Professor Shin Abiko, Professor Arnaud François, and 4 students from Europe.

The lecture focussed on the "China Pavilion", or "Crown of the East" that was exhibited at the Shanghai International Exposition (Shanghai Expo) held in 2010, and that is also known as "the most expensive pavilion in expo history". The lecture commented on its cultural and symbolic significance.

According to Ms Névot's explanation, the structure and colours of the building - as well as the Confucian thought suggested by them - tell of the ambitious intentions surrounding the "China Pavilion", of Shanghai's 21st century global role as "centre of the new world". Furthermore, this gives confirmation to a concept that could be called "New Orientalism", by which the East itself decides its position in the world rather than having it imposed by the West.

Ms Névot's analysis can thus be described as using the cultural commentary of symbols as its method. The ideas presented were greatly stimulating, and a heated question and answer session followed the lecture that exceeded by far the scheduled time.

A mixture of Chinese, Japanese and French languages filled the hall during the lecture, and in just this respect it proved to be an event of the Research Center for International Japanese Studies of particular international character. However, Ms Névot's standpoint, which boldly challenged the cultural understanding of "other" - having herself crossed the East-West wall and entered Far East soil - reminded us strongly of the principle of transcending boundaries advocated by Erasmus Mundus.

Ms Névot and photograph of "China Pavilion"
Lecture Hall
From left: Professor Abiko, Professor Sugimoto (interpreter), Ms Névot
Questions and Answers (Professor Schnell, centre)

Orientation (2012)

The cherry blossom is in full bloom. The start of the 2012 "EuroPhilosophie" Hosei Program on 2 April also saw the arrival of spring. Preceding the main event of that day, the Opening Reception, an Orientation Meeting for the benefit of teachers and students from Europe was held in the Graduate School Block classroom that will serve as venue for classes over the next 3 months.

A staff member from the International Center gave a general outline of Hosei University and explained its history based on a handout, after which more real-life matters were raised, bringing attention to various issues in everyday life on university campus and off, and in society in general.

Following this, everyone left the building together, crossed Sotobori (the Outer Moat), and headed for the library. The library will hereon doubtless become an essential place for study for the students. Library staff gave an explanation about using and borrowing books, and also about how to access the database by computer.

Lastly, the tour of the library took us to the closed book stacks. We descended to the 4th floor of the basement, where both teachers and students paused in particular before the philosophy section, and spent a while perusing the collection.

Spare time between Orientation and Party was used by everyone to explore neighbouring Yasukuni Shrine. The issue of Yasukuni is known about in Europe too, and it seems that whilst there, some students reflected upon the relationship between war and nation.

Library Tour
Book Stacks
Yasukuni Shrine