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.

Report

Classes by Professor Thierry Hoquet (2015)

With the air still buzzing from the opening party of the previous day, the 2015 Erasmus Mundus EuroPhilosophie classes began on 7 April with "Philosophy of Science" from Professor Thierry Hoquet (Lyon-3 University).

The overall title of the six lectures spanning four days was "What is Science? Approach and Debate." The classes took an overview of science and its history, raising various issues that lie between science and philosophy, and developing much deep content.

The first class, by way of an introduction, cleverly raised the fundamental issue of these lectures of "Is Western modern philosophy ultimately universal?" by quoting from In Praise of Shadows (1933) by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro (1886-1965) that suggests the possibility of the Eastern science. It then gave an introductory session on what is a scientific explanation? and also on the basic vocabulary of the Philosophy of Science and the history of the Philosophy of Science.

The second class examined the history of science itself, giving examples of various scientific revolutions, and the viewpoints of individuals integral to the philosophy of scientific history: Thomas Kuhn (1922-96) and Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962). Also, a new draft for the four categories of objectivity in science was proposed, based on recent research by Daston and Galison (Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison, Objectivity, New York, Zone, 2007).

The third class, "Feminist Epistemology", in particular, made a deep impression. This lecture focussed on female scientists throughout scientific history, and, moreover, penetrated the gender issue at the heart of scientific knowledge, rocking the foundations of past scientific objectivity. In particular, it highlighted gender in natural science of the latter half of the 18th century onwards, for example the view of sex differences in Darwin's Theory of Evolution, the classification of "mammalia" written about in Systema Naturae (1735) by Carl Linnaeus (1707-78), and also the "femininity" of the female skeletal chart in anatomy. These were a striking indication that there was already a requirement for a fixed female image. During the class, the students too had much to contribute, and the occasion provided an exciting opportunity to consider widely the diverse presentation of sex in modern society.

In the fourth class, the links between society and scientific technology, and in the fifth class, the connection between science and model, were discussed, and lastly, the sixth class dealt with the relativism of Paul Feyerabend (1924-94) etc., centring on the demarcation problem between pseudo-science and science. On this day, Hosei University's Professor Shin Abiko, Japanese organiser of the Program, was also present. At the end of the class, Professor Shin Abiko explained how relativism is transcended by the positivism of Auguste Comte (1798-1857); lively questions and answers ensued involving both professors, and with this the four days of lectures came to a close.

What became clear through this re-study, over six lectures, of the history of "objectivity" in science is that the question "What is science?" relates directly to the question "What should science be?", and that in the future the Philosophy of Science must not treat science as a realm of pure academia, but as an open doorway towards nature, society and humans. If not, the Philosophy of Science will fail to truly theorise upon science. During the course of the lectures, we had an opportunity to accompany Professor Hoquet and the students for lunch at a Ramen shop: we shall never forget Professor Hoquet, on his first try of "tsuke-men" (a dish of noodles and soup served separately, in which the noodles are dipped in the soup and eaten), joking that "the separation of scientific and philosophical debates worldwide is a bit like 'tsuke-men'. In the end, however, they get mixed together."

Lectures start!
Professor Hoquet illustrating a point
Third day of lectures
Occasion for smiles too

Start of "EuroPhilosophie" 2015 (2015)

The Hosei Program of the 2015 European Union Erasmus Mundus Master's Program "EuroPhilosophie" began on 6th April.

The cherry blossoms were showing signs of opening on this fine, early spring day, when, firstly, the customary orientation session and library tour were held for the four students visiting from Europe. This year, we saw many Hosei University students present, who will support the overseas students during their stay in Japan, and attend classes along with them, so that the program start was livelier than in previous years.

Orientation
In the library

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Review Meeting (2014)

A review meeting for the 2014 « Europhilosophie » Hosei Program was held in the Hosei University Graduate School Block 702 on 27th June.

The review meeting had as its Chair Professor Shin Abiko of Hosei University who is also the Japanese team leader for the program. It brought together Professor Kazuyuki Hara and the three Erasmus students who were visiting Japan, as well as the student assistants. Points raised for review relating to this year's course were discussed in detail, and ranged from content of classes to aspects of life in Japan for the overseas students. These provided a guide for planning next year's course.

Before the review meeting, however, the last social gathering was held on the 25th floor of Hosei University Boissonade Tower. It was an enjoyable occasion attended by the overseas students, Professor Shin Abiko, student assistants, and staff from the Hosei University International Center who had provided much support throughout the program. Although it was sad to bid farewell to the overseas students, we used the opportunity to wish them well in their future studies.

Through reconsideration of the significance of studying Western philosophy in Japan, and the significance of Westerners studying philosophy in Japan, how far has this program fulfilled its potential ? It feels as if each of the classes kindly given by scholars from inside and outside Japan has helped to unleash that potential. We have crossed borders between Japan and the West by way of philosophical thought ; Japanese people who have studied Western philosophy have given it back to the West via its students. Each and every participant has been conscious of these historical and time-space differences, and - despite unavoidable spatial distinctions - has left his or her mark, be it small, on the exchange that took place over this program, and we can certainly say that the program has been able to increase the significance and value of those (even small) experiences. In this way, this year's program came to a close, with many successes to its name. We would like to thank all those involved, and ask for their continuing support next year.

Group photograph
Scene from the social gathering
Scene from the review meeting