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.


International Symposium « Acceptance and Resistance : Life according to Western Science, and Japan » (2014)

An international symposium, « Acceptance and Resistance : Life according to Western Science, and Japan » was organised by the Research Center for International Japanese Studies. It was held on 12th June in the Research Institute for Innovation Management Seminar Room, which is on the 25th floor of Boissonade Tower, Ichigaya Campus of Hosei University. It was organised externally of the Europhilosophie Hosei Program, but with Professor Shin Abiko as Chair, and presentations by Professors Osamu Kanamori, Yasuhiko Murakami and Thierry Hoquet, it had strong links with Europhilosophie. In fact, all the students from Europe who were in Japan on the Erasmus Program participated for the full day, and joined in the lively questions and answers. The below nine presentations were heard over the course of the day.

1.Alain Rocher (Paris EPHE) « Two sources of vitalism in Edo thought »
2.Paul Dumouchel (Ritsumeikan University) « Robot life »
3.Dominique Lestel (Paris ENS ; University of Tokyo) « My friend the robot »
4.Taizo Kijima (Hosei University) « Japanese translations of 'natural selection' and the remnants of social Darwinism »
5.Osamu Kanamori (University of Tokyo) « The biopolitics of Japanese contemporary society »
6.Yasuhiko Murakami (Osaka University) « Transitional space and nursing care in a psychiatric hospital in Japan »
7.Masaru Yoneyama (Nagoya University) « Life and technology in Nishida »
8.Tatsuya Higaki (Osaka University) « Theory of technology of Kiyoshi Miki »
9.Thierry Hoquet (University of Lyon III ; France) « The philosophy of symbiosis of Kisho Kurokawa »

In order to convey something of the content of the presentations, the following is an attempt at summaries of each presentation in simplified form.

In Professor Rocher's presentation we were able to sense a unique balance between knowledge abundance and an abundant amount of knowledge. The presentation focussed on the journey of vitalism from the West to China, and then from China to Japan, and made a great impression by suggesting a reconsideration of the validity of vitalism based on the thought of masterless samurai and townspeople of the Edo period.

Professor Dumouchel's presentation followed the « ontology of absence » of anthropologist, Eduardo Kohn, from the typical Japanese-like stance of the robot called « Geminoïd » and its « burial ». Its discussion of the state indicated by the word « living », and the differences and similarities between humans and robots - lastly touching upon the notions of « community » and « other » - provided much food for thought.

The presentation given by Professor Lestel discussed the relationship between us and robots, and raised the points that robots can be « machines of rebellion » or « machines of amicability ». The main argument of the presentation was that it depends on how we view the relationship between humans and robots. For example, in the same way that the verb « to love » is used towards many diverse objects, can friendship be said to develop between humans and robots ? Whilst sharing underlying themes with the previous presentation by Professor Dumouchel, Professor Lestel's presentation had perception of its own.

In his presentation, Professor Kijima explained that although Darwin's evolutionary term « natural selection » has been translated into two distinct Japanese terms: « shizen tōta » and « shizen sentaku », the latter better suits Darwin's own context. He also indicated that in Japan these translation words have parted from the original meaning. This case of mistaken meaning is associated with « social Darwinism » which, he suggested, emerged under the influence of neo-Darwinism that was prevalent at that time. The presentation was based on meticulous research and consideration.

Professor Kanamori's presentation used the examples of SMON and radiation damage to highlight the problem of unsavory « collusion » between science and politics. It indicated the conventional Japanese method of « acceptance and resistance » of scientific technology, and its disadvantages, and, in this way, could be considered a very truthful presentation.

Professor Murakami described in his presentation how the institution of the « psychiatric hospital » in Europe began as a prison, and that similarly, in Japan, it had a history of violence and use of chains from before the war. Today, however, psychiatric nurses and others involved in care focus on the spatial sense of the hospital ward in reaction to that history, and are committed to creating a multi-faceted space of « enforcement » as well as « enjoyment ».

In his presentation, Professor Yoneyama explained « action-intuition », and introduced us to the view of life and of technology held by Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945), who proposed a Japanese view of science to oppose the Western stance that tries to separate truth from its socio-historical context. In continuation, Professor Higaki added the notion of « form » to describe the Nishidian view of science based on action-intuition. He then compared Kiyoshi Miki (1897-1945), who argued on « imagination » from his own perspective, with Henri Bergson (1859-1941), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and also Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). This led to discussion of the particular significance of Miki's « Theory of transformation of form ».

Finally, Professor Hoquet's presentation dealt with the Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007). It contrasted Kurokawa's « philosophy of symbiosis» with the « functionalism » architecture of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), and identified several Japanese / Eastern elements on which Kurokawa based his thought, and in this way explained the significance of « symbiosis ». However, even Kurokawa's originally intended escape from this simple dualism created contradictions when he opposed symbiosis against functionalism. What can overcome such opposition ? The last stage of the presentation also mentioned Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari. Professor Hoquet suggested that here, true opposition occurs not between Eastern symbiosis and Western functionalism, but in the differences between biology and physics ; in other words, between dynamic science and static science.

On considering the significance of this symposium, we cannot help but return to the dualistic image of the West and Japan. On this topic, the presentation given by Professor Hoquet held an immensely important viewpoint. The question, what is « Japan-consciousness » ? has no immediate answer, yet this symposium gave us the opportunity to glimpse part of the cause of that difficult issue.

Greetings from the two symposium organisers (left : Professor Abiko ; right : Professor Hoquet)
Scene from the symposium (centre : Professor Rocher)
Scene from the symposium (centre : Professor Dumouchel)

Professor Masato Goda's Classes (2014)

Classes were given by Professor Masato Goda of Meiji University. The title of these classes was "Un pragmatiste japonais, Syunsuke Tsurumi et pénombre de l'Asie (Japanese pragmatist, Shunsuke Tsurumi and darkness of Asia)", the main figure of focus being Shunsuke Tsurumi (1922-). Tsurumi is known as the philosopher to introduce the thinking of pragmatism from America to Japan. Classes on this occasion commentated on Tsurumi's work, Yoshimi Takeuchi: aru houhou no denki (Yoshimi Takeuchi: biography of a method; 1995). Yoshimi Takeuchi (1910-1977) was a critic of about the same generation as Tsurumi, and was also a scholar of Chinese literature including Lu Xun (1881-1936). Interesting common features in the career histories of Tsurumi and Takeuchi are the fact that they were both living outside Japan at the outbreak of the Second World War, and, becoming embroiled in the war whilst in foreign countries, they began to think deeply about the international issue of nationalism. Firstly, Tsurumi went to America in 1938 to major in philosophy at Harvard University. Three years on, war broke out between Japan and America, and after spending time in a prisoner of war camp, returned to Japan. Back there he applied to join the Navy, and took up post in Indonesia until the defeat. In the case of Takeuchi, he was studying in Peking in 1937 at the time of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and formed friendships with Zhou Zhouren (1885-1967), author and younger brother of Lu Xun, among others. In 1943 he was drafted into the Army, and experienced the defeat on the Chinese continent. In this way, Tsurumi himself took similar steps to Takeuchi, and the above- mentioned work values the fact that Takeuchi, rather than placing himself on the outside of the specific conditions that are wartime, stopped within those conditions - where a vision of good and evil had no bearing - in order to write. Here we should specially mention Lu Xun, who influenced Takeuchi's writing style, and who, under similar circumstances, was a forerunner of deep thought on issues between nations whilst residing abroad. He had majored in medicine at the University of Tohoku in Japan in 1904 when the Russo-Japanese War broke out. At that time, Chinese who worked as spies for the Russian Army were executed by the Japanese. Despite witnessing such scenes involving his fellow Chinese, he later wrote a work called Fujino Sensei (Professor Fujino) in remembrance of his venerated teacher who he had met in Japan. It is noteworthy that Osamu Dazai (1909-1948) also wrote a novel, late in his career, based on the experiences of Lu Xun, Sekibetsu (Farewell with regret; 1945) that seems to secretly wish for peace between Japan and China. I found that these classes were suggestive of the situations that generate philosophy and literature, and of the issues between nations that create those situations. Not only this: I also felt there was something present therein that ties to the idea of "mobilité (mobility)" in our "Europhilosophie".

Professor Masato Goda