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  3. 3rd “Methodologies” Study Group Session, 2nd Unit

3rd “Methodologies” Study Group Session, 2nd Unit

3rd “Methodologies” Study Group Session, 2nd Unit

1  On April 19, 2014, the 2nd Unit of the Ircp hosted the third meeting of “Methodologies” study group at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 6, Faculty of Letters Meeting Room). The meeting featured a presentation by Masahiro Yamaguchi (Ircp Visiting Researcher, Tokyo University of Science) titled, “Issues and Methods in German Idealism: Toward Overcoming Modern Philosophy.”

    Centering on Hegelian philosophy, Yamaguchi traced the genealogy of German idealism in his lecture as he took up the concept of “self-reflection” (Jp. hansei, Ger. Reflexion) in the works of various philosophers. For example, Fichte’s work attempted to repair Kant’s rupture between theoretical reason and practical reason through the “fact and/or act” (meaning the operations of self-consciousness; Ger. Tathandlung). Schelling, in contrast, argued that this very notion of fact/act produced opposition between subjectivity and objectivity, and that his identity philosophy was formulated by instead reintegrating these ideas. Fichte was critical of Schelling’s stance, however, arguing that the absolute non-discrimination unifying the subjective still manages to produce differences. Against this backdrop, Hegel saw the self-reflection that served as their theoretical method as nothing more than something that simply fixed that division and opposition into place. In that light, he attempted to expand the meaning of self-reflection in new directions to overcome such oppositions. Self-reflection in this new sense would be dynamic self-reflection. It would not be limited to the abstract identity, such as “A is A” or “non-A is non-A,” but rather should unify things that stood in opposition. A relates to its opposite, non-A, however, does not disappear in it, but recover itself. In short, self-reflection in the Hegelian sense is nothing other than the execution of the cyclical movement between things that are opposed. Yamaguchi argued that this self-reflection as a thought operation entailing this cyclical movement of opposed things was indeed the central methodological concept of Hegelian philosophy, and is conceivably the method for overcoming modern philosophy. One can think of the development of German idealism in Hegelian terms as the cyclical movement of self-reflection entailing the attempt to grasp that which is absolute and limitless in the sublation (Ger. Aufhebung) of opposed, relative, and limited things.

   Yamaguchi’s talk was extremely well-attended by people from outside the university as well as by fellow researchers from the Ircp. Consequently, the question and answer session that followed saw many questions from researchers working in different fields and from members of the general public, as well as from Professor Yamaguchi’s peers working in the same field. The discussions were fruitful and lively, allowing for an investigation from a variety of perspectives of the theory of self-reflection in Hegelian philosophy as a methodology.2