Symposium

Opening Symposium : Can Philosophy be International ?

Opening Symposium

The Opening Symposium of IRCP was held at Sky Hall, Hakusan Campus, Toyo University starting from 13:00 on December 10 (Sat.) under the title of “Can philosophy be international?” Professor Emeritus Hisatake Kato (Kyoto University) gave a keynote speech. Then panel presentations were given by Researcher Kouhei Yoshida, Researcher Ichiro Yamaguchi, and Researcher Noritaka Kikuchi from IRCP, Toyo University (from the 1st Unit, 2nd Unit, and 3rd Unit, respectively). About 100 people participated in the symposium.

Opening Symposium

At the outset, President Makio Takemura expressed in his opening address his expectations for the contributions IRCP could make to the development of the world philosophy and Japanese philosophy. Then Director Katsuzo Murakami gave a welcome speech, in which he emphasized the role of philosophy amid the progress of globalization.
In the keynote lecture, Professor Emeritus Hisatake Kato discussed the theme of “Can Philosophy be international?” using PowerPoint slides for about two hours. The details of his insightful lecture covering diverse issues are available in IRCP Annual Report (Kokusai tetsugaku kenkyu), yet here is a summary of his proposals.
At the outset, he declared that one of the roles of philosophy is to clarify whether different cultures or realms can coexist in the event of a clash between the two sides.

Opening Symposium

Then he proposed that to consider philosophy in the age of internationalization, the history of philosophy be replaced with “effective history.” “Effective history” refers to a field of study which aims to discover, for example, who read which books written by whom, and what effects they caused on that person. He went on further to propose that the effective history be replaced with “doctrinal history.” He suggested that by writing “doctrinal history” that places all doctrines from all time and all parts of the world in parallel, to create an academic discipline that displays what original forms of thoughts have existed in the world plainly and crisply, we could have philosophy in the age of internationalization.
Finally, he explained “internationalizing philosophy is to elucidate the reasons for the dissimilarities of different cultures,” in other words, “if the two are fundamentally dissimilar, they should be able to coexist; but when they are partially dissimilar, they often appear incompatible, and internationalizing philosophy would mean to extricate the entanglement of conflicts between the two.” And when this idea prevails, essentially no quarrels should arise between dissimilar cultures while cultures having something in common could cooperate to solve problems ― now the society can orient the world thoughts toward that direction, concluded Professor Emeritus Kato.

Opening Symposium

Researcher Kouhei Yoshida gave a presentation titled “Can philosophy be international?” which is summarized below.
- The issue of internationalizing philosophy has been raised in the context of the progress of globalization, which has totally changed the life and society of countries and regions in a way that the traditional idea of national monoculture no longer holds. - Comparative cultural studies have played certain roles as an attempt to shed the light of relativism on the monoculturism, but they emphasize comparison so much that they hesitate to propose anything. Now we are requested ― based on objective understandings ― to propose a new system of values as an “inquiry.” However, any cross-cultural understandings should naturally involve some bias. When the Japanese accept Western or Indian philosophical resources in an attempt to internationalize philosophy, they accept foreign-made philosophy on the ground of layers of mentality heaped up in the Japanese culture: thus we need to keep in mind that our acceptance may be biased, partially shallow or deep. By facing squarely with a different culture while keeping ourselves in a relative perspective, we will become able to see its difference from our own mentality, and the discovery of the difference will develop a perspective that can lead to the creation of uniqueness. The protagonists of philosophy are people, and researchers are only to provide resources for them. Perhaps it is by proposing our own philosophy as an “inquiry” before the international community, that we will be able to internationalize our philosophy.

Opening Symposium

Researcher Ichiro Yamaguchi’s presentation was titled “The challenges and possibilities for international philosophy studies: international philosophy as a philosophy originating from different lifeworlds” which is summarized below.
- Since philosophy is an academic discipline that can critically ponder upon human survival and action as a whole, for the humanity facing nuclear plant disasters and global warming, the role of philosophy is decisive. - The understanding of objective time and space as used in natural science differs from our understanding of time and space as we experience in real life. Husserl, faced with the growing predominance of mathematical thinking in the lifeworld, argued for the revival of humans living the totality of sense and intelligence, and indicated an orientation for the study of philosophy called “transcendental phenomenology” which can integrate studies in natural sciences. We can assume either a “natural attitude” (living just as we are without reflecting upon the systems and makeup of life), a “naturalistic attitude” (living based on the view of the world of natural science), or a “person-oriented attitude” (living with mutual approval of persons as constituents of the society), or otherwise, we can assume a “transcendental attitude,” by pursuing philosophical consideration on the nature and makeup of these attitudes. For the humanity facing the crisis of technological civilization brought about by the technological civilization, it is essential to ensure the “lifeworld” that enables their lives in such attitudes. And to achieve that end, research in natural science needs to be positioned properly by philosophy in the transcendental attitude, which is methodologically able to integrate different sciences and studies.

Opening Symposium

Philosophy can see the shooting range of the methodologies of natural science, and even suggest an appropriate orientation for research in natural science. Furthermore, while the truth of “emotional communication” founded on feelings needs to be verbalized through intellect, philosophers are to bear the role of verbalizing experience, wait until the pains of the heart of others are rendered in language, help them to be so done, and also make efforts to render their own feelings into words. That is the right attitude for philosophical considerations, starting from a person living in the lifeworld in the totality of feelings and intellect.

Opening Symposium

Researcher Noritaka Kikuchi gave a presentation titled “Guilt and punishment in accumulation: from Taoist theory of Chengfu to the modernity.” Based on a recognition that an endeavor toward realizing this center’s goal of building a global scale coalition in the realm of philosophy will require indentifying the differences among thoughts from different ages and regions and searching their similarities and intersections, he outlined the Taoist thought on guilt in comparison with that of Buddhism, pondering on the meaning of seeking the roots of today’s problems in past philosophical thoughts.
- The theory of “Chengfu” (undertaking ancestors’ sins and being responsible for later generations) is an idea originating from the “'Way of Great Peace” (Taiping Dao), a group which rebelled around the end of the late Han Dynasty period in the 2nd century A.D; at the beginning of the universe, the world was in a great peace but now it is in a bad state. The sins committed by an individual cannot be canceled by that individual alone, but they accumulate beyond generations, and eventually grow into the sin of the whole society, they thought. This idea of sin in Taoism is different from that in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, when one does something, its retribution appears sometime somewhere; but the retribution affects only the individual ― there is nothing like “the sins of the parents will be visited upon the children” ? however, many times one repeats reincarnation, the retribution is to be born sometime no one but oneself. Even though Buddhism holds the idea that the world repeats itself, it is a cycle of nature that is never related to human acts. On the other hand, in Chinese thoughts, the universe once collapses, and then is created again, as a renascence of an ideal dynasty where peace was realized. This is also different from the idea that new Jerusalem as the Land of God is realized on the earth. Here we see two utterly contrasting pictures: religions are drawn to real politics in the East Asia, religions and politics are strictly separated in the South Asia, and even politics are incorporated in religions in the West Asia.

Opening Symposium

Following the three presentations, a panel discussion (general discussion) was held with the four speakers sitting as panelists and Director Katsuzo Murakami from IRCP joining as a moderator.
In the panel discussion, panelists responded to questions from the floor as well as from within the panel. Dr. Kato concluded that Dr. Enryo Inoue looked at things squarely and authored his works out of his sincere aspiration to know what was Japan’s national culture, and we can learn a lot from his determination to create Japanese philosophy as a national culture.