“Transcendence of the Good” was one of the classes offered for Hokkaido Summer Institute 2017.
The class lasted for days from August 2nd to the 4th, and then on August 7th and 8th.
This course aimed to give students a deeper understanding of the central philosophical and ethical concepts of “good” and “evil” by comparing discussions on the topic found in modern Western philosophy and modern Japanese philosophy.
On the first 2 days of this 5 day-course, Professor De Warren of the University of Leuven gave lectures on the work of E. Levinas and J. Derrida in order to give an interpretation of some of the debates related to the problem of good and evil in European philosophy. After this, Dr. Ching-yuen Cheung and Associate Professor Shigeru Taguchi from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hokkaido University’s Faculty of Letters, respectively, lectured on the concepts of good and evil as they have been understood in modern Japanese philosophy, particularly focusing on the thought of Nishida Kitaro and Tanabe Hajime. After the lectures, time was allotted for discussions, in which participants would ask questions to the teachers concerning the content of the class, as well as discuss their own views on the matter of good and evil. Through this kind of active learning, the participants were better able to understand the class theme and, thus, better develop their own thoughts.
Finally, on the last day, time was allotted for participating students to give their own presentations. Students divided into groups of 2 and made slides for their chosen topic to present before the class. Presenting in English before several lecturers who are involved in worldwide philosophical research at the highest level proved to be an invaluable experience for the students. Students were able to smoothly field questions from both the lecturers and other participants, thus showing the results of 5 days’ worth of training.
It was a jam-packed 5 days with plenty of lectures on a difficult theme, but in the end the participants’ feelings of accomplishments and confidence were visible in their smiles at the end of class. This class, which has tackled various problems in modern philosophy from the standpoint of comparisons between East and West, will face the problem of the “self” in the coming year. Hence, next year as well, students will deepen their understanding of philosophical problems and, as a result, also better understand the various problems that arise in our current society.