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【報告】UTCP日本思想セミナー: Italian Fireflies into the Darkness of History

2009.03.23 中島隆博, 井戸美里, 日本思想セミナー

Prof. Michael F. Marra (UCLA) made his second presentation at the UCTP lecture series on Japanese intellectual history on December 2, 2008. The title was "Italian Fireflies into the Darkness of History".


Prof. Marra began by explaining the framework of 'Weak thought', referring to an idea of Gianni Vattimo (b. 1936). The example is the movement of deconstructing the metaphysical West by diluting the "thick" ideas of truth and meaning. ‘Weak thought’ is derived from the title of a book by Vattimo that brings together several articles discussing resistance to the "strong" image provided by metaphysics. Nietzsche's lighter version of truth or Being, which does not exist but happens—an idea Heidegger too developed—leads us to weak Being, a Being in decline, which discloses itself through weakening and fading.


Professor Marra pointed out that in Japan this historical move was well known to members of the Kokugaku (国学) movement, who believed in the recovery of the original voice of the gods. While Motoori Norinaga (本居宣長, 1730–1801) tried to explain the notion of truth as the interpreter's ability to uncover the author's "original intention" (本意), grounding the notion of mono no aware (もののあはれ), Japanese philosophers of the twentieth-century could rely on the entire Western metaphysical apparatus such as German Idealism. Marra also argued that Japanese philosophers who were influenced by Western metaphysics followed the path of universality and particularity, as giving an example of the notion of mono no aware. They aimed at finding equivalences between themselves and their "strong" Western counterparts, even though this might reduce their domestic, local particularity. As examples of this trend Marra discussed the works of Onishi Yoshinori (1888-1959), Watsuji Tetsuro (1889-1960) and Okazaki Yoshie (1892-1982).

Prof. Marra concluded his lecture by suggesting that softer elements of Japanese thought can be integrated into softer models of interpretation, and that this could lead to a weakening of violent distinctions such as external and internal, center and underside, Japanese and foreign—something that Sakabe Megumi (b. 1936) had been exploring.

(Misato IDO)

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