International Philosophy Meeting at UCU: “Japanese and Cross-cultural philosophy – a dialogue about assumptions”

University College Utrecht, Utrecht, September 28-29, 2017
Sponsored by the TOSHIBA International Foundation (TIFO)
Organized by Chiara Robbiano

A group consisting of twelve philosophers —from Japan, India, North America and Europe: (from left to right in the picture) Douglas Berger, Makio Takemura, Gereon Kopf, Chiara Robbiano, Paul Ziche, Shalini Sinha, Stephen Harris, Joanna Jurewicz, Rein Raud, Sarah Flavel, Richard Seaford, Johannes van Ophuijsen— spent two days together in Utrecht (the Netherlands) carrying out an uncommon philosophical dialogue, both at University College Utrecht —in front of an audience of students, professors, artists and other interested people— and during meals and walks in the city of Utrecht. This unique event has been fully sponsored by the Toshiba International Foundation.

These experts on Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Ancient Greek and Western philosophies discussed, among other things, the status of concepts and their relation to reality; compared views on what is a human being; asked each other questions about the nature and purpose of philosophy; and constantly monitored the discussion by reflecting on the requirements for a successful dialogue.

Our awareness of the range of possible answers to certain fundamental questions has definitely grown in the past two days, together with our capacity to articulate our views on the subject. Not only have we learnt so much from each other’s different fields of expertise, but we also trained ourselves in dialogue across different worldviews, by correcting the urge to ‘lecture’ to each other about what we happen to be experts on. Not only ideas for future collaboration have arisen, but also the willingness to introduce this kind of dialogue in our teaching. Those of us who were less acquainted with Japanese philosophy have been triggered not only to look deeper into it, but also to introduce some fundamental philosophical texts in our teachings.