Philosophy debate in Toride

Day of activity: July 29th

Today we had the opportunity to share our cultural perspectives on philosophy, and debate the meanings of commonly used words such as justice, tolerance and morality, with several members of Tsukuba university in the Torride city community centre.

We were first made to feel comfortable and free to share our arguments in what they called a “philosophy cafe” style atmosphere; plenty of sweets, drinks, rice cakes and biscuits (just enough to feed us while we worked up a mental sweat). We were then asked to come up with a witty code name while the debate and conversations took place; something connected to our personality or preferences in some way (I went by Goldie, referring to my favourite Ancient Greek philosophical tool, the ‘golden mean’).

Although the proceedings were supposed to remain as objective and lighthearted as we could keep it, from the get-go I noticed people had serious, passionate feelings backing their views- which was a good thing! I was pleased to discover that everyone wanted to participate and think about the world around us in a more out-of-the-box, abstract way. Throughout the trip so far, being pragmatic and down to earth has been more useful to us. We are a busy band of travelling foreigners, with little time to sort through our many differences and varied world views, so being asked for a more challenging and metaphysical discussion today made me very happy, as a lover of philosophy and debate.

I noticed that the university students were quiet, but watchful and keen to absorb the points of view that were put out to the group; usually the sign of mature and unbiased philosophers! I would have loved to talk one-to-one with some of the students, to learn more about their experience studying philosophy in Japan, and ask their views of the differing attitudes and life values between young and old members of Japan, but in the heat of the discussion we ran out of time to do so.

This was my favourite group activity in Torride, as it was the best way to learn more about the other participants and their cultures- by seeing their degree of maturity once in a mentally challenging environment, and their variety of cultural twists on philosophical issues, which I had never been exposed to before! In all, a refreshing (if a little intense) experience for all who took part!

Isobel Tawn Crookston (England)

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