On July 8, 2022, Professor Tsuyoshi Ishii (EAA Deputy Director) delivered the last lecture of this semester’s Academic Frontier Series. The lecture, titled “Imagining a Space for a Better Life,” began with a brief review of some of the main topics from the past lectures. Citing several thoughts and reflections from the reaction papers that students had submitted after each lecture, Professor Ishii emphasized the difficulty we unavoidably have in properly responding or reacting to the presence of others, or to be more precise, to the otherness of others.
How can we learn to treat others properly? This fundamental question about coexistence is, according to Professor Ishii, exactly what the Confucian concept of li (礼)—ritual—sought to answer. Practicing rituals is not about behaving in accordance with a predetermined, rigid set of rules; it is about trying to find or invent an appropriate role for each person to play in relation to others in a particular situation, thus opening up a moral space of coexistence. Professor Ishii further suggested that encouraging people to learn and practice “rituals” in this specific sense of the word should be the main function of university. His radical redefinition of university seems to imply that we need to look at the way we study and discuss with each other at university in terms of ritual practice. In other words, a university is not limited to the institution and its various facilities, but also it stands for an ideal moral space, which needs to be maintained through the constant search by its members for a better way of establishing relationships with others.
Report by UEDA Yuki (EAA Research Assistant)