[Excerpts of Dialogue] Takahiro Nakajima × Shi-San Lai, “East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts, the University of Tokyo (EAA)”

In the section titled “An Urgent Philosophy for our Times and our Strait: Discussing Mutual Co-Becoming with Professor Nakajima Takahiro” from the book, 老莊思想與共生哲學. Professor Takahiro Nakajima discussed East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts, the University of Tokyo (EAA) with Professor Shi-San Lai. With the consent of Prof. Lai and Prof. Nakajima, we have excerpted the dialogue between them as follows.


“Prof. Shi-San Lai:
0ur time is limited, so I will just shorten my question a little bit. When it comes to the EAA, Dongya Yiwen Shuyuan (東亞藝文書院) , as I know, Professor Nakajima is a key person to establish this special institution about the educational, cultural, and academic institution and collaborate with Peking University and Tokyo University. It comes from your dream. When you were young, you would like to establish a special educational environment. Now congratulations! Your dream comes true. For me, it’s like you’ve established a bridge between China and Japan, as we know, there is a big contradiction between the two countries, but you reach a certain way to make an important effort to let universities cooperate and let young students rethink the transformation or co-existence. So, can you introduce this institution a little more for Taiwanese friends, also I would like to ask what do you think of the situation in Taiwan? In recent, especially now we’re facing a serious problem between America and China, because these two superpowers each have their intentions, Taiwan now is forced to take sides, this is also a question of colonization. What would you suggest for Taiwanese scholars or friends? It’s my final question.

Prof. Takahiro Nakajima:
Thank you. Over 10 years, I run UTCP, University of Tokyo Center for the Philosophy, in which we had many collaborations with other universities, including China, Taiwan, Korea, Southeast Asia, European and American universities. In this framework, we tried to realize the idea of “gongsheng” in education and research. But at the same time, I felt that something was lacking in this UTCP movement. That is an institutionalization! So UTCP had a very active performance at that time, but they were just research activities. How can we institutionalize “gongshengzhexue” in the university system? That became our crucial question. My institutional imagination was that we would have an East Asian university, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Mainland China. That was my imagination or dream. In this respect, it was very lucky to launch EAA, East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts. It is an institutionalized platform between PKU and UTokyo. It is a partial realization of my institutional imagination. So, I would like to invite Taiwanese and Korean friends to this framework as well. What is the background of my imagination? I just had a conversation with colleagues at the University of Tokyo, that was realized in my report. In this report, I said it’s time to share professors, share students among the different universities. Right now, University of Tokyo has its own professors and its own students, UTokyo professors teach UTokyo students. But, if professors from every university teach UTokyo students, the situation would be drastically changed. Vice versa, UTokyo professors teach in Taiwanese universities. That’s my imagination.

EAA is a kind of historical event at the University of Tokyo or in Japan. This is a totally new concept to build a bridge between China and Japan. Now we, the two of us PKU and UTokyo, have similar curriculums and share our students together. And we share our professors. So, I don’t know if this is a very tiny project or not. We share just ten students with each other. I don’t know if this impact will need some big influence or not, but this is a totally new project. Two national universities came to share professors and students. I do want to enlarge this institutional imagination to other universities, including Korea and Taiwan in the future. I think the Taiwanese situation is very complicated and difficult. But from the academic side, there are some possibilities for us to make some good influence to this difficult and complicated situation. Hope that EAA can provide a kind of example to Taiwanese friends.

Prof. Shi-San Lai:
It’s good news for Taiwanese and Korean students. I want to show my greatest appreciation to you. For me, you have a great imagination because so many contemporary scholars pay so much attention today to professionalization and professional details, but they lack imagination. You and EAA are opening a new imagination and using this new image to open up possibilities. Finally, I would like to express our appreciation, because you and Professor Ishii Tsuyoshi agree with us to use your EAA title to cooperate with the international conference about co-transformation in the next year. So, it’s our greatest honor. Thank you very much.” (pp. 427-429)