I had a chat with my philosopher friend Ken Shiotani over lunch. He was lecturing in Hosei University, and I caught him as he was waiting for the elevator in the hall.
These days, I make a point of having a time for discourse during the time of my day, as otherwise my intellect would suffocate and become just practical.
Our conversation on analytic philosophy led to Shiotani's appraisal of philosophy in the United States.
"The Americans have an inferiority complex towards the Europeans as regards philosophy", Shiotani said. "As a result, they stress pragmatism as a philosophical fruit borne out of their own tradition".
"Isn't it great," I countered, "that they have their own problems, and find it, define it, and elucidate it?"
"That's right," Shiotani said, "whereas the Japanese philosophers traditionally just import the Western philosophy and translate them, pretending they are their own. Unless the Japanese philosophers identify their own problem, their contribution in history would be limited."
Then Shiotani suddenly remarked. "You know pragmatism is different from utilitarianism."
"You mean, being pragmatic does not just imply a concern about the utilitarian significances of a particular system of thought, but rather, pragmatism is a whole organic network of methodologies involving epistemology and ontology, a particular way of looking at the world at large?"
"More or less. That's the gist of it"
It was lunch time, and our conversation had to end prematurely.
It is nice to go out of your way a little bit and have this window with your best friend of 25 years, towards stimulating my soul.
Ken Shiotani arguing about pragmatism over lunch.