I Want to Learn How to Think Beyond Academic Disciplines

Vol.3 2015.03.12 Sho SAITO

The Mirror in the Western History of Ideas


 As long as it is creative, the workings of ‘thought’ are not able to avoid using the metaphor. Especially, if the thought is philosophy, which features everything including the self, the image of the ‘mirror’ becomes as an attractive temptation. In fact, Western ideas use the metaphor of the ‘mirror’ for the purpose of showing the situation in which ‘thought thinks about thought itself’. When a metaphor is not a temporary expression and is regarded as an unexchangeable expression, it becomes an ‘absolute metaphor’ as H. Blumenberg called it. For instance, Leibnitz described the spirit as a ‘living mirror’ which reflects the world forever. His metaphysics are put together in this metaphor and then are restricted by the metaphor. The image which thought tries to use, reacts on the thought itself and rules it. This will be the reason why the things which are unable to be reflected, rather than spirits which can be reflected in the mirror, were prominent in the history of ideas after Leibnitz.

 In this lecture, I would like to consider the role in which the metaphor performs for thought, together with participants, while introducing the metaphors of the mirror in the Western history of ideas. I am going to talk about the myth of Narcissus, Leibnitz and Hegel in the first day and will refer to Lacan, Marx and Benjamin in the second day.    


 Associate Professor at the Course of Comparative Literature and Culture, Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo  He graduated from the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University (PhD in anthropology and environmental studies). After working for the Graduate School of Language and Culture Studies, Osaka University, he has been in the present post. His specialities are German history of ideas and philosophy of language. He has been studying Wilhelm von Humboldt’s work on language and enlightenment in the German language. 

comments(最新2件 / 5)

Sophie Zhang    reply

I'm a listener of your lectures in NJU last week. I'm really appreciate your full prparation for your lectures and even impressed by your English pronunciation.
But I'm still a little puzzled by some point.
I can understand your metaphor of "mirror" when you explained Leibniz's "monad" theory. Maybe monad is the smallest piece of mirror for us to percieve the universe, reflecting the world in its own way and constituting a complicated world for human-being. Does it sound reasonable?
But, I do not see your point of relating "mirror" metaphor with Hegel and Benjamin. Can you explain a little bit more on this topic?


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