East meets west in Japanese doctoral education: form, dependence, and the strange

Ethics and Education 5 (1):27-41 (2010)
Abstract
Against the background of current reforms in higher education, we analyze the traditional education of Japanese doctoral students in philosophy of education from Western and Japanese perspectives by focusing on learning as self-education, on being and learning with others, on the socialization into the profession, and on the study of the foreign subject. Imai's explication of the Japanese construction of the adult self as instrumental is compared to Gadamer's ideas on self-education and education with others. A significant element of doctoral education in Japan involves the learning of certain forms ( kata ) of professional conduct: belonging to a group, occupying a clear position in the social hierarchy, and developing a close mentoring relationship that fosters strong feelings of loyalty, harmony and respect. Furthermore, reciprocal dependence ( amae ) is analyzed and contrasted with the Western ideal of autonomy and maturity. Finally, the study of the foreign subject is considered in light of Gadamer's and Hegel's notion of making a home in the alien. Saito affirms a cross-cultural reading of foreign philosophical texts, claiming that they destabilize the native culture and turn a teacher in philosophy of education into a translator and prophet of her own as well as the foreign culture
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