Starting with Dewey's encounter of the untranslatable in a foreign culture with his disappointing experience in Japan, this paper attempts to find an alternative mode of response to the untranslatable in another strain of American philosophy: the transcendentalism of Ralph W. Emerson and Henry D. Thoreau as reinterpreted by Stanley Cavell. This is a search for a more thorough antifoundationalist idea of cosmopolitanism than Dewey's pragmatism allows us. I conduct this reinterpretation with reference to Cavell's ordinary language philosophy and its related idea of philosophy as translation. I conclude by proposing an alternative way of thinking about cosmopolitan education: a perfectionist education that serves the idea of achieving neighborhood through immigrancy, that is, by taking a path from the inmost to the outmost.
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- 1.For a more detailed description of Dewey's visit to Japan, see: Naoko Saito, “Education for Global Understanding: Learning from Dewey's Visit to Japan,” Teachers College Record, Vol. 105, No. 9 (December 2003): 1758–1773. The argument of the current paper develops the issues which were not discussed fully in this previous paper.
- 2.Westbrook says that Japan is presented by Dewey as a country where “the heart of Deweyan democracy” could not be communicated or understood (Westbrook, 1991, pp. 240–242). As a symbol of difference, at the time when the emperor held sovereign power, the English word “democracy” could not be translated into Japanese (Mori, 1992). Also there is an episode that there was no translator in Dewey's eight-day lecture at the University of Tokyo, which was to be published as Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920) (Tsurumi, 1984, p. 85)
- 3.The idea similar to Dewey's of continuing growth transcending borders towards cosmopolitan humanity is originally seen in Peirce's idea of “evolutionary love.” Though it is beyond the scope of this paper to elucidate Peirce's influence on Dewey's cosmopolitan aspect, Dewey's idea of achieving a global community through friendship definitely has the trace of Peircean cosmopolitanism in his idea of “evolutionary love” (Peirce, 1992).
- 4.For the detailed discussion Emersonian moral perfectionism, see: Naoko Saito, The Gleam of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewy and Emerson (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005) (especially Chapter 4).
- 5.Paul Standish discusses the idea of the abyss in translation in connection with Derrida's reading of a letter from Gershom Scholem to Franz Rosenzweig. Standish refers to the abyss as the “archetypal image of danger and judgment,” evoking a sense of “bottomlessness or absence of foundation” and “the darkness of the unknown” as an entrée into understanding Scholem's recourse to the term, which figures so prominently in Derrida's discussion (Standish, 2011).
- 6.The original version of this paper, entitled “Becoming Cosmopolitan—Or, How Can a Japanese Advance American philosophy?”, was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (at Charlotte, NC on March 13, 2010). The present version has been radically revised in response to the helpful comments from anonymous reviewers and in the light of editorial advice. I thank Paul Standish for giving me suggestions in the process of revision. Jim Garrison originally invited me to contribute to the above mentioned conference, and I am grateful to him for encouraging me in this respect.