SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Moon Kyungnam “At my Completion of Doctorate Course” (Series “Studying in Japan” No. 3)

I will complete my doctorate course (Greek Philosophy) at the University of Tokyo this coming March, 2016. I have been there for a long time. Though it is now full spring outside, contrasting with such spring scenery, I, who will start a new life at the age of over thirty years old, have a chilly feeling that ”it was a too long journey for me” or “now I am caught in academia” – not exciting thoughts. 


It took me ten years to get this doctorate from the university. I think these “ten years” were not “too long”, when I consider that I had been in military service for two years and stayed in the United States for study. Moreover, I could enjoy my school life much more than several friends of same generation did, because I have fortunate and very grateful to a few foundations that helped me from my entrance into my university to finishing my doctorate course.


Despite my tendency to be lazy, I am still clinging to my study which is very close to the one which I wanted to tackle seriously for the first time. As I am vaguely aware of my harsh life hereafter, I cannot remove such a chilling feeling. It will be a given condition for a newcomer to “university business” where I find myself in the world of global competition and decrease in the number of children. There would be only a handful of people whose existential value could be guaranteed by keeping their high standard in the field of their researches and studies – it will be a great effort just to keep up with the needed high standard.


There are so many discourses and opinions about the present situation of “university business” examining closely and showing solutions. Actually, most of such opinions are worth listening intently and I try to read them as much as I can. But, I am afraid to say, I cannot still fix my way of looking at such themes. I do not have any confidence that I can classify and rearrange (as a scholar) and put such opinions in order. Nevertheless, this does not mean that I think lightly of the subject. I have to admit such situations, all the same, that we have serious problems which are similar to those of the former generations. I don’t say present universities are suffering historically extraordinary misfortune. If so, is it self-deception?


When I try to step forward getting out of such feeling (self-deception), it is always my vague and impatient thinking that I like to sort out present problems immediately.

It may be fruitless that I am just standing paralyzed without trying to solve the problem like I feel uneasy about my uneasiness without any reason. I know this, but I cannot step forward. I am aware of what I do not grasp “my actual feeling” that I deny my words immediately after my saying which were uttered forcibly.


It will be plainly unproductive to stick to what I cannot explain. But, now I go out into the world finishing my work (a thesis for a doctoral degree), which is very far from getting “actual feeling” by myself.  I dare to like to stick to what exists outside of textbooks or what cannot become subject of discussions which are full of semiotics. It will be something of value to show a route of theory beautifully or to have discussion to defeat opponents. My writings hereafter would be so.  I like to arouse myself about the importance that I always bring any existence into my view which is going around diagrams of “problems and solutions”. It is my nature to have superficial discussions all the time and I am in a circumstance to be encouraged strongly to do so.


Needless to say, what I wrote here will not be suggestive for the future of university nor Asia. There is no fresh assertion. If there will be a special meaning, when a certain person utters common words at this instant and at a certain place, such a sketchy murmuring makes me properly involved in the society where I live. It will be my work hereafter that will prove meaningful or not. (Written in March 2016)


SGRA Kawaraban 502 in Japanese (original)


(Assistant Professor / the University of Tokyo)


Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito