The 11th Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture

Professor Steven Smith
(Department of Political Science Yale University)

May 8, 2018
May 9, 2018

The 11th Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture at the University of Tokyo was delivered by Professor Steven Smith and consisted of two talks: one at Komaba Campus on 8th May and the other at Hongo Campus on 9th.

Professor Steven Smith

Professor Steven Smith, our guest lecturer, is Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and has taught at Yale since 1984. At Yale, he has served as the Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science, the Director of the Special Program in the Humanities, Acting Chair of Judaic Studies, and as the Master of Branford College. He is one of the leading experts in political theory and has specialized in classical and modern political philosophy; in particular, the problem of religion and politics and theories of representative government. He has published numerous books, including Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism(1989), and has received several awards such as, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize and the Lex Hixon ’63 Award for Teaching Excellence in the Political Science.

Professor Steven Smith and Professor Takahiro Nakajima

The lecture held at Komaba Campus on 8th May was titled “Political Philosophy and the Dark Arts”. Around 20 participants from the University of Tokyo and other universities attended the talk, which was hosted by the University of Tokyo Humanities Center (HMC) and the University of Tokyo Center of Philosophy (UTCP)).

The lecture at Komaba Campus

Following the introductory remarks by Professor Takahiro Nakajima (Professor of Interdisciplinary Culture, the Institute for Advance Studies on Asia), Professor Smith started his talk by pointing out that the creation of political order is rarely achieved through peaceful agreement and consensus as claimed by the social contract tradition. Instead, it is more often a result of violence, conquest, and force. He explained that the Dark Arts such as policing, intelligence gathering, homeland security, and espionage have become indispensable to maintain the stability of modern states. He pointed out that these Dark Arts often accompany despicable activities like invasion of privacy and torturing defendants according to the social circumstances. After the explanation of the concept of Dark Arts and its societal impacts, Professor Smith addressed the question of how to think of the Dark Arts and whether conducting of such Arts are socially justifiable, and if it is justifiable, in which social context could such Arts be justified. He stressed that the political education was essential not only for those who are in politics but also for individual members of the society in order to judge these political issues surrounding the execution of the Dark Arts. He concluded that the citizens are responsible for cultivating the ability of political judgement which is not restricted to the demand of keeping the consistency, but rather to be sensitive and to know how to adapt oneself to changing situations (the praise of inconsistency as is cited from Kolakovski). In order to do so, Professor Smith emphasized the importance of political responsibility of the everyday citizens: that they are the subject to claim for the ownership of the political sphere and in making political judgment by asking “what do I do?” in given circumstances. The 45-minute talk was followed by a particularly lively discussion thanks to the undergraduate students, who had voluntarily organized study sessions beforehand and came to the meeting well prepared and eager to participate.

Professor Yoshie Kawade and Professor Steven Smith

“Machiavelli’s Utopianism” was the title of Hongo Campus on 9th May. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Institute of Business Law and Comparative Law and Politics (IBC) of the Graduate Schools of Law and Politics as their 254th Comparative Law and Politics Seminar. 11 participants, mostly graduate students and political science faculty members, attended the talk.

Lecture at Hongo Campus

After the opening remarks by Professor Yoshie Kawade (Professor of Political Theory, School of  Politics), Professor Smith explained that the image of Machiavelli as a supreme realist was fabricated by later scholars such as the German historian, Friedrich Meinecke. The Prince, Machiavelli’s best-known work, appears on the surface as an advisory book on princely behaviors and rules pertaining to statecraft. Professor Smith, however, shed a different light on the book, arguing that Machiavelli expressed his longing for a savior – an exceptional leader who personified virtu,strength and charisma – to rescue and redeem Italy from its degradation. An hour lecture was followed by an animated discussion.

After the lecture, Professor Smith agreed to continue the discussion with graduate students and junior scholars at a more relaxed and informal setting (“office hours”), which provided an invaluable opportunity for them to discuss broader issues of their interest

Both lectures turned out to be as a great success. Apart from exposing members of the UTokyo community to insightful perspectives in political philosophy, the meetings provided an invaluable opportunity for UTokyo faculty and students to reinforce and expand ties between Professor Smith.

The Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lectures are made possible by the financial support of the Friends of UTokyo, Inc. (FUTI) and cooperation from the McMillan Center, Yale University.

*Dr.Yamakawa Kenjiro was Yale University’s first Japanese student who graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in 1875. After his graduation, he led an accomplished career as a renowned physicist and professor at the University of Tokyo. Later, he served as the President of the Imperial University of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kyushu and devoted himself to the development of higher education in modern Japan. The Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lectures have been delivered by Yale faculty members in Tokyo since 2013.

Authors: Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture staff

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