Conference in Sofia University
De Anima in East Asia

21 June 2013
Sofia University


Professor Alexander Gunkov invited me to the Faculty of Philosophy in Sofia University and gave me a chance to talk about “De Anima in East Asia.”

The Faculty of Philosophy is one of the oldest faculties in Sofia University, but is now trying to internationalize its curriculum.

Professor Gunkov has been the director of “English Program of Philosophy” as a symbol of this international program since the beginning.

He is interested in many fields such as Italian philosophy, especially Giambattista Vico’s philosophy, medicine, propaganda, contemporary literature, especially Beckett, and aesthetics.As a philosopher who knows the radical social and political change in Bulgaria after 1989, he pays careful attention to the shift of conceptual mapping in philosophy.

The talk I gave focused on the social imagination or social imaginary behind seemingly philosophical debates on mortality or immortality of “anima” in East Asian context, by comparing them with Aristotelian definition of “anima” and his problematic notion of nous poi?tikos (the active intellect). The point was how to imagine “public commons” which are neither reduced to the state nor the individual. In this respect, the notions of “secret” and “sacred” might play an important role.

However, as Professor Gunkov pointed out, if these notions are misused for the sake of political telos, we would be facing again the worst totalitarian situation. How can we elaborate them to serve “public commons?” This question leads us to re-read “the last God” in Martin Heidegger, “the sacred” in Jurgen Habermas, or Catholicism in Charles Taylor. In our discussion, graduate students in “English Program of Philosophy” gave fruitful comments and questions from various perspectives.

I believe that this is what Chinese philosophers tried to figure out in terms of “the intercommunication of souls.”

(Report:Takahiro Nakajima)