Fumihito Ikeda's Laboratory


Developing Give&Take analysis

It was little difficult for our students to analyze Give&Take relations in Moomin story, because they were troubled with finding what a character could took at the end of the story. They thought too difficult to find it. They tended to think abstractly. But I would like them to think more easily and find concrete things. It is equal to a difference of a character's conditions between the start and the end that what the character can take. For example, in "Moominsummer madness", a park keeper could emit light from his whole body, because he was surrounded by many Hattyfatteners who take a charge. So they could take a body which emit light. It is easy to find it. Rather, it is more difficult and important to think its meaning, that is, what is it a metaphor of? Let's think about the previous example. What does a body which emit light mean? At the beginning of this story, the park keeper had robbed freedom from the others by setting up many billboards of forbidding. In other words, he could shine by robbing lights from others. So he could shine by himself when he interacted with moomins. In this way, I would like to develop this method from the viewpoint of changes of a character's situation.


A new method for sociology

There are many kinds of method for sociology, such as Transaction Analysis, Ethnomethod, Dramaturgy, and so on. Most of all of them relate to interaction with others, of course. Well then, why do we interact with others? I think it is because we want to something by interactions. Moomin story is just the story that each character gets something he/she wants through interaction with others. Furthermore, the story teaches us that if we want to get something from others, we must give something that the others really want. The teaching is so called "Give & Take" relation. Our social relations will not continue for long time, if we continue to give something to others, or to take something from others. It is important to maintain the balance between gives and takes. So I think the relation can be used to analyze our social relations. We can know whether our social relations work good or not by examining our Give & Take relations. However, there is one problem here, that is, we can not see the real relations if we only see what we or others want, because what we want doesn't equal to what we really need. What we want is more concrete than what we need. We often don't find what we really need, although we know what we want. For example, suppose we want a glass of water. In this case, we need to quench our thirst with something, but we don't need just water. A glass of water is an example of something to quench our thirst. In other words, what we want is a metaphor of what we need, because metaphors are a kind of rhetoric which express some abstract ideas by using the more concrete ideas.


The importance of metaphor

In the yesterday's class, I first explained the importance of metaphor, because the students were not good at 3rd homework exercise, that is, "select a character, and list and categorize the metaphors in his or her remarks". Many students didn't understand the difference among analogy, metonymy and synecdoche. So I first explained what metaphor was. A metaphor expresses an idea or a thing in other idea or thing, and the metaphorical target idea is more abstract than the original. For example, "a discussion is a war" is a metaphor based on analogy, and "discussion" is more abstract idea than "war". However, there is a different discussion from "war", for example, we can discuss in a manner of "give and take". So a metaphor lights up only one aspect of the target idea, and the other aspects are hidden in the shadow. So much so that, we can understand the cultural and personality background of a person by analyzing what kinds of metaphors the person uses.

By the way, are there any other expressions except for metaphor? The answer is no. After all, language itself is a metaphor, because the relation between signifian and signifie is arbitral, as Ferdinand de Saussure pointed out. That is, a word(signifian) is not its object(signifie) itself. Although language is only a sign, we have no other choice but to express an object using language. This is the just thing that an idea is expressed by the other idea. Well then, how is the relation between signifian and signifie determined? That is determined by difference and deferral, these two characters are mixed into "differral" by Jack Delida. "Difference" means that a signifie is distinguished from the other things, for example, "red" as a signifian distinguish "red" as a signifie from the other colors. But the meaning of word cannot be determined only by "difference", because we cannot understand what kind of "red" only by "red". So to determine what kind of red the "red" means, we need another words, such as shallow, shiny, like a baby cheeks and so on. So a meaning of word can be determined after appearance of the word, that is "deferral". So much so that, we can also understand the personality of a person if we see what kinds of words the person uses.



Tomorrow, I introduce "Ethnomethodology" into my moomin class to comprehend the messages of Moomin stories. "Ethno" means a specific social groups, "method" represents the ordinary ways or habits that the group members use to communicate with each other. The moomins form a specific community, so by analyzing their "method" we can understand how they construct their community. So it is the message from the author Tove Jansson.


Debate on Realism v.s. Instrumentalism

In the next class of Socio-constructive Science & Technology I, we debate whether we should stand on Realism or Instrumentalism. The former insists that the object explained by a scientific idea, i.e. photon, is really exist. On the other hand, the later consider it is not important whether the object is really exist or not, it is good a scientific idea explains observed phenomena appropriately. Einstein was one of the most popular scientists who believed in Realism, and Stephen Hawking was a good representative of Instrumentalism. I asked my students to think whether the research that they gapple with everyday is based on Realism or Instrumentalism, and why you think so. Through this debate I hope to introduce such conclusion that Realism have many problem especially in modern science, and to give guidance to them to Socio-constructivism which is the end point where Instrumentalism is inquired.