By Ikeda Akiko, Trans View Publications, Yen 1,200

Shibata Yukinori (Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)

Whenever the mass media reports on juvenile delinquency cases the Ministry of Education and Science makes official statements to fully implement education guidelines, like the need to teach the respect for life. Again, during the season to look for employment, the human relations staff of the companies demands students to think by themselves. Commentators that criticize the harm done by the Internet and TV games preach people to learn to select information by themselves. In order to survive today we have to think about many things.
But, where do they teach people to "think"? Who teaches us, not only how to solve a problem of arithmetic or shrewd ways to operate funds, but the ways to think for ourselves on those things needed for daily life?

The author of the book is of my same age, a philosopher 45 year-old. She mentions in the book: "There is a common error of thinking that philosophy is to learn theories and the history of philosophy or, maybe, to explain them in easy terms, so that one is not providing one's thought and, although it might look as if one is speaking out for him or herself, in fact, there is nothing more than a personal view of human values, being unable to remain a mere spectator, in any case, the transmission of inexperienced beginnings of people that start thinking empty handed."
As a result, the book does not use expressions such as these: "Such philosopher says this" or "such a thing should be done, because..." The book offers a series of 30 basic themes, like: Words, Thought, Society, Love and Sex, Good and Evil, Meaning of life, Mystery of existence and questions them, earnestly, with soft expressions. For instance:

"You would like to say that you are yourself and nothing else than yourself. That's totally true. You are nothing else than yourself. You understand that what is nothing else, is, evidently, yourself. But, why do you understand that? Why, do you understand that you are yourself?" (6. To Think)
Those that have made some philosophical studies could propose similar questions, but, for an ordinary person this, most probably, will sound nonsensical. Instead of talking over the clouds it will be much more profitable to imitate the ways of popular TV programs of Hosogi Kazuko and Mino Monta where clear orders are given: "do like this or like that." One really feels much refreshed doing that.
Nevertheless, we know that nothing becomes correct just because is easy to understand. Politicians ready to start wars use easy language. A "truth" easily understood is soon overturned once a more powerful "truth" appears. Truth liberally transmitted by others easily betrays us during adversity. It is safe when we strive for the truth ourselves. It is somehow similar to what players believe, "training is the best means to win." This is the reason why we can call this book, "training to think."

Debates have been, recently, introduced into the classrooms of Primary Schools, but with a mistaken orientation of "obtaining the argumentation skills to defeat a rival." Sports' players do not practice training to defeat their rivals. Their real joy is to play according to the ideal they have built inside themselves. A debate should have as a goal to reach the truth by arguing together. But, young people now continue demanding victory over others. The aim is usefulness, not rightness. How, then, can they learn the importance of life?
"As a result, even if you are the only one in the world that thinks like that, it is alright for you alone to think that your opinion is right for everybody else. Why is it? That is because you are really alive." (3. To Think, III)

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