After our coffee break, we moved on to talking about the philosophy of the word “unexpected”.
When we asked for examples of uses of the word ‘unexpected’?
we got 3 responses as follows.
1. The cause of the Internet system crash was unexpected.
2. The 15m tsunami was unexpected.
3. This kind of dialogue was unexpected.
Then we asked about what you would use to replace the word ‘unexpected’ we received the word ‘unanticipated’. So we took a look at the three examples and for 2 & 3 it seemed to fit, but with 1 it would give the statement a different meaning.
We then went on to ask what the three statements had in common, and the response was that they all seemed like excuses for not doing things when they could have been done. The word ‘unexpected’ was the one used when TEPCO used to explain the accident that occurred at the nuclear power-plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake. By the use of this term in this situation, “unexpected” has become associated with exemption from responsibility. Also, during this discussion the question of whether the situation was foreseen and if it was really inevitable came up as well.
In accordance with whether it was foreseen or not, we added the question of whether we depend on individuals’ capability to foresee situations, which lead to the notions of “experience”, “imagination”, “empathy”, “knowledge”, and “environment” as key terms in the discussion. Regarding the one who mentioned “imagination”, her reasoning came from her constant thought of what she can do for others in any situation, which was a very unique answer and brought out a sense of admiration from the others.
For TEPCO’s case, if there were an altruistic individual, would the accident then have been expected? We got a response saying that even if that was the case for a different political reason they would still reason using the term ‘unexpected’.
Lastly we concluded by saying that when we do hear the word ‘unexpected’ in the media, we should question the idea that because it was unexpected there is no one that can be held responsible for it
Extra notes from the editor:
Within the discussion of what characteristics a person must have to allow them to expect or predict such situations, while many synonymous words and phrases were emerging we could see participants agreeing with one another, but when the issue was discussed in greater detail, it seemed to touch on individual moral principles and seemed to bring out the underlying characteristics of this philosophical discussion, and to shine like a bright light!
Currently philosophers in Japan are trying to incorporate and spread “The philosophy of education” within the education system. It must be this bright light that is captivating and motivating them! We even had enthusiastic participants asking us about our next Philosophy cafe gathering. Disaster Prevention Philosophy Cafe is something the Enjoyable Philosophy team is willing to hold on a regular basis.