The target of this book is "new college students, high school students, and junior high school students who have grown taller", but it is something that adults should read. Here are four features of this book.

First of all, the content and claims are extremely straightforward. The author begins the discussion by directly facing the questions "what is culture" and "why it is necessary". He also touches on the pitfalls of walking the liberal arts, such as cognitive bias, prejudice, and prejudice, and how to avoid them. At the end of the book, practical skills for improving culture are introduced.

Second, it incorporates the latest research findings. Therefore, reading this book will lead to new discoveries and unexpected perspectives. For example, it is about "empathy" that is evaluated socially. I think it's true that there are unexpectedly negative aspects of that sympathy.

In addition, this book is basically written for entertainment. There is no doubt that the author wrote it himself. Anyway, there are many derailments. However, since the hints are laid firmly, it is not a waste story at all. The author seems to be quite a movie fan, so readers with the same hobbies will enjoy it more than anyone else. The sentences are also popping.

Finally, it is written so that you can structurally understand how the problems of today's Japanese society are occurring by using culture as a starting point. At the bottom of this book, I feel that there is a sense of problem similar to the author's anger toward modern society. This is because I want adults to read it.

Main points of this book

Point 1

To acquire culture means to be a relay of cultural genes. Liberal arts is knowledge + personality. Personality in this context can be summarized in "relativization" and "openness".

Point 2

There are pitfalls such as cognitive bias, prejudice, and prejudice in the course of education. One approach to avoiding these is "critical thinking", which is a tsukkomi for oneself.

Point 3

Enriching your vocabulary is crucial because you can't think in words you don't know. It means being more free from the constraints of your own words.

What is culture?

To be the bearer of the relay of cultural genes

There is "information" that separates humans from non-human animals. In the case of non-human creatures, the means of transmitting information from generation to generation is almost limited to biological genes. On the other hand, human beings can relay information across generations through media such as "culture" and "education." Such a medium is called a "cultural gene".

Among the cultural genes, "written language" has the greatest influence. This has made it possible for human memory to be inherited for a long period of time. As a result, "science and technology" and "concepts and ideas" that are irreplaceable for the survival of humankind have been inherited and developed.

Creating, improving, and passing on as good ideas and concepts as possible to the next generation is crucial for the human species, which depends on cultural genes to survive. It is "education" that nurtures the leaders of such relays.

Liberal arts is knowledge + personality

What kind of person do you imagine when you think of a "educated person"? The first thing that comes to mind is someone with a wealth of knowledge. However, culture should involve not only knowledge but also personality. So what kind of personality is that? The author thinks that it can be summarized into two, "relativization" and "openness".

The first is "relativization". Well-educated people don't consider themselves special. I know that there is survival and happiness now due to the intellectual heritage of mankind beyond myself. With that as a premise, relativize your thoughts and values. For example, common sense is the most familiar value scale that goes beyond you. But this common sense can also be critically examined in the light of higher values. "Critique" here means to dare to look at it from a different point of view in order to get closer to a better solution.

Next is "Kattatu". This is a relaxed attitude that "if the other party's argument is correct, I will always change myself." A well-educated person has the leeway to change himself if necessary, in the light of values ​​beyond him. In addition, it is tenacious enough to withstand the unanswered situation.

There is also a difference in the way of knowledge

Educated people differ not only in their personality but also in their knowledge.

First, knowledge is "structured". Knowledge is categorized into individual categories, each of which is assigned an importance. On top of that, knowledge and knowledge are connected to form a network, jumping over categories and importance. It is a well-educated person who knows what is important knowledge and what is not so much in the overall structure.

And the "coordinate system". Each knowledge is positioned in a large coordinate system temporally and spatially. Imagine a thick book that combines world history and a world map. A well-educated person is one who thinks about where to place his or her knowledge and thoughts in what era and in what area.

It's a process of self-formation

Until the Meiji era, culture was usually used as a verb meaning "tell me", such as "parents educate their children." In that context, the first actor to "educate" is the home, then the school and books (current and past teachers), and finally oneself.

So what is the purpose of education? It is to nurture participants in the relay of cultural genes. There are two elements to this.

One is to be the bearer of "society". In other words, work to keep society in the desired state for as many members as possible. The other is the subject of "morality". To regulate your actions in a moral manner and keep society in a morally appropriate state.

It is culture to create such a "personality". It includes the "ability" necessary to be a leader in society and the "awareness" that one is a member of a society that lives with others.

[Must read point!] Relativization is important to avoid pitfalls

Pitfalls as a human

Liberal arts is a process of self-formation, and there is no "end" point. The road to culture is endless. Moreover, there are many pitfalls there. The British philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) named it "Idol".

The first pitfall is the "cognitive bias" that we humans have acquired in the process of evolution. A typical example is "heuristics". This means an intuitive problem-solving solution. It is not possible to reach the correct answer with certainty, but it is the ability to reach a certain degree of correct answer in a short time.

Needless to say, we can't afford the time to ponder everything. And in fact, most things can be solved with heuristics without any problems. But sometimes this leads us to the wrong conclusions.

It's pretty hard to get out of heuristics altogether. However, just being aware that "our cognition is biased" makes a big difference.

My pitfalls

The second pitfall is the "prejudice / prejudice" that each of us has. Our hearts are bound by the influence of our natural personality, the environment in which we grew up, our friends, and the education we received.

To avoid this pitfall, it is important to "relativize" your perspective. There are approaches such as "changing the viewpoint", "meeting others", and "going back in history" to obtain a relative perspective.

"Changing the viewpoint" literally means changing where you look from. You may have seen the Japanese archipelago resting on the Chinese continent by tilting the map 90 degrees. That alone should make the world look very different.

It is also important to "meet others". Others in this case are not limited to those living in the real world. You can also meet other people in the past and fictional people through reading. However, the impact of meeting other people in different cultures is great. Especially when I am young, I would like to actively try to have such an opportunity.

Let us also touch on the importance of "going back in history." By going back in history, you can get a coordinate system that structures miscellaneous knowledge and thinks about "what you are, where you come from, and where you go" on a larger scale.

About empathy

Now let's think about "empathy" in relation to our relationships with others. There are two types of empathy. One is "emotional empathy." It is a heart-to-heart empathy that makes you feel the suffering of others as if you were suffering. The other is "cognitive empathy," which recognizes that "I understand the suffering of others, but I do not feel it myself."

Emotional empathy is usually considered to be deeper and better understanding of others. However, this empathy spotlights a particular individual or group, which can narrow the field of vision. Furthermore, there is a tendency for empathy to be directed toward people close to oneself or similar groups, and prejudice is also likely to be reflected. In other words, this type of empathy is prone to bias.

Cognitive empathy is preferable from the perspective of coexisting with different others while acknowledging each other's differences. While relativizing that "my way is only one possibility", even if other people are doing different ways, I have no right to adopt it, so I loosely solidarity with each other. It is "solidarity without empathy".

Critical thinking

As an approach to relativize oneself, there is "critical thinking". Critical thinking refers to checking the words, media, methodologies, etc. that you use in your thoughts and thoughts to see if they are used properly and if they are beyond the limits of their original use. Point to. The author describes it as "self-study". The point is that you put your thoughts into your own thoughts.

Criticism and counterargument (tsukkomi) is a sure way to approach the truth. By making this a habit, you will be able to train your logical certainty.

That it will be free

Increase vocabulary

We are thinking in words, and we cannot think in words we do not know. This means that poor vocabulary leads to poor thinking.

For example, what about the phrase "getting mad"? Is it indignation, humiliation, antipathy, disagreement … These words give up efforts to describe where and how annoying. No matter how convenient it is, if you use only these words, you will not be able to convey your feelings accurately. Then, it becomes more and more irritating.

The same is true for "physiologically unpleasant". When you use these words, you are simply divided into what you dislike and what you like, and you become poor and boring. The same is true for highly partisan words such as "reactionary" and "anti-Japanese." It divides people and makes dialogue impossible.

In this way, words that should expand our thinking can hinder our thinking. The only way to avoid it is to consciously increase your vocabulary.

Liberal Arts

Liberal arts is often paraphrased as "liberal arts." This word is derived from the Latin word "artes liberal" and is also translated as "free arts". This "freedom" is a "free person" and is an idea that has developed in a society with slavery like ancient Greece.

In such a society, the roles of free people are the following two. First, pursue a better life. Second, participate in politics, the debate for creating a better world. The significance of liberal arts, that is, culture, is still summarized in these two.

Then, what is freedom? First of all, freedom from myself. Free yourself from your timidity, intellectual laziness, bias, prejudice and prejudice. In addition, freedom from the restrictions brought about by the words I have learned, freedom from a narrow perspective brought about by my specialty, freedom from the land where I was born, and freedom from the country.

Liberal arts is to free yourself from these various restraints and gain soul freedom. Only when you become a free person in that sense can you be involved in creating a good world and become a member of the runners of cultural genes.

Recommendation of reading

Although this book is quite expansive, the summary only provided an outline of the discussion. This is a book that you should actually pick up. Also, if you have children of that age, this is a ridiculous opportunity. We recommend that you read it with your child. It should be a lifelong gift for children.