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The Merchant of Vennie and Kokinshu

In terms of class, Professor Mineo Yoshiharu's treatment of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and Professor Abe Akio's presentation of the Kokinshu(Kokinshu: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern) mage a particular impression on me.

The Merchant of Venice taught me that words can be arranged to reach logical conclusions that are completely divorced from the real world. In The Merchant, the wording of a valid contact logically is interpreted to mean that the creditor may extract a pound of flesh but must not shed any blood, which is clearly impossible in the real world. Though this encounter with Shakespeare's play, I learned for the first time that the interpretation of a document depends more on its wording than on its intent.

The Kokinshu is a magnificent demonstration of how a world filled with artistic meaning created by language can be maintained without compromise in a world torn apart by war. I admired the collection and personally identified with it because I sensed that the beauty and vitality of life existed in the Kokinshu.

Although I did not realize this until later, it was through my study of the Kokinshu with Professor Abe Akio that I acquired the view that became the starting point for may philosophy of language.

My philosophy of language is not structuralism; rather, my view is that language is a supple experience in which a person approaches his or her intended meaning through the use of reason and language.

 

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