★★★TED Lesson / Damon Horowitz: Philosophy in prison(デイモン・ホロヴィッツ「刑務所の哲学」)

2012年10月05日 ★★★, education, global issues, TED.

TED Damon Horowitz: Philosophy in prison

About This Talk

Damon Horowitz teaches philosophy through the Prison University Project, bringing college-level classes to inmates of San Quentin State Prison. In this powerful short talk, he tells the story of an encounter with right and wrong that quickly gets personal.

*There is a word list below the script. The list includes blue colored words which are in the script.


デイモン・ホロヴィッツはPrison University Project(刑務所内大学プロジェクト)を通じて、サン・クエンティン州立刑務所の在監者に高等教育水準の哲学の授業を提供しています。この短くも力強いTalkの中で善悪との遭遇について語ります。


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(1)Meet Tony. He’s my student. He’s about my age, and he’s in San Quentin State Prison.When Tony was 16 years old, one day, one moment, ”It was mom’s gun. Just flash it, scare the guy. He’s a punk. He took some money; we’ll take his money. That’ll teach him. Then last minute, I’m thinking, ‘Can’t do this. This is wrong.’ My buddy says, ‘C’mon, let’s do this.’ I say, ‘Let’s do this.’” And those three words, Tony’s going to remember, because the next thing he knows, he hears the pop. There’s the punk on the ground, puddle of blood. And that’s felony murder – 25 to life, parole at 50 if you’re lucky, and Tony’s not feeling very lucky.

(2)So when we meet in my philosophy class in his prison and I say, “In this class, we will discuss the foundations of ethics,” Tony interrupts me. ”What are you going to teach me about right and wrong? I know what is wrong. I have done wrong. I am told every day, by every face I see, every wall I face, that I am wrong. If I ever get out of here, there will always be a mark by my name. I’m a convict; I am branded ‘wrong.’ What are you going to tell me about right and wrong?”

(3)So I say to Tony, ”Sorry, but it’s worse than you think. You think you know right and wrong?Then can you tell me what wrong is? No, don’t just give me an example. I want to know about wrongness itself, the idea of wrong. What is that idea? What makes something wrong? How do we know that it’s wrong? Maybe you and I disagree. Maybe one of us is wrong about the wrong. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s me — but we’re not here to trade opinions; everyone’s got an opinion. We are here for knowledge. Our enemy is thoughtlessness. This is philosophy.”

(4)And something changes for Tony. ”Could be I’m wrong. I’m tired of being wrong. I want to know what is wrong. I want to know what I know.” What Tony sees in that moment is the project of philosophy, the project that begins in wonder – what Kant called “admiration and awe at the starry sky above and the moral law within.” What can creatures like us know of such things? It is the project that always takes us back to the condition of existence – what Heidegger called “the always already there.” It is the project of questioning what we believe and why we believe it – what Socrates called “the examined life.” Socrates, a man wise enough to know that he knows nothing. Socrates died in prison, his philosophy intact.

(5)So Tony starts doing his homework. He learns his whys and wherefores, his causes and correlations, his logic, his fallacies. Turns out, Tony’s got the philosophy muscle. His body is in prison, but his mind is free. Tony learns about the ontologically promiscuous, the epistemologically anxious, the ethically dubious, the metaphysically ridiculous. That’s Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche and Bill Clinton.

(6)So when he gives me his final paper, in which he argues that the categorical imperative is perhaps too uncompromising to deal with the conflict that affects our everyday and challenges me to tell him whether therefore we are condemned to moral failure, I say, “I don’t know. Let us think about that.” Because in that moment, there’s no mark by Tony’s name; it’s just the two of us standing there. It is not professor and convict, it is just two minds ready to do philosophy. And I say to Tony, ”Let’s do this.”

Thank you.



Let’s talk about the article base on the questions below.

Viewpoints or discussion

  1. Have you ever experienced a big mistake because of your thoughtlessness?
  2. For you, what are the definitions of the being right and wrong?
  3. Have you ever experienced the dramatic change of your way of thinking through  studying or reading books, etc?


(1)puddle /ˈpʌdl/ n, a small amount of water or other liquid, especially rain, that has collected in one place on the ground

felony /ˈfeləni/ n, the act of committing a serious crime such as murder or rape; a crime of this type

parole /pəˈroʊl/ n, permission that is given to a prisoner to leave prison before the end of their sentence on condition that they behave well

(2)convict /kənˈvɪkt/ n, a person serving a prison sentence.

(4)admiration /ˌædməˈreɪʃn/ n, a feeling of respect and liking for somebody/something

awe /ɔː/ n, feelings of respect and slight fear; feelings of being very impressed by something/somebody

starry /ˈstɑːri/ n, full of stars

intact /ɪnˈtækt/ adj, complete and not damaged

(5)why /waɪ/ n, a question concerning the cause or reason for whichsomething is done, achieved, etc

wherefore /hwέərfːr/ n, the cause or reason

cause /kɔːz/ n,  a reason for having particular feelings or behaving in a particular way

correlation/ˌkɔːrəˈleɪʃn/ n, a connection between two things in which one thing changes as the other does

logic /ˈlɑːdʒɪk/ n, sensible reasons for doing something

fallacy /ˈfæləsi/ n, a false way of thinking about something

ontologically / ɒnˈtɒlədʒɪ/ n, philosophy  the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being

promiscuous /prəˈmɪskjuəs/ adj, consisting of a number of dissimilar parts or elements mingled ina confused or indiscriminate manner

epistemological /ɪˌpɪstəˈmɑːlədʒi/ pertaining to epistemology,  a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

anxious /ˈæŋkʃəs/ adj, feeling worried or nervous

ethically /ˈeθɪkli/ adv,  pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles ofmorality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.

dubious /ˈduːbiəs/ adj, not certain and slightly suspicious about something; not knowing whether something is good or bad

metaphysically /ˌmetəˈfɪzɪkali/ adv,  a.concerned with abstract thought or subjects, asexistence, causality, or truth./ b.concerned with first principles and ultimate grounds, asbeing, time, or substance.

ridiculous /rɪˈdɪkjələs/ adj, very silly or unreasonable

(6)uncompromising /ʌnˈkɑːmprəmaɪzɪŋ/ adj, unwilling to change your opinions or behaviour



(1)私の教え子トニーの話をします 年齢は私と大差有りません 彼はサン・クエンティン州立刑務所にいます トニーが16歳だった― ある日ある瞬間のことでした 「あれは母さんの銃だ チンピラを脅かしてやろうと… 金をぼられたから やり返そうと思った 「間違ってる」とは思ったんだ」しかし 「とっとと やるぞ」と急かす友人に 「やっちまうか」と返事をしてしまいました 銃声を耳にした彼の脳裏には 最後の言葉が焼き付くこととなります 血の海に与太者が横たわっていました 殺人 ― 大罪です 禁固刑25年 運がよければ50歳で仮出所 トニーは運にも見放されたようでした

(2)刑務所の哲学の授業でトニーと顔を合せ 私は言いました 「このクラスでは道徳の基礎の部分を扱おうと思う」 トニーは不服そうに言いました 「良いことと悪いこと?何ごとだよ? 俺は罪を犯したんだ 善悪の見境くらいつくさ 毎日毎日 皆から 壁から― 「おまえは間違っている」と言い聞かされてるんだからな 刑務所を出たとしても罪を背負って生きることになる 生涯 俺は犯罪者なんだ 善と悪についていったい何を教えてくれんだ?」

(3)私はトニーにこう返事をしました 「事態は君が思っているより深刻だよ 君はなにが悪いことか知ってるのか? じゃあ 教えてもらってもいいかな? 例を挙げろと言ってるんではないよ ”非行”という概念そのものを理解したい これは一体なんなんだ? なにが善と悪を分けるんだ? 善と悪の境界線なんて曖昧なものだろ? 俺らの”非行”に対する観念すら 間違ってるかもしれない 意見交換をする気はないんだ 確固たる”知識”が必要なんだ 浅慮こそが大敵なんだ これこそ哲学だ」

(4)トニーがどこか変わりました 「もう道を外れるのはうんざりだ 悪とはなんなのか?自分が― 何を知りたいのか?それを知りたい」 トニーは自身の疑念の中に 哲学の投企を見いだしたのです つまり「我が上なる星空と、我が内なる道徳法則― 我はこの二つに畏敬の念を抱いてやまない」 カントの教えです 私たちは一体何を知り得るのだろう? これこそ存在の意味について問う投企であり ハイデッガーの”存在了解”に当たります 更に人は何をなぜ信じるのかという投企でもあり ソクラテスが説いた”生の中の螺旋”です ソクラテスは自身の無知を認めた賢い人でした ソクラテスは牢獄で生涯を終えましたが 最後まで彼の哲学が変ることはありませんでした

(5)トニーは宿題を始めました 彼自信の疑問点・主張・相互関係― 論理・誤謬を悟ることで 哲学の基礎体力を養いました 身体は牢獄の中ですが心は解き放たれていました トニーはプラトンの存在論的混乱 デカルトの認識論的不安 ニーチェの倫理学的疑問とビル・クリントンの― 形而上学的不条理について 知を深めたのです (笑)

(6)彼は最終レポートで定言命令による 行動は無条件であるがために 日常生活中の葛藤を 抑えられないのだと論じて このため道徳的過ちを犯した人は 糾弾されるのかと私に説明を求めました トニーにこう返事をしました 「分からないよ 一緒に考えないか」 トニーには一点の汚れもなく そこにいたのは教授と犯罪者ではなく ただただ哲学を学ぼうとする 考える2本の葦でした トニーにこう言いました「やっちまうか」



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