Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 3

11 June, 2008 HANEDA Masashi, Secularization, Religion, State

On June 2nd, the third session of the Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” was held.

In this session, we read Yasushi KOSUGI, “Religion and Politics: From the Horizon of the Islamic Politics,” the Iwanami Series about Religion, vol.1 (Japan: Iwanami-Shoten, 2003) and Hiroshi YAMANAKA, “Historical View of the Religious Sociology,” the Iwanami Series about Religion, vol.3 (Japan: Iwanami-Shoten, 2004). The former focuses on the issue of religious revival which has appeared in various areas since the second half of the twentieth century. At first, he picks up the problem of the separation of religion and politics, and mentions that concepts of “secular state” and “the separation of religion and politics” are based on the ideas of “religion” and “secular” which came from the modern western ideas formed by the philosophers of the Enlightenment in the context of Christianity. Then he turns to the topic of the Islamic politics, and points out that nature of the Islamic politics is unitary, combination of the politics and religion, while nature of the western politics is dual. As the people of the Islamic world accepted the “secular state” by their perception of the world, the Islamic models of “secular state” and “the separation of religion and politics” became quite different from those of the modern western world. In addition, he points out the possibility of the religious revival connected with a political phenomenon which is so far behind the ethnicity. Finally he concludes that we need re-definition of religion which is free from the modern western ideas, and that we also need the global typification of the relationship between politics and religion.

Dangers of the application of the modern western ideas to the non-European society which KOSUGI points out should not be overlooked. Moreover, we should not underestimate interaction between religious ideas and nationalism when we think over the issue of the religious revival. On the other hand, attendants of the seminar raised a question regarding the comparison of the Islamic politics and the western politics, as it seemed comparison of the ideology of the Islam and the reality of the western world.

In the latter, YAMANAKA discusses the secularization debate and historical view of the religious sociology which exists behind it. He is also seeking analytical view toward the religion of the modern society. He analyzes studies of the secularization debate up to now, and criticizes that they include theory that modernization is connected to rationalization of sense, in other word, decline of the religious faith, because they regard changes of the social structure and transfiguration of pattern of the recognition inseparable. In addition, he makes view of the human being clear which exists behind the orthodox secularization debate through the analysis of the P. Berger. He mentions that modernization and secularization lead to the abandonment of the dependence on the supernatural existence, and that rational perception of the world trivializes a fundamental question of the classical religious sociology, that is to say, what human being should be in the modern society. In conclusion, he insists that we should not regard religion as social structure, and that we should conceptualize it as a cultural resource which has flexibility and impossibility of prospect.

YAMANAKA insists that secularization debate based on the typical western model of nation state is invalid in the contemporary world which became multicentric and global. His idea would be helpful when we think over the relationship between religion and politics in the contemporary society. On the other hand, his answer to the question which he set in his introduction seemed insufficient.

Reported by Keiko OTA

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