Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 15

25 January, 2009 HANEDA Masashi, Secularization, Religion, State

The 15th session of the Seminar “Secularization, Religion, and State” was held on 15th December.

   In this session, we took up Satoko Fujiwara’s The Sacred and Modernity (Taisho Univ. Press, 2005). In this Book, she deals the concept of “sacred” and reveals that it was invented in modern times. At first, the presentation was done by Takahiro Yokoyama (Ph. D. student, the University of Tokyo). He summarized this book especially focusing on the first and third chapter.

    According to the author, Emile Durkheim and Rudolph Otto were the prominent figures among the first generation of researchers who adopted the concept of “sacred” as analytical concept for religious studies. In both chapters, she deals their concept of “sacred” and its relational concepts (ex. value, power, experience, action, etc.). On their concept of “value”, they emphasized that specific emotion and action were evoked when we considered something to be valuable as “sacred”. Based on their emphasis, she points out they had anti-intellectualistic tendency. However, it does not mean they were on the side of irrationalism. On their concept of “power”, they (especially Durkheim) compared religious power to physical one under the influence of the natural science which rapidly developed in the 19th century. Through these analyses, the author concluded they shared the feature of the formalism.

    In the third chapter, she makes it clear that there is also the feature of the formalism in their concepts of “experience” and “emotion”. In the 19th century, those concepts were regarded as personal and irrational. According to them, however, religious experience and emotion are changed from personal to collective ones through sharing them among the people. As a result, those concepts come to be rational due to those collectivities. Meanwhile, they did not necessarily recognize the need to understand the contents of religious experience and emotion. Based on these facts, the author concluded that there is also the feature of the formalism in their concepts of “experience” and “emotion”.

   After his own presentation, Yokoyama commented that Durkheim did not strictly define the meaning of “collectivity” in Durkheim’s concept of “emotion” and expressed his interest in comparing the religious studies in Japan (ex. Chu-ichi Uoki, Daisetsu Suzuki) with Durkheim and Otto’s religious study.

   In our discussion, Prof. Haneda advised that Yokoyama should treat the latter part of this book in which the author discussed about how religious studies shall be redefined in the contemporary context. A participant criticized Uoki and Suzuki’ arguments were based on the non-historical understandings of religion and doubted the validity of the comparative study in which Yokoyama interested.

Reported by Satoshi KATSUNUMA

  • HOME>
    • Blog>
      • Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 15
//Page Top