The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
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Lecture: “A Sustainable Future and Religion”

Prof. Kato is an honorary professor at Kyoto University. To date, he has taught at Chiba University and Kyoto University and served as president of Tottori University of Environmental Studies. He is a specialist in philosophy, bioethics and environmental ethics. He has written many books including Tetsugaku no Shimei [Mission of Philosophy] (1992), Hegeru Tetsugaku no Keisei to Genri [Formation and Principle of Hegelian Philosophy] (1980), Gendai Rinrigaku Nyumon [Introduction to Contemporary Ethics] (1997) and Noushi Kuron Idenshi Chiryo [Cerebral Death, Clone and Gene Therapy] (1999).

In his lecture, Prof. Kato shared his concern about changes in the global environment and told the audience, “Today, we consume a dreadfully large amount of natural resources in our daily lives. But what will we do when the oil resources are depleted? What will we do when water is no longer available? In addition to such serious issues, wildlife species are also in decline. Due to such threats, human beings will find it increasingly difficult to sustain life on Earth. If we are able to take care of the resources available now and consume them wisely, we can become sustainable. However, the important thing is to realize this goal.”

Prof. Kato then commented on how religion can play its own role under such circumstances. He explained that religions point to harmony with nature and the protection it provides us through teachings such as Buddhism and Christianity. He also stressed that human beings have become much greedier due to their pursuit of materialism. “We human beings have natural needs. Money, however, has completely changed the way we understand our needs. It has made us unnaturally greedy and made it very difficult for us to shed our desires. I believe therefore that religion could play a significant role today in changing this,” he said. 

In conclusion, Prof. Kato gave an overview of “A Sustainable Future and Religion” which is also a theme the IOP is addressing through the public lectures this year. He said, “It is not until human beings take up a religion that they can realize the connection between society and nature. We should search for a better way to live our lives by acquiring accurate information. It is religion that tells us how attractive a simple and satisfying life is. Without the spiritual strength to control our desires, there can be no sustainability. Nowadays, we are flooded with information, often more harmful misinformation than we might have been exposed to in previous times. Under such circumstances, in order to acquire trustworthy information, we need to trust others and be trusted by them.

Organizer: The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP)
Lecturer: Professor Hisatake Kato (Honorary Professor, Kyoto University)
Venue: TKP Ichigaya Conference Center (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)
Date: November 17, 2016

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