The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
   Public Lectures

Lecture: “Toynbee and Religion”
Dr. Kawakubo’s fields of research are the comparative study of civilizations and American literature. He served as the dean of the College of Foreign Languages at Reitaku University, vice president of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations and president of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society of Japan. While lecturing at Reitaku University, Dr. Kawakubo visited the renowned historian, Arnold J. Toynbee’s residence as an interpreter for Dr. Sentaro Hiroike, then president of Reitaku University. Since that time, he has been conducting research on Toynbee’s book, A Study of History, and remains dedicated to promoting the comparative study of civilizations. Meanwhile, he published his own writing, From Toynbee to Comparative Civilizations, in which he studies Toynbee’s works from the perspective of civilization, religion and international politics, indicating Toynbee’s role as a great spiritual teacher.

In his lecture, Dr. Kawakubo remarked that Toynbee did not have faith in an abstract existence of a god, but gradually came to believe in an ultimate spiritual reality. Although Toynbee was born into a family that supported the Church of England, he studied various other religions including Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Confucianism and Buddhism. He explored the essence of religion through the study of comparative civilizations.

Dr. Kawakubo stressed that Toynbee believed “civilizations are born from religions” and that “the study of civilizations is equal to the study of religions.” Therefore, he hoped to contribute to peace by conducting dialogue and recognizing the positive aspects of other religions rather than disputing over their differences.

Finally, Dr. Kawakubo reminisced on his encounter with Toynbee while serving as his interpreter in London in 1972. He said, “Toynbee’s hand was very soft. I felt that he was someone who could see through the people around him. I’m sure that everyone who met him would have felt a natural sense of respect and honor for him due to the depth of character he cultivated through his study of history and religion. In spite of those who criticized Toynbee for the breadth of his studies, he continued unperturbed to build a foundation for the study of history of civilizations. Still today, his contribution is widely recognized by experts around the world. It is therefore imperative that we continue to learn from his work.” 

Organizer: The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP)
Lecturer: Dr. Keisuke Kawakubo (Professor emeritus, Reitaku University)
Venue:  TKP Ichigaya Conference Center (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)
Date: October 25, 2016

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