The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
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Lecture: “Thoughts on Earth in the Cotemporary World”

Prof. Keta has taught at Kanazawa University, and currently specializes in religious philosophy and religious studies. Having earned her PhD in literature at Kyoto University, she now teaches there while also serving as president of the Japanese Association for Religious Studies. Prof. Keta has written many books including Nishida Kitaro ‘Zen no Kenkyu’ [‘The Study of Good’ by Kitaro Nishida] (2011), Nihirizumu no Shisaku [Nihilist Thought] (1999) and Shukyo Keiken no Tetsugaku: Jodokyo Sekai no Kaimei [Philosophy of Religious Experience: An Elucidation of the Pure Land Buddhist World] (1992).

In a lecture, Prof. Keta referred to ‘earth’ as a key concept in literature and religion. She explained, “The earth is the source of every harvest. It is a religious object that finds expression in Greek and Japanese mythology. It is a word that means a specific locality with a boundless expanse.” She added that the earth is the ultimate mother, giving birth to everything and serving as a place that brings together birth and death.

Mentioning religion and spirituality in Japan, and referring to Daisetsu Suzuki, a Buddhist scholar, Prof. Keta said, “We sometimes feel nostalgia for the past when we hear about the earth. Today, however, the primary meaning given to Earth is that of a planet. Scientific progress has changed our perspective of the earth as a boundless source of life into the Earth as a mere sphere. In this way, science has relativized the world. While the earth is eternal, the Earth will end someday.”

Regarding some of the global issues we face today, she stressed, “We have decided to inhabit the Earth and treat the environment as our own property. In fact, we destroy the environment with our own hands and consume all its resources. Considering these negative aspects, we have to take responsibility for living on Earth. Earth is the earth and vice-versa. It is neither an object to be researched, nor a work of art to be viewed, nor is it a resource to be consumed. The important issue is how we sustain life on Earth with its history of both glory and folly. Religion is indispensable in the search for a way to address this issue differently than we have done so far.

Organizer: The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP)
Lecturer: Professor Masako Keta (Professor, Kyoto University / President of Japanese Association for Religious Studies)
Venue: Umeda Sky Building (Osaka-shi, Osaka)
Date: November 30, 2016

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