The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
Lecture: “Public Philosophy of Religion—Toward Interreligous Dialogue”
Prof. Yamawaki is an honorary professor at the University of Tokyo and dean of the faculty of biochemistry at Seisa University. He graduated from Hitotsubashi University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Munich in Germany. Prof. Yamawaki has taught at Tokai University, Sophia University, and the University of Tokyo. He is specialized in public philosophy and the history of social thought. Public philosophy is an area which has received a great deal of attention. He has been active as the leading expert in the area, and his writings have appeared in junior high and high school textbooks. He is an author of Kokyo Tetsugaku towa Nanika [What is Public Philosophy?] (2004), Shakai to Dou Kakawaru ka [How to Engage with Society] (2008), Grokaru Kokyo Tetsugaku [Glocal Public Philosophy] (2008), Shakai Shisoshi wo Manabu [Learning the history of Social Thought] (2009), and Kokyo Tetsugaku karano Outou [Answers from Public Philosophy] (2011).
In a lecture, Prof. Yamawaki remarked that public philosophy is a practical form of learning, which examines various public problems while seeking a better and more equal society together with common people. He emphasized that public philosophy should not be mere hollow theory but should rather be considered in various areas such as politics, economics, education and religion.
He stressed that faith needs to be understood as universal public activities, and religion’s public philosophy should serve to bond “us” and “others.” He further remarked that public philosophy is something that accepts differences in other religions and that creates public good and values in an unequal society. He added that believers of any religions should not be fundamentalists or relativists who insist on their own view of things. “Truly religious people do not avoid dialogues with those who have different points of view. In a sense, they need a degree of tolerance to accept and understand those who are different,” he said.
In terms of public philosophy in religion, he said that religions need to offer activities which benefit public. Thus religions should be something that connect “us” and “others,” accept the differences, and create public goodness and value in what is an unequal society. He remarked that practitioners should not be relativists or fundamentalists who insist on their own ideas. “True practitioners are those who do not refuse to have dialogue with people who have different opinions” he said.