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On Being Religious in a/the Political World: How to Understand Soka Gakkai and Its Support for Komeito

Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012) On Being Religious in a/the Political World: How to Understand Soka Gakkai and Its Support for Komeito. In: European Japan Research Centre Seminar Series, 13 March, 2012, Oxford Brookes University. (Forthcoming)

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Abstract

This presentation is based on long term, firsthand research of a socially engaged grassroots movement with philosophical ideas and teachings that are derived from Nichiren (1222-1282). The question for Soka Gakkai, as arguably for Nichiren, is a Socratic one: what it means to live as a human being. While this may be at the root of what constitutes Buddhism, unlike most other forms for Buddhism in Japan, the concept of justice is central to Soka Gakkai Buddhists. As indicated, there are similarities with Socrates and Plato upon whose philosophies Ikeda Daisaku (b.1928) has drawn to illustrate his interpretation of Nichiren Buddhism. This inevitably involves some form for engagement with political powers. While Soka Gakkai founders’ concern with justice and human flourishing was expressed as opposition to militarism in the 1930s and 40s, it has been its support for the political party Komeito in postwar Japan and its attempt on a mass scale to change society and politics in Japan that has been the most conspicuous and influential. I will discuss the nature of this and offer an alternative analysis to the one commonly given. Alternative conceptualisation, however, further leads to other epistemological questions about how we understand beliefs and actions of others in dispassionate and non-normative terms when they and the perception of them are so intricately intertwined with and shaped by dominant political discourses.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Lecture)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Depositing User: Anne Fisker-Nielsen
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2012 11:18
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/13046

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