2. International Research Center for Philosophy >
  3. Philosophy of post-Fukushima (Yamaguchi Masahiro)

Philosophy of post-Fukushima (Yamaguchi Masahiro)

4thconference of“A philosophy of post-Fukushima”, 2nd Unit

山   On Saturday, December 14, 2013, The fourth in a series of conferences on the theme, “A Philosophy of Post-Fukushima”was held at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 9, Meeting Room 4). The presenter was Visiting Researcher of Ircp,Yamaguchi Masahiro. He spoke on “Life in Thenuclear Age: A Proposal from Philosophy and Thought”.There were participants both from within and outside Toyo University, including the moderator and Center Director Murakami Katsuzo.

   In thinking about the future of “Fukushima,” which still has many unsolved problems, it is necessary to conceive a “philosophy in a nuclear age” from a perspective that engages in a dialogue with the pastwhich goes back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yamaguchi, based on Robert Jungk’s The Atomic State (1977) and Max Horkheimer’s Eclipse of Reason (1947) (both texts by German thinkers that Yamaguchi translated and introduced to Japan), highlighted that the domination of nature and humans by science and technology that is centered on the development of nuclear power has transformed humans into “Homo Atomicus”.In the words of Horkheimer, this is nothing besides the hollowing out of “reason” due to the domination of “instrumental reason.” In fact, the disasterscaused bynuclear power have exposed the selfishness of humans,while they have clarified that humans cannot live without being connected to others. Focusing on the concepts of “tribulation” and “responsibility for sin”,Yamaguchi discussed this, while touching on the American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, Nishida Kitarō, passages from the Old Testament, and so on. As Job laid bare and Viktor Frankl depicted in Night and Fog, the problem is a situation in which humans have been completely nullified and lost all their goals, not to mention their future. In closing, Yamaguchi brought up Friedrich Nietzsche to help us think about life and responsibility in an era without God. The “death of God” that Nietzsche speaks of,is not mere nihilism. It leads toan affirmation of the world that takes the form of loving both happiness and suffering. This approach can be seen not only in Judeo-Christian traditions but also in Zen Buddhismand so on in the Asian cultural sphere. Yamaguchi concluded by arguing that the thought centered around love for the world can overcome the criticalsituation of the nuclear age in which human bonds and souls are broken apart.

   In addition to the session ofquestion and answer regarding Yamaguchi’s presentation, a multiangulardiscussion was held,in which some talked about the experience of the actual situation in the area stricken by the disasters, and some of the job to export plants to developing countries and so on. While it was a small-scale symposium, it was a very fruitful opportunity.