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1st Unit : 4th Study Group Session

“Inoue Enryo and philosophical religion [tetsugakushū] ”


 October16,2013, the 1st Unit of the Ircp held a session at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 2, Meeting Room 3), entitled“Inoue Enryo and philosophical religion [tetsugakushū] ” with Okada Masahiko (Professor at Tenri University) as the invited speaker.

   Inoue Enryō’s later works were examined at a study group meeting held on October 16 (Wednesday). Discussion focused on an essay titled, “My mission in philosophy” [Tetsugakujō ni okeru yo no shimei], that appeared in February 1919 in Tōyō tetsugaku.

   In this work, Inoue looked back at his own life. Separating his life into its early and later periods, he spoke in detail about the concept of “philosophy sect” [tetsugakushū], which would pull together all the work he had done to date. Inoue had intended to compile a bible for his “philosophy sect” and bring together likeminded individuals from around Japan to form a religious order centering on Tetsugakudō, which would be the head temple for the “Tetsugaku (Philosophy) temple of the Dōtoku (Morality) school” [Dōtokuzan Tetsugakuji]. However, this never came about as Inoue died in Dairen (now Dalian), China, in June that year while on a lecture tour. However, scholars argue that one cannot ignore this late life idea if one is to understand the totality of Inoue’s intellectual endeavors.

  Inoue’s theory of religion saw religion’s value as being one and the same as truth in philosophy and science. His theory stressed the logical aspects of Buddhist thought and was recognized as the workings of a “philosophical Buddhism” that relativizes that value of religion. However, for Inoue the value of philosophy was absolute rather than relative. His objective likely was not to make philosophies of religion or Buddhism, but instead to turn philosophy and modern thought into religions.

 The work done for the presentations at this study group meeting took his concept of “philosophy sect” as their starting point. Focusing on his 1890 work, Seikai Sōyūki(published by Tetsugaku Shoin), they made inferences from the materials available about the “philosophy sect” bible and the organization of a religious order that Inoue had in mind.

 Further study will be needed regarding the utopian patriotic thought that Inoue developed mainly later in life, viewing it in light of the spirit of the times typified by the expectations for a new modern nation and the awakening of a national consciousness that came in conjunction with the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution. At the same time, this work will also need to be compared with the discourse of other religious thinkers of the day such as Uchimura Kanzō.

 Shedding more detailed light on Inoue’s unique “philosophy sect” concept should provide an important foothold for a broader examination of the unique features of Japanese religious and ethical thought during the years in which the country was formed into a modern state.