Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
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Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science
51 (1), March 2016

East Asian Voices on Science and the Humanities

Table of Contents


Zygon Goes Global: East Asian Voices by Willem B. Drees

Voices from East Asia have the floor in this special issue, the first issue of our second half-century as Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. We hear about ways of understanding science (and traditional knowledge) and religion (or should one rather say cultural traditions or values) and the humanities that have their home in China, Japan, and Korea, from scholars who are at home in this part of the world. The natural sciences have become global, at least in the sense that knowledge quickly flows from one university to the other, even if located half-way around the globe. However, though contemporary science aspires to be global, the development and migration of science has reflected dominance due to economic and military power. In this issue, we will hear about some of the migration of scientific knowledge with Western missionaries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to China (Si Jia Jane and Dong Shaoxin) and Tibet (Zhao Aidong). And in this process, science has had its own interaction with local forms of scholarship, such as those embedded in Confucianism (Hsu Kuang-Tai).
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12246

Extending the Global Academic Table: An Introduction by Thomas J. Hastings

Before commenting on the papers from a recent interdisciplinary gathering of scholars from China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, a case is made for regional academia conversations today, because international conferences, especially in the humanities and social sciences, are still dominated by “Western” traditions, discourse, and protocols. After touching on the relative stability or variability of phenomena and procedures in the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences, political and cultural questions are considered along with some of the ongoing consequences of the East Asian adoption of the European model of the modern research university.
cosmos • cultural norms • disciplinary stability and variability • East Asia • future of the humanities and social sciences in East Asia • global academic table • “Heaven, Earth, and Humanity”
Thomas John Hastings is Consultant for the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (New York City and Hong Kong) and Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan; e-mail: tjhastingsbpp @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12231

Where Are We?

Why Is Confucianism Not a Religion? The Impact of Orientalism by Chen Na

This study attempts to answer the question why Confucianism, the dominant “teaching” among the Three Teachings, is not a religion in contemporary China, unlike the other two “teachings,” Buddhism and Daoism. By examining this phenomenon in the social-historical context, this study finds its origin in Orientalism. The Orientalist conceptualization of religion became part of the New Culture discourse at the turn of the twentieth century. While China has undergone tremendous social changes over the past century, the old discourse remains.
China • Chinese religion • Confucianism • New Culture discourse • Orientalism • scientism
Chen Na is Research Fellow at the Research Center for Comparative Literature and World Literature, Shanghai Normal University, and Research Fellow at the Fudan Development Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai, China; e-mail: nachen3 @ yahoo.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12241

Shinto Research and the Humanities in Japan by Kamata Toji

Three approaches to scholarship are “scholarship as a way,” which aims at perfection of character; “scholarship as a method,” which clearly limits objects and methods in order to achieve precise perception and new knowledge; and “scholarship as an expression,” which takes various approaches to questions and inquiry. The “humanities” participate deeply and broadly in all three of these approaches. In relation to this view of the humanities, Japanese Shinto is a field of study that yields rich results. As a religion of awe, shrine groves, community, arts, and entertainment, it offers a research field that joins together the study of human beings, nature, society, and expression. Though we elucidate the characteristics of Shinto and its differences with Buddhism, we also draw attention to the seven dimensions of “place, way, beauty, festival, technique, poetry, and ecological wisdom,” and then finally take up “research on techniques of body and mind transformation” as a comprehensive and creative development in the “humanities.”
arts and entertainment • awe • beauty • ecological wisdom • geology and geography • nature • place • techniques of body and mind transformation • way
Kamata Toji is Professor of Religious Philosophy and Folklore at the Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan; e-mail: kamata12 @ juno.ocn.ne.jp.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12233

Religion and Science in Dialogue: An Asian Christian View by Kim Seung Chul

We may understand natural science as part of the attempt by human beings to understand themselves and their place in the world in which they find themselves. In this sense, as Karl Rahner has suggested, natural science flows naturally into anthropology. Consciously or unconsciously, science is always part of the drive to self-understanding. In an age of religious pluralism like ours, Christian faith in Asia is also brought face to face with the living reality of other religions, and that, too, cannot but affect how we understand our shared humanity.
Buddhism • Christianity in Asia • de-centering • natural science • Nishitani Keiji
Kim Seung Chul is Permanent Research Fellow of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture and Professor of Humanities, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan; e-mail: sechkim @ gmail.com.
DOI: DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12236

East Asia and Human Knowledge – A Personal Quest by Lee Yu-Ting

This essay is a reflection on the ways we understand East Asia, as well as how East Asia is related to our knowledge construction. In spite of the personal tone, which I use strategically to formulate arguments in a carefully designed narrative flow, the article remains critical throughout and its conclusion is clear: exploration of the essence of East Asian civilization can constitute a meaningful effort to reevaluate and even restructure our current world of knowledge.
civilization • Confucianism • East Asia • history • humanity • knowledge • language • logic • politics • science
Lee Yu-Ting is Assistant Professor, Institute of National Development, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan; e-mail: ytandylee @ ntu.edu.tw.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12245

How Did We Get There?

Science and Confucianism in Retrospect and Prospect by Hsu Kuang-Tai

In contrast to Western science and religion, a topic which has been studied very much since the twentieth century, less research has been done on science and Confucianism. By way of a comparative viewpoint within the history of science, this article will deal with some aspects of science and Confucianism in retrospect, for instance, the Confucian origin of the idea of tian yuan di fang, the natural philosophy of qi, and the wu xing li tian zhi qi bringing abnormal astrological phenomena and reflecting a negative Confucian relation between politics, ethics, and nature. In the late Ming, Xiong Mingyu found that abnormal astrological phenomena, as atmospheric events, happened in the sublunar region rather than in the stars, and in the present time we can reinterpret the crisis of air pollution or global climate change as reflecting a negative Confucian relation between politics, ethics, and nature and as a warning of collective misbehavior in our use of modern scientific technologies.
Chinese astrology • comparative viewpoint of history of science • natural philosophy of qi • science and Confucianism • tian yuan di fangwu xing li tian zhi qi
Hsu Kuang-Tai is Professor at the Center for General Education/Institute of History, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan; e-mail: kthsu @ mx.nthu.edu.tw.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12244

Humanistic Approach of the Early Protestant Medical Missionaries in Nineteenth-Century China by Si Jia Jane and Dong Shaoxin

The efficacies of Western and Chinese medicine have been under debate for a long time, and the whole issue still raises questions for the contemporary world. The article emphasizes the humanistic approach as well as the scientific method of the early Protestant medical missionaries to China, so as to give a more comprehensive scope to understand their historical roles and practices in a cross-cultural context. The authors also wish to call for a global readership to further discuss this historical legacy with regard to the reception of Christianity in contemporary China and other East Asian countries.
efficacy • humanity • medical missionaries • medical science • Robert Morrison • Peter Parker • Protestant missions • religion • traditional Chinese medicine
Si Jia Jane is Associate Professor in the History Department at Fudan University, Shanghai, China; e-mail: sijia6@yahoo.com; Dong Shaoxin is Professor at the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai, China; e-mail: dongshaoxin @ hotmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12238

American Missionaries Transmitting Science in Early Twentieth-Century Eastern Tibet by Zhao Aidong

This article is based on the author’s extensive research on the missionaries to Tibet from the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) USA, and discusses various missionary efforts to transmit scientific and practical knowledge such as medicine, building, and agriculture in Eastern Tibet from1904-1919. It shows that American missionaries played a prominent and distinctive role in the dissemination of scientific and practical knowledge as a result of their hard work and wisdom. In this sense, they made an important contribution to the development of Tibetan society and the modernization movement in early twentieth-century Eastern Tibet.
agriculture • Batang • Disciples of Christ • Eastern Tibet • Khams • medicine • mission • modernization • science • Albert Shelton • Tachienlu • Tibet
Zhao Aidong is Professor in the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610064, China; e-mail: zhaoaidong @ scu.edu.cn.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12237

East Asian Engagements with Science

Kagawa Toyohiko (1888-1960): Witness to the Cosmic Drama by Thomas John Hastings

At home and abroad, Kagawa Toyohiko was probably the best-known Japanese Christian evangelist, social reformer, writer, and public intellectual of the twentieth century, nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature twice (1947, 1948) and the Nobel Peace Prize three times (1954, 1955, 1956). Appealing to the masses with little knowledge of Christian faith, Kagawa believed that a positive, religio-aesthetic interpretation of nature and science was a key missiological concern in Japan. He reasoned that a faith rooted in the kenotic movement of incarnation and self-giving must strongly support the scientific quest. A voracious reader of science and especially biology, he argues for “directionality,” or what he calls “initial purpose” in the long, painful, cosmic journey from matter to life to mind (or consciousness). Through an antireductionistic, a posteriori methodological pluralism that sought to “see all things whole,” this “scientific mystic” employed Christian, Buddhist, Neo-Confucian, personalist, and vitalist ideas to envision complementary roles for science and religion in modern society.
collective responsibility • cosmic evil • directionality • initial purpose • logic of finality • redemptive love • science as art • scientific mystic • seeing all things whole • slippage
Thomas John Hastings is Consultant for the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (New York City and Hong Kong) and Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan; e-mail: tjhastingsbpp @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12232

Kagawa’s Cosmic Purpose and Modernization in Japan by Inagaki Hisakazu

Kagawa Tyohiko (1888–1960), who was a well known Christian leader and social reformer, is re-evaluated from the perspective of a public philosophy, and as an example of the possibilities for collaboration and conflict between science and the religious humanities in East Asia. His last book, Cosmic Purpose, which appears to be a kind of natural theology, is analyzed from the perspective of the hidden topic of human evil. By considering Kagawa’s deep religious sensibility and conscience, the book can be interpreted to reflect on the wrong directionality selected by modern Japan’s leaders that resulted in the tragic war.
Asia-Pacific war • atomic bomb • cosmic evil • critical realism for science and religion • evolution • intentionality • public philosophy • selection • transcendent in the world
Inagaki Hisakazu is Professor of Philosophy at Tokyo Christian University, Inzai, Chiba, Japan; e-mail inagaki @ tci.ac.jp; hisa.inagaki @ nifty.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12243

An East Asian Mathematical Conceptualization of the Transhuman by Hyun Woosik

This study explores the transhuman from an East Asian perspective. In terms of cognitive science, mathematics, and theology, we define the transhuman system as characterized by (1) transcendence, (2) extension by compactification, and (3) samtaegeuk. Compactification is conceptualized here in mathematical terms, as adding one or more elements so that a system becomes more complete—as one might join both ends of a line, and thereby create a circle. We assert that the East Asian transhuman could be defined as a three-point compactification: (1) as an extension of biophysical objects and events such as robots, cyborgs, and environments (Earth); (2) as an extension of culture, science, and art (Human); and (3) as an extension of the interaction between the human and Cosmic Absolute such as in religions. Such a notion of the Transhuman might be associated with God, but any description of God, the Absolute Infinite, will apply to something less than God.
absolute infinity • compactification • East Asia • God • samtaegeuk • singularity • transcendence • transhuman
Hyun Woosik is Professor of Christian Studies, Hoseo University, Cheonan, Korea; e-mail: godel @ hoseo.edu.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12240

Jumping Together: A Way from Sociobiology to Bio-Socio-Humanities by Kang Shin Ik

Sociobiology is a grand narrative of evolutionary biology on which to build unified knowledge. Consilience is a metaphorical representation of that narrative. I take up the same metaphor but apply it differently. I evoke the image of jumping together, not on solid ground but on the strong, flexible canvas sheet of a trampoline, on which natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities jump together. This image overlaps with the traditional East Asian way of understanding—that is, the “Heaven-Earth-Person Triad.” Using recent insights from cognitive science—metaphor, embodiment, and conceptual blending—I propose the alternative way of “bio-sociohumanities” to understand and experience the world.
bio-socio-humanities • conceptual blending • consilience • embodiment • evolution • Heaven-Earth-Person Triad (HEP triad) • life course • narrative • sociobiology
Kang Shin Ik is Professor in the Department of Medical Humanities, School of Dentistry, Pusan National University, 49 Busandaehak-ro, Mulgum-eup, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, 50612, South Korea; e-mail: philomedi @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12235

Multilayered Sociocultural Phenomena: Associations between Subjective Well-being and Economic Status by Fukushima Shintaro

In this article, incoherent results of the associations between subjective well-being and economic status at multiple social levels are shown. Although individual-level positive associations are shown within developed countries, national-level associations disappear among developed countries. Group/area-level associations, meanwhile, do exist within Japanese societies. From these inconsistent phenomena, a sociocultural unit is proposed, within which well-being of people is collectively shared based on mutual reciprocity. The simple addition of social scientific results themselves cannot reconstruct the whole range of phenomena. Humanities could be considered as the glue, which adds sociocultural meanings to the generalized scientific results.
culture • economy • multilevel • social science • sociocultural unit • universality • well-being
Fukushima Shintaro is Assistant Professor in the School of Cultural and Creative Studies at Aoyamagakuin University, 4-4-25 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150–8366, Japan; e-mail: routashin @ gmail.com.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12234

Mapping One World: Religion and Science from an East Asian Perspective by Shin Jaeshik

This article aims to delineate a model of religion-science relationship from an East Asian perspective. The East Asian way of thinking is depicted as nondualistic, relational, and inclusive. From this point of view, most current Western discourses on the religion-science relationship, including the interconnected models of Pannenberg and Haught, are hierarchical, intellectually centered, and have dualistic tendencies. Taking religion and science as mapping activities, “a multi-map model” presents nonhierarchical, historical, social, multidimensional, communal, and intimate dimensions of the religion-science relationship.
East Asia • John Haught • multi-maps model • Wolfhart Pannenberg • religion • science
Shin Jaeshik is Professor of Constructive Theology, Honam Theological University and Seminary, Gwangju, Korea; email: jshin @ htus.ac.kr.
DOI: 10.1111/zygo.12239

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