A Worldly View for Preventing Tragedies in Periods of Paradigm Shift: Reviewing the Thoughts of Shan-Tao and Kitaro Nishida

By Matsuda, Masanori; Akiyama, Hiromasa | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

A Worldly View for Preventing Tragedies in Periods of Paradigm Shift: Reviewing the Thoughts of Shan-Tao and Kitaro Nishida


Matsuda, Masanori, Akiyama, Hiromasa, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

At the present time, the world is confronted with a variety of crises: various frictions caused by economical globalism, widespread destruction of the environment in universal proportions despite advances in science, and unbelievable life situations for children in advanced countries. We would like to present this paper in light of these issues. In this paper, we would like to review how we should address these difficult problems from a philosophical background by focusing on various tragedies in periods of "paradigm shift."

As you know, the concept of "paradigm shift" 1 as defined by Thomas S. Kuhn is related to a change of view of the world that religious thinkers and philosophers developed. When we reflect how their view of the world has been exerting a great influence on diverse movements in this age, we hope this paper's topic will present a new perspective for consideration.

Paradigm in this instance refers to a certain world order and the common recognition by humans. Therefore "paradigm shift," which is the key word in this paper, represents a shift from a certain order caused by a period of chaos. Throughout human history, periods of chaos have caused paradigm shifts, and the world cannot avoid confronting various tragedies in relation to these periods of chaos. The human species has been evolving through the overcoming of tragedies caused by paradigm shift.

In the age of colonization under the great powers of the west (Europe) and with the cold war between the world's superpowers there was a paradigm that the world was controlled by military power. At this present time we are experiencing a shifting period induced by the chaos caused by the breakdown of the paradigm that the world is dominated by military power and find a new paradigm fueled by information technology and globalization. Therefore, we believe that the various conflicts and tragedies of the present come from a paradigm shift. With these facts as our basis, we would like to take a look at some ideas for saving the world from its present tragedies.

In the first section, we will consider the unavoidable tragedies caused by the three kinds of conflicts that we are confronted with: the education problem, the differential society, and the conflict between globalism and fundamentalism. In addition, we will argue that there is the theory of meritocracy which Michael Young coined on the basis of tragedies as the problem. Meritocracy means the existence of the human itself and the nature of a scientific civilization. Within these contents, we examine how humans should address the above problems without yielding to the unavoidable and the negative function of meritocracy.

In the next section, we will examine a paradigm shift in ancient China. The characteristic projects in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) represent the contradiction and the confusion between the quest for construction of the new paradigm, a nation with a law system based on the philosophies of Confucianism and Chinese legalism ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and the remainder from the old paradigm, based on military supremacy. We will take a look at the Buddhist monk Shan-tao (613-681) who lived during this tragic time in China, as a model for saving the world from these tragedies.

In the third section, we will argue how the Luling nation that the Sui tried to achieve influenced ancient Japan. In addition to this, we will consider the large impact of paradigm shift that the thoughts of Shan-tao brought about in medieval Japan and the thoughts of Shinran (1173-1262) which were created amidst the tragedies of this age; the view of a world for the True Buddha-land ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] shinbutsudo) and the Land of the Transformation Body ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] keshindo).

In the fourth section, we will deliberate the common nature existing in both confronting tragedies presented in the first section and the tragedies of paradigm shift in ancient China and point out how meritocracy is included in its foundation. …

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