2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Japan: A suicide nation? A philosophical investigation into the history of Japan’s high suicide rate.

This project seeks to investigate the global, social and cross-cultural phenomenon of suicide (territory). More specifically, suicide in Japan (object). The purpose of this project is to highlight and examine the possible factors as to why the average global suicide rate within the Japanese nation is so high – it is nearly twice the global average. Through exploring the History of Japan I ask the questions: ‘What is it about the Japanese culture/ society that has caused Japan to become synonymous with the act of suicide?’ And ‘Is Japan really a suicide nation?’

Areas to be explored:
Premodern Japan: The way of the Samurai and The Kamikaze Pilots.
Geographical ‘hot spots’
Suicide prevention in Japan
Japanese Psychiatry

Philosophically and ethically suicide poses difficult questions. Albert Camus states: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide”.

Through exploring the interesting philosophical arguments put forward by Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer the following questions in regards to suicide arise:

Does suicide violate our natural duty of self-preservation?

Does suicide achieve what it ultimately aims for (i.e. to end all suffering), or does it simply terminate superficial elements of ourselves thus achieving the opposite: affirmation of the will?

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Transformation of Japan. A Philosophical Investigation of Japanese Cultural Change

Japan today is a nation synonymous with contemporary culture and ambitious technology that tries to transform the way in which we live. However, it is hard to imagine that just over a century ago; Japan was in the midst of a massive change which saw it go from a country of feudal military foundations to an industrious world power which would contribute to world history in a substantial way. This project aims to look at the History of Japan over the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s and see how this event was the catalyst which caused a nation to turn its back on 800 years of uniform history and become a contending power on the world stage. The cultural principles of Japan at this time shall lead me to look at the post war writer Yukio Mishima, whose ideas on the culture of Japan after World War II provoked him to write some of the most defining Japanese literature of the 20th Century. Ultimately, his views in this area led to his highly publicised ritual suicide in 1970 prior to which he tried to start a coup against the new media based, industrial Japan. To link this project philosophically, I shall be referring the ideas of Mishima to those of Georges Bataille, who Mishima himself had a fascination with. Bataille’s theories brought forward notions related to sacrifice within a culture. This includes specifically the concept of Potlatch, wherein Native American tribal chiefs would appease opposing leaders by destroying resources and objects of value. With this in mind, I shall show how the Japanese transformation was a Potlatch on a grand scale, and how Mishima was a microcosm of this in the 20th Century. The conclusion of this project will come to the point where justification of Japan’s change will be shown.

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

How are Old Japanese Institutions Revitalised in Contemporary Japanese Culture?

Aim: To explore how archaic traditions have been resurrected to suit contemporary circumstances with respect to the concept of ‘shell institutions,’ looking specifically at the Japanese Samurai caste and the code of the Bushido. Areas to be explored: -The history and practises of the Samurai -Bushido- the philosophy and codes of conduct of the Samurai, as well as the sources from which Bushido blossomed. -The development of Bushido, and its leading thinkers. – Parallels with Western philosophy. -The demise of the Samurai caste and its subsequent revitalisation.