I. International Online Conference
25. - 26. 2. 2021, Online, Zoom

Tetsuro Tanojiri

Guest Associate Professor, Osaka University, Japan  
Anthropogenic Transformation of the Spirituality: The Relationships between the Representations of Religions and Modern Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan, "Weathering with You" and "PSYCHO-PASS"
One of the central motifs of Japanese literary art is depicting the soul of a human being floating between "Personal Agents" and "Impersonal Agents". Man'yōshū (Japanese poetry collection in 6-8 century) depicts the following process. It is a process in which urban civilisation, science and technology, and Buddhism, introduced from abroad as value-neutral norms, become "Impersonal Agents," while traditional standards, Shinto gods and ancestral spirits, and nature become "Personal Agents".And from that time on, the Japanese perceived themselves as subjects living in a secular time and space where the sacred and the profane permeate each other, in other words, "Tamashii(means soul, spirit or life)". Describing an individual who drifts without belonging to either of these two categories has become a fundamental motif of Japanese literature, including poetry, novels, plays, comics and so on since the Tale of Genji (classic work of Japanese literature, 1008).

An excellent example of this in the early modern era is the "Dōchū (means "on the road")" stories that dominated the Tokugawa era Japan. Initially, these works depicted the thoughts of a man and a woman who were in a socially unacceptable love affair on their way to a place of suicide to fulfil their love. Gradually, however, death itself is no longer depicted. In the process of moving from the sphere of "Personal Agents" to that of "Impersonal Agents," "individual independence and liberation," spirituality and the sense of "life" and trust in them emerge. In the process of shifting to that of "personal agents," "individual independence, freedom and liberation," "spirituality and a sense of "life" and trust in them emerged in the reader's mind. Since the early modern period, this has emerged as one of the central issues in Japanese literature and art.

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, Japanese literature produced two hits true to this motif and central issue. Just before the Pandemic, Japanese literature had two hits that are true to this motif and central point: "Weathering with You" (2019) and "PSYCHO-PASS" (2012-2020), media franchises. Weathering with You" is a story of a boy and a girl suffering from social contradictions such as general poverty and violence in the Anthropocene. They have been struggling to the restoration of hope of individual, social, ecological, and spiritual. PSYCHO-PASS" depicts an AI trying to operate as a super-surveillance society in a near-future world.

The work is an ensemble drama that spans regions and generations of people who see this lack of respect for moral and spiritual law as a "false god" and try to remake it into a law-abiding "true god. These gave birth to a new form of expression through two attitudes toward the above motifs concerning the relationship between science, technology, and spirituality. Firstly, these works reject the belief, popularised in Japanese society since the 1980s by "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1982-2019)". Many Japanese believe that modern technology and urban civilisation are not spiritual and therefore, not sustainable. Simultaneously, nature and the environment are not suitable for human survival, and humanity must die with them.
On the contrary, the above two contemporary works acknowledge the possibility of "spirituality" dwelling in modern technology and urban civilisation and dreams of a society spiritualised by modern science and technology. Second, they show the cultural changes in the Spirituality Hardcore and Protective Belt spheres. The impact of 311 (triple disasters that happened 2011/3/11 in east Japan) brought to Japanese society, and COVID-19 Pandemic took root. It is a change common to the emergence of the "Android Kannon (the goddess of mercy)", which is gaining faith in temples in Kyoto, and the "Buddhist Temple Artificial Satellite" in preparation for launch.

The self-identity of the system of productive activities (modern science, technology, etc.) consists of activities belonging to the hardcore, which remains unchanged, and activities that continue to change in response to political, social, and cultural conditions. Lakatos Imre analysed that. In Japanese literature, as the essence of Japanese society's culture, the primary motifs and central issues remain the same. Still, the sphere of the hardcore and protective belt of spirituality depicted in the literature may be changing about modern technology, society, and the environment in the 2010s. So, it means that the self-identity of 'Japanese spirituality', or at least its representation, has changed in the relationship between modern science and technology, society, and the environment.

The current Japanese concept of spirituality established itself under the influence of Theosophy. Thus, in other words, this presentation will show you the relationships between the Representations of Western Esotericism and Modern Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan. I will discuss the connections between the representations of traditional Japanese religions, Western Esotericism, spirituality and Modern Science and Technology in Contemporary Japan in Anthropocene.