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Human Values in a Changing World: A Dialogue on the Social Role of Religion
with Bryan Wilson

Human Values in a Changing World
Pub. Year

2008 (new publication)

Publisher

I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd

ISBN

978-1-84511-597-5

  (Published by Lyle Stuart, Inc., 1987)

In a spontaneously wide-ranging conversation over dinner one winter evening in Japan, sociologist of religion Bryan Wilson and Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda recognized the importance of explaining and learning about their worldviews. Human Values in a Changing World is the record of their further exchanges on how they see the religious response to the human condition.

Their contrasting approaches—one, as an academic, and the other, as a lay Buddhist—allow for a constructive critique and tempering of preconceptions otherwise unexamined in their own cultural contexts.

At one point in the dialogue, they juxtapose an increasingly popular Western belief in an afterlife with Christian interpretations throughout Western history as well as the Buddhist view. As the wane and flow of various moral incentives are examined together, what emerge are resonant insights.

“There is an intimate connection between faith and the fruits of commitment,” Wilson says. To which Ikeda responds that while the benefits of faith to momentary happiness are perhaps not the core value of a religion, they can inspire and lead people to become aware of that core value or fundamental truth.

Their observations on the origins of religious sentiments move deftly from the spiritual and the moral to the political strata of private and public life.

In their co-authored Preface to the book, Wilson and Ikeda offer their dialogue as an independent contribution to the ongoing public discourse on vital human concerns: “What neither of us could do alone, raising and re-examining subjects that otherwise might be taken for granted, we have sought to do together.”

While the original edition of Human Values in a Changing World was discontinued, U.K. publisher I.B. Tauris re-issued the work in late-2007 as part of a 12-volume series—to be released over a three-year period—of some 50 dialogues that Ikeda has published with international leaders and scholars on subjects ranging from religion, politics, economics, science and the arts.

Human Values in a Changing World is also available in Japanese, French, Thai, Portuguese, Chinese (traditional and simplified versions), Spanish and Italian.


CONTENTS

Preface

PART I   HOMO RELIGIOSUS
  1. The Source of Religious Emotion
  2. Anthropomorphism
  3. Syncretism
  4. Universality and Particularism
  5. Are the Religious Emotions Universal?
  6. Mystical Elements
  7. Interpreting the Miraculous
  8. The Rational and the Irrational
  9. The Idea of an Afterlife
  10. Lives Past, Present, and Future
  11. Hinayana and Mahayana
  12. Existence and Non-existence
  13. Faith and the Fruits of Commitment

PART II   REASON AND RESPONSIBILITY
  1. God’s Will and Human Reason
  2. Art, Religion, and Inner Realities
  3. Suffering and Blame
  4. Fate and Karma
  5. Individuality and Universal Life
  6. Antidotes for Suicide
  7. The Value of Human Life
  8. Capital Punishment
  9. Gandhi’s Principle
  10. Religion and Politics

PART III   THE PROBLEMS OF ORGANIZATION
  1. Fellowship
  2. Community Values in the Modern World
  3. Organization – Means or End?
  4. Teaching Individuals, Not Courses
  5. Organization and Commitment
  6. Authority and Democracy
  7. The Limits of Organizational Growth
  8. Social and Cultural Activities
  9. Authoritarianism
  10. Missionary Work
  11. Where Reason Fails
  12. Charisma
  13. Inspiration and Organization

PART IV   SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES
  1. Love and Conflict
  2. Schism and Hatred
  3. Renaissance and Reformation
  4. The Withering of the Church
  5. The Decline of Western Christianity
  6. Religious and Ideological Totalitarianism
  7. State Religions
  8. What Will the Communists Do?
  9. Religion: a Stimulus or a Stumbling Block?
  10. Cultural Relativity
  11. Contributions to Peace
  12. Religion and a New World Order?
  13. Religion as a Basis for Social Revolution

PART V   MATTERS OF MIND AND BODY
  1. The Medical Art: Curing or Calculating?
  2. Organ Transplants
  3. Tampering with Genetic Structures
  4. Biological Evolution
  5. Should Incurables Be Told?
  6. Cancer and the Mind
  7. Euthanasia
  8. The Fear of Death
  9. Death and Consciousness
  10. When Human Life Becomes Vegetation
  11. Artificial Insemination
  12. Sex Training
  13. Contraception and the Population Issue
  14. Abortion
  15. Comparative Study of the Psyche
  16. Psychology and Religious Experience
  17. Psychotherapy and Religious Experience
  18. Religion and the Psychology of the Supernatural
  19. The Occult

PART VI   THE WIDER ETHICAL PERSPECTIVE
  1. Innate Good and Innate Evil
  2. Unity with the Universe
  3. The Control of Desire
  4. Sex for Pleasure
  5. Sexual Ethics
  6. Sin
  7. Religion and Morality
  8. Equality
  9. Religious Freedom
  10. Tolerance
  11. Theory and Practice
  12. Justification
  13. The Imposition of Religious Restraint
  14. Religion and Social Values
  15. The Growth of Science
  16. Man and Nature
  17. The Future of the Family
  18. Parent-child Relations

Index