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Report on the Third Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium, “Kokoro and Ways of Life: What is the Self?”

The Third Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium, “Kokoro and Ways of Life: What is the Self?” was held at the Kyoto University International Science Innovation Building on November 18, 2018.  The Kyoto Kokoro Initiative, which was launched in 2015 and is sponsored by the Inamori Foundation, has held three symposia: “Kokoro and History” (the first), “In and Out of Kokoro” (the second), “Kokoro and Symbiosis” (an international symposium).

Whereas previous years’ symposia focused on the expansiveness of kokoro, this year’s symposium focused on the inner nature  and uniqueness of kokoro. The lecturers discussed kokoro’s connection to society and groups, and included discussions of findings from the natural science. Three lectures followed Prof. Toshio Kawai’s opening remarks. Prof. Miho Murayama (Director, Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University) gave the first lecture entitled, “Molecular Bases of the Mind for Living in Society”. Variables such as the environment and genes affect on animal behaviors and personalities.  She introduced her comparative research, which uses genetic analysis to compare species and individuals.  During the lecture, Prof. Murayama discussed her findings regarding how genes relate to animals’ various personality traits and behaviors such as  sensitivity, degree of curiosity, aggressiveness and contentment.  She suggested The possible new milestones for genes to help us understand animal social behavior.  She proposed that investigating the relationship between individual behaviors and genes may benefit animal breeding and raising management, by helping in the selection and training of drug detection dogs. Assoc. Prof. Yukiko Uchida (Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University) gave a lecture entitled “The ways of life and the self in Japanese society: An examination of biological and psychological data of Japanese company employees”.  She discussed how “cooperativeness” and “independence” comprise self awareness in Japan and how they influence one’s health and happiness.  According to surveys of Japanese businesses, the comparative community research findings showed that “independence” helped increase the subjective sense of wellbeing, and thus non-conforming decision-making and fair competition were important. On the other hand, “cooperativeness” affected health, thus “cooperativeness” has a certain meaning in the Japanese society as an infrastructure. Prof. Yasuo Deguchi (Kyoto University Graduate School of Letters) gave the final lecture entitled, “the Self as We and its implications for our ways of life”.  He proposed that holistic self that is found in East Asia is “the Self as We” as opposed to the individualistic self of modern Western modern society.  In “the Self as We”, a social system as a whole is considered “Self” in which “I” is part of the “Self as We”.  Moving toward “the Self as We” can change our ethical responsibilities and the isolation that “I” hold, and can also revise social systems and diversify our ways of living. In the general discussion, moderated by Prof. Kawai, the meaning of cooperative behaviors by humans and animals, relationships between oneself one’s body and ways of Japanese communal society were discussed beyond the participants’ areas of expertise. In his closing remarks, the Provost Nagahiro Minato (Executive Vice President, Kyoto University) discussed the self and physicality from the perspective of immunology, which is his area of expertise.  He proposed that it is important to recall the previous symposia and to plan a future for Humanities at Kyoto University.  Prof. Hiroshi Yoshioka moderated the symposium and two hundred people were in attendance.

Prof. Toshio Kawai, Center Director

Prof. Miho Murayama, Director, Wildlife Research Center

Assoc. Prof. Yukiko Uchida

Prof. Yasuo Deguchi

The Symposium

Prof. Hiroshi Yoshioka

The General Discussion

Provost Nagahiro Minato

Event Information

Date and Times: November 18, 2018 (Sun.) 13:30 – 17:40 (Reception begins at 13:00.)
Venue: Symposium Hall, the 5th floor of International Science Innovation Building, Kyoto University
Seats: 270
Fee: Free
Application: Please apply via e-mail or fax by November 11, 2018 (Sun), with the subject line “Application for the third Kyoto Kokoro Initiative Symposium.” In the email, please provide the following information:
1. Your name
2. Your occupation (or affiliation)
3. Your e-mail address

13:30 – 13:40 Opening remarks Toshio Kawai (Director, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
13:40 – 14:30 Lecture 1 “Molecular Bases of the Mind for Living in Society” Miho Murayama (Director, Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University)
14:30 – 15:20 Lecture 2 “The Ways of Life and the Self in Japanese Society: An Examination of Biological/Psychological Data from Japanese Company Employees” Yukiko Uchida (Associate Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University)
15:20 – 15:40 Break
15:40 – 16:30 Lecture 3 “The Self as We and Its Implications for Our Ways of Life” Yasuo Deguchi (Professor, Kyoto University Graduate School of Letters)
16:30 – 17:30 General Discussion Miho Murayama, Yukiko Uchida, Yasuo Deguchi, Toshio Kawai
17:30 – 17:40 Closing remarks Nagahiro Minato (Provost and Executive Vice President, Kyoto University)
Hosted by Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University
Sponsored by The Inamori Foundation