The 11th GJS LectureTrue Words, True Sounds:
Towards a Discontinuous Epistemology in Japanese History

Date and time: March 25, 2016 (Fri.), 3:00-5:00PM
Venue: Main Conference Room (3rd Floor), The Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo
Speaker: James Ketelaar (Professor of History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Divinity School, University of Chicago)
Language: English

Abstract: By examining the use, conception and deployment of shingon or "true words" in Japanese history, this paper attempts to define the operation of a "discontinuous structure" which treats the relation between sound, speech and meaning in Japanese history. This paper begins with a presentation of the 17th century work Shikidô Okagami [The Great Mirror of the Way of Eros] and argues for a combinative theory of Eros that includes Buddhism, Shinto and popular social practices. It then expands into a broader discussion of the roles of language and meaning found in this discourse and provides an English translation, and analysis, of one example of the mature form of this discourse. In conclusion, it is argued that the precise relation between sound and meaning, between words and insight, is an often replicated but discontinuous structure found at key moments in Japanese history.

Organizer: The Global Japan Studies Network (GJS)
Co-organizer: Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo
Contact: gjs[at]