Division of Contemporary Culture

Division of Contemporary Culture


Philosophy and History of Science

The Department of Philosophy and History of Science looks into the question "What is science?" from philosophical and historical points of view. The philosophy of science deepens our understanding of science through consideration of proper scientific methodologies and analyses of fundamental concepts of a discipline (such as ‘space’ in physics or ‘natural selection’ in evolutionary biology). The history of science elucidates aspects of science by investigating temporal changes in scientific theories and science-society relationships in different periods and regions. The teaching staff of the department represents the two disciplines, i.e. one is a philosopher of science and the other a historian of science, allowing students to see the sciences from various angles.

Since our research subject is science, it is necessary for students to have concrete knowledge in scientific disciplines. However, even though we use the singular science, in fact there is great diversity within the sciences, from physics to biology to social sciences, and sometimes mathematics. Thus, students will acquire knowledge in the field of their greatest interest, getting advice from teachers and senior students.

Another characteristic of the educational program in the department is that it assigns logic as a mandatory class. Since we cannot acquire logical skills simply by listening to lectures, the class focuses on exercises so that students can master logical reasoning. Such a practical skill in logic will be useful not only in research but also in our lives outside academia.

There are various closely related fields to the philosophy and history of science. One of these is the burgeoning discipline of Science, Technology and Society (STS), which examines various aspects of the relationship between science and technology on the one hand and the society on the other, such as science communication and public decision making on science and technology. Undergraduate students in this department are allowed to choose their research topics from STS.

More information in English: "Philosophy and History of Science Web Site" (below)

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ITO, Kazuyuki Prof. History of science; Natural philosophy of Italian Renaissance
ISEDA, Tetsuji Assoc. Prof. Philosophy of science; scientific realism

Humanistic Informatics

The purpose of this course is to make use of History, Sociology, Philosophy, and other disciplines to study information, which has become an integral component of our society. We also study the application of information technology to philological, textual, and historical research as a part of our humanistic research program.

At the introductory level, students are introduced to core sociological and historical methods of analysis for studying the problems of modern information society, as well as methods for the use of information technologies in humanistic research. This basic level aims at an understanding of the contemporary; yet at the graduate level our program further aims to understand the general thought and philosophy which form the historical background for the problems of the modern informatization of society. For example, in recent economic and informational history, studies have revealed the connection between the informatization of society and Adam Smith’s theory of the division of labour, and in the field of the history of mathematics, studies have revealed the connection between Leibniz’s "universal characteristic" and modern information technology. Our program aims at a similar level of deep understanding.

SMART-GS

In order to obtain the basic knowledge of information technology required for this type of humanistic understanding of information, our students are able to obtain credits by attending lectures in the Faculty of Engineering and the Graduate School of Informatics. Furthermore, there are undergraduate and graduate students in our program producing software such as the textual research system SMART-GS (pictured above) as part of their research.

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HAYASHI, Susumu Prof. Informatics; History of science and technology

Twentieth Century Studies

The 20th century no longer belongs to the present. Indeed, it is moving further and further away from us as it recedes into the past. Nevertheless, looking back on the history of the 20th century not only proves effective in studying today’s culture, but can also provide a radical approach essential for understanding many different issues of present-day society. Mass society, information society, gender, the environment, globalization, the nation state, and post-colonial society — these and countless other issues of today’s culture and society either first appeared or intensified during the 20th century. The department is a place where students who have a keen interest in contemporary culture and society can reflect upon the diverse cultural and social phenomena of the last century. They will also have a chance to experience a way of learning that is oriented toward a trans-disciplinary approach, which incorporates the methodologies of pre-existing disciplines such as history, sociology and contemporary thought. Aside from documents and material sources (such as works of fine art) which conventional scholarship has dealt with, we struggle with new types of source materials that can be said to symbolize the 20th century, such as films, television programs, comics (manga), animation and the internet contents.

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SUGIMOTO, Yoshihiko Prof. Modern Cultural Studies, Manga

Contemporary History

Established in 1966, the Department of Contemporary History is devoted to research and education about world history in the twentieth century. The contemporary period, which historians generally see as having begun circa the First World War, is distinguished from the earlier periods by the immensity and velocity of interactions of people, goods, money and information among countries and regions all over the world.

The period characterized by these phenomena, conventionally called globalization, cannot be fully comprehended within the traditional analytical framework of national histories. Predicated on this recognition, the department has focused on research and education about twentieth-century history from global perspectives. Students are urged to take into account, for example, global trends in thought and social movements or parallel developments in different countries and regions. Comparative and/or structural perspectives, as well as a transnational frame of analysis, will prove extremely fruitful even when students investigate historical topics associated with a specific country. In these ways the department seeks to lead students to reflect on twentieth-century history as world history.

The department offers courses on various topics, thanks to the invaluable help provided by members of the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies and the Institute for Research in Humanities. These usually include lectures and seminars on Japan, Korea, China, Europe, Americas, and Africa. In addition, the department encourages students to take classes offered by other departments and faculties in order to acquire further insights into the humanities and social sciences, which are necessary in dealing with topics or events that have taken place during such a multifaceted period.

Students are allowed to choose freely the topics of graduate and master theses, as long as they can be examined with the methodology of historical analysis, i.e. one based on primary sources that provide first-hand information. Taking a simple example, one cannot duly analyze the policymaking process of the George W. Bush administration leading up to the Iraqi War of 2003 before governmental documents are declassified. On the other hand, one can consider historically the popular reaction to the same war as in this case the relevant materials, including published sources, images and even broadcasts can be retrieved. This difference accrues from the availability of primary sources required to construct a historically sound argument.

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NAGAHARA, Yoko Prof. Modern African History
ONOZAWA, Toru Prof. Modern Diplomatic History

(Cooperative Professors)

MIZUNO Naoki Prof. Modern Korean History
ISHIKAWA Yoshihiro Assoc. Prof. Modern Chinese History

The International Student Office

KAIDA, Daisuke Senior Lec. Metaphysics; Philosophy of Mind