Department of Philosophy and History
About Department of Philosophy and History
The goal of this department is to clarify the structure and development of human society and culture and to discover the state of humankind within history and culture. While the methodologies in philosophy and history differ, the distinguished feature of this department is that it integrates these two fields that form the basis of human cultural studies. The education and research system adopted by this department merges a philosophical perspective with a historical one; these two perspectives form the basic axes for understanding humankind. In the rapidly changing currents of our age, courses in this department will help develop an understanding of the essence of human society and its culture, its universal values and further its changes. The courses will further cultivate cultured professionals with a wide scope of knowledge as well as researchers with a deep knowledge of their fields of specialization and the ability to widen their perspectives to other related fields. This department consists of the following courses based on academic focus and research methodologies: Philosophy, Japanese History, Asian History, and Western History.
The “philosophy course” comprises four overarching fields of study, namely, philosophy, ethics, religious studies, and esthetics.
In the narrow sense, the field of philosophy encompasses diverse topics based on an understanding of the history of Western philosophy from Ancient Greece to the present day. These topics include logic, which is concerned with the principles of reasoning essential to academic thought; ontology, which considers the world and the position of human existence within it; and epistemology, which discusses the origins of and grounds for our knowledge of the world. In addition, an active ongoing academic inquiry exists in the new fields within philosophy, such as the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language.
The field of ethics includes theoretical ethics, which considers the essential nature and principles of ethics (i.e., morality), thus focusing on the central question of what constitutes the virtuous life; it also includes applied ethics, which examines specific ethical issues in contemporary society, such as the rights and wrongs of technologically manipulating living beings.
In the broader sense, religious studies include the philosophy of religion, which examines the fundamental principles of religion in general from a universal perspective, and empirical religious studies, which is concerned with the empirical study of specific religions. The philosophy course at this graduate school predominantly focuses on the philosophy of religion.
Esthetics can be broadly defined as the study of sensibility; it aims to elucidate the functions and mechanisms of phenomena such as human emotions, sentiments, and senses from the perspective of philosophy or the history of philosophy and also attempts to approach various esthetic phenomena because they correlate to sensory experiences in its original sense. This approach includes examining various issues related to art and beauty based on the theoretical perspectives such as value theory, ontology, and epistemology.
Moreover, previous research topics of graduate students included the thinking of Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Bergson, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and others.
This course also holds an annual philosophy study group, thereby inviting researchers from other universities and graduate students to participate. The study group was established in 2006 as a reorganized version of the philosophy conferences, which had been held over 20 times from 1985.
This course aims to provide students with opportunities to study the history of Japanese society from ancient times to the present and acquire the ability to conduct research independently; in so doing, students will learn the ways in which a variety of historical resources, including archaeological sites and artifacts, ancient documents, diaries, and records, as well as modern and contemporary official documents and customs and folklore can be analyzed. Students will learn how to leverage these resources to conduct historical research from varied perspectives, including political history, social history, urban history, and cultural history. Research activities will also extend beyond the boundaries of the university campus. By working with various academic societies and research groups, students will deepen their exchanges with researchers at other universities and research institutions across the country. Students can generally expect various future career paths including the teaching at universities, curatorial positions in museums and archives, and other research and professional positions.
The Osaka City University Society for the History of Japan was founded in May 1998, and it published the first issue of the Historical Journal of Japan at the same time. This journal publishes lectures and research reports from its annual conference, as well as manuscripts submitted for publication and reports on joint research. With the opening of Osaka Metropolitan University, we will be revamping our academic society and academic journal, aiming for further development.
The Asian History course was initially spearheaded by Hajime Oshibuchi (history of Northern Asia), Motonosuke Amano (history of Chinese agriculture), Hachiro Nakayama (history of Ming and Qing China), and Taketoshi Sato (history of ancient China). After Hajime Oshibuchi’s retirement, only three professors led the course. Shigeta Toku (history of Ming and Qing social economy) succeeded Motonosuke Amano. Following Shigeta’s death, Professors Akira Morita (history of Chinese irrigation) and Hideto Kitamura (history of the Yi Dynasty in Goryeo), who succeeded Hachiro Nakayama, were appointed. After this, Keiji Nakamura (history of the Six Dynasties of China) joined, leading to a total of four professors. After the retirement of Taketoshi Sato, we welcomed Masami Arai (history of Turkey) to broaden our horizons in Asian history. Masami Arai moved to another position, and we were subsequently joined by Shinzo Hayase (history of Southeast Asia); Akira Morita’s successor, Wataru Iijima (history of modern China); and Shigeki Hirata (history of early modern Song and Yuan China). In March 2000, Hideto Kitamura retired from his post, and again, there were three professors, with Toru Inoue [modern Chinese history from the Ming and Qing dynasties up to the era of the Republic of China (ROC)], taking up his post in April 2014. In April 2009, Chikayoshi Nomura (economic history of India) joined, and in March 2010, Keiji Nakamura retired. In April 2012, Masayuki Ueno (history of the Ottoman Empire) joined. Toru Inoue retired in March 2019, and Kenya Watanabe (history of the Yuan dynasty) joined in April 2019. Chikayoshi Nomura will move to another position in March 2020, and Mami Hamamoto (Central Eurasian history) joined in April 2021.
Notably, during the abovementioned period, Taketoshi Sato and Motonosuke Amano were awarded the Japan Academy Prize; this aspect made a significant contribution to the development of the Asian History course.
The research topics of the current staff are detailed below.
- Professor Shigeki Hirata is associated with the early modern Chinese history, focusing on the history of political structures, especially the bureaucratic system of imperial examinations.
- Associate Professor Kenya Watanabe is associated with the History of the Yuan dynasty and history of the modern Sino–Japanese academic exchange.
- Associate Professor Mami Hamamoto is associated with the Central Eurasian history and Russian history.
- Associate Professor Masayuki Ueno is associated with the history of the Ottoman Empire and Armenia.
In addition to the abovementioned research topics of the staff members, the Asian History course covers various topics in the history of China, Central Asia, and West Asia from ancient times to the modern era, thus aiming to approach the historical structures of human societies from a macroscopic viewpoint by developing a unique perspective on urban and maritime settings. While working on their research, students will use excavated ancient Chinese historical materials and compiled historical materials including state-approved histories, recorded accounts, institutional histories, anthologies, local histories, genealogies, court documents, field survey materials (discovered during the ROC period), royal genealogies and oral histories from field surveys, and economic and demographic history materials for analysis. In examining the history of the Ottoman Empire, students will use administrative documents of the central government, historical publications, and diplomatic documents of the European countries.
At present, we have many graduate students who are conducting research. In addition, the social history of the Song dynasty, the history of regional communities in the Song and Yuan dynasties, the sociocultural history of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the history of the early modern Ottoman Empire, and the modern history of Armenia are the various research topics. After completing the program, some graduate students have become faculty members at universities and high schools or in the public sector while some others have developed their talents in the context of business.
Following are a few examples of the published issues and materials:
- OCU Asian History, No. 14 (March 2005)
- OCU Asian History, Supplementary Special Issue (March 2005)
- OCU Asian History, No. 15 (November 2006)
- OCU Asian History, Supplementary Special Issue, “New Possibilities for the Study of Literary Materials 1” (May 2006)
- OCU Asian History, Supplementary Special Issue, “New Possibilities for the Study of Literary Materials 2” (June 2007)
- OCU Asian History, Supplementary Special Issue, “New Possibilities for the Study of Literary Materials 3” (December 2007)
- OCU Asian History, No. 16 (December 2008)
- OCU Asian History, Supplementary Special Issue “Transportation, Trade, and State Foreign Policy in the Maritime World of East Asia” (January 2009)
- OCU Asian History, No. 17 (December 2010)
- OCU Asian History, No. 18 (December 2017)
- OCU Asian History, No. 19 (September 2019)
The Asian History course has been actively involved in the Graduate School of Human Sciences COE Program “Humanities Research for the Creation of Urban Culture” (AY 2002–AY 2006). Having completed this program, we continue to be involved in the project “Interdisciplinary Research on the Cultural Power of Cities in the Asian Maritime World,” a priority research project led by the Urban-Culture Research Center (Graduate School of Human Sciences). In addition to continuing to maintain joint research initiatives with the Urban-Culture Research Center overseas bases (subcenters) and the Institute of History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, we have also launched new joint research projects with the Department of History of Sun Yat-sen University, the Institute of Modern Chinese Society at Shanghai Normal University, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Guangzhou University, and the Xixia Research Institute at Ningxia University.
Students in the Western History course will use historical analysis methods to study the characteristics of the societies in the region encompassing Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the United States. In so doing, students will work toward building their skills to conduct independent research. They will develop the ability to read and understand research documents and historical materials by reading literature in modern Western languages. They will also work toward gaining proficiency in reading historical materials in Greek and Latin in the course of their study of ancient and medieval history. A major feature of this course is its tradition of research in Byzantine history. However, students will also focus on research and education in other traditional fields of Western history.
The Western History course was newly established in AY 2001 with the reform of the Graduate School of Human Sciences. It is one of the newest courses at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, and thus, it was initially less popular and its reach was limited than other courses. However, in recent years, the number of graduate students has increased, and their approach is much lively. As of April 2022, the Western History Research Center has three academic advisors, approximately 10 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on master’s and doctoral programs, and accepts researchers from other universities as research fellows at the Urban-Culture Research Center. Among the supervisors, Professor Masafumi Kitamura specializes in modern and contemporary German history, Professor Hisatsugu Kusabu specializes in the history of the Byzantine Empire, and Associate Professor Shinya Mukai specializes in research on medieval French history. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research fellows are engaged in the study of a diverse range of topics, from those with similar specializations to the faculty staff, such as Byzantine imperial history, medieval French history, modern and contemporary German history, to medieval British history, medieval Italian history, modern Italian history, and modern French history. The Western History research center may well be the most linguistically diverse place in the Graduate School of Literature—a place where different global cultures can interact.
Many students take up the doctoral program at this graduate school after completing the master’s program, and many study abroad at overseas universities after entering the doctoral program. To date, students have studied in Russia, Austria, Italy, and Germany.
The curriculum for the master’s program is substantially organized in the chronological order. The lectures are designed to cover various topics of ancient history, medieval history, and modern and contemporary history. In seminars, students acquire the ability to accurately read the texts by reading research literature in Western languages and historical documents in Greek and Latin. They also receive comprehensive support for writing their master’s thesis in the course of their research supervision. Faculty members and graduate students also conduct reading sessions in Latin and Greek, and there are voluntary seminars to support second-year master’s students in writing their theses. In the doctoral program, students write papers and present their research at conferences under the personal guidance of faculty members, working toward completing their doctoral theses. Doctoral students on the program have already presented their research at many academic conferences. In the nearly 20 years since its establishment, the Western History course has awarded seven doctorates, two of which were based on completion of the program and five of which were awarded based on the thesis alone.
In line with the research fields of our academic staff, the course has close ties with national and local societies within Japan related to Byzantine, medieval, and German history and supports students’ active participation in the Japan Association for Byzantine Studies, the Japan Society for Medieval European Studies, and the Society for Research in Contemporary German History. Our internal research and study groups include the Graduate School of Literature Project, the Byzantine Studies Liaison Group, the German Language Reading Group, and the Medieval Latin Historical Text Reprinting Group. Moving forward, the Western History course hopes to establish its own research center and journal in collaboration with researchers and groups within the university and at an international level.