In a spontaneously wide-ranging conversation one winter evening in Japan, sociologist of religion Bryan Wilson and Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda recognized the importance of explaining and learning about their respective 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 of preconceptions otherwise unexamined in their own cultural contexts."There is an intimate connection between faith and the fruits of commitment," Wilson says at one point. 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. The two men's observations on the origins of religious sensibilities move from the spiritual and the moral to the politics of private and public life.
Although published some years ago, "Human Values in a Changing World" addresses topics and issues which are of perennial importance to human flourishing, including: sexual morality, the limits of tolerance and religious freedom, the future of the family, the belief in an afterlife, and the idea of sin.
Bryan Wilson, who died in 2004, was Emeritus Reader in Sociology in the University of Oxford. A formative influence on the sociology of religion in Britain, he made extensive contributions to the subject internationally, especially in the areas of sectarian religion and secularization. Daisaku Ikeda (1928-) is the President of Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organisation with some eleven million adherents in over 190 countries throughout the world. He is the author of over 80 books on Buddhist themes, and received the United Nations Peace Award in 1983.