Dean’s Message

Shinji Tanaka

Time to ponder why to live

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Shizuoka University, which was founded initially as a Kyusei-Koto-Gakko, a higher school under the prewar educational system, in 1922, has more than 100 years of history. Our faculty is a highly specialized educational institution with more than 80 teachers and confers academic degrees in sociology, literature, law, and economy. Our graduates, who have all studied in our tradition of respecting diversity and individuality, are active all over the world as well as in Shizuoka prefecture. However, the significance of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences does not solely consist in the knowledge and skills that students acquire here.

Learning at university will widen your own potential. Not only will options for your life after graduation significantly increase, but also you will be able, very freely, to spend your student life at university the way you want. Needless to say, spending your student life freely does not mean you can spend time at university only as you desire. Your freedom should be closely linked to your own wish to do what you really want. I believe you have made efforts to enter a university by curbing and repressing your various desires, because you have something you really want to achieve or attain at university, which I think will lead to your pondering about why you live. However, many people are not conscious of why they live—that question being overshadowed by the business of daily living. Why do we live? Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the German philosopher, once said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” (Twilight of the Idols). These words are known to have been quoted by Viktor Emil Frankl in his work titled Man’s Search For Meaning, chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He points out if a person is not conscious of why he lives, he or she may lose direction and be exposed to a mental meltdown. Your student life will bring you the time to think about why you live. If you ponder this why question, you will obtain the true freedom to do things the way you want. However, we are not always able to find a satisfying answer. Rather, it is common not to be able to find one. Even so, making efforts to find one will be your irreplaceable treasure in life. If you cannot find an answer, you will at least grow as a person by humbly being conscious of the why question. If you successfully find some answer, one that satisfies for at least a brief time, you will have acquired a sort of toughness as a human.

Studying at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Shizuoka University allows you to confront this why question during your student life, not alone, but while sharing various perspectives with others. Not only can you acquire specialized knowledge and skills in one of our four departments (Department of Social and Human Studies, Department of Language and Culture, Department of Law, Department of Economics), but you can also take specialized courses with students from other departments. Furthermore, more than 100 foreign students are learning at our faculty, and there is also the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. We strongly hope that you will enjoy your student life at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Shizuoka University, by meeting people from all walks of life, acquiring a highly specialized education, and grappling with the why question.