The objective of this paper is to contribute to the international discussions on life and scientific technology by examining the images and concepts of life in contemporary Japan. In English the word Inochi can be rendered as "life". However, the nuances of the Japanese term differ in certain cases, and therefore I have chosen to use the term much as is. I first discuss the linguistic meanings of the word, and then consider several important features of the images of inochi (...) that have appeared in publications and responses from questionnaires on this topic. Some philosophical and metaphysical interpretations of the concept of inochi are then proposed. Finally a brief outline of the study of life is presented, suggesting a new way to approach bioethics and discussions on environmental issues. This paper is a republication of Morioka (1991) in "Japan Review" under the permission of "Japan Review" and "Global Bioethics.". (shrink)
From 2008 to 2009, “herbivore men (sôshoku danshi or sôshoku-kei danshi in Japanese)” became a trendy, widely used term in Japanese. It flourished in all sorts of media, including TV, the Internet, newspapers and magazines, and could even occasionally be heard in everyday conversation. As it became more popular its original meaning was diversified, and people began to use it with a variety of different nuances. In December of 2009 it made the top ten list of nominees for the “Buzzword (...) of the Year” contest sponsored by U-CAN. By 2010 it had become a standard noun, and right now, in 2011, people do not seem particularly interested in it. Buzzwords have a short lifespan, so there is a high probability that it will soon fall out of use. The fact remains, however, that the appearance of this term has radically changed the way people look at young men. It can perhaps even be described as an epochal event in the history of the male gender in Japan. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to propose a new approach to the question of meaning in life by criticizing Thaddeus Metz’s objectivist theory in his book Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study. I propose the concept of “the heart of meaning in life,” which alone can answer the question, “Alas, does my life like this have any meaning at all?” and I demonstrate that “the heart of meaning in life” cannot be compared, in principle, with other people’s meaning in (...) life. The answer to the question of “the heart of meaning in life” ought to have two values, yes-or-no, and there is no ambiguous gray zone between them. I believe that this concept constitutes the very central content of meaning in life. (shrink)
In this paper, the ethical and spiritual aspects of the trolley problem are discussed in connection with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First, I show that the dropping of atomic bombs was a typical example of the events that contained the logic of the trolley problems in their decision-making processes and justifications. Second, I discuss five aspects of “the problem of the trolley problem;” that is to say, “Rarity,” “Inevitability,” “Safety Zone,” “Possibility of Becoming a Victim,” (...) and “Lack of Perspective of the Dead Victims Who Were Deprived of Freedom of Choice,” in detail. Third, I argue that those who talk about the trolley problem are automatically placed in the sphere of the expectation of response on the spiritual level. I hope that my contribution will shed light on the trolley problem from a very different angle, which has not been made by our fellow philosophers. (shrink)
Abstract -/- In 1998, the Council for Science and Technology established the Bioethics Committee and asked its members to examine the ethical and legal aspects of human cloning. The Committee concluded in 1999 that human cloning should be prohibited, and, based on the report, the government presented a bill for the regulation of human cloning in 2000. After a debate in the Diet, the original bill was slightly modified and issued on December 6, 2000. In this paper, I take a (...) closer look at this process and discuss some of the ethical problems that were debated. Also, I make a brief analysis of the concept “the sprout of human life.” Not only people who object to human cloning, but also many of those who seek to promote research on human cloning admit that a human embryo is the sprout of human life and, hence, it should be highly respected. I also discuss the function of the language of utilitarianism, the language of skepticism, and religious language appeared in the discussion of human cloning in Japan. (shrink)
The Japanese Transplantation Law is unique among others in that it allows us to choose between "brain death" and "traditional death" as our death. In every country 20 to 40 % of the popularion doubts the idea of brain death. This paper reconsiders the concept, and reports the ongoing rivision process of the current law. Published in Hastings Center Report, 2001.
In this paper, I would like to argue that brain-dead small children have a natural right not to be invaded by other people even if their organs can save the lives of other suffering patients. My basic idea is that growing human beings have the right to grow in the form of wholeness, and dying human beings also have the right to die in the form of wholeness; in other words, they have the right to be protected from outside invasion, (...) unless they have declared their wish to abandon that right beforehand. I call this the principle of wholeness. Natural rights, which were discussed by Hobbes and Locke in the 17th century, have to be extended to include the right to grow and die in the form of wholeness in the age of scientific civilization, where peripheral human lives are being threatened by aggressive biomedicine and other advanced technologies. (shrink)
An e-book devoted to 13 critical discussions of Thaddeus Metz's book "Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study", with a lengthy reply from the author. -/- Preface Masahiro Morioka i -/- Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study Thaddeus Metz ii-vi -/- Source and Bearer: Metz on the Pure Part-Life View of Meaning Hasko von Kriegstein 1-18 -/- Fundamentality and Extradimensional Final Value David Matheson 19-32 -/- Meaningful and More Meaningful: A Modest Measure Peter Baumann 33-49 -/- Is Meaning in (...) Life Comparable?: From the Viewpoint of ‘The Heart of Meaning in Life’ Masahiro Morioka 50-65 -/- Agreement and Sympathy: On Metz’s Meaning in Life Sho Yamaguchi 66-89 -/- Metz’s Quest for the Holy Grail James Tartaglia 90-111 -/- Meaning without Ego Christopher Ketcham 112-133 -/- Death and the Meaning of Life: A Critical Study of Metz’s Meaning in Life Fumitake Yoshizawa 134-149 -/- Metz’ Incoherence Objection: Some Epistemological Considerations Nicholas Waghorn 150-168 -/- Meaning in Consequences Mark Wells 169-179 -/- Defending the Purpose Theory of Meaning in Life Jason Poettcker 180-207 -/- Review of Thaddeus Metz’s Meaning in Life Minao Kukita 208-214 -/- A Psychological Model to Determine Meaning in Life and Meaning of Life Yu Urata 215-227 -/- Assessing Lives, Giving Supernaturalism Its Due, and Capturing Naturalism: Reply to 13 Critics of Meaning in Life Thaddeus Metz 228-278 . (shrink)
In this essay I will illustrate how a Japanese philosopher reacted to a newly imported discipline, “bioethics,” in the 1980s and then tried to create an alternative way of looking at “life” in the field of philosophy. This essay might serve as an interesting case study in which a contemporary “western” way of thinking succeeded in capturing, but finally failed to persuade, a then-young Japanese researcher’s mind.
Japanese bioethics has created a variety of important ideas that have not yet been reflected on mainstream bioethics discourses in the English-speaking world, which include “the swaying of the confused self” in the field of feminism, “inner eugenic thought” concerning disability, and “human relationship-oriented approaches to brain death.” In this paper, I will examine them more closely, and consider what bioethics in Japan can contribute to the development of an international discussion on philosophy of life.
The objective of this paper is to contribute to the international discussions on life and scientific technology by examining the images and concepts of life in contemporary Japan. In English the word Inochi can be rendered as "life". However, the nuances of the Japanese term differ in certain cases, and therefore I have chosen to use the term much as is. I first discuss the linguistic meanings of the word, and then consider several important features of the images of inochi (...) that have appeared in publications and responses from questionnaires on this topic. Some philosophical and metaphysical interpretations of the concept of inochi are then proposed. Finally a brief outline of the study of life is presented, suggesting a new way to approach bioethics and discussions on environmental issues. (shrink)
If our sense of happiness is closely connected to brain functions, it might become possible to manipulate our brain in a much more refined and effective way than current methods allow. In this paper I will make some remarks on the manipulation of the sense of happiness and illuminate the relationship between human dignity and happiness. The President’s Council on Bioethics discusses this topic in the 2003 report Beyond Therapy, and concludes that the use of SSRIs might make us “feel (...) happy for no good reason at all, or happy even when there remains much in one’s life to be truly unhappy about.” I will extend their line of thought through two thought experiments. In the first, a “perfect happiness” drug is given to a person, and in the second a happiness device with an on/off switch is placed inside a person. The first case leads us to conclude that a life with dignity means a life free from domination by the sense of happiness and the sense of unhappiness. The second case leads us to conclude that a life with dignity requires substantive freedom to choose unhappiness. At the end of this paper, I present a new interpretation of “human dignity,” that is, “a life with dignity means a life in which we are able to explore our own life, equipped with both happiness and unhappiness, without regret, through relationships with others, without being exploited by the desires of anyone, and without being dominated by our own desires.”. (shrink)
In my paper I would like to criticize Julian Savulescu and his colleagues’ argument on moral bioenhancement. If we want to improve our society, it would be easier and more effective to improve social conditions. Our personality ought to be constructed upon our inner foundation, which should not be tampered with by outside intervention or control, and I dare say this belief is a healthy one that should not be overturned.
In this paper I am going to talk about the “philosophy of life” project, which my colleagues and I have attempted over the last few years at our college. I believe research into the philosophy of life should contribute much to our discussion about many issues, such as democracy and war and peace in contemporary society. Before entering the main topic of this presentation, I would like to briefly introduce my academic background up until the present.
The philosophy of our proposal are as follows: (1) Various ideas of life and death, including that of objecting to brain death as human death, should be guaranteed. We would like to maintain the idea of pluralism of human death; and (2) We should respect a child’s view of life and death. We should provide him/her with an opportunity to think and express their own ideas about life and death.
A brain death case is presented and reinterpreted using the narrative approach. In the case, two Japanese parents face a dilemma about whether to respect their daughter’s desire to donate organs even though, for them, it would mean literally killing their daughter. We argue that the ethical dilemma occurred because the parents were confronted with two conflicting narratives to which they felt a “narrative responsibility,” namely, the responsibility that drives us to tell, retell, and coauthor the (often unfinished) narratives of (...) loved ones. We suggest that moral dilemmas arise not only from conflicts between moral justifications but also from conflicts between narratives and human relationships. (shrink)
This is the translation of the so-called Morioka&Sugimoto proposal on brain death and transplantation. We proposed that the prior declaration of a brain dead child should be respected, and that when the child does not have a donor card the organ removal should be prohibited. A material for understanding an unprecedented bioethics debate now occurring in Japan.
Morioka's most controversial book to date. The endless tendency to eliminate pain and suffering makes us totally lose sight of the meaning of life that is indispensable to human beings. How are we to battle against this painless civilization?
The Japanese disability movement in the 1970s posed an important question about our inner eugenic thought. Their arguments should be one of the focuses of attention for bioethics and philosophy of life in the 21st century. Their philosophy is comparable with DPI’s declaration, “The Right to Live and be Different,” published in 2000. They thought that technology of selective abortion was dangerous because it systematically deprives us of a sense of security (=the fundamental sense of security) that our existence is (...) being accepted unconditionally. They were considered to be seeking “life studies,” which has broader and deeper meanings than contemporary bioethics. (shrink)
We are born of the nothingness incomprehensible to each of us individuals and find death in the midst of the limitlessness. I have absolutely no idea why I am living here and now. I don’t know why the world is the way it is. I have been thrust into existence and am coldly surrounded by the limitless space. When humans cannot fully grasp the foundations of existence, we become encumbered by the feeling known as “fear.” I was a young boy (...) when I acquired that fear of death. (....) -/- The place where young people encounter “death” is in manga. In the last issue of Devilman, the creature was the very image of death, a disembodied torso. In the background angels are dancing on the sea. Also, in the final episode of Joe of Tomorrow, death lies in a ring. (shrink)
Why would a philosopher choose to convey his ideas in the form of Manga? This discussion between Masahiro Morioka, author of Manga Introduction to Philosophy, and the translator of its French edition, Pierre Bonneels, shows how philosopher and artist Morioka became acquainted, through images, with fundamental abstract notions. After a short historical analysis of the aesthetic advantages of Manga, consideration is given to this unique way of provoking thought. On this basis, theoretical aspects of “time” and the “I” proposed by (...) Ōmori Shōzō are compared with Morioka’s Manga presentation. Although the questions raised are universal, the authors note that the use of Japanese metaphors enables these two thinkers to draw on a concrete understanding of notions like temporality and identity. (shrink)
The essence of human being resides not only in his/her brain, but also in every part of the body, therefore, the idea that brain-death equals human death can not be true in a certain context. Of course their arguments are not so strictly constructed, but if we take this theory seriously and develop it philosophically, it may have the possibility of criticize the very basis of contemporary civilization which is inclined to see humans only as a reasoning and calculating machine (...) made up of brain's complicated neuron-networks. (shrink)
Children have the right not to be exploited by the desire of adults. When a brain dead child has said nothing about brain death, we have to think that the child has a right to live and die peacefully, fully protected against the interests of others.
1) In the bioethics literature, there are many examples of the East/West dichotomy and its variations, but this is the trap we sometimes falls into when discussing the cultural dimensions of bioethics. (...) One of the biggest problems with this kind of dichotomy is that it ignores a variety of values, ideas, and movements inside a culture or an area. (...) The East/West dichotomy oversimplifies this internal variation and neglects the common cultural heritage that many people share in various areas (...) around the world. 2) I would like to present “life studies” as a forum or project in which people who are frustrated with bioethics and other disciplines get together to discuss life, death, nature, scientific technology, and contemporary civilization, although life studies itself is still in an early stage of development. The field of life studies consists of three categories: life studies as a forum, life studies as a project, and life studies on a personal level. (shrink)
Mitsu Tanaka, activist and philosopher, thinks that a woman who has an abortion sways between two kinds of consciousness, that is, the consciousness that it is her right to determine whether to have an abortion or not, and the consciousness that she is going to be a fetus killer. Tanaka concludes that women should face this "confused self" swaying between these two kinds of consciousness, because this "confused self" should be the basis of the women's movement and the coming new (...) philosophy of life. (shrink)
This book shifted the Japanese debate on brain death from "brain-centered analysis" to "human relationship oriented analysis." I defined that brain death means a form of human relationships between a comatose patient and the people surrounding him/her in the ICU. I paid special attention to the emotional aspect and the inner reality of the family members of a brain dead person, because sometimes the family members at the bedside, touching the warm body of the patient, express the feeling that the (...) brain dead person still continues to exist as a living human being. This approach, published more than 10 years ago, has deeply influenced Japanese bioethics, and would probably influence English bioethics, too. Chapter 1 deals with "brain death as a form of human relationships" theory. Published in 1989. (shrink)
"Confessions of a Frigid Man: A Philosopher’s Journey into the Hidden Layers of Men’s Sexuality" is the translation of a Japanese 2005 bestseller, "Kanjinai Otoko." Soon after the publication, this book stirred controversy over the nature of male sexuality, male “frigidity,” and its connection to the “Lolita complex.” Today, this work is considered a classic in Japanese men’s studies. The most striking feature of this book is that it was written from the author’s first-person perspective. The author is a professor (...) who teaches philosophy and ethics at a university in Japan, and in this book he talks about his own sexual fetishism, his feeling of emptiness after ejaculation, and his huge obsession with young girls and their developing female bodies. He undertakes a philosophical investigation of how and why sexuality took such a form within a person who had grown up as a “normal,” heterosexual man. This may be the first case in which a philosopher delves deep into his own sexuality and poses an ambitious hypothesis about the formation of male “frigid” sexuality, which might actually be shared by many “normal” men in our society in a hidden way. Reading this book, female readers will come to know, for the first time, some hidden aspects of male sexuality which men have skillfully submerged in a deep layer of their psyches. (shrink)
4.6. Internationalization in Japanese Bioethics.Masahiro Morioka - forthcoming - Bioethics in Asia: The Proceedings of the Unesco Asian Bioethics Conference (Abc'97) and the Who-Assisted Satellite Symposium on Medical Genetics Services, 3-8 Nov, 1997 in Kobe/Fukui, Japan, 3rd Murs Japan International Symposium, 2nd Congress of the Asi.details