Philosophical study of life, death, and nature


Summer, seaside


Last Updated
December 8, 2015



About this Site was established in 1999 to promote discussion on life studies, philosophy of life, environmental ethics, bioethics, gender studies, and criticism of contemporary civilization. This site contains papers, essays, and other materials written by Masahiro Morioka and other authors.

>> Detailed information about this site




Masahiro Morioka, the administrator, is a professor of philosophy and ethics at Waseda University , and the editor-in-chief of Journal of Philosophy of Life .

>> Detailed information about profile



Life Studies and Philosophy of Life

The administrator's main research fields are "life studies" and "philosophy of life." Life studies is an attempt to acquire the intellectual capacity, wisdom and systematically organized knowledge from a variety of disciplines needed to live our limited lives without regret. Philosophy of life is an academic discipline that deals with philosophical issues surrounding life, death, and nature.

>> Detailed explanation about life studies and philosophy of life



Papers and Essays

List of papers and essays
You can read Morioka's papers and essays published in English.

> Recently Uploaded Texts

Manga and Philosophy
: Why Was the Book “Manga Introduction to Philosophy” Written?
A PowerPoint PDF
presentated at the first conference of the European Network on Japanese Philosophy, Barcelona, Spain.

Is Meaning in Life Comparable?
: From the Viewpoint of ‘The Heart of Meaning in Life’
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 demonstrate that “the heart of meaning in life” cannot be compared with other people’s meaning in life.

Feminism, Disability, and Brain Death: Alternative Voices from Japanese Bioethics (2015)
In this paper, the ideas of “the swaying of the confused self” in the field of feminism, “inner eugenic thought” concerning disability, and “human relationship-oriented approaches to brain death” that appeared in Japanese bioethics are discussed.

Why Beyond Bioethics?: The Reaction of a Japanese Philosopher to American Bioethics (2015)
-- New Perspectives in Japanese Bioethics, pp.73-86. (You can read some parts of the paper on Google Books. The full paper will be uploaded to soon.)

A Phenomenological Study of “Herbivore Men” (2013)
"Herbivore men" is a term that became a buzzword in Japan in 2008-2009. It refers to gentle young men who are not very assertive in love and sex. This paper illustrates the outline of this phenomenon from the viepoint of gender studies.

How a Japanese Philosopher Encountered Bioethics (2013)
I 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.

Why is It Hard for Us to Accept Moral Bioenhancement?: Comment on Savulescu’s Argument (2013)
This paper criticizes Julian Savulescu and his colleagues’ argument on moral bioenhancement. 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.

Human Dignity and the Manipulation of the Sense of Happiness: From the Viewpoint of Bioethics and Philosophy of Life (2012)
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.

Natural Right to Grow and Die in the Form of Wholeness: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Ontological Status of Brain-dead Children (2011)
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.

Narrative Responsibility and Moral Dilemma: A Case Study of a Family's Decision About a Brain-dead Daughter (2011)
An analysis of the responsibility that drives us to tell, retell, and coauthor the (often unfinished) narratives of loved ones. First author: Takanobu Kinjo.


The Review of Life Studies
A collection of articles written by Masahiro Morioka and his friends.




List of books (21 books)
Selected chapters of some of Morioka's books in English.

> Recent Books


Masahiro Morioka (ed.)
Reconsidering Meaning in Life: A Philosophical Dialogue with Thaddeus Metz (2015)


Masahiro Morioka
A Philosophical Inquiry into Personhood, Dignity, and Brain Death (2015, in Japanese)
Masahiro Morioka
Manga Introduction to Philosophy (2013, in Japanese, currently under translation)
Masahiro Morioka
Confessions of a Frigid Man: A Philosopher's Thought on Male Sexuality (2005,2013, in Japanese. An English translation is soon available)
Masahiro Morioka
The 33rd Stone: A Philosophy for a wounded age
(2009, in Japanese)



Audio/Video Recordings

Brain Death, the Concept of ‘Persona,’ and the Principle of Wholeness
At the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, Michigan State University, September 28, 2012.




Journal of Philosophy of Life
A peer-reviewed academic journal specializing in the philosophy of life, death, and nature, published by the Research Institute for Contemporary Philosophy of Life.



Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Life Studies Blog

Facebook - Masahiro Morioka

twitter - masa_morioka







Special Reports

Special Report: No.1
Brain Death and Transplantation in Japan

Special Report: No.2
Japanese Responses to the World Trade Center Attack

Special Report: No.3
Bioethics around the World

Special Report: No.4
Herbivore Men



Other pages

Japanese website
Japanese version of LIFESTUDIES.ORG.

French website
French version of LIFESTUDIES.ORG.

Life Studies Press
A private publisher founded by the administrator.

List of websites made more than 5 years ago.

Older pages