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December 24, 2004

Discipline & Punish, Foucault, Michel, panopticon


One of the most important characteristics of Chapter 2 of Brain Dead Person is that the function of "intensive care unit" is discussed in terms of ethics. This was because I believed that the creation of a "brain dead person" is closely connected to the function of "intensive care unit" in a hospital.

In this chapter I discussed that an intensive care unit looks like a "panopticon" that was described by J. Bentham, and later by Michel Foucault in his "Discipline & Punish : The Birth of the Prison."

I wrote in my book as follows:

"The beds have been separated with walls or curtains between them. Fellow patients have had their lines of sight entirely cut off. However, it has been made possible to see all of the patients from the nurses’ station in the very center. Here the intense gaze of those supervising falls on all those being supervised. This one central watchtower is designed to allow supervision of many small rooms from one place.
    This looks incredibly similar to the structure of the modern European thinker Jeremy Bentham’s “Panopticon” -- a design for a prison. This was designed so that all the movements of the inmates could be seen from a central watchtower. The ICU is at the forefront of contemporary medicine, which started in Europe, and so it is of deep significance that the model of the Panopticon reappears here. Perhaps only a modern gaze fills the ICU. " (See this page)

When this book was published in 1989, some critics said that this idea was very interesting. Do you have any comments about the above idea?

Photo: No comment

 -- M.Morioka

December 18, 2004

Psychological care of the family


The translation of Chapter 2 of Brain Dead Person (1989) was finally finished. Translation was made by Alex Jones, thank you Alex!

Chapter 2 (translation here) is the most important part of this book. There I introduced the idea "care of the sphere." Sphere means the sphere of human relationships surrounding a brain dead person in a hospital. In the intensive care unit in a hospital the family of a brain dead person try to accept the death of the patient by caring for the patient (at least in Japan where brain death does not necessarily mean death). In some cases they accept, but in other cases they don't accept or refuse the idea of brain death. In this chapter I proposed doctors and nurses to "help the family to attend the brain dead person." Please read the text for details.

This book was published in 1989, and probably this was the first book that stressed the importance of the care for the family who are attending the brain dead person (not for harvesting organs but for the psychological care of the family). Do you know any other materials in English?

Anyway, it was 15 years ago. I was 30 years old when I published this book. Time flies.

Photo: Surutto-chan at Osaka Subway

 -- M.Morioka

December 13, 2004

Living in Osaka


I have changed the background picture of the title of the blog. It is a photo of a night view of Osaka city. Living in Osaka is a very fascinating experience. This city is a mixture of the Asian atmosphere and modern technology. Chaotic but sophisticated.

I am editing the translation of Chapter 2 of the book Brain Dead Person. This chapter constitutes the main part of the book. I hope the translation will be uploaded soon.

Photo: A vending machine

 -- M.Morioka

December 10, 2004

Three faces of desire


I happened to visit the website of the book, Three Faces of Desire, by Timothy Schroeder (his website) at I skimmed the first several pages on that webpage and found that he distinguished among "desire","want", and "wish", and went on to talk about three faces of desire, namely, "motivation", "reward", and "pleasure". I have not read his book, so I am not sure what he wants to say in detail, but I think philosophy of desire is an interesting philosophical topic. Probably, the author's philosophical background is "philosophical analysis," or philosophy of language in Anglo-Saxson philosophy, so the emphasis may be placed on the analysis of the use and meaning of the words.

There are many philosphical traditions in the world, including European-Continental philosophy, British-American philosphy, Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophy, Islamic philosophy etc. And in each we would probably be able to find important phisophy(ies) of desire, for example. These days I am so curious about those philosophical traditions, and what they have been thinking about various philosophical topics. Fortunately, many important philosophical works are translated into English and/or Japanese (except for those in Islam, Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia), so I want to read them and think with them.

In my book, Painless Civilization, (2003), I distinguished between two forms of desire, namely, "desire of the body" and "desire of life." The desire of the body is a desire that makes us keep pleasure and comfort, and the desire of life is a desire that seeks to dismantle the desire of the body from within one's life. I believe this idea is new and stimulating to those who are interested in this topic. I want to write the essence in English in the near future.

Anyway, I have modified the whole design of the website, International Network for Life Studies.

Photo: A poster of Kyoto.

 -- M.Morioka

December 02, 2004

Posts before December 2004

Posts before December 2004 will be found on the Old Blog.