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Bioethics and Politics conference and painless civilization, Albany


The Bioethics and Politics conference is over. Well, it was an interesting conference. There were stimulating presentations and discussions (and of course there were many boring talks). Last night I slept for nine hours. I feel refreshed this morning.

I gave my presentation in the morning of the second day. The room for our Group One was filled with 20-30 people. The coordinator, Professor John Robertson introduced me to the audience saying “Professor Morioka publishes a variety of books, from brain death to why an adult man is sexually attracted to a twelve year old girl…..” Well, a very nice and to the point introduction. Then I started talking about Japanese left-wing bioethics, fundamental sense of security, and painless civilization.

After my talk, several people raised hands and a person asked me to show an example of the “pathology of painless civilization” I mentioned in my talk. I then talked about the story of a house wife who became the state of a living dead because of her wealthy life, but I couldn’t fully reply to his question. A young person in the audience advised the man that he should read the book of an American philosopher in order to understand Morioka’s point. I couldn’t hear the name of the philosopher, but his comment was helpful. Then, Carrie Gordon Earll and John Robertson gave presentations.

After our talks, another young man raised hands and asked us several questions. His question to me was this (probably): Morioka said that “fundamental sense of security” is important for us to fight against utilitarianism; however, there must be something (a more fundamental idea) that supports the “fundamental sense of security.” I felt this was a very good question. I couldn’t reply to his question at that time, instead I asked him why he thinks religion or faith is required for us to be spiritual (because he was also talking about Christianity and faith).

Then James Hughes asked me two questions from the floor: the first is whether Morioka criticizes the act of giving medicine to an ill child who experiences severe pain and suffering; and the second was whether the criticism of painless civilization aims to go back to the past (I couldn’t understand all the points of his question because of my limited English ability. I am sorry, James. But your comment on Marx’s Manifesto was helpful.) I replied that the main point of the criticism of painless civilization is to criticize the driving force in our society which leads us to continue escaping from pain and suffering using every possible technologies; and I don’t wish to go back to the past, instead I wish to dismantle and recreate the current civilization from within, staying inside it. I knew the name of James Hughes because he is the Executive Director of World Transhumanist Association. I had heard his presentation in the previous day. His presentation was also very interesting.

After our session, a person came to me and said that he was a Christian priest but his opinion was very similar to mine, and he added that the dichotomy of conservative and liberal is senseless. And then the young man who had asked me about the fundamental sense of security came to me and said that my presentation was the best in this conference so far. This comment encouraged me a lot. I walked out of the room and took a rest in another room. Then a man walked to me and said my talk was interesting. His name is Eric Racine. I had heard his talk as well in the previous day. We had a chat about his “moderate liberalism” and the possibility of fruitful dialogue between ordinary citizens and specialists, or religious people. In the afternoon session of the same day, I found in the audience the man who mentioned an American philosopher. I asked him about the title of the book. He said his boss was Dr. Albert Jonsen. When I had a chat with him a woman approached me and said my talk was interesting and we shook hands.

Anyway, it became clear that the criticism of painless civilization could intellectually stimulate an American audience. Before the session I met Professor Stuart Youngner. I had met him in Kyoto three years before. I asked him about the schedule of publication of the paper Kinjo-san and I had written two years before. Yesterday I met many people. This was a fruitful conference at least for me. I will write about the impression of the whole conference in the next post.

*For more information see my paper "Painless Civilization and Fundametal Sense of Security"

Link to this post: bioethics.net http://blog.bioethics.net/2006/07/bioethics-and-politics-conference.html

Photo: Sakai, Osaka

   -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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