Saturday, July 29, 2006

Philosophy of nature

Philosophy of nature
Japan Review vol.2 (1991):83-115
The Concept of Inochi: A Philosophical Perspective on the Study of Life
Masahiro Morioka
*Yuko Tamura(English Translation Project) typed this text.
*The sign [83/84] shows the turn of pages in the original literature.

  Part 1

(Received 17 August 1990, accepted 1 November 1990)

    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.

block quote end


    Modern civilization is characterized by industrialization and advanced scientific technology. It has developed through this century, and as a result,
it has brought us great benefits and conveniences. However it is also true that it has caused a number of problems and crises concerning our attitudes
toward life and the environment.
    Today we face, on the one hand, global environmental issues such as the destruction of the ozone layer, and on the other hand, ethical problems arising
from medical technology such as those associated with freezing early human embryos that are only a few cells. We should regard these problems as a set
of interconnected ethical-social issues, because all these matters have been caused by the fundamental invasion of scientific technology into the realm
of ‘life’ on this planet.
    I have elsewhere advocated ‘the study of life’ as a comprehensive approach to all the problems arising from our attitudes toward life, the life of
humans and of all other living creatures (1). From the viewpoint of the study of life, a number of ethical and social problems of our age can be discussed
at the same time in the same way.
    For example, environmental pollution caused by chemical factories, clearly apparent to Japanese people in the 1960’s (in the Minamata and other cases),
was one of the first instances which indicated that the conduct of modern scientific and industrial civilization had done structural harm to human life
and local ecosystems. The growing global environmental crisis became more apparent [83/84] through the 1970’s and 80’s, and has become one of the most
important international political issues in the 1990’s. The main cause of the environmental crisis lies in the fact that the industrialized nations have
underestimated the interrelatedness of our life and biosphere on this planet when making plans for their own industrialization and development (2). All
forms of life on the earth, including humans and non-human organisms, constitute complicated and interrelated networks. Interrelatedness of this kind is
one of the essential features of the images and concept of life (inochi) as we shall discuss later in this paper.
    Let us consider the ethical issues arising from contemporary gene technology. Today we can easily cut and paste portions of the DNA sequence of organisms,
including human beings, and then modify the genome of any organism using recombinant DNA techniques. The technology of genetic engineering has become the
basic method for biological research in universities and corporations throughout the world. However, many ordinary people may remain unconvinced of the
technology which might lead us to play the role of God. The inclination of scientific technology that seeks to deal with parts of a living creature as
if they were parts of mere inorganic matter has made ordinary people hesitant to fully accept this technology. In other words, at the basis of these feelings,
there are doubts about scientific technology in which life is considered to be merely like a mechanical clock. For people who have an organic or holistic
view of the universe (3), life is a kind of self-organized system, which is born from the network of life, grows in relationships with other creatures,
transforms its body and shape, gives birth to other life, and finally goes on to die. However, gene technology deals with DNA, the most fundamental part
of a living cell, as if it were only part of an automobile or a bicycle. It is said that the principle of this technology was originally invented and developed
in order to control the inorganic side of an object. This shows that one of the important ethical problems concerning biotechnology emerges between and
organic-holistic view of life and mechanistic approaches in gene technology.
    When scientific technology is applied to human life it can raise many other serious ethical and social problems. For example, we can fertilize ova
and sperms in vitro outside the body (IVF), and then freeze surplus embryos, storing them for subsequent medical procedures for an infertile couple. Moreover,
in many countries, we can scrap surplus embryos or use them for scientific and medical research within 14 days after fertilization. (In Britain embryos
can be specifically made for research.) We can also inspect the DNA sequence and other important factors of embryos at their early stage, and destroy them
if a serious defect is discovered. A fertilized embryo, even if it is frozen, has the potential to become a human person. However, that possibility disappears
when we scrap [84/85] or make experimental use of it. How should we then evaluate the life of a human being who was conceived only to be a subject for
medical research? Don’t we have to respect human life when it is at the very early stage (4)? Isn’t it just like playing the role of God (or the Devil)
to perform the ‘selective disposal’ of defective embryos (5)? Here we encounter a collision between the nature of scientific technology and one of our
basic traditional norms: ‘respect for life’ (6).
    A number of ethical, social and religious problems have arisen simultaneously between life and scientific technology late in this century. These problems
have been studied separately in several disciplines, such as bioethics, human ecology, medical anthropology, the philosophy and sociology of science, environmental
ethics, and so on. However, I believe all these problems concerning life and scientific technology should be dealt with simultaneously and comprehensively
in the same field, that is the study of life, because they share a fundamental background and several important questions, and because they are inseparably
interconnected with each other.
    Through the comprehensive study of life, we will be able to fundamentally criticize modern civilization which has been guided by science and technology.
And we will also be able to seek new relationships between life and scientific technology which will never produce as many problems as they have in this

    Before investigating the relationship between life and scientific technology, we first have to clarify what life is. However, this has been one of the
most difficult questions humans have encountered, and no universally acceptable definite answer has appeared since the dawn of civilizations. Many religions
have made clear the concept of life [85/86] within its own paradigm, and philosophers and biologists have defined it in their own ways. These definitions
sometimes contradict each other. What is more important, traditional religious beliefs have not provided a world view powerful enough to elucidate the
essence of today’s situations surrounding life. They have yet to explain, for example, the nature of industrialization and its effects on life; the meaning
of the advanced nations’ affluent human life which has been brought about through the development of science, industry and imperialism; the historical
meaning of global environmental crises in this century, and so on (7), (8).
    What we have to do now is to seek a contemporary understanding of life which describes these situations broadly, can appreciate the fundamental significance
of life, and will be accepted by a number of people with different cultures and religions.
    As the first step toward this understanding, I have investigated images of life among modern Japanese people by using open questionnaires. In this
paper, I will report on some of the main features of the images of life that appeared in the questionnaires and also in publications on life, and then
advocate philosophical interpretations of the concept of life. There are few academic publications which deal with the concept of life (inochi) among modern
Japanese. For example, Nakamura (1987) analyses the concepts of life, but mainly those which appeared in ancient Asian thoughts. The objective of this
paper is to contribute to world-wide discussions on life and scientific technology by examining the images and concepts of life in contemporary Japan.

    In modern Japanese there are two words, inochi and seimei, which are equivalent to the English word ‘life’. The word inochi (9) (pronounced ‘ee-know-chee’)
is commonly used among ordinary Japanese when they refer to everyday phenomena concerning life, death, and nature, while the word seimei (10) does not
enjoy such a wide use. Seimei is an academic word mainly used in the fields of biology, medicine, philosophy, and law. Historically speaking, the word
seimei was rediscovered from old usages when [86/87] translating the European words ‘life’, ‘vie’ and ‘Leben’ in the Meiji era (19thcentury), and Japanese
have accepted it as an academic and/or scientific term. The word inochi has a much longer history than seimei. This word is found in ancient literature
such as the Man’yoshu and Kojiki (8th century). Inochi has become established as one of the most popular words in Japanese. Today even a primary school
student knows the word inochi, but he/she doesn’t necessarily know the word seimei. Hence, when studying the images of life in contemporary Japan, it is
the images of inochi that should be researched.
    Inochi in modern Japanese has three linguistic origins, namely, Chinese, Buddhism, and ancient Japanese. Ming (11) in ancient Chinese corresponds to
inochi. The original meaning of ming is to order someone to do something. The well known phrase tian ming (12) (man’s destiny determined by the transcendent
being) is a derivation from this meaning. The ancient connotations of ming include ‘destiny’, ‘lifespan’ and ‘one’s nature’ which are determined in advance
by the transcendent being.
    The ming which appeared in Buddhist sutras written in Chinese characters has one other meaning: the energy or power of living. In fact, we can find
in some sutras words that contain ming which stand for the principle or power that makes something alive from behind that being (13).
    Inochi in ancient Japanese has meanings such as ‘lifespan’ and ‘the power of living’, because it had already been influenced by the meanings of ming
imported from the Korean peninsula and China. The word inochi is considered to be made up of i and chi. The former stands for ‘breath’, and the latter
stands for ‘inside’ or ‘dynamic energy’. Hence, inochi in ancient Japanese has, in addition to the above, the meaning of the dynamic energy of living in
breath, which is equivalent to anima in Latin or psyche in ancient Greek, which is also a derivative of breath.
    In modern Japanese, inochi basically has four meanings. The first meaning is the mysterious power or energy that keeps creatures and humans alive.
For example, there are such expressions as ‘wash one’s inochi’ (14), which means the recovery of power that keeps us alive; ‘at the height of inochi’ (15),
which means the peak of a creature’s life; and ‘burn up one’s inochi’ (16), which means to burn up one’s energy of living (and die). There is also the
expression ‘to take over inochi from one’s ancestors’. This phrase means the succession of the dynamic power of living from generation to generation, rather
than the succession of a living state. These meanings have a close relationship to the meaning of inochi as the energy of breath. On the one hand, breath
makes an individual creature alive inside its body, but on the other hand, breath flows out of [87/88] an individual and then slips into another individual’s
body. In this way, inochi, in the form of breath, incessantly interconnects all living creatures on the earth synchronically and diachronically.
    The second meaning of inochi points to the period between birth and death, or the state of being alive. There are some expressions which stand for
dying such as ‘inochi ends’, ‘lose one’s inochi’, and ‘drop one’s inochi’ (17). There are other interesting expressions such as ‘inochi shrinks’ (18),
which means to encounter a danger; ‘one’s inochi is short’ (19), which means that there remains a short time until one’s death; ‘deposit one’s inochi with
somebody’ (20), which means to leave one’s destiny under somebody’s control; and ‘pick up one’s inochi’ (21), which means to escape death accidentally.
There are many more expressions that fall under this category in modern Japanese. At the root of all of these expressions there is an understanding that
inochi is limited in time and space. In other words, inochi has its beginning and end, and thus an ‘inochi being (inochi arumono)’ must die sooner or later;
at the same time, one’s inochi is completely different from another inochi in its existence and its death. Therefore, one can never die with another, only
die one’s own death. The first meaning of life energy and the second of being alive seem to contradict each other. We shall discuss this point further
later on.
    The third meaning is ‘the most essential part’ of an object. For example, ‘to take away something’s inochi’(22) does not mean to kill it, but to take
away its most important and essential quality – that is, for example, the function of bodily movement in a dancer, or the beautiful song of a canary. This
word is sometimes applied to non-living things, such as ‘the inochi of a doll’ (23).
    The last meaning of inochi is eternal life. The phrase ‘eternal inochi’ is to be found in religious materials written in Japanese. For example, Christianity
in Japan preaches that we obtain eternal inochi through belief in God, and the Jodo sects of Buddhism preach that we obtain eternal inochi in Sukhavati
(Jodo, the pure Land) in the next world (24).
    There is a great variety of usages for the word inochi in modern Japanese, but these are basically variations on a theme which can be classified under
one of the four categories mentioned above.
—an introduction to data acquired from questionnaires—

    We have made clear the linguistic meanings of inochi in modern Japanese in the previous section. Here we turn our attention to images of inochi among
contemporary Japanese. [88/89]
    By the term ‘images of inochi’ I mean a set of images, impressions, feelings, representations, notions, ideas, and thoughts which are held in relation
to the word inochi. Although it is virtually impossible to investigate the images of inochi of all Japanese people, an investigation of the diversity and
patterns of the images of inochi through open questionnaires and interviews hold great significance for our initial research on the topic.
    I have conducted surveys using open questionnaires, since 1989, in order to grasp the images of inochi held amongst ordinary Japanese (25). Here I
present some of the representative replies and suggest the core images of inochi to be found among them.
    The only question in the questionnaires is: Will you please express freely, in sentences and/or pictures, the images which come to mind when you hear
the word inochi, and/or any ideas you have on inochi (26).
    The replies are diverse and demonstrate extraordinary imagination. I would like to be able to present all the interesting replies, but unfortunately
it is impossible in this paper.
    For example, this is from a student nurse in Tokyo.

Inochi is an irreplaceable thing equally presented to humans, animals and plants. Inochi is the only thing that all people have equally. We can lead an
everyday life because we have inochi. I think we should keep in mind that one’s inochi is supported by a lot of other people. (age: 10-19/sex: female/occupation:
student nurse/religion:—) (27)    This is a brief and to-the-point description that shows some of the typical images of inochi held by the Japanese. In
this reply there are four important propositions on [89/90] inochi. First, all living creatures, including humans, animals, and plants, have inochi, and
this is equally given (from somewhere/somebody). In other words, humans and all creatures are equal from the viewpoint of inochi. Second, inochi is and
irreplaceable thing.This means that one’s inochi cannot be replaced by any other inochi. My inochi is mine, not yours. The rabbit’s inochi in front of
you is its, not yours. Irreplaceablility is, as we shall see later, one of the most important features of inochi. Third, we can live because we have inochi.
In other words, inochi keeps us alive. We should remember one of the linguistic meanings of inochi which stands for energy or power that keeps us alive.
And fourth, one’s inochi is supported by a lot of other people. This means that inochi exists by virtue of the surrounding mutual support networks of inochi
beings. And the respondent’s original sentence suggests that we often forget this truth.
    There are a number of replies in which the words standing for images of inochi are simply listed. The following are examples of this. Images coming
to my mind: a baby, a human being, pregnancy, love, to live, death, something important, dignity, impossible to resuscitate, the universe. (20-29/female/housewife/—)

1. Myself 2. relatives 3. friends 4. humans 5. the earth 6. the universe 7. myself. These images come to mind nearly in this order. I think of them as imortant.

Children, adults, human being, food, nature, the sea, the sky, a mountain, the murmur of brook, the sound of the wind, eternal inochi, the ground, something
destroying nature, nuclear power plants, war, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini Atoll, environmental disruption, radioactivity, pesticides, the earth, the universe,
the phoenix by cartoonist Tezuka Osamu, something warm, something I want to treasure, the exploitation of the wilderness for resorts, mother’s love, seimei,
the ground, the inochi of all creatures, finiteness. There are many other words. However, I will stop writing here because the series can go on forever.
(30-39/female/primary school teacher/no religion)

    The images spread widely from oneself to the universe, from humans to all creatures and the earth itself. Some replies like the third one, refer to
‘radioactivity’ and/or ‘pesticides’. We cannot ignore the influence of Japanese anti-nuclear power plant protests and ecology movements which have used
the word inochi as one of their key concepts in recent years (28). It is impressive that all three cited replies mention the image of the universe. In
a sense, we can conclude from this that the three respondents grasp inochi in some religious context, though they do not have any [90/91] particular religion.
Many women say that images of a baby and a state of pregnancy come to their minds when hearing the word inochi, while most men don’t. The third reply is
interesting in that it contains two completely opposite concepts: namely ‘eternal inochi’ and ‘finiteness’.
    Here is another example of the image of inochi which refers to the universe, which reminds me of passages from Pascal’s Pensées (29). Inochi is sacred
on the one hand, and fleeting (30) on the other. Inochi is sacred in that it was born from only one mother and one father who live on the earth, which
is only a small planet among innumerable ones with living creatures throughout the universe. However, it is fleeting in that it is no more than one inochi
among an astronomical number of inochis in the universe. (30-39/male/office worker/no religion)    There are a number of replies which stress a chain of
inochis on this planet. The following are typical illustrations. We human beings are only one species out of all living creatures supported and sheltered
by nature. A chain of all inochis has circulated, from the past to the present, in the bosom of the natural world on earth….Inochi can exist only in a
circulating plane where a new inochi repeatedly revives from the death of former individual inochis. (60-69/male/farmer/—)

Just as a line consists of an infinite number of points, our individual inochis are connected from the past to the present, and to tomorrow….I have three
children, ten, seven, and two years old. My children’s inochis have come out of me, but my children’s inochis are not mine. They are theirs. (30-39/female/housewife/—)

    Both respondents grasp a finite individual inochi in contrast to an infinite chain or line of inochis. The former stresses the importance of the chain,
and expands the extent of the notion to include all creatures on earth. It is interesting that in this reply there is the notion of ‘death and revival’.
We often encounter this notion in such materials that approach the phenomenon of life in a religious or holistic way.We should note that, in this type
of approach, the death of an individual inochi is sometimes made light of, while more importance is placed on the chain itself. The latter seems to stress,
to the contrary, the individuality of each inochi, while admitting that each individual inochi cannot exist apart from the line. She restricts the extent
of the line to include only humans. This illustrates the variety of images of life amongst the Japanese. [91/92]
    As we shall mention later, there have been many publications discussing inochi in recent years. The authors are, for the most part, professional writers
or talented people who have already published books or articles. Hence, strictly speaking, these inochi publications are not the products of ordinary people,
and thus one of the merits of research through open questionnaires is the opportunity to collect expressions on inochi from ordinary people that would
not normally reach publication.
    During the course of my work in this survey I have come across some extradordinary replies which show excellence in their scope and depth. The following
is such an example. When written in hiragana, inochi has broader meanings than seimei. I feel that it means something which embraces one’s whole life,
one’s mind, one’s way of life, love, and whole human existence. And I think one’s inochi is something that is entirely given. I think inochi is irreplaceable
because we cannot get it at all by our own will, nor with effort, nor with money….If my inochi is irreplaceable, then others’ inochi must be the same.
Others’ inochis are connected to mine, and all these are in the stream of a large inochi. Inochi is, on the one hand, each individual being, unique and
irreplaceable. On the other hand, however, it is one large inochi of the whole human race.…Aren’t such formless reminders of a deceased person, such as
influence, impression, his/her way of life, thought, and religious belief a part of inochi? In this sense, I think inochis could be taken over, be connected,
and meet each other beyond space and time. (30-39/femal/housewife/Christian)    First this respondent stresses that inochi has broader meanings than seimei,
and then she goes on to say that it embraces the whole of life, mind, a way of life, love, and all of human existence. She seems to emphasize that inochi
should not be understood simply by a single property, such as an ability to breathe or just a brain function, but more that it should be grasped as a comprehensive
whole, from every aspect. In the latter half of the first paragraph she refers to inochi as something given, and to its irreplaceability.
    Second, in the middle of this reply, she presents a dialectical logic that each inochi is an individual irreplaceable inochi, and at the same time,
that inochi itself is a large stream that embraces all individual inochis. This dialectic implies a kind of universal insight which can be found in religious
literature. In appearance, this contention seems paradoxical because it insists on the identity of the whole and its parts. However, contentions of this
kind are not so unusual in the context of philosophy and religion (31). Instead, we should pay attention to the fact that she grasps the whole as a ‘stream’,
an expression often encountered in other responses and in various inochi publications (32). This kind of conceptualization makes it possible to grasp inochi
as a [92/93] formless and dynamic movement, rather tan a simplistic static entity with a clear form.
    In the last part of her reply, she allows her vision to soar. She states that one’s inochi is not confined to one’s body and the state of being conscious,
but spreads over the realms of influence, perception, one’s way of life, and thought. In a sense, this means that inochi survives the death of a person,
has a lasting influence on other people in our society, and meets other inochis somewhere in some universe. According to her understanding, inochi is not
merely the sum of a functioning body and brain; nevertheless, when she uses the word inochi, she restricts the usage strictly to the realm of humanity.
She does not refer to the inochi of animals, plants, or all creatures. Her religious beliefs may have influenced such an understanding. Hence, her understanding
of inochi is completely different from that of the farmer cited above, though both stress the importance of a chain or stream of inochis.
    Here are some other examples interesting in their expressions and imagination. Humans deprive other creatures of their inochi in order to live. Humans
defend themselves against other creatures so as not to have their inochi attacked….I wish we could live in mutual respect with other creatures. I have
to apologize to you, fish-san, cow-san, pig-san, and bird-san (33), for eating you because of our human egoism. I like meat and fish very much too. We
must look like cruel murderers from their point of view….In conclusion, we treasure our own inochi, and our civilizations and cultures develop by an egoism
of this kind. (30-39/female/nursery school teacher/—)

Inochi and death are two sides of the same coin….All inochi beings must die. Why? I live now, I have inochi at present because there is death….I think inochi
suggests waiting for one’s death naturally, and living naturally. (20-29/female/nurse/no religion)

It is hard to express, but I feel inochi is nearly equal to one’s whole life (not completely equal). The end of inochi means the end of my life. (10-19/female/student

War. The Republic of South Africa. I don’t understand much. I seldom think about it (34). (10-19/male/junior high school student/—)

I understand that all plants, trees, fish, and the green earth have inochi. An object has inochi even if it is a non-living thing. For example, when I make
a doll in cloth, inochi begins to exist in it, I think, at the time of the completion of its [93/94] human figure….I have experienced miscarriages twice
in the last two years….I grew up in a Christian environment, but I am not a Christian. However, I feel that the souls (inochis) (35) of my children are
in Heaven. (30-39/female/housewife/—)

My image of inochi is: a red ball just hovering in white space. I feel that it is something very important. (10-19/female/college student/—)

    The first respondent refers to human egoism, and the sinful fact that we live at the expense of other creatures, especially animals. Historically speaking,
this consciousness goes back to the ancient thoughts of India (36). The respondent relates this human nature to our civilizations and cultures. She presents
an important point in connection with the relationship between inochi and modern civilization in the study of life.
    The second response is interesting in that the respondent regards inochi as almost equivalent to the state of being alive. That is why she writes inochi
and death are two sides of the same coin. Some think that inochi survives death, and others think that inochi ends at the time of death, a contrast already
realized in the linguistic meanings of inochi. The respondent refers to the ‘naturalness’ of living and dying. The concepts of ‘naturalness’ and ‘nature’
are important factors in the images of inochi (37).
    The third response is another example of considering inochi as being nearly equal to the state of being alive.
    The fourth response lists only words and short sentences. However, the first word ‘war’ is shocking. (There is another reply in which only the word
‘war’ is written in the center of the page.) I suppose that the next words, ‘The Republic of South Africa’, imply human rights, segregation, violence,
killing, unfairness, etc. It is astonishing that the respondent regards these as matters of inochi (38).
    The fifth respondent refers to the inochi of a doll, applying the word inochi to a non-living thing. We should pay attention to the fact that she equates
inochi with the soul. On the other hand, she states that all plants, trees, fish, and the green earth have inochi, and therefore she seems to think that
all creatures have a soul. This is a clear statement of animism. It is interesting that in her animistic image of the world there is a heaven, where the
souls of her children live.
    The last respondent considers inochi a red ball, and image encountered elsewhere in the responses (39).
    There are some replies which refer to the relationship between inochi and scientific (medical) technology. The following are such examples. [96/97]
[Concerning In Vitro Fertilization technology] I have had a great fear of manipulating ova and sperm which are the origins of inochi. (30-39/female/farmer/no

For the present I object to the prolongation of inochi forcibly by advanced medicine. However, I don’t have any ideas as to what extent we should accept
this technology. (40-49/female/housewife/—)

I feel inochi when a baby is born. Last month I became sterile because of a uterus disease, and I felt a little lonely as a woman….I considered In Vitro
Fertilization to be blasphemous. However I am beginning to think of it as a power given to humans from God. (30-39/female/housewife/Good Light Association)

    The first and second replies are negative about the direct invasion of medical technology into inochi. The third turns positive. However, the respondents
seem to waver in their judgments between positive and negative.
    There are replies which contain drawings depicting images of inochi. Here I present some of them.
    Fig. 1 (10-19/male/junior high school student/—) depicts a heart with the caption "A limited thing. Its preciousness is obvious." At the center of
the figure there is the word ‘heart’, and around it, from left to right, there are five words, ‘kindness’, ‘limited’, ‘suffering’, ‘sadness’, and ‘preciousness’.
Among all kinds of figures depicting inochi, the shape of a heart appeared most frequently.
    Fig. 2 (30-39/male/public sector worker/no religion) depicts the sun, the ground (or grasslands), and a seedling. There are many replies that present
the image of inochi as that of plants, especially small seedlings.
    Fig. 3 (10-19/male/junior high school student/—) depicts a view of nature. Featured are the sun, the moon, stars, the Milky Way, mountains, a river,
a hill, cultivated land, flowers, plants and a butterfly. It should be noted that there are no human beings in this scene. It seems that the respondent
regards inochi as equivalent to nature.
    Fig. 4 (20-29/femlae/nurse/—) depicts the earth from outer space, with a caption "I mean ‘the blue earth’ hovering in outer space". The respondent
seems to regard the earth itself as being inochi. This reminds me of the Gaia hypothesis in which the earth itself is considered to be a single organism
    Fig. 5 (10-19/male/junior high school student/—) is a very impressive drawing. At the center there is a big tree, and a man (probably the respondent
himself) who has committed suicide by hanging. His soul has just escaped from his body. Around this tree, creatures live independently of, and indifferently
to the incident occurring [97/98]  in the human world. A bird flies under the sun and clouds, ants do their daily work. There is also the larva of a cicada
and a frog hibernating under the ground. Deep in the ground, there are human bones and earthenware from ancient ages. Here at least two thoughts are expressed.
One is that human death is the most central matter for the image of inochi. And the other is that a human’s inochi is no more than one small incident in
the various workings of nature. In this drawing we can see a delicate balance between anthropocentrism and pessimism about human inochi.
    Fig. 6 (10-19/female/junior high school student/—) is a philosophical reply with a caption "I think a creature’s inochi lasts only a short period in
a long history". Numerous lines which represent each individual creature’s inochi have been drawn in a river-like figure which contains all individual
inochis. This represents the long history of inochi, or a stream of large inochi. We can obtain from this drawing several thoughts, such as the succession
of inochi, the finiteness and irreplaceability of an individual inochi, and the infiniteness of a stream of inochi.
    Fig. 7 (20-29/male/—/—) depicts several particles linked to each other with strings. This means that inochi is an individual particle, and that at
the same time it makes up a web of inochis connected to each other. This drawing can also be interpreted as a large network of inochi with several particles
at the points of intersections of inochi streams. This drawing has important implications when viewed from a philosophical angle.
    Through drawings we are able to grasp more direct and stronger visual images of inochi than through words alone. Generally speaking, the younger generation
in Japan are very fond of expressing themselves through drawings and cartoons. Hence replies with drawings are important materials for investigating their
images of inochi.

Part 2

We moved to

— from published materials —

    In libraries, bookstores, newspapers, and magazines, we can easily find a number of books and articles which deal with inochi and/or matters concerning
inochi. I have called these ‘inochi publications’. They include books or articles concerning, for example, death, euthanasia, abortion, handicapped people,
education, sex, religion, ecology, the global environmental crisis, and the anti-nuclear power movement. They also include pamphlets and word-processor
leaflets handed out at meetings. It must be stressed that much literature, and many poms, songs, and advertisements are also to be counted as inochi

    I have classified these publications into two categories: primary inochi publications and secondary inochi publications. The former are publications
which contain the word inochi as a key concept in the title, the table of contents or the text. The latter are publications that deal with subjects and
events which could be described by using the word inochi as a key word, but actually use another word for it. In this section we examine some of the primary
inochi publications, and leave the secondary materials to future investigations. [98/99]
    To begin with, let us examine some leaflets from citizens'4 movements. First, there is a typical understanding of inochi in the leaflet entitled "A
view of qi, No. 2" (1990), issued by a qi-gong (41) group, the Green and Healing Circle. In this leaflet, the anonymous secretariat write as follows:

We have realized that all inochis are connected and formed into one while each individual inochi is voluntary and independent; that all inochis are equal
in value; that every inochi exists in its adequate position giving life to every other; that the human attitude toward nature is the same as the human
attitude toward humans themselves; and that our inochis get sick and die when greenery gets sick and dies.    Here we see expressed the dialectic of the
independence and connectedness of inochi, the dynamics of giving life to each other, the inner relationships between our attitude toward nature and ourselves,
and the relationship between inochi and greenery. The sentences in the leaflet provide simple and clear ideas concerning these subjects which tend to be
very popular in inochi publications.
    The following is part of a written opinion (1989) by a Buddhist monk, Wasei Futamata, for a trial concerning the construction of a nuclear power plant
in Ishikawa Prefecture. The Jodo-shinshu sect of Buddhism preaches living and walking with all inochis. The words "all inochi" mean not only humans’ inochis,
but also all the inochis living on this earth. And they also mean not only the present inochis, but also those of the future, in thirty, fifty, a hundred,
and a thousand years. These inochis are our friends whom we have met, are meeting, and are sure to meet in the future, at the bottom of the identical inochi.
We love and treasure our own inochi before anything else. Therefore we must love and treasure all the inochis, and must live, praying to be able to walk
together.    These sentences show a clear logic for the need to love inochi. Inochi spreads from humans to all creatures, from the past to the future,
and all these inochis are our friends. Hence, just as we love our own inochi, we must love all the inochis.
    Let us turn to the books and articles which deal with inochi as their main subject. There are a great many such books written in Japanese. The authors
include teachers, physicians, priests, novelists, nonfiction writers, journalists, and housewives. For example, Okuchi (1982), Okuchi (1984), Toriyama
(1985), Morisaki (1989), Kansha (1987), Kakehashi (1989), Yamamoto (1988), Mizukami (1988), Ueda (1989), and Nakamura (1987) have all published excellent
inochi books. All these are well worth [99/100] examining. However, I shall leave such an examination for another time. Instead, I shall examine here the
most noteworthy inochi books I have yet encountered: the Ministry of Education’s Guidelines for Developiing a Spirit of Respect for Inochi: for Primary
School Students (1988) and Guidelines for Dveloping a Spirit of Respect for Inochi: for Junior High School Students (1988).
    These are guidebooks for school teachers in moral education classes, written by school teachers, professors, and officials of the Ministry of Education.
These are excellent inochi publications in that the authors have prepared well studied discourses on inochi, and have made such discussions simple and
practical enough for children to understand.
    Before examining these texts in detail, we should pay attention to the following points that appear in these texts. First, in a sense, these books
succeeded in producing an excellent summary of today’s inochi discourses; at the same time, however, some subjects and discourses are intentionally omitted
for the purpose of strongly supervising the students (kanri kyoiku). For example, we cannot find any inochi discourses concerning sex education, environmental
pollution from factories, and the safety of nuclear power plants. I suppose the last two subjcets were omitted because of the government policy to push
forward with industrialization and nuclear power generation, but why sex education was omitted is a mystery. Okuchi (1984) and Toriyama (1985) deal with
sex education as one of the most important subjects related to inochi. The Ministry of Education’s textbooks seem to completely ignore this important topic
and should be openly criticized for this omission.
    Second, these books have been widely used since 1988 in almost all Japanese primary schools and junior high schools. This means that the replies to
our questionnaires from primary and junior high school students may have been deeply influenced by these books. In fact, there are a number of replies
that mimic expressions that are to be found in these books. It is difficult to clarify the relation of cause and effect between them, but, nevertheless,
we must necessarily take this point into account.
    These books do discuss inochi, but unfortunately not in a well ordered manner. Hence, I have put in order and classified these discussions into two
major categories: (a) properties of inochi, and (b) norms of inochi.

Properties of inochi
    The first property is irreplaceability (42). Only one inochi is given to each living thing, and it cannot be replaced by any other inochi. Once we
lose our inochi, we never get it again. It is stressed that every inochi, including those of humans and other creatures, is equally irreplaceable, a belief
that is expressed by the stock phrase in contemporary Japanese, ‘irreplaceable inochi’.
    The second property is the process of being born, growing, aging, and dying, which applies equally to humans, animals, and plants. This understanding
is the most basic way of grasping inochi. [100/101]
    The third property defines inochi as being beyond the power of humans. Inochi being neither come into existence of their own will nor do they keep
on living of their own will. The writers stress that the existence of inochi beings is founded in something which is beyond the power of humans. They seem
to be implying a relationship between inochi and some religious transcendent being.
    Living together in mutual support constitutes the fourth property. Inochi beings cannot live without the mutual support networks of inochi which spread
all over the earth. These networks mean, on the one hand, synchronic mutual support such as human relationships in the family and food chains in the ecosystem.
On the other hand, they mean diachronic mutual support found in the passing of generations from parents to their children. From a synchronic point of view,
the concepts of ‘living together’ and ‘symbiosis’ are stressed. From a diachronic point of view, the concepts of ‘succession’ and ‘taking over’ of inochi
are stressed.
    The fifth property is personality. Every inochi being has its own personality because there is no creature with completely the same figure and appearance
as another. Therefore, the writers conclude, every inochi is irreplaceable.
    The sixth property is warmth and breath. The authors of these texts insist that the Japanese have a strong sympathy for warm breathing beings, and
refer to the relationship of the concept of breath to the ancient meaning of inochi.

Norms of inochi
    There are three norms of inochi.
    The first norm is to treasure inochi (43). We should treasure all inochi on the earth as well as our own inochi because each of them is irreplaceable
and valuable. Our attitude of treasuring inochi will then change into a spirit of respect for inochi, and in the end will lead us toward reverence for
the great existence that supports inochi and nature. This norm is similar to references such as ‘respect for life’ or ‘dignity of life’ we encounter in
materials on bioethics.
    The second norm is to support each other (44). As inochi beings, we should support and help each other in the community and in the ecosystem because
we can live only in the midst of the web of all living things. The authors of the two school texts say that one’s inochi not only belongs to him/herself
but also belongs to the family and society, and therefore that it is important to live for others (45). They also insist that we should recognize the significance
of living together with animals and plants in the wilderness.
    The third norm is to do the utmost in one’s power (46). Our inochi is finite. Inochi beings must die sooner or later, and hence we should do our best
at every moment of our life. The following sentences show a sophisticated example of this norm. [101/102]

As a cicada lives its short life and gives birth to a new inochi with all its power, so should I live with all my power in order to hand over my inochi
to the next generation. I think of treasuring my irreplaceable inochi. I think of living, always concentrating on this moment in time. Then will I be able
to be content with my inochi, and hand it over to the next inochi. I want to live at this moment with all my power, and give my inochi radiant light (47).   
The assertion here is that we should concentrate on this moment and do the utmost in our power in order to participate in the continuity of inochi. In
these sentences we find a logical tension between the continuity of inochi on a large scale and a bright inochi condensed into this moment in time (see
also Kakehashi (1989) and Yamamoto (1988)).
    These three norms accurately represent the moral aspect of the inochi paradigm. Most Japanese have experienced being repeatedly taught these norms
by their parents and school teachers when they were young, and consequently these three norms still provoke strong moral standards in today’s society.
These norms are so strong that few people deny them officially, and those who deny them are considered by society to be either egoists or nihilists, and
are subsequently scorned.
    I believe these three norms constitute the basis of the moral paradigm on inochi in contemporary Japan, and it forms the ‘ground of certainty’(48)
of Japanese culture. We researchers must question the ‘ground of certainty’ itself at least once by examining accepted but unquestioned sets of moral rules
that are functioning in a society. For where a paradigm works it can effectively suppress facts which would be detrimental to the paradigm itself.
    In this case, the detrimental facts are as follows: (1) We usually waste the inochi of animals, fish, and vegetables, and the functioning of our highly
industrialized society depends on these wastes of inochi and energy. We treasure our own inochi and take care of that of our community, but we don’t care
basically about human inochi in other nations. It is obvious that few people in the advanced nations care about human inochi in the so-called Third World.
(2) Our modern civilization has dominated nature and destroyed innumerable inochis, instead of supporting them. We have been using a great deal of fossil
energy for our own sake and live an affluent life without regard for future generations. In Japan, we have shut away senile aged people and handicapped
people into shisetsu (nursing homes). (3) In Japan, many workers are forced to work with all their power, only to die of hard work. Large numbers of teenagers
study so hard night and day to pass entrance examinations that they can only hope for a few hours of good sleep. On the other hand, college students sleep
in class, spend money extravagantly and go out seven days a week, not devoting themselves to anything in particular.
    These are the facts that the moral paradigm of our society would want to conceal behind a curtain of poetic inochi discourses, in case it fails to
put them right. Surely these three inochi norms are worthy, almost sacred, norms which warn today’s society of its wrongful and destructive ways. However,
preaching and teaching those norms no longer influences society, because the inclinations of modern civilization described above have become rooted too
deeply to be changed by sermons. It is we who have created modern civilization and today’s North-South problems. Under the level of morality there lies
a bottomless collective unconscious which has created the good and evil of modern civilization. Our investigation must penetrate this level.

    We have discovered various concepts of inochi in contemporary Japan, some of which contradict each other. I think it impossible and dangerous to attempt
to summarize this vast set of images and classify them in patterns at this stage, because it may lead us to discard a number of subtle features which may
also prove valuable.
    Instead, I present in this section some philosophical interpretations of the concept of inochi. These interpretations are based on the conceptual understanding
I have acquired through my research on the images of inochi.
    However, it may be helpful here to briefly summarize some of the main characteristics noted so far. First, there are many people who think that inochi
equally given to humans, animals, plants —to all creatures— and that inochi beings live by both supporting and killing each other. Inochi is energy which
keeps creatures alive, and at the same time it means the state of being alive itself. Images of inochi have close relationships to birth, growth, aging,
and death. One’s inochi is irreplaceable, important, and beyond our power. It is finite, but at the same time it is connected to others in space and time
    Let us turn to some philosophical examinations. Two requirements must be fulfilled for something to be called inochi. First, inochi must be a ‘phase’,
not an object nor an entity. Inochi is not an object such as a book, a flower, or a rabbit, but a phase which a flower and a rabbit enjoy. In the responses
to my questionnaire, most respondents use the word ‘inochi being’, rather than ‘inochi’, when they explicitly indicate an object that has inochi. This
suggests that inochi is considered to be a kind of phase or aspect which inochi beings must possess. Then, we have to go on to ask, in turn, what are ‘inochi
    ‘Inochi being’ is a concept which includes humans and other creatures as its core, and also includes the sea, air, the ecosystem, the earth and the
universe at its fringe. What features stand out prominently when we put humans and other creatures at the core, and others at the fringe? The most moderate
answer would be: a phase in which they are born, grow, give birth, age, and die. Of course, even the earth and stars are born, age, and die, but we can
grasp this phase more vividly in humans and other creatures than we can in the stars. Hence, the first requirement is: inochi must be a phase in which
things are born, grow, give birth, age, and die. Inochi beings are those [103/104] things in the universe that are viewed in this phase (49). For example,
if we regard a rabbit jumping in front of us as an animal in a growing stage, we have grasped it as an inochi being. Similarly, if we regard a star as
a being which was born a long time ago, grows, gives birth to planets, ages to become a neutron star, and dies, we have grasped it as an inochi being.
If you believe that all creatures were born through intercourse between the North Pole liquid and the South Pole liquid of the earth, as Fourier did (50),
then you regard the earth as an inochi being.
    This means that an inochi being is not necessarily equal to a creature as perceived by most people. A creature can be a non-inochi being when we do
not regard it as being part of this phase. For example, even a living rabbit can be a non-inochi being to a biochemist in a laboratory, who regards it
only as an aggregate of biochemical substances. We should pay attention to the phrase ‘to a biochemist’, because the concept of ‘inochi being’ is an observer-relative
concept. A thing becomes an inochi being for the observer only if it is viewed within the phase of inochi. Hence, a thing can be an inochi being for one
person, but not for another. If inochi being is an observer-relative concept, the extent of inochi beings cannot be defined objectively and unanimously,
independently of the observer. Therefore we have the case where some think of all living things as inochi beings, while others restrict the extent to humans.
Both are correct. No contradiction exists in this usage.
    The second requirement is that inochi must possess the characteristics of both finiteness and infiniteness. Finiteness means the discontinuity and
limitation of the individual inochi being. Infiniteness means the succession of and inter-relationships between the many networks of inochi beings. Throughout
the responses to the questionnaires and the publications cited, the co-existence of these two characteristics is repeatedly emphasized.
    Let us consider the finiteness of inochi first. Inochi is finite in time in that all inochi beings must die sooner or later. In the linguistic examination
of inochi, we came acrosss one connotation of the state of being alive, during the period between birth and death. This was reinforced by many responses
which stated the same. Inochi is finite in space as well. In this sense, a rabbit’s inochi is not the same as mine or yours. You may die while I still
live. Our inochis are divided in space, and in this regard we are alone (51).
    On the other hand, inochi is also infinite. First, it is infinite in time. In the responses and publications it is evident that inochi is seen as being
handed down from one generation to another, with the succession of inochi going on forever. This succession consists of physical inheritance, the succession
of power and energy, spiritual influence, a way of life, reminders, culture, and so on. Inochi is infinite in space too. A web of inochi spreads to include
all individual inochi beings in the form of food [104/105] chains and exchanges of chemical substances. The extension of this web can be considered to
spread over the whole universe.
    For something to be recognized as inochi, it should have both these characteristics at once. Recall the assertion of the qi-gong group, that "all inochis
are connected and formed into one while each individual inochi is voluntary and independent", and the words of one of the respondents: "Inochi is, on the
one hand, each individual being, unique and irreplaceable. On the other hand, however, it is one large inochi of the whole human race". These sentences
clearly illustrate the second requirement for the concept of inochi, the dialectic of finiteness and infiniteness.
    Hence, we can propose the two requirements for the concept of inochi as follows.

     (1) Inochi must be a phase in which things are born, grow, give birth, age, and die.
     (2) Inochi must possess the characteristics of both finiteness and infiniteness.

    All things in the universe which satisfy both these requirements should then be identified as inochi beings. This formula can thus be understood as
a proposed definition of inochi. However, it should be noted that this concept or definition of inochi does not cover all usages of the word ‘inochi’ to
be found in the questionnaire responses and publications. It is impossible to discover a simple set of formulae which covers all usages of inochi. Rather
I suggest that this proposed definition be regarded as a basic guideline for the use of the term in research and discussions on the topic (52). Since this
definition is open to free criticism, it may be altered in the future.
    We should keep in mind that this formula, determined by the above requirements, stands for only the necessary conditions of the concept of inochi.
Hence I will now turn to the topic of the essence of the concept of inochi.

    In this section I interpret the dialectic of finiteness and infiniteness of the concept of inochi metaphysically, and elucidate its inner structure.

    Inochi must possess the characteristics of both finiteness and infiniteness. This seems to suggest that A is B and not B. Hence the necessity of making
clear the logical relationship between ‘finiteness’ and ‘infiniteness’ in relation to the concept of inochi. [105/106]
    Let us take the example of a flower. There is a flower before me. The word ‘a flower’ suggests that I should understand it as an individual inochi
being. This flower will shrivel and die someday. When it dies, nothing else will be able to die for it. The flower must die its own death, only once, and
never live again the same existence in this world. This means that the whole life and death of this flower is irreplaceable. This suggests further that
every moment of its life is irreplaceable because no other flower will be able to live again the same course of life as this flower. Inevitable death makes
every moment of life irreplaceable for an inochi being. Therefore, irreplaceability, derived from the finiteness of time and space, must be considered
to be one of the most basic features of inochi. This was, in fact, supported by many of the questionnaire responses and found often in the publications.

    Now let us regard this flower from another angle. This flower is living now because a part of its life was passed down from its ancestors in the form
of a seed. Without its ancestors and their seeds, this flower would not exist at all. This flower will also distribute its own seeds before dying, and
some of them will grow to be flowers somewhere on this earth. Even if it doesn’t distribute seeds, the influences of its photosynthesis and metabolic functions
will have irreversible effects on the environment, and these effects will cause other small effects in succession, forever, throughout the universe. Moreover,
in order to live, this flower has to exchange air, minerals, and other chemical matters with the environment and other creatures. Without the web of inochi
beings surrounding it this flower cannot live. We consider interrelatedness of this kind, derived from the infiniteness of time and space, to be another
most basic feature of inochi.
    All inochi beings are on the one hand irreplaceable, and on the other hand interrelated. Expressions such as ‘the period between birth and death’ and
‘the most essential part of an object’ are corollaries of, or ideas related to, ‘irreplaceability’. Expressions such as ’mysterious power or energy’ and
‘eternal life’ are corollaries of, or ideas related to, ‘interrelatedness’. Also recall the properties of inochi found in the books issued by the Ministry
of Education. They expressly state the ‘irreplaceability’ of inochi. The properties of ‘beyond the power of humans’ and ‘personality’ are also directly
related to this idea, and ‘living together in mutual support expresses interrelatedness (53).
    To regard an inochi being from the viewpoints of irreplaceability and interrelatedness is to consider it always against the background of the universe.
This leads us to a metaphysical or religious view of inochi, because it makes us realize the position inochi possesses in the universe.
    The inochi of the flower is irreplaceable in that it lives and dies only once in this universe. Its inochi is interrelated in that it cannot exist
without its ancestors, and it cannot live without an environment full of water, air, light, and other inochi beings such as microbes; and in that even
after its death its inochi allows other inochi beings, [106/107] such as animals or microbes, to live. A flower appears and disappears only at a particular
place in the universe. And it can only exist by being interwoven in the infinite web of inochi that spreads throughout the universe.
    Take another case, that of a terminally ill patient in a hospital. He is conscious but his days are short. His inochi is irreplaceable because he has
lived a life full of ups and downs, is dying here at the hospital alone, and after his death he will never live again the same life in this world. He is
sometimes seized with a strong fear of death, and attempts to give some meaning to his whole life in order to reconcile himself to it. His inochi is interrelated
in that he remains alive with the help of medical equipment and the medical staff, and in the sense that his spirit is healed by the smile of a nurse,
or that his condition makes his family happy or sad. He will die an irreplaceable and interrelated death.
    To live and die is to lead one’s own life only once in space and time. To live and die is to lead one’s own life in the midst of infinite networks
of inochi in the universe.
    Here arise the following metaphysical questions. What is it that makes inochi irreplaceable? What is it that makes inochi interrelated?
    Inochi becomes irreplaceable when an inochi being is interrelated to others; that is to say, it is interwoven in the infinite networks of inochi in
space and time, supporting and killing each other. Inochi becomes interrelated when an inochi being is irreplaceable; that is to say, it lives and dies
its own life only once in the universe, not as parts which can be replaced with another being. In other words, the irreplaceability of inochi comes into
existence because all inochi beings are interrelated in the universe. The interrelatedness of inochi comes into existence because each individual inochi
being is irreplaceable. What these sentences suggest is that the two basic properties of inochi are metaphysically grounded in each other, and that there
is no other factor upon which these properties are transcendentally grounded. Inochi is irreplaceable because it is interrelated. Inochi is interrelated
because it is irreplaceable. This is a circular argument. However the ultimate metaphysical grounds of a conceptual framework should be either transcendent
a priori or circulative. The metaphysical interpretation I select is the latter. I shall consider these propositions to be the metaphysical structure of
inochi. The definition of this structure is as follows.

Inochi is irreplaceable because it is interrelated. Inochi is interrelated because it is irreplaceable.    I hope that this proposed structure will become
a source for a way of thinking which lets a dying person, who does not have any particular religion, die peacefully. However, this will be a future challenge
in the study of life (54).
    Almost all things in the universe can be seen as growing, aging, dying, irreplaceable, and interrelated in a certain sense. If a person regards everything
in the universe [107/108] as being irreplaceable and interrelated, then he/she regards everything in the universe (and the universe itself) as an inochi
being. It should also be noted that something can be irreplaceable from one angle and replaceable from another angle. For example, a pig in a farm is irreplaceable
as an individual inochi being, but replaceable as food for today’s lunch.
    In the rest of this section I would like to suggest other possibilities of interpreting metaphysically the second requirement of the concept of inochi.
To regard something as irreplaceable means to grasp it as an individual thing. We can grasp an individual thing by separating it from its various relationships
with the environment, and by fixing the subject with a modifier ‘this’ or ‘that’. For example, we used the words ‘this flower’ when referring to the individual
inochi being of a particular flower. Using these words we distinguish it from its environment and other flowers. In this way we can clarify the individuality
of things, and thus, the subject of dying. I call this feature of inochi ‘individuality’.
    On the other hand, to regard something as interrelated means to grasp it as a web or network which spreads infinitely throughout the universe. Each
individual inochi being melts into the web, becoming nothing but a tentative knot in this complicated network. I call this feature of inochi ‘sphere’.
Sphere has no boundaries because the network of inochi spreads infinitely throughout the universe.
    This analysis suggests that inochi is structured in the universe through ‘individuality’ and ‘sphere’. The axes of individuality and sphere are independent,
not reducible to each other. In stressing the characteristic of individuality, we are led to an atomistic or an individualistic approach to inochi. When
we stress the characteristic of sphere, on the other hand, we are led to a holistic approach to inochi. The same is true in environmental ethics. When
we stress the importance of the individuality of creatures, including humans, we are faced with so-called anthropocentric environmental ethics. (55) When
we stress the importance of the sphere of ecological communities and ecosystems, we are led to so-called biocentric environmental ethics (56). I have previously
insisted that we should stress both these sides of inochi, individuality and sphere, equally; and that it is necessary to solve the conflict between these
two principles (57). The elucidation of conflict and harmony between individuality and sphere in the context of inochi, however, will have to be left to
future discussions.
    Rather, I would like here to interpret individuality and sphere in a visual or sensory way. One image of individuality is that of a particle which
has a clear boundary. Recall the respondent who pictured inochi as a red ball just hovering in white space. This is an image of a particle which stands
for a static subject that is destined to die (58). On the other hand, there was also an image of a stream flowing from [108/109] one inochi being to another.
The web of inochi constitutes a dynamic and complicated stream, a stream which does not stop moving. It flows forever, slowly or rapidly, penetrating inochi
beings, spreading over the universe (59).
    Hence, in this interpretation, inochi is a particle at one time, a flowing stream at another. But inochi in the form of a particle and inochi in the
form of a stream are the same thing, not different objects. A flowing stream becomes a particle. A flowing stream penetrates particles. A particle draws
in and sends out streams incessantly. A particle changes into a stream. These are four types of relations that can be found in this inochi world in the
particle-stream context. Figure 7, which we examined above, is a good example of visual images of inochi realized in the forms of particles and streams.

    Inochi as a particle and stream maintains a close relationship with inochi as the energy of breath, which we examined in the section on linguistic
meanings. "On the one hand, breath makes an individual creature alive inside its body, but on the other hand, breath flows out of an individual and then
slips into another individual’s body." The former stands for inochi as a particle, and the latter stands for inochi as a stream. The moving energy of breath
changes into inochi as a stream, and the settling energy of breath changes into inochi as a particle (60, 61). When settling, inochi becomes a subject
and acquires irreplaceability. When moving, inochi becomes the hidden environment and acquires interrelatedness. On accepting the above proposition, research
into the subject-environment relationship from the viewpoint of inochi will be made possible. It will not doubt have a great influence on environmental
ethics and the philosophy of science.
    This metaphysical grasp of inochi further implies that our recognition of inochi beings would be different from the standard subject-object congnition
model. For example, when I perceive something, traditional philosophical theories teach us that this perception is achieved by sense-data or qualia traveling
from the object to my sensory organs and finally arriving at my brain. This means that cognition is achieved in a one-way direction from the object to
the subject, and that the subject and the object are completely different in essence. This is the basic idea of congnition models. [109/110] However, in
the case of inochi, we should take account of another factor, that is to say, the fact that both the object and the subject are inochi beings. In other
words, this perception model must be such that an inochi being perceives another inochi being. This means that the perceiver and the perceived are equal
in existence from the viewpoint of inochi. Therefore, in the perception model of inochi the cognition must be attained by some kind of combination of two
inochi beings, the perceiver and the perceived.
    The particle and stream model of inochi thus would be implemental in the construction of another model of perception. Let us once again consider the
case of the flower. I am an inochi being in the form of a particle, and the flower takes the form of another. When two particles face each other, a stream
forms a bridge between them, and the two particles are combined by a flowing stream penetrating them both. When two particles of inochi touch each other
in the form of a stream, I call this the ‘touch model of perception’ (62). Toriyama used the word ‘touch’ in the title of her book Touching Inochi (1985)
to indicate that inochi is not an object which can be looked at, but should be touched and felt. However, here it should be noted that in our model particles
do not touch each other directly, but that they touch each other in the form of streams passing between them. Hopefully, in the future, this model will
constitute a theory of cognition: one that confronts the philosophy and psychology of cognition which has thus far proved insufficiently comprehensive

    Before closing, I would like to describe here a brief outline of ‘the study of life’ which I have advocated since 1988, and which provides the framework
for this paper.
    The study of life does not deal with restricted academic subjects that belong to any one traditional discipline. Instead, it deals with all subjects
concerning ‘life’ comprehensively, from various points of view, with the help of knowledge from each academic discipline. Hence the study of life is open
to various methods of research, such as philosophical analysis, religious contemplation, social fieldwork and clarification through scientific investigation.
The study of life will deal with difficult [110/111] problems concerning bioethics, environmental issues, terminal care, health policy, the sociology of
science, genetic engineering, the psychology of the environment (65), medical anthropology, the history of life, war an peace, violence, and many other
    Today’s problems concerning life share a number of closely connected factors. Therefore we can neither solve nor even grasp these problems if we persist
in just one academic specialty and restrict our attention to the subjects that are supposed to belong to it. Only a comprehensive approach will yield rewarding
results (66).
    In order to research such problems comprehensively, I have proposed that a number of researchers who are interested in this approach (this should include
such people as academicians, journalists, specialists, and lay persons) form research networks and then exchange arguments and information. I have also
proposed that these networks should work as non-governmental organizations, and not constitute a fixed academy or discipline.
    I have defined the study of life as a study which researches the present relationship between humans and life, and also the types of relationship we
should form in the future, in the context of modern civilization with science and technology (1988a). In order to do this, we need to study the history
of the relationships between humans and life (inochi beings) and clarify the historical meanings of these relationships. For example, we should study the
history of agriculture, medicine, religion, and war from the viewpoint of the study of life. We also need to study present issues concerning life, by investigating
gene technology, bioethics, global environmental problems, our attitudes toward nuclear weapons and nuclear energy plants, and so on. Then we should go
on to propose what relationship we should form with life, scientific technology and civilization in the future. At the same time, there is also a need
to study images and concepts of life from the past to the present. We can study the present images and ideas of life through sociological and ethical investigations
from around the world. We should also examine the world history of ideas involving the concepts or understandings of life. Moreover, we are always faces
with the subject of how to live and die on this limited earth in finite space and time. To address this we must reexamine our lifestyles in modern society
as well as our ways of dying.
    This paper falls under the study of images and ideas of life. In it I have attempted to analyze this subject cultural-anthropologically, philosophically,
and religiously. This is the kind of investigation that should be representative in the study of life.
    The problems of life in a global age concern almost all subjects, and have considerable diversity. They contain micro-level problems such as the existence
[111/112] of certain molecules in a DNA sequence, and macro-level problems such as the maintenance of the biosphere of the earth. They also contain such
bioethical problems as the withdrawing of life support systems from a severely handicapped newborn; and such environmental problems as toxic and radioactive
substances which will condense and settle in the biosphere at a slow pace.
    These problems have two features. We can, on the one hand, grasp them by paying attention to facts and situations in our daily life, because all these
problems have some relationship to everyday life. For example by paying attention to the situation of everyday water and food, we can discover environmental
pollution in the local areas. Japan is also beginning to encounter more and more the problem of senile or terminally ill patients who must be cared for
in the home.
    On the other hand, it is only possible for us to grasp most of these problems in our imagination. For example we cannot look a the defects of genes
of an embryo directly. Most of us have not directly seen a brain-dead person in an Intensive Care Unit, nor have we seen the actual destruction of a rain
forest. We know of these things only through books, articles, and TVprograms. Through discussions we are continuously constructing these images in our
imaginations. In a sense, global environmental issues and the problems of advanced medicine exist only in our imaginations, as we have no real experience
of them.
    This suggests that we should pay attention to our everyday life, with all the power of our imagination, in order to grasp the shape of problems in
their entirety. This means further that we will then come to an era in which we discover and solve a problem with the help of a combination of a variety
of imaginative perceptions. In this sense the study of life should prove to be an intellectual activity in the era of imagination.
    I have stated that the study of life must be a study by which all inochi beings can live a better life and die a better death (1988b). I believe this
sentiment expresses the ultimate aim of the study of life. This paper is only a first step toward achieving such an aim.

    An earlier version of this paper was read at a meeting of the Nichibunken’s joint research unit on the "Stratification of Intellectual Ideas in Japan"
(March 29, 1990). I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Yamaori Tetsuo, the organizer, and to the other members for their helpful comments
and criticisms.
    I would also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Darryl Macer for his valuable advice on biotechnology and bioethics; and to Pauline Kent for her helpful
academic comments and advice.



1   ‘The study of life’ is a translation from the Japanese seimeigaku. These words were first introduced when I published Seimei Gaku eno Shotai (An Invitation
to the Study of Life), in 1988.
2     B. Commoner expresses this as "everything must go somewhere". (Commoner, 1971)
3     There are no objective statistics that show the Japanese view of the universe. Through interviews and quesitonnaires, I formed the impression that
most Japanese have an organic or holistic view of the universe and the life-world.
4     Some bioethicists who maintain the ‘person argument’ answer in the negative to this question.
5     This question shares some important points with that of abortion. Some bioethicists support abortion as a woman’s right. See Thomson (1971).
6     We can easily find the same conflict in recent controversies on brain death and organ transplants in Japan. Throughout the 1980’s there were nation-wide
debates on whether we should resume heart transplantation from a brain-dead person, which was performed at Sapporo Medical University in 1968 and has long
been a taboo in our society because of a dubious determination of brain death and the failure of the transplantation in the Sapporo case (Nakajima, 1985).
One of the main points in the brain death debates in Japan in the 1980’s was whether the dignity of a brain-dead person and his/her family’s rights are
protected during the process in the intensive care unit and operating room. We should regard this as collision between respect for life and advanced medical
technology, because a national survey shows nearly half of the Japanese people hesitate to think of a brain-dead person as being dead. See also Morioka
7     Among traditional religions, Christianity has played the most important role in modern medical ethics, in particular, in the problems of abortion
and euthanasia. During the last few decades the Catholic position has played an initial stimulating role in medical ethics.
8     Here I do not intend to suggest that religious approaches are meaningless nor that religion itself is meaningless. I believe life is a religious
matter. What I want to condemn is the attitude of some religious groups which persist in one traditional interpretation of holy principles and exclude
the possibility of another religion, or who close their eyes to contemporary ethical and social issues.
9     In Japanese, there are three ways of writing the word inochi: first, using the hiragana syllabic alphabet, second, with the katakana syllabic alphabet,
and third, using Chinese characters. The fist and third are popular. The second is rare today.
10  We write the word seimei by using only the Chinese characters. These Chinese characters are the same as those for inochi. This means that these characters
can be read either as seimei or as inochi. The writer can designate the way of reading by furigana (hiragana printed at the side of the Chinese characters
to indicate the reading). When there is no furigana, the reader should select the reading of the Chinese characters for himself/herself.
11  [Chinese character is shown in the original bilingual text.]
12  This phrase is to be found in the Analects of Confucius, ch. Zi-han.
13  [Chinese characters are shown in the original bilingual text.]
14  (In Japanese) inochi no sentaku.
15  (In Japanese) inochi no sakari.
16  (In Japanese) inochi ga moe tsukiru.
17  (In Japanese) inochi ga owaru, inochi wo ushinau, inochi wo otosu.
18  (In Japanese) inochi ga chijimu.
19  (In Japanese) inochi ga mijikai.
20  (In Japanese) inochi wo azukeru.
21  (In Japanese) inochi biroi.
22  (In Japanese) inochi tori.
23  (In Japanese) ningyo no inochi; ningyo wa kao ga inochi.
24  It is strange that there is no example of the last meaning even in the most influential Japanese dictionaries, Iwanami’s Kojien and Shogakukan’s Japanese
dictionary. In this usage, the concept of eternity also exists in the word inochi itself.
25  This research is ongoing. I intend to continue until the turn of the century. The questionnarie, a white paper 36.3 cm high and 25.5 wide, has only
one question at the top and a check list of attributes at the bottom. Hence a respondent can freely express his/her images of inochi in words, in sentences,
and even in the form of cartoons and pictures. Names and complete addresses are not required. I have already collected several hundreds replies, and the
age/sex/occupation/religion of the respondents are diverse. Because this is a preliminary report of this research, I have, as yet, no conclusions. I plan
to publish all the important replies with the objective statistics after the research is completed. I also plan to carry out the same research overseas
in the future. I conducted an inochi image survey similar to this one when I was a researcher of the Kihara Memorial Foundation in 1986. A part of the
results was published in Morioka (1987a).
26  (In Japanese) ‘Inochi’ to iu kotoba wo kiite kokoro ni ukabu imeiji ya, ‘inochi’ ni tsuite fudan kangaete iru koto nadowo, bunsho ya e de, jiyu ni
kaite kudasai.
27  The sign ‘—‘ indicates no answer.
28  For example, the title of an anti-nuclear power plant newsletter issued by women in Ishikawa prefecture is: No Nuclear Power Plants for Future Inochi!

29  Blaise Pascal, Pensées. Lafuma (1963), ch. 174-177.
30  (In Japanese) hakanai.
31  For example, the holistic thoughts of Leibniz and the Upanishad.
32  This expression can be found, for example, in the text of Okuchi (1984: 40) and in Ueda (1989: 93, 144): and in the title of Yanase (1988).
33  The word ‘-san’ is a polite suffix used when addressing someone in Japanese.
34  With the drawing of a large ‘?’ at the center.
35  The respondent herself uses these parentheses here.
36  Nakamura (1987: 212-266)
37  Some Japanese stress this concept in the context of bioethics. See Morioka (1988a: ch.6).
38  I, myself, try to think of these as matters of inochi in the study of life.
39  In ancient Japanese there is the word tama which means on the one hand ‘a ball’, and on the other hand ‘soul’. Inochi has a close relationship to tama
in Japanese.
40  Lovelock (1979).
41  Qi-gong (Japanese pronunciation: ki-ko) is a kind of group therapy whose roots go back to ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Participants in qi-gong,
usually in a group, move their bodies slowly in a mountain setting or a garden, and feel nature’s energy and stream (=qi). The concept of qi has a close
relationship to that of inochi.
42  (In Japanese) kakegae no nasa.
43  (In Japanese) inochi wo taisetu ni suru.
44  (In Japanese) sasae au.
45  This insistence seems to imply a collectivism that might lead to the repression of the basic freedoms of the individual.
46  (In Japanese) seiippai ni naru.
47  The Ministry of Education (1988b: 25)
48  Wittgenstein (1969), ch.275.
49  In the previous sections I have not strictly differentiated ‘inochi’ and ‘inochi being’, because the respondents and the writers themselves have not
strictly differentiated these concepts.
50  Fourier (1846).
51  This point is closely connected to the I-thou problem in philosophy. See Morioka (1988a) ch. 9; Morioka (1987b).
52  There may be some people who regard inochi only as the state of being alive, and do not accept in it any kind of infiniteness at all. On the contrary,
there may be those who regard inochi only as a large stream, and completely deny its finiteness. These usages should be considered wrong because they do
not follow our guidelines on the usage of the word inochi. Of course there are a number of responses that refer only to either finiteness or infiniteness,
but I believe this does not necessarily mean that the respondent denies the opposite. I suppose they simply stress one side of its character.
53  The other properties , ‘birth, growth, aging, and death’ and ‘warmth and breath’, belong to the first requirement.
54  This structure reminds me of the well-known passage "Matter is empty. Empty is matter," from the Prajna Pramita Hrdaya Sutra. However, these two ideas
have different contexts, and therefore cannot be identified easily.
55  For example, Singer (1974).
56  For example, Leopold (1949) and Callicott (1989). As for ‘anthropocentric’ and ‘biocentric’, see Taylor (1986). Naess (1973) and Goodpaster (1979)
use the terms ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’.
57  Morioka (1988b). In this book I used the term ‘the principle of others’ and ‘the principle of biosphere’, corresponding to individuality and sphere
respectively. We can find a good example of the solution to this conflict in Taylor (1986).
58  This does not mean that this particle is an entity, because inochi is a phase, an observer-relative concept. This means that this particle is made
up of a phase, not of an entity.
59  The image of the stream of inochi appeared clearly in the texts of Zhu Zi (12c.) in China, and some texts of Confucianists (17-18c.) in the Edo period
in Japan, as the stream of qi. I plan to make clear the relationship between the concept of inochi and qi in the context of Confucianism. Callicott and
Ames (1989) present important material for investigating this subject.
60  These explanations are very similar to the metaphysics of Zhu Zi, who reinterpreted traditional Chinese thought. He says that when formless qi settles
it forms a human being. According to Ohama (1983: 73), Zhu Zi’s qi is a formless movement flowing through all time, filling all space. Traditional understandings
of qi in China have obviously influenced our images of inochi.
61  This dialectic of particle and stream reminds me of the so-called Copenhagen School’s interpretation of the quantum theory that the ultimate existence
of matter is a particle from one angle, and a wave from the other angle.
62  We should note that phenomenology had to reappraise the importance of ‘tangible’ feelings when examining the concept of body. See Merleau-Ponty (1945).

63  These contentions appear extremely strange from the viewpoint of orthodox philosophy. However, it is also true that in some of my interviews some nurses
reported experiences with patients such as described here in the text. This topic has a close relation to the theory of nursing and the philosophy of caring.
I am in the process of preparing a paper which deals with this topic.
64  It is interesting that J. Locke, one of the founders of the modern cognitive theory, stresses the ‘power’ in an object which produces ideas in the
observer’s mind. This concept of Locke’s can be understood in a vitalistic way as has been made apparent in this paper. See Nidditch (1975), ch. 8, sec.
65  For example, J. E. Mack’s draft, ‘Inventing a Psychology of the Environment’, read at the Center for Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age (May
3, 1990, at Harvard University), refers to this subject.
66  In this connection, I was very impressed at the first Council of the Europe Symposium on Bioethics, in 1989, when a participant insisted from the floor
that we should also deal with ecological issues, and the chairman rejected it outright.



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