Philosophical study of life, death, and nature
Morioka's most controversial book to date. The endless tendency to eliminate pain and suffering makes us totally lose sight of the meaning of life that is indispensable to human beings. How are we to battle against this painless civilization?
The elimination of pain and the acquisition of pleasure seem to be the ultimate aims of our civilization. However, paradoxically, the endless tendency to eliminate pain and suffering makes us totally lose sight of the meaning of life that is indispensable to human beings. Signs of this can be seen in contemporary educational problems, mental illnesses people are suffering from in affluent societies, and even in recent bizarre murders.
The author analyzes such social issues as the prenatal screening of fetuses with the aim of avoiding the birth of disabled children, our efforts to control the environment of the planet Earth, and "naturalized" technology found in reconstructed ecosystems. He also thoroughly examines "conditional love" deeply rooted in our hearts, a "tamed nature" in which we hardly encounter any real danger, and life in a future in which we will rarely experience unexpected happenings that may threaten the plans. The ultimate condition arrived at is that contemporary civilization inevitably leads us to a state in which we are a "living corpse," or a form of "fossilized life," and calls the whole system that drives us to this miserable condition, a "painless civilization."
It is our "desires of the body" that promote this kind of painless civilization. These desires lead us away from the deep "joy of life" that could visit us in unexpected ways when we transform ourselves by going through pain and suffering. The desires of the body develop into a "painless stream" and permeate our society. A painless civilization cleverly takes away the possibility of experiencing the joy of life, in exchange for pleasure, pleasantness, and comfort. As a result, it becomes fairly difficult for ordinary people to live a life without regret. Herein lies the fundamental problem of contemporary civilization. The author explores a new perspective on the theory of desire different from those of Freud, Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, and at the end of his investigation of this viewpoint finally arrives at the possibility of "desires of life" that are entirely different from the "desires of the body." The author devotes all his energies to figuring out how to fight against this painless civilization, the essence of which no one has ever succeeded in putting into words even though we are unconsciously aware of it.
This book succeeds in understanding contemporary society and human beings from various new angles. This approach is wholly original in contemporary thought and succeeds in providing insights which have so far been overlooked by sociology, politics, ethics, and environmental studies, and as a result this book represents one of the greatest achievements of "life studies," a new research field proposed by the author that has been the primary focus of his research for many years.
This book has been reviewed in many publications and a Korean translation was published in 2005.
Tetsuya Miyazaki - "This is a strange book. This massive book is written in a strange style, which slips through the space between sanity and madness...." (Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Nov.16, 2003)
Toru Koga, Kyushu University - "This book draws the readers into a trance by the repetition of the same motif.... Its description burns out readers' minds, and transforms them into other new forms...." (Tosho Shimbun Newspaper Dec.27, 2003)
Yutaka Takahashi - "We have concentrated on acquiring a civilization without pain and suffering, or a "painless civilization," but what we have actually got might be a "nightmare" -- this is the question Morioka poses...." (Mainichi Simbun Newspaper Jan.12, 2004)
Book reviews also appeared in the Nikkei (Nov.9), Tokyo (Nov.9), Sankei (Nov.24), Kyodo Tsushin (Nov.9), and other publications.
Haruka Miki - "Morioka’s painless civilization and the moral implications of such a civilization," in Risk Management and Humans - From Social Perspectives-, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan, Faculty of Social Sciences, BA thesis. (2005) >> Read more
Dr. Donald DeMarco - "A Japanese philosopher by the name of Masahiro Morioka has written a book entitled, Painless Civilization in which he sharply criticizes the modern attempt to separate death from life. He contends that a life dedicated exclusively to pleasure and the elimination of pain produces a state of the “living corpse” or “fossilized life.” Professor Morioka, in effect, is reiterating Muriel Spark’s message: without death life becomes insipid." (2013)
Transview Publications, Tokyo, Oct.5,2003, 460pages, 3800yen, written in Japanese
Translation into Other languages
A Korean translation was published February 25, 2005, by Momento Publications, Korea.
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