HOME > Tateiwa >

Disability Movement / Studies in Japan 6:
In Kyoto "Ars Vivendi"


Shinya Tateiwa August 22, 2010

12345/ 6/ 789

translation by Robert Chapeskie

Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences/Ars Vivendi - Forms of Human Life and Survival

  The lectures by Professors Burns and Sheldon will be held at Ritsumeikan's Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences. This graduate school is very difficult to describe or explain. Established in 2003, it is an independent graduate school without any departments or faculties which offers only five year doctoral programs (although students who have already completed a master's elsewhere can be accepted in the third year for the latter section of the course, and in recent years most students have been those following this kind of program), and it accepts thirty students each year. More information can be found at the graduate program website: [Japanese][English][Chinese][Korean].
  This graduate school was established in 2003, and it has attracted many students interested in doing research related to disability, illness, or physical differences and transformation in general. I'm not exactly sure why this has happened. One reason may be that several of the faculty members have conducted research in these areas. It may also be that the work of these faculty members and increasingly the work of the graduate students in this program have become widely known.
  Students with disabilities have also enrolled in the graduate school, including six people with physical impairments, four of who use wheelchairs, and seven people with visual impairments. (When it comes to mental and developmental disabilities the problem of how to determine whether individuals possess these disabilities or not arises. There is also the question of whether the "impairment/disability" framework is valid in this case. I discuss my views on these issues elsewhere). This rate is quite high - at this point it is in fact extremely high - for a Japanese graduate school. As I will discuss later, through a process of trial an error the school has attempted to provide support for these students and this effort itself has been one area of research.
  There are also many people who work in the fields of social welfare, nursing, and medicine who, while they examine and consider various issues in the course of doing their jobs and are interested in reflecting on their own work and coming to a better understanding of their field, do not make concrete attempts to pursue research at a university or graduate school. Some of these people work at medical, nursing, rehabilitation or social welfare facilities and others are involved in education. Graduate schools designed for these sorts of students have increased in Japan in recent years, and of course there are many people who have decided to study at these sorts of institutions. There are also people, however, whose personal interests do not fit with what is taught at these schools or who cannot accept what is being done or taught. On the contrary they are skeptical of what is considered good and what is taught to be the case, and want to find ways of expressing their thoughts. Many such individuals have ended up studying in this graduate school.
  This graduate school is one which accepts people interested in doing any kind of research, at least within the scope of the humanities/social sciences, and the number of such people [i.e. people interested in pursuing research that is not covered by normal graduate school programs] is increasing. Within this context we applied to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and were selected to receive funding as a Global COE (Center Of Excellence). Our center was named 〈"Ars Vivendi: forms of human life and survival". The prospectus for this center is available online([Japanese][English][Korean]). A pamphlet on this Global COE is also available on the website([Japanese][Korean]). This program is limited to five years (2007-2011) so the university also established the "Research Center for Ars Vivendi" but there is no significant difference between these organizations/names. I do not think there is any particular significance to naming a field of study, and I have difficulty answering when asked to define what is encompassed by the field of "Ars Vivendi". I think what is important is pursuing research, not pursuing research under the rubric of a particular field of study. I also think there is nothing wrong with different people taking different approaches to a subject and approaching it from different perspectives, and in some cases I think this is something that should be encouraged. Very, very broadly speaking the area of research to be pursued is laid out in the prospectus. Here I will quote just the first paragraph of this text:

 "Peoples' life is marked by various forms of bodily differences and changes that they experience throughout their existence. It is an important moment of solidarity and gift of people and the same time is made the reason of antagonism. And it is difficulty of individual and is said risk and crisis of society. So it is an essential part that makes and changes people and society. The purpose of our proposed COE is to create a new study that we propose to name "Ars Vivendi: Forms of Human Life and Survival" [From www.arsvi.com/a/indexe.htm Translated from the Japanese by Minoru Kataoka].

  Among the educators and students involved in this program there are some who have been involved in disability studies, belong to the Japan Society for Disability Studies, and/or have presented at this Society's general meetings. (At the sixth general meeting in 2009 forty-two of the seventy-nine presenters belonged to this program/COE, although this number may have been somewhat inflated due to the fact that this meeting was held at Ritsumeikan University). The various kinds of research conducted at this center do not completely overlap, however, and extend beyond the scope of what is [normally] considered the subject matter of disability studies.
『ALS』』表紙    For example, "disability" and "illness" are often contrasted with the assertion being made that the former is not an instance of the latter. I believe there are adequate grounds on which to make this assertion, but at the same time I think there are also conditions which can be considered both an "illness" and a "disability". For example, people with ALS [Japanese] [Korean] - a condition I discuss in ALS: Immovable Body and Breathing Machine) ([Japanese] Tateiwa, 2004) - are people with severe disabiliities, but they are also thought of as people with an illness both by the general public and by the majority of people with ALS themselves, and there are presumably some practical realities which support this perception. On the other hand, it is not the case that there are no people with ALS who assert that they are people with a disability and not people suffering from an illness. This itself is an issue which has been the subject of consideration and debate (I have stated my own opinions on this elsewhere★01). There are also individuals who have researched or intend to research disease, aging, and other related topics. Each individual should do what they want to do and what they think needs to be done. As the range of what was being undertaken expanded in this way it became difficult to come up with a single name for a field of study which would encompass all of this research. In any case, people live their lives in various ways. There are various problems which arise and various things which must be considered. There are also various techniques which have been developed and put into practice by people who have lived in the past, and as we continue this process today there various things we must examine. I wanted to find a short name for this new field. As a result of these considerations in the end I chose the term "生存学 (Seizongaku) ", a Japanese word comprised of three "kanji" [characters derived from Chinese].
『生の技法――家と施設を出て暮らす障害者の社会学』表紙   Regarding the English translation of "Seizongaku", "Sei" means "life" but "life studies" did not seem quite right. "Seizon" can be translated as "survival", but "survival studies" also fails to communicate what is intended. In the end I gave up on finding an English translation and used a Latin phrase instead. I called the program "Ars Vivendi" and added "Forms of Human Life and Survival" as a subheading. "Ars" is related to the English wort "art" but is not limited to the narrow meanings of "fine arts" or "technique". "Vivendi" modifies "Ars" in this case, but as a verb it is related to the French "vivre". Its meaning is not limited to existing as a living organism, but at the same time it does not depart from the dimension of the physical. The term "Ars Vivendi" was also used on the cover of Ars Vivendi: Sociology of Diabled People Who Left Home and Institution(『生の技法』(Sei no Gihou), 1990, revised edition 1995)([Japanese][Korean]), a book written by myself and several coauthors. One of these coauthors, Okahara Masaki [Japanese], is a lecturer at Keio University and had the phrase checked by a Professor of Latin at that institution.


  So what are we doing ? A wide variety of things, and while the results of our work have for the most part so far only been published in Japanese we are now in the process of having each topic, paper, and conference presentation title translated into several other languages. Some of these translations are now available so please take a look at them to learn more about our program.
  There are several ways in which our various initiatives could be grouped into categories, but in the "prospectus" introduced above three categories were chosen.
   One was the setting down of things which should be known or understood but are not or should be documented but are not and examining what needs to be examined in this regard. As was mentioned in [2], for example, the distribution of political power in each country and region influences public opinion and discourse. In order to consider this influence and the extent of its significance it must first be studied and understood. Even within a single "disabled movement" there are several points on which differences arise in addition to the extremely broad and substantial commonalities. There is a need for these differences and commonalities to be examined and understood.
   There are also several issues which must be considered theoretically - perhaps one could even say philosophically or logically - on the basis of this knowledge. I intend to discuss this in detail elsewhere, but I think that the main issues in the field known as "Bioethics" and the "mainstream" way of thinking in this field are both strongly related to the values of the societies in which this field was created and developed. I myself take the position that it is possible to demonstrate the universality of values/ethics, but I also think that there are approaches which differ from what is considered mainstream and that these approaches are in fact sometimes sounder or more reasonable. In spite of the fact that these alternative approaches do indeed exist and their reasoning can be followed and understood, there are times when they are treated as though this were not the case. One example of this can be seen in the relationship between bioethics and the assertions/activism of people with disabilities. Disability studies addresses these sorts of issues. Beginning with the study of these sorts of topics there are many other things which must also be considered.


 Among the things we are advocating is for people with illnesses and disabilities to take part in this research going forward and for systems to be established that allow them to do so. One of the results of this effort has been the publication of 『視覚障害学生支援技法』 (Shikakushogaigakusei Shienngihou = Techniques of Support for Students with Visual Disabilities). This text has also been made available in Korean (booklet and website) and (in part) in English (website only). As I pointed out earlier, among the individuals at this school there are some of us who are in need of this assistance, and as a result we are directly involved, and indeed have no choice but to be directly involved, in the subject of the education of people with disabilities and the carrying out of research by people with disabilities. We also therefore have no doubts about the necessity of progress in this area, regardless of what name is used to describe this field of study. This is also, of course, a subject addressed in disability studies. The 2007 [Japanese] and 2009 [Japanese] general meetings of the Japan Society for Disability Studies [Japanese] were held at Ritsumeikan University, and one of the symposia held at the 2009 meeting, "Discussing support for students with disabilities" was organized by a graduate student in our program. Many things were said about support for students with physical disabilities and hearing/visual impairments, many things which are being done were discussed, and university students with internal, mental, or developmental disabilities were invited to attend and participate.
   This issue of course does not pertain only to places of education and research. We have begun a research program entitled "Communication with bodies that differ - thought and systems of real practical use" which focuses on people who have difficulty communicating because of physical disabilities or visual or hearing impairments. Of course in some cases scientific technology is ultimately of greatest importance in resolving these problems, but there are no specialists in the natural sciences participating in our research program itself. Beginning with the assumption that the development of research in this area is very important, our aim is to examine how this technology can be used and the current state of social systems and society as whole regarding these issues, and to propose possible strategies for improvement. For example, one issue being examined is the current state of efforts to create systems to provide text data for books/written materials that can be used with a computer to allow people with visual impairments to hear text read aloud or to increase the size of printed text and the progress of attempts to resolve problems related to copyright in this area.


  Finally, and this is included in what is discussed in the two sections above, our aim is also to conceive of systems and structures, ranging from large social structures to detailed practical systems and from what is best considered in terms of small interactions between individuals to what is best addressed on a scale that goes beyond national borders, and to put forward methods of realizing these systems and structures in practice. Section [3] provides examples of these sorts of practical initiatives and systems which have actually been implemented. I mentioned that the documenting of developments in this area is one task which must be carried out, and there is clearly a need to organize our understanding of what has been achieved in this area and consider what remains to be done. Much of what I am currently working on is connected with this effort. [4]in this series of essays is one example of this, and Repairing the Tax ([Japanese][English]), published in 2009, and Basic Income: possibility of the minimal state that distributes)([Japanese][English]), published in 2010, are also writings which address this topic. Both of these works were coauthored with graduates of our program or graduate students currently studying here. I have also considered more fundamental aspects of this topic in books such as On Private Property (1997)([Japanese][English])and Equality of Freedom[Japanese][English]).

■Notes are available only in Japanese

Bibliogaphy (Japanese)

UP:20100914 REV:
Disability Studies  ◇立岩 真也  ◇Shin'ya Tateiwa
TOP HOME(http://www.arsvi.com/a/index.htm)**