Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 237–242 | Cite as

The ethics in Japanese information society: Consideration on Francisco Varela’s The Embodied Mind from the perspective of fundamental informatics

  • Toru NishigakiEmail author


The ethics in an information society is discussed from the combined viewpoint of Eastern and Western thoughts. The breakdown of a coherent self threatens the Western ethics and causes nihilism. Francisco Varela, one of the founders of Autopoiesis Theory, tackled this problem and proposed Enactive Cognitive Science by introducing Buddhist middle-way philosophy. Fundamental Informatics gives further insights into the problem, by proposing the concept of a hierarchical autopoietic system. Here the ethics can be described in relation to a community rather than a coherent self. The philosophical bridge between East and West is expected to solve the ethical aporia in the 21st century.


autopoiesis Buddhism community eastern philosophy enactive cognitive science ethics fundamental informatics information society Japan 


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A previous version of this paper was presented at the international conference on “Information Ethics: Agents, Artifacts and New Cultural Perspectives” (Oxford University, UK, 8-9 December, 2005). I wish to thank the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs for sponsoring the conference. I also thank the staff of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics for their helpful arrangements.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information StudiesUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

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