Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some quotes from Kimura's book

Here I try to translate some Kimura’s impressive passages, through which he gives description to aida. All passages are quoted from his “Between a person and a person”. (All italics in original. Translation by ST.)

-       “It must be when the self encounters the non-self that a person becomes aware of himself/herself as a person, i.e., the self becomes aware of itself as the self. … Both the self and the non-self become itself respectively, so to say, at the same time. (p. 14)

-       This simultaneity of becoming of the self and the non-self suggests that there is something that gives birth to both in itself. The self does not bring forth the non-self, nor the non-self bring forth the self. The self and the non-self are generated from something at the very moment that the self encounters the non-self, as if both threw off sparks. (pp. 14-15).

-       A person is that which branched off from this something through the encounter of the self with the non-self. This something precedes a person. (p. 15)

-       For the time being, I would like to phrase this something as “between a person and a person”. This does not refer to, of course, the relation between two persons who are already in face-to-face as independent individuals. (p. 15)

[Kimura, B. (1972). Between a person and a person. Tokyo: Kobundo. (Japanese)]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Notes on Aida (3)

So far, we found two points in Kimura’s view on subjectivity, both of which are influenced by Viktor von Weizsäcker.
(1)  The most basic type of subjectivity is not found in the consciousness or transcendental ego (in the Husserlian sense), but in the Gestaltkreis of the living organism. A living organism maintains itself as a subject in its relation to the surrounding environment through movement and perception. The subject keeps its coherence through coping with environmental changes.
(2)  The subjectivity of living organism involves the fundamental relation (Grundverhältnis) with the life itself. The life appears through particular living organisms but is beyond them in itself, never to be recognized as such in an objective way. Instead, each organism “lives” the life by means of its body, where the subjectivity is situated. This subjectivity is ahead of self-reflection.

And now, he takes up the experience of music ensemble as an example, in order to expand his consideration from the subjectivity to the intersubjectivity.

First, he distinguishes “the noetic” and “the noematic” of our experience of playing music. What he refers to as “the noetic”, different from the Husserl’s “noesis”, is not the intentional act of consciousness but the very action of creating music. He terms it “noetic”, because our action toward the world (not limited to the music) involves the pre-reflective intentionality of the living body.

On the other hand, to produce the each sound as an integrated melody, we need the feedback from recalling the already sounded part (retention), as well as the feedforward from anticipating the yet to be sounded part (protention). The whole perception of listening, which changes from moment to moment, leads the players movement of making each sound. What comes into our awareness through perception that unfolds itself in temporality is called “the noematic”. It is not very far from Husserl’s notion of “noema”.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Notes on Aida (2)

After founding the subjectivity of living organism in its relation to the life itself, Kimura tries to re-locate the subjectivity of living organisms in the place of Gestaltkreis (von Weizäcker’s notion), where the perception and movement makes a circular-unit with the surrounding environment.

A living organism maintains its subjectivity in its relation to the surrounding environment. By definition, something alive has its own spontaneous movement toward the environment (when it loses movement, it appears as dead). Movement is caused through the encounter with the environment and informs perception toward it. 

For example, my movement of reaching is caused when I see a ball rolling toward me, and my perception of the ball is permeated by my possible movements of reaching, grabbing, and throwing it. The subjectivity is maintained, based on the appropriate cycle of perception and movement toward the environment. It is not autonomous such thing as "modern ego".

It is possible to say that his view of subjectivity is enactive. In Kimura’s view, the subjectivity is originally action-based and action-oriented. And of course, the action is something that occurs when a living organism encounters with a certain environment. Subjectivity is not autonomous or pre-given thing. Kimura says:

“As a living organism encounters with the environment, the subject is realized through this encounter. Thus, if this encounter is destroyed for some reason, the subject will also disappear at that moment.”
[Kimura, B. (2005). Aida. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, p.22 (translation by ST)]

Here, it should be confirmed that the subjectivity itself has its foundation in between (aida) of a living organism and the environment. In case of human, it would mean that the subjectivity of each human being is realized through the encounter with the world. This view would partly coincide with the notion of “Being-in-the-world”.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Notes on Aida (1)

Today, I started to re-read intensively Kimura's "aida".

The corresponding English word for Aida may be "between" or "between-ness". As I am currently working on intersubjectivity and social cognition, what Kimura thinks through the notion of aida seems very attractive.

He tries to re-consider the problem of intersubjectivity based on the notion of aida. "Aida" in Japanese literally means the spatial or temporal distance between two things. In the context of social cognition, aida means the "between" of two or more persons. Needless to say, it refers to the realm of inter-subjectivity.

However, a bit surprisingly, he asks what it means to be alive, in the introduction of the book. He says, the life that is explained in biological sciences is mere "vital activities of living substances." The life itself is beyond such activities that are found in the particular living organism. In fact, even though one living organism ends up by death, the life itself does not come to an end. The life manifest itself through the living organism but itself is beyond those. What he stresses is that our sense of living has its own root in what he here calls "the life itself", which is beyond particular living organisms.

In the deepest sense, Kimura's notion of aida seems to refer to this relation between each particular living organism (humans, animals, plants) and the universal life-force. The life itself is the universal ground, which makes possible the subjectivity of the particular living being. Before describing the intersubjectivity, the notion of aida refers to the foundation of the subjectivity which appears as the sense of living. This is what I found in Kimura's text today.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tokyo Conference on Philosophy of Psychiatry

The first conference on Philosophy of Psychiatry is soon to be held in the University of Tokyo (September 20-23).

Last day in the afternoon, I will participate as a discussant:

September 23, 13:10-15:40
Session H: Sense of Agency
Chair: Tetsuya Kono (Rikkyo University)
- Shaun Gallagher (University of Memphis) "Senses of agency and ownership in schizophrenia"
- Michiko Miyazaki (Otsuma Women's University) "A gaze contingent paradigm for estimating sense of agency in infants"
- Tomohisa Aai (NTT) "Interaction between agency and body ownership in terms of schizophrenia and schizotypy"
Discussant: Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University)

It is sure that there will be a hot discussion around the symptom of schizophrenia, including delusion of control, thought insertion, and made experience. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Creation between two bodies

From August 13 to 16, I'll be in Aarbolg, Denmark to participate in the 32nd International Human Science Research Conference.

I am going to give a talk on the Merleau-Pontian notion of intercorporeality. Here is the abstract (my session is scheduled on 15th in the morning).  I look forward to meeting you all in Denmark!

My aim here is to describe how meaningful communication is generated from embodied interactions between the self and the other. In order to do so, first, I clarify the Merleau-Pontian notion of intercorporeality, based on his writing. Intercorporeality is formulated as the reciprocal perception-action loop between the self and the other. Perceiving the other's action prompts the same action in the self (e.g., yawning), or its possibility (e.g., smiling), and vice versa. It is the process underlying the understanding of intentions in the actions of another. Then, I extend the notion of intercorporeality from the enactive perspective. Since we immediately grasp the intention of another's action through perceiving it, that action appears as such that affords us to react naturally in response (e.g., pointing-to and staring-at). Thus, intercorporeality unfolds as the embodied interaction of action and reaction, which at a certain moment overrides the individual intentions and gains its own autonomy. It is suggested that meaningful communication originates from this process.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I have been looking for English translations of the writings of Bin Kimura, a well-known Japanese Phenomenological Psychopathologist. There seems no English translation yet, but I could find one  French translation of his book.

L'entre: Une approche phénoménologique de la schizophrénie (Grenoble: Millon, 2000), translated by Claire Vincent. [English title might be "Betweeness: A phenomenological approach to the schizophrenia"]

The cover design is simple but looks nice. I'm going to read it comparing with Japanese original text.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Workshop Information

We are going to hold a second workshop in Tokyo on embodiment and intersubjectivity. Now it is fixed on 21st July, 2013 and titled, "Intersubjective Dimension of the Body". Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

The main speakers are Dorothée Legrand (CNRS - École Normale Supérieure), Satoshi Higuchi (Hiroshima University). Also we invite Kohji Ishihara (The University of Tokyo), Line Ryberg Ingerslev (Aarhus University) as commentators. Great members!

Masako, one of our collaborators made a good-looking flyer for us (Thanks Masako), you can see it here.

"Intersubjective Dimension of the Body"

See you in Tokyo!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New paper available at Academia

I have been and am too busy to update this blog. For the meantime, I inform you all that I uploaded a short article on You can read it here.

Originally I presented this paper at 30th International Human Science Research Conference, which was held at Oxford University in 2011. This year I will participate again in the IHSR conference in
Aalborg, Denmark. See you all in August!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

the notion of Aida

I have been thinking about the Japanese notion of Aida (written as 間,あいだ). Aida literally has two meanings: one is a spatial gap between two things, and the other is a certain time interval between two events. The conceptual basis that is common in those two usages might be the "betweenness."

Aida seems to be a very practical notion to describe interpersonal relations. Aida is a spatial distance between two (or more) people such as personal space. Aida is also a temporal interval that happens in verbal communications between two (or more) people. If I can share an appropriate Aida with another person, I may have a meaningful communication, or at least, I may have the sense that we have something in common.

Consider, for example, an appropriate spatial distance with another person. If it is too far, there would be no communication between you and that person. If it is too near, there would be a certain communication but it becomes awkward and unnatural, unless you are familiar with that person. Aida itself is invisible and empty but it is the grounding condition which makes possible the interpersonal communication. Aida is relevant to the interpersonal coordination too.

.....Writing all this reminded me of the Japanese phenomenological psychiatrist, Bin Kimura. He has left a lot of writings on the notion of Aida. I am going to read them again!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Grasping the lived experiences

All those who study phenomenology may not deny that we are trying to reveal our lived experiences and their structures in the very way that they are lived. But how can we accomplish this task? Lived experiences are so called because they are just lived without reflection, or more precisely, in a pre-reflective way. This is one of the points where the diverse research methods appear inside the phenomenological circle.

For example, van Manen (1990) stresses the impossibility to consciously grasp the lived experiences:
“A person cannot reflect on lived experience while living through the experience.” (p.10)
“Various thinkers have noted that lived experience first of all has a temporal structure: it can never be grasped in its immediate manifestation but only reflectively as past presence.” (p.36)

According to him, what we are able to do is to reflect our experiences ‘as past presence’. However, he also requires a kind of sensitivity in practicing this reflection:
“a rigorous human science is prepared to be “soft,” “soulful,” “subtle,” and “sensitive” in its effort to bring the range of meanings of life’s phenomena to our reflective awareness.” (p.18)
[van Manen. (1990). Researching Lived Experience: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy. Albany: SUNY Press.] 

Thus, in case of van Manen thoughtful and sensitive reflection, though acknowledging the innate limit of it, is placed as a method for grasping the lived experiences.