Osamu Kanamori (金森修) authored sixteen books which examined science from the perspectives of various metalevels. His monographs and other publications represent various genres of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: history of science, intellectual history of scientific ideas, French epistemology of science, bioethics, and STS. Readers of his works might have formed an impression of Kanamori as a scholar of rational discipline, a positivist who examined data, and a logical narrator of analyses; they may take Kanamori essentially as a scholar of philosophy of science in Japan and the English-speaking world. And some of Kanamori’s works are indeed overtly academic publications, with somewhat stark colors chosen for their covers—green, blue, grey. Archeology of the Scientific Thinking (2004), Naturalism and Its Discontents (2004), and an edited volume of A History of Scientific Ideas (2010) are works which give such a scholarly impression, confirming the rigid, dry, clever image of Kanamori as every inch the scholar.
This impression is easily upended, however. If a reader takes Kanamori’s works in his or her hand, looks at their contents, and reads just one interesting chapter, he or she starts to gain a very different—in fact, a practically opposite—image of Kanamori. Instead of rigidity, asceticism, or positivist approaches which often go with stereotypical philosophy of science (and other conventional disciplines in the humanities), Kanamori offers us unique and active scholarship. He does not simply set down large amounts of information, which is valuable but can be naive and trite; instead, he presents his own curiosity in interesting quotes (which are stylistically housed within strangely shaped parentheses) and developments into his own original meanings and new interpretations.
This review essay will sketch the intellectual world of this active and unique scholar and critic. It will concentrate on sixteen books he authored in Japanese.1 It will present an atlas of the Kanamori world, mapping its topography and talking about the longitude, latitude, and heights above sea level. It won’t go beyond the basics of this topographical map—the landscape laid out before the traveler, the smell of the air, the fruits of the land, and the cultural traditions which accompany Kanamori’s books—but will restrict itself to the subjects of his books rather than talk of his methods of argument, metaphor, or rhetoric. Such embellishments are not the major subject of this essay. The primary topic for those who study Kanamori is the subjects of his books, and I will summarize these and use empirical evidence to point out temporary changes using our map of his world.2 Our map will introduce readers to the basic structure of Kanamori’s attention to his subjects. It will show the crucial role he played in the presentation of those subjects in public discursive space.
Kanamori published sixteen monographs in Japanese, their titles mainly translated into English by Kanamori himself:3
Genealogy of French Epistemology (1994) フランス科学認識論の系譜――カンギレム、ダゴニェ、フーコー (Furansu Kagaku-ninshiki-ron no Keifu: Cangilhem, Dagognet, Foucault)
Bachelard (1996) バシュラール――科学と詩 (Bachelard: Kagaku to Shi)
Science Wars (2000) サイエンス・ウォーズ (Saiensu Wōzu)
Archaeology of Negative Knowledge (2003) 負の生命論――認識という名の罪 (Fu no Seimei-ron: Ninshiki to iu Na no Tsumi)
Bergson (2003)* ベルクソン――人は過去の奴隷なのだろうか (Bergson: Hito wa Kako no Dorei nanodarou ka)
Naturalism and Its Discontents (2004) 自然主義の臨界 (Shizen-shugi no Rinkai)
Archeology of the Scientific Thinking (2004) 科学的思考の考古学 (Kagakuteki-shikou no Koukogaku)
Philosophy of Genetic Modification (2005) 遺伝子改造4 (Idenshi Kaizou)
History of Typhoid Mary (2006)* 病魔という悪の物語――チフスのメアリー (Byouma to iu Aku no Monogatari: Chifusu no Mary)
Philosophy of Biopolitics (2010) 〈生政治〉の哲学 (Sei-seiji no Tetsugaku)
Vital Theory of Golem (2010)* ゴーレムの生命論 (Gōrem no Seimei-ron)
Do Animals Have the Soul? (2012)* 動物に魂はあるのか――生命を見つめる哲学 (Doubutsu ni Tamashii wa aruno ka: Seimei o mitsumeru Tetugaku)
The Crisis of Science (2015)* 科学の危機 (Kagaku no Kiki)
The Politics of Knowledge (2015) 知識の政治学――〈真理の生産〉はいかにして行われるか (Chishiki no Seiji-gaku: Shinri no seisan wa ikanishite okonawareru ka)
Philosophical Essays on the History of Scientific Thought (2015). 科学思想史の哲学 (Kagaku-shisoushi no Tetsugaku)
On Dolls (2018)* 人形論 (Ningyou-ron)
These works can be classified into eight major subjects, which will help us to understand Kanamori’s major concerns.
From Table 1 we can gain a general overview of these works and get a rough understanding of the shifts in Kanamori’s research directions. In the 1990s, Kanamori went deep into the theoretical aspects of French scientific epistemology. In the 2000s, his interest in the actuality of history and the present of science came into the foreground of his research, later turning into the practice of science criticism. Around the same period, he started to bring artistic works into his discussion of science, something he later termed “science cultural studies.” Kanamori thus starts from French epistemology of science, then layers this with criticism of science, and expands this out to science cultural studies. To a basis of history of scientific ideas, Kanamori successively adds society and then culture.
Early Touches on French Epistemology
It is a truth not universally acknowledged that Kanamori started his academic research with art history. As an undergraduate, he studied the famous Swiss-German painter Paul Klee (1879–1940). His master’s thesis examined Salvador Dalí (1904–89) and the Japanese painter Shōhaku Soga (曾我蕭白, 1730–81). Kanamori thus started out studying one of the best representatives of surrealism and a painter of wonders from the Edo period. This interest in wonders continued even after he started to examine science as a research subject. He took science as curiosity in culture. He started to combine strangeness, wonder, curiosity, and science at the beginning of his student life. Just when Kanamori started to become an academic in the early 1980s, Japan was undergoing a fashionable boom in studying French thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze (1925–95), Félix Guattari (1930–92), Michel Foucault (1926–84), and Jacques Derrida (1930–2004). They represented postmodernism and were called French contemporary thinkers. In Japan, the so-called New Academician scholars created excitement around such French thinkers and new ideas connected in some ways with the Japanese “bubble economy” of the time. Kanamori was not part of that movement; he was interested in the scientific epistemology of Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962) and the French epistemology of science inspired by him. Thinkers such as Georges Canguilhem (1904–95) and François Dagognet (1924–2015), who were not well known in Japan around that time but were situated in a specific genealogy in France, were Kanamori’s main concerns.
In Paris in 1984, Kanamori wrote up his wide-ranging PhD dissertation “Étude sur l’épistémologie de Gaston Bachelard,” which was accepted by Paris First University (Sorbonne) the following year but has remained unpublished. Ten years later, Kanamori’s first work on Bachelard appeared in Japan. We should note that the two works are somewhat different. Kanamori’s PhD dissertation focused on the epistemology of Bachelard, while the Japanese book is about the general aspects and overall picture of Bachelard. Bachelard’s work on scientific epistemology, poetics, and other philosophical insights are introduced to the reader, along with Kanamori’s judgements of them. Additionally, the book talks about Bachelard’s career and philosophical ideas which inspired his works. It also gives overviews of his various works and of his impact on the science and literary studies which appeared later in France. This is by far the best study of Bachelard published in Japan and is one of the best even when compared with similar French works. On the other hand, it does not reflect Kanamori’s insights into Bachelard that appeared in his dissertation: these were only partly incorporated into Archeology of the Scientific Thinking (2004) as a chapter on Bachelard’s epistemology of chemistry.
Kanamori started working on French epistemology of science from his study of Bachelard’s philosophy. He then moved on to the genealogical followers of Bachelard—Canguilhem, Dagognet, and Foucault. He collected his papers and articles on these thinkers and published them as Genealogy of French Epistemology (1994), his first Japanese monograph. Although Foucault had already attracted scholarly attention in Japan and critical works on his insights, only then were Canguilhem and Dagognet first introduced to Japanese readers and researchers, an important academic contribution of Kanamori’s. He also introduced Canguilhem’s discussion of life and machine and early aesthetical arguments, as well as Dagognet’s arguments on space and pharmacology. Kanamori’s account of Foucault was also different from previous Japanese literary and philosophical accounts, emphasizing the connections between Foucault and the French epistemological tradition of Bachelard, Canguilhem, and Dagognet. Kanamori also picked up the subject of space. French epistemology’s impact on environmental ideas and anthropomorphism in the natural sciences was considerable. His paper “Memory and Heredity: For the Teratology of the Concepts” was original and innovative, picking up on a lot of events in other European countries using the methods of French epistemology. In actual fact, this teratology of concepts provides a kind of basso continuo to Kanamori’s approach, originating from Bachelard’s teratology of knowledge (Bachelard 1939). Kanamori’s program is not about collecting the wonderful things in the world of nature, but the wonderful action of collecting the things in nature. To our surprise and respect, Kanamori maintained this attitude toward multifarious recognition and imagination even into the later stages of his work. Genealogy of French Epistemology was an eloquent start.
Turns to Science Studies and History of Scientific Ideas
From the 1990s to the 2000s, Kanamori continued the work of introducing French epistemology of science and incorporated its methods into his actual research for his unique history of scientific ideas. He also brought in American studies of science: his Science Wars (2000) has become one of the most successful science studies works in Japan.
In the 2000s, Kanamori found himself inadvertently involved in a notorious science studies case of the late 1990s.5 In Science Wars, he introduced the situation in the United States to Japanese readers, with a precise analysis of the path to this war of words, writing about postmodernism in the 1980s, Gross and Leavitt’s 1994 Higher Superstition (a controversial work by science realists against modern science studies), and the Sokal affair. The book also discussed the American disciplines of sociology of science, anthropology of science, STS, and feminist studies of science. Kanamori did not intend to cause science wars with the Japanese version, which attempted to describe the situation of science studies. He was, however, unsuccessful at avoiding science wars. Although in his book he clearly stated the distance he kept from postmodernism, some Japanese scientists voiced strong criticisms against him, mainly based on their misunderstanding of Kanamori as a postmodernist or a critic of Sokal. In the 2014 second edition of the book, Kanamori lamented this naïve and authoritarian criticism from Japanese scientists, who claimed that nonscientists should not say anything about science from the outside.
Kanamori thus unintentionally created in Japan a similar situation to the science wars of the United States. He was productive in his survey of American science studies and created several important works. Contemporary Science Studies (2000, co-authored with Hiroyuki Iyama) was a most interesting introduction to a number of topics in modern science (Iyama and Kanamori 2000). Philosophy of Genetic Modification (2005) presented another survey of bioethical discussions in the English-speaking world and examined the post-genome situation and post-human regime which await modern society in the near future. This was not the creation of new ethics but a metalevel analysis of bioethical arguments, and it expressed Kanamori’s vision of the history of scientific ideas. He realized this vision, which he named meta-bioethics in future research.
The introduction of French epistemology and a description of English-language science studies were two programs which Kanamori started in the 1990s and the 2000s. On the basis of projects in three languages—Japanese, French, and English—he established a historical supplementation of individual scientific concepts: in short, the history of scientific ideas. His interest continued to move from one to another and to expand, while the major subject in this profile also changed variously. At the same time, he never denied that he was a historian of scientific ideas; his essential and central expertise was actually in the history of scientific ideas. Its major characteristic consisted in French epistemology in its explicit aspects and implicitly in a Neo-Kantian analysis which included the methods of Ernst Cassierer (1874–1945). The actual manifestation of such historiography were the works Naturalism and Its Discontents (2004), Archaeology of the Scientific Thinking (2004), and Philosophical Essays on the History of Scientific Thought (2015). The following paragraphs will discuss the former two monographs, leaving the third for later.
Naturalism and Its Discontents was a relatively short book but a good representation of Kanamori’s history of scientific ideas, clearly showing Kanamori’s personal style. The book was the fusion of Bachelard’s teratology of knowledge and Kanamori’s own methodological changes. The subjects of analysis were indeed brilliant topics covering a wonderful variety. Kanamori analyzed the mixture of biology and Buddhism in Kunihiko Hashida (橋田邦彦, 1882–1945). Christianity and modernism were used in the discussion of the appearances of anorexia not just as a disease but also as a cultural agent in medieval Christianity and in the modern literature of Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) and James Barrie (1860–1937). Kanamori combined biology and psychoanalysis in the use of the concepts of Ernst Haekel (1834–1919) in the psychoanalytical works of Ferenczi Sándor (1873–1933). He looked at psychiatric ideas in the literary work of Kyusaku Yumeno (夢野久作, 1889–1936). He also discussed the anatomical works of Shigeo Miki (三木成夫, 1925–87). Indeed, the book included a chapter entitled “The Passion of Chameleon,” an analysis of the philosopher and writer Baltasar Gracián (1601–58), who became a famous court philosopher and whose work is still a historical bestseller. In fact, this chapter had virtually nothing to do with the history of scientific ideas! Kanamori even wrote in the preface about his fascination with the history of art and literature, giving examples such as World of Labyrinth by Gustav Hocke (1908–85) and On Baroque by Eugeni d’Ors (1881–1954), clearly displaying the profile of a historian of scientific ideas who had started out as an art historian studying painters.
Judging from the quality of its arguments, the maturity of its sentences, and its physical size, Archaeology of the Scientific Thinking (2004) is one of Kanamori’s major works. It is divided into two parts. Part 1 is on the “History of Chemical Concepts” and part 2 the “History of Medical Concepts.” In the first, a chapter entitled “Chemistry of Fire” traces the concept of fire in history, deeply influenced by Bachelard’s Psychoanalysis of Fire and Formation of Scientific Concepts. Another article, impressively entitled “Thinking about the Dialogue with Material,” is a kind of history of alchemy using the works of the French Jewish historian of chemistry Hélène Metzger (1889–1944). Kanamori analyzed alchemical texts in a specific and unique way, with alchemical practice looked at as linguistic dialogues between material and alchemist. Another paper, “Bachelard’s Chemical Philosophy,” took the issues of chemical episteme (chemical structural formula and amount of substance) and analyzed them in a detailed way which had not been done in a previous work, Bachelard (1996). Although Kanamori did not say so explicitly, the first part seems to have been influenced by Dagognet’s material philosophy; the second part presented some exquisite papers on the formation of the concepts of vitalism and irritability. It also included several papers which used the history of scientific ideas and literary works which combined analysis of the ideas of François Broussais (1772–1838) and The Magic Skin (La peau de chagrin), an 1831 novel by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), as well as the theory of heredity with the Rougon-Macquart novels of Émile Zola (1840–1902).
Theories of Subhumanity and Biopolitics
In the 2000s, Kanamori expanded his interest in numerous directions. One general tendency was to form his own method to study human beings. He did not ask what a human is, but mainly asked what is not human. Kanamori examined subhumanity, or the borderline of humanity and nonhumanity. From the end of the 2000s to the early 2010s, he published two books, Vital Theory of Golem (2010) and Do Animals Have the Soul? (2012). Vital Theory of Golem was a remarkable piece of output. A “golem” was the creation of a Jewish rabbi, an animated, anthropomorphic being made from nonliving material such as clay or mud, who worked like a human being and possessed some intellect but had no language. Finally, a golem had an end of life of sorts, since it returned to clay on the rabbi’s order. Kanamori explored this golem, or “subhuman,” in Jewish and European culture, his history of scientific ideas now exploring folkloric and fictional characters, not nature. The famous identification by Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch of golem as science, or golem as technology, is somewhat different from Kanamori’s history perspective (Collins and Pinch 2013, 2014). Kanamori’s account of golem in historical documents, stories, and films is another version of his analysis of the literature and dramas of Balzac, Zola, Huxley, and Barrie.
While Vital Theory of Golem focused upon literature and art, Do Animals Have the Soul? was more about philosophy. Philosophically, this small book followed a temporal framework starting from Aristotle’s tripartite theory of the soul, that is, nutritional, sensitive, and rational. Kanamori then proceeded to Seneca (ca. 4 BCE–AD 65), Plutarch (ca. 46–125), and Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) to explain the ideas of the animal soul up to the Renaissance. Then the turning point of René Descartes (1596–1650) was introduced, to discuss Descartes’s crucial move: taking distance from the concept of the animal soul and proposing instead the automatic animal machine theory. Here the animal mechanism was introduced. A barrage of criticism of the Cartesian theory of the animal machine was put up in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655), La Fontaine (1621–95), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), and Voltaire (1694–1778) and in the modern period by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), biologist Jacob von Uexküll (1864–1944), the ethics of animal liberation of Peter Singer (b. 1946), and a novel, Never Let Me Go (2005), by Kazuo Ishiguro (b. 1954). So this book contained a lot of information—some might say too much! Kanamori is not so good when discussing abstract philosophical arguments. Nevertheless, Do Animals Have the Soul? has hidden merits related to literary research. Kanamori introduced the idea of listening to one’s inner voice when he referred to the analysis of Western philosophy’s sense of superiority over animals. He also left several memorable quotes, one of them being “cicadas are spirit of earth, just as jellyfishes are spirit of water.” This book carries some of the beauty of a literary work.
Kanamori called himself a Foucauldian, claiming that the theoretical core of his academic and political work is a type of Foucauldianism (Philosophical Essays on the History of Scientific Thought). His first serious examination of Foucault’s works was done in Philosophy of Biopolitics (2010), in which he presented the history of biopower and biopolitics in reference to Foucault’s appearance in history. Its first themes were the social organic theories and social Darwinism in the works of the novelist Morley Roberts (1857–1942) in the 1930s and the answer of politics to social biology by Thomas Landon Thorson (b. 1934) in the 1970s. Kanamori then moved on to the works of Michel Foucault. Foucault denied several crucial ideas such as human essence or eternal truth, which were believed to be beyond time and space. Instead, Foucault situated human beings and truth in the framework of history and structure. Kanamori called this “Foucault’s anti-naturalism.” Next Kanamori introduced Hannah Arendt (1906–75), Antonio Negri (b. 1933), and Giorgio Agamben (b. 1942), in order to evaluate their anti-naturalist elements, setting his criticism of naturalism in Naturalism and Its Discontents in his introduction to Foucauldian biopolitics.
Philosophy of Biopolitics also addressed two interesting issues. Both the latest developments in biotechnology and some ancient Greek ideas about the value of life were regarded by Kanamori as supporting Foucault’s anti-naturalism. The latest technology of body change, such as enhancement and reproductive technology using embryonic stem (ES) cells/induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to deal with fertilized eggs, allows human beings to depart from what used to be called human essence or human identity of the body. Kanamori thus took an interesting position—that biotechnology and Foucault were both anti-naturalist—and criticized the concept of the “eternally human” essence in the field of the human body. Regarding the ancient Greek philosophical works, such as those by Plato, Kanamori followed Arendt and argued that they emphasized the value of politics and philosophy in the lives of human beings and denied the value of just living. Kanamori regarded this Greek attitude as an interesting anti-naturalism, denying the value of the purely biological characteristics of eating, rest, and reproduction. This Greek attitude has some closeness with Nazi eugenics, but Kanamori took an anti-naturalist stance and claimed that a naïvely naturalistic understanding of the human body and human culture was not enough to understand various humanities.
Knowledge for the Public, and History of Medicine and Philosophy
Kanamori published several articles on the history of medicine and left two books which placed subjects related the history of medicine at their center: Archaeology of Negative Knowledge (2003) and History of Typhoid Mary (2006). Archaeology of Negative Knowledge picked up on problematic and/or scandalous topics from the history of medicine. Its long opening chapter concerned the Tuskegee syphilis studies in the United States, which started in the 1930s and continued until the 1970s. The American medical establishment had wanted to understand the reasons behind the high syphilis rates among African American sharecroppers and so studied farmers who could not afford a cure and could consequently be observed without any attempt at paying for a cure, which had existed since the 1930s. In 1972, journalists got wind of the experiment and the Tuskegee syphilis studies exploded into a public scandal. The experiment had been done on poor and undereducated people of color, and Kanamori was quick to point out its discriminatory nature. Here Kanamori extended the essential experimental character of medicine and the societal forces crossing one other. But instead of attacking individual guilty doctors, Kanamori was more interested in the structural shadow which loomed in the background of the experiment. In the same book, Kanamori added other scandalous and dark topics in medicine: the “epiphenomenonism” of biologist and philosopher of science Félix Le Dantec (1869–1917), which was a theory of human consciousness as a secondary phenomenon of physiological phenomena (Vidal 1994); the new idea of Homo horribilis, which was directed from psychopharmacology and the possibility of drugs being able to control human consciousness; and LSD in the history of pop culture and the religious ritual of the Aum Shinrikyō sect. These were excellent subjects for Archaeology of Negative Knowledge, but one might justifiably feel a sense of suffocation in reading such materials.
Another book, History of Typhoid Mary (2006) (which is critically examined by Suzuki’s paper in this issue) is a small work on Mary Mallon (1869–1938), who spent decades in isolation in the early twentieth century because she was an asymptomatic typhoid carrier.
Kanamori also wrote two monographs on philosophers: the first Bachelard (1996) and the second Bergson (2003). He expressed an ambivalence about his own attitude to philosophy, once remarking that he did not have a deep professional knowledge of the subject (Ikeda and Osamu 2001), and neither did he sympathize with many theoretical academic philosophers who were less interested in real-world issues. His choice of Bachelard and Bergson, who analyzed a great deal of real-world problems using philosophical ideas, was quite understandable: Bachelard was involved in the history of scientific ideas and literary criticism, while Bergson talked a lot about physiology, biology, and evolution—subjects often discussed by Kanamori.
Kanamori’s Bergson was designed as a book for the layman. He clarified Bergson’s various ideas of “pure duration” (durée pure) as expressed in the major works Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (1889) and Matière et mémoire (1896). Kanamori explained Bergson’s theories of perception, of time, and of memory. In an interesting way, Kanamori did not deal much with Bergson’s ideas about evolution and élan vital, which he had expressed in L’Évolution créatrice (1907).6 All in all, Kanamori’s work is very good as an introduction to Bergson, demonstrating Kanamori’s mature grasp of the ideas in mainstream philosophy.
Post 3.11 and Kanamori’s New Directions
The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 and the devastating destruction of the nuclear power plants in Fukushima had a huge impact upon Kanamori, who started to work toward a proper understanding of the decisive transformation of society and science in modern Japan (Tsukahara 2016). He published Crisis of Science in 2015 and tried to set the new situation within a long historical process and within the Japanese development of science and technology in the twentieth century. The norms of science—classically universality, publicity, and its nonprivate aspects—have changed both in Japan and elsewhere. In the nineteenth century, when professional scientists first arose, Saint-Simon (1760–1825), Auguste Comte (1798–1857), and Ernest Renan (1823–92) explored in their works the role of the state in the direction of scientific research. In the nineteenth century, the state was not to give any explicit direction to scientists, although it needed to support science financially. Nineteenth-century science would have been denied its productivity and developments if the state had directly influenced or controlled its research. However, the World Wars started to change that situation. Through the development of wartime science, technology, and medicine, the fundamental relationship between science and the state definitively changed. The development of the atomic bomb by the United States during the Second World War clearly established a new pattern. Huge financial support continued to direct contemporary scientific achievements such as the human genome project and stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) experiments. In postwar Japan many scientists and their associations were active in these changes within science, and at the same time, a great deal of criticism took place, the Democratic Scientist Association, the research into pollution by Jun Ui (宇井純, 1932–2006), and the criticism by Jinzaburo Takagi (高木仁三郎, 1938–2000) of the development of radioactive projects in Japan being famous examples.
Politics of Knowledge (2015), one of Kanamori’s later books, had elements of his last words about the world after 3.11. In terms of framework, it came out of Foucauldian concerns over biopolitics. Just as the standard of politics is not the universality of a policy but the adjustability of a certain policy at a given moment, the veracity of a certain knowledge is not just the precise correspondence between reality and representation, but is affected by the political situation. Anti-realism and anti-naturalism are the major tools for the criticism of science. In the latter part of Politics of Knowledge, however, the term politics starts to move from its Foucauldian sense to more general meanings of actual Japanese politics after 3.11. Kanamori criticized those who relatively undervalued the high risks of nuclear power plants and expressed his anger at the disappearance of social publicity and the politics of life and the appearance instead of a politics of death in Japan. To solve these profound problems, Kanamori came up with a rather surprising argument for a return to universality after philosophical trials with postmodernism. We are somewhat puzzled by Kanamori’s final praise of universality, which does not sit well with the Foucauldian anti-naturalism that continued to be one of Kanamori’s favorite ideas. We think that Kanamori’s knowledge of the progress of the disease in his body and the small amount of time left for him encouraged this philosopher to find fundamental and general criticism of contemporary society and to search for profound alternatives. It was Kanamori’s expression of his sensible attitude and the determination of a scholar.
The Last Adventure and Concluding Remarks
In the 2010s, Kanamori investigated subhuman subjects such as the golem and tried to reveal the construction of humanity through the reconstruction of subhumanity—a kind of philosophical anthropology, if you will. His final writings along this line were published as On Dolls on 26 May 2018, exactly two years after his death. In this book, one senses the happy state at the end of Kanamori’s academic work through his writing about the issues involved in his struggle against death. On Dolls addresses familiar issues such as robots and human machines, as well as dogū 土偶 (folkloric earthen figures) and amagatsu 天児 (wooden talismanic dolls) to protect babies from disasters on the one hand and, on the other, arts and subculture issues of love dolls, ball-jointed dolls, and gothic dolls. Kanamori tried to establish a systematic framework and to place science and society in that regime. At the same time, he always tried to find anomalies in the arguments of science and looked for different frameworks. He even tried to expand the scientific world to the fictional world. In the last years of his life, he widened the range of this attempt to encompass science within the general aspects of culture, something he called “cultural studies of science.” His final work was of just this type, a book of three hundred pages consisting of an overarching argument about cultural studies of science.
Kanamori started his academic career with the wonders of Klee, Dali, Soga Shōhaku, and other painters; he ended with fantasies of dolls. This might seem strange for a scholar of science studies, but the beginning and the ending were what they should be. The final chapter of On Dolls is entitled “Curtain Call.” Perhaps we should answer with: acta est fabula, plaudite!
List of Japanese monographs of Kanamori
ベルクソン――人は過去の奴隷なのだろうか (NHK 出版、シリーズ・哲学のエッセンス、二〇〇三年)
Kanamori’s bibliography of cowritten works, edited volumes, articles, and papers in Japanese is “The list of the works of Professor KANAMORI Osamu.” Bulletin of the Division of Basic Theories of Education, Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo 43 (2017). It is available at the University of Tokyo Repository: https://repository.dl.itc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/?action=pages_view_main&active_action=repository_view_main_item_detail&item_id=49046&item_no=1&page_id=28&block_id=31 (accessed 29 July 2018).
One should also note that the style of a researcher is becoming a crucial question. Kanamori was indeed sensitive to his own style and rhetoric, and I will touch upon this when necessary.
The English translations were mainly done by Kanamori at his website. Some works translated by Kanamori into French were translated into English by Suzuki. See http://www.p.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~waskana/English.htm (accessed 29 July 2018). For a list of Japanese works with their publisher, see the end of this essay. The works with asterisks (i.e., 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 16) were specially written, while other volumes were collections of already published papers or articles with some specially written chapters. Also note that Genealogy of French Epistemology received the Shibusawa-Claudel Prize in 1995, and Science Wars received the Yamazaki Prize and Suntory Prize in 2000.
Reviewed in Setoguchi 2007.
In 1996, the Sokal affair and “science wars” started as a series of controversies in the United States. For an assessment, see Ashman and Barringer 2001.
Kanamori’s ambivalent attitude toward Bergson’s evolution theory can be read in Crisis of Naturalism.