The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
   Public Lectures

Lecture: "Buddhism and Bioethics"

Dr. Yamamoto specializes in virology and infectious disease medicine. He earned Ph.D. from Department of Molecular Virology, Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University. He served as a researcher and a medical doctor at National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Tokyo Medical and Dental University. As part of projects related to The Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Dr. Yamamoto contributed his article to Daijo Bukkyo no Chousen [A Challenge for Mahayana Buddhism] (2010) and had charge of a open class organized by University of Hachioji College Community.

In his lecture, Dr. Yamamoto first outlined the Buddhist view of life from the standpoint of ‘Ten Worlds’, ‘nine consciousnesses’ and ‘dependent origination’. He stressed that all life represents fundamental life of the universe and possesses the ultimate life of Buddha. Touching upon the bioethical issues in modern medicine, he explained about embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for ‘regenerative medicine’ through his own research.   

He listed up ethical questions by each stage of making cells such as ‘Can we regard a fertilized embryo as equal to a complete human?’ and ‘For the purpose of study, can we utilize extra embryo left in the process of reproductive medicine?’ Then, he categorized these questions into three from the Buddhist viewpoint: 1) human dignity and use of human life, 2) beginning of human life and 3) diversity of human life and the identity.

Based on above viewpoints, he remarked, “If human life is regarded as the ultimate, naturally, human life should not be utilized for the certain purpose. While it is hard to fix the moment that human life begins in the ontogenetic process, embryonic dignity should be taken into consideration as the embryo has a potential of life.”

Organizer: The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
Lecturer: Dr. Norio Yamamoto (Commissioned Researcher, The Institute of Oriental Philosophy  / Associate Professor, Juntendo University)
Venue: TKP Ichigaya Conference Center (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)
Date: November 30, 2017

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