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Significance of “Poison” in Contemporary Society

2018 Research Projects

Research Topic

Significance of “Poison” in Contemporary Society

Lead Researcher

Hiroshi Yoshioka, Program-Specific Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Collaborating Researchers

Yukiko Kato, Associate Professor, Saitama University

Kyoto Ozawa, Associate Professor, Wayo Women’s University

Miki Okubo, Lecturer, University of Paris 8


In contemporary society, a dichotomy between good and evil with regards to the body and life has influenced our way of thinking. However, in ancient Greek, the concept of “Pharmakon” existed, which included both “medicine” and “poison”. This inclusivity can be an important clue to avoiding problems of the contemporary society, such as economic development supremacy, extreme efficiency and convenience seeking, as well as a lost sense of meaning in life because of these. However, reminiscing about the past concepts is not sufficient.
This study disseminates a potential contemporary concept of Pharmakon using research from philosophy, art history, fashion and cultural anthropology. With the concept of “poison” as a clue, this research aims to propose more flexible ways of thinking in which we are not constrained by the modern dichotomy of good or evil with regards to the body, life, medical care or health.