Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Philosophy Journal, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 1
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Philosophy Journal, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 1





Andrey Smirnov. Proposition and predication

The central point of the present paper is the subject-predicate construction and its relation to language and metaphysics. The subject-predicate construction constitutes the core of all thinking, the centrepiece of its inner logical development and its relation to the reality. This logic of predication finds its reflection in language, primarily in the form of elementary proposition. For Indo-European languages, the basic predication formula is 'S is P'. According to the hypothesis elaborated here, the perception of this formula as a self-evident core proposition rests on the intuition of limited space. The meaning of the copula 'to be' can be reduced to the fact that the subject of a proposition is placed in the area associated with its predicate (Euler diagrams). 'S is P' formula, therefore, reflects (without, however, fully expressing it) the logic of subject-predicate construction which, in its turn, is at the origin of substance-based metaphysics (pace Bertrand Russell). 'S is P' formula is self-evident only as long as Indo-European languages and the relevant logic of thought are concerned. The Arabic language displays an alternative predication formula which, in the light of the traditional Arabic grammarians’ terminology, may be designated as “S isnād P” (the 'S is P' formula is ruled out in natural Arabic text), where isnād means literally “to lean”. This core predication formula is backed by the intuition of flux. The relevant logic of subject-predicate construction is referred to as a process-based logic. The logic of subject-predicate construction is the 'minimum balance' of human thought. Whatever metaphysics one may discard, it is still impossible to discard the core logic of the subject-predicate construction; this logic survives intact any language transcoding. The reality as a seamless flow of events is split by the subject-predicate constructing activity of our mind into opposing sets of things. Since subject-predicate construction is performed on the basis of opposing logics, this is the bifurcation point. Sense perception and theoretical discourse produce the images of reality according to one of the alterning strategies of subject-predicate constructing activity. In other non-Western cultures, subject-predicate construction can be based on different core logics. The close scrutiny of their legacy (along the landmarks of basic intuition, logic of predication and its metaphysical implications) will, therefore, enrich our understanding of how human mind operates.

Keywords: proposition, predication, copula, metaphysics, substance, process, event, thing, language, logic, mind

Petr Kusliy. Quantifiers and the ontology of natural language

This article discusses different kinds of entities over which natural languages quantify. It presents a general introduction to the theory of natural language quantifiers as expressions denoting a set of sets of entities or (more generally) expressions in one way or another introducing a quantifier in the semantics of their respective sentences. The author explores how and why expressions of natural language refer to the kinds of entities other than individual objects, i.e. such entities as possible worlds, temporal intervals, events and degrees. He thereby illustrates the object and methods of one of the more recent trends in formal semantics which is the formal study, by way of model-theoretic and truth-conditional analysis, of structural aspects of the meaning of expressions in natural languages, including the various approaches to syntax. Special attention is given to the answers contemporary formal semantics can provide for a number of fundamental questions in the philosophy of language and philosophy in general. It is argued that natural language, as distinct from the abstract, speculative and/or critical/methodological arguments commonly used by the philosophers of language, has the capacity of making explicit the kind of metaphysical entities which lend themselves to be perceived as ‘real’ by conscious individuals possessing the knowledge of one or more natural languages. 

Keywords: ontology, formal semantics, philosophy of language, quantification




Andrei Sevalnikov. Physics and Philosophy: old problems and new solution

The present study is concerned with the problem of realism in quantum mechanics. Contrary to the prevailing view that quantum mechanics forces us to abandon the concept of realism and reality, the author attempts to substantiate another standpoint. Quantum objects indeed exist in a different way from classical bodies. Before the act of measurement begins, one cannot attribute any specific properties to the quantum object observed, as they only occur in the course observation. The concept of observation, however, should not be interpreted as the inclusion of subjective traits in the description of nature. Observation records processes in space and time and establishes the fact of transition from the potential to the reality. The potential is described by a wave function, which in its meaning does not fall in the habitual space and time, whereas the actual is described in terms of a reduction of the wave function, i.e. the transition from a range of possible states to the single one, the observed. Whatever has been observed, in contrast, already belongs to ordinary space and time and can be detected. What follows is that, in quantum mechanics, it is the notion of reality which needs to be reconsidered, not the realism as such rejected. A reconsideration of this sort is conducted here within the framework of a double-modus picture of reality including both potential and actual being, where the quantum level of existence is distinguished from the observed modi of being as described by means of classical concepts. Such a scheme can be described in terms of Aristotelian metaphysics (the fact first pointed out by Heisenberg). The act of transition from potential to actual can be accounted for both in the language of Aristotle’s metaphysics and the language of modern science. In traditional metaphysics it is called the 'principle of individuation', while in modern science it is known as the extended Mach principle. It is argued that the development of these ideas leads to the rejection of Cartesian paradigm in which the existence of a material object always means an existence in space and time.

Keywords: quantum mechanics, existence, ontology, potential being, actual being, the potential, the actual, Cartesian paradigm

Julia Sineokaya. A dispute on belief, culture and the meaning of life (A correspondence from two corners by Vyacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Gershenzon) 

This article is devoted to one of the most important documents of culture from the beginning of 20th century A correspondence from two corners by Vyacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Gershenzon. The small book consisting of mere 12 letters was published by St-Petersburg publishing house Alkonost in 1921. It tells about the crisis of humanity, the revaluation of values of European intellectual tradition, the meaning of life and morals. The twentieth century which opened with wars and revolutions put before intellectuals the goal of overcoming the gap between cultural tradition and personal creativity. Both European and Russian thinkers were giving sharp critique of classical culture which, according to them, had the World War as the logical consequence of its development. Ivanov and Gershenzon, despite their very different approaches to the problem of antinomy between personal creativity and freedom on the one hand, and cultural tradition on another hand, agreed on their vision of the problem. For both of them culture was a phenomenon that needs a moral, social, esthetic and religious justification. In the West, it had been Nietzsche who first raised this problem; in Russia, it became one of the central subjects of philosophical debates during the Russian Religious Renaissance at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries. Ivanonv's optimistic attitude towards cultural heritage was based on religious belief. Mikhail Gershenzon defended the autonomy of individual creativity against the automatic worship of centuries-old cultural tradition that falsifies life. Gershenzon argued that creative individuality alone could become the solid foundation of any authentic culture in the future. The author proceeds to discuss the nature of friendship between the poet-philosopher and the historian of Russian social thought as well as the evolution of views shared by either of them, and describes the intellectual and social atmosphere around the composition of the Correspondence. The article also provides an outline of public disputes which followed after the publication of the Correspondence.

Keywords: crisis of culture, humanism, nihilism, religious belief, revaluation of values, morals, Russian Religious Renaissance, revolution, friendship, dialogue

Anatoly Chernyaev. At the dividing line of political thought in Russia: Correspondence between Andrei Kurbsky and Ivan the Terrible

The aim of the present paper is to provide a historical and philosophical analysis and an up-to-date interpretation of the correspondence between Andrei Kurbsky and Ivan the Terrible. According to the author, the decisive point of disagreement between the two was a difference not just of political and ideological, but also of cultural and aesthetic priorities: Prince Kurbsky's commitment to the Renaissance humanism (his acquaintance with it began long before his departure from Russia) did not allow him to adopt the program of cultural isolation and political authoritarianism implemented by the Tsar. Whereas the latter used the religious idea with the aim get Russia turn against Europe and to suppress freedom aspirations inside Russia, Kurbsky, with his keen interest in European scientific methods and fascinated by the diversity of religious and philosophical ideas in the West, opted for the dialogic model of social interaction and championed cultural rapprochement between Russia and Europe. It would be fair to say that Prince Kurbsky was one of the first Russian Europeans. Hence the interpretation proposed by the author, according to which the correspondence between Andrei Kurbsky and Ivan the Terrible can be regarded as a manifestation of the dramatic collision between divergent vectors of Russian political thought, the opposing versions of Russian spirituality and Russian mission. These ideological extremities, first crystallized in the famous epistolary duel of 17th century, kept being reproduced at almost every stage in the history of Russian society as a constant and integral part of its identity, a problem of an indubitably existential nature. Controversy between Ivan the Terrible and Andrei Kurbsky in many ways provided the model of historiosophical thinking and shaped the format of political debate in Russia.

Keywords: Andrei Kurbsky, Ivan the Terrible, Maximus the Greek, Joseph of Volokolamsk, Russia and Europe, Renaissance, political theology, autocracy, freedom, humanism




Alexey Fokin. Aristotle’s Categories in Latin Trinitarian Theology (Marius Victorinus, Augustine, Boethius)

From the second half of 4th century A.D. some of the Latin Patristic theologians began to use Aristotle’s categories, such as 'substance' and 'relation', 'potency' and 'act', 'matter' and 'form', to explain the Trinitarian doctrine. So, Marius Victorinus draws distinction between the Father as pure Being (esse) identical with God’s substance, and the Son as its determined form (ens, esse formatum). He views the Father as potency, and the Son as its act, while the Holy Spirit is regarded as substantial connection (connexio) between them. Augustine also ascribes to God the categories of essence and relation and treats the persons of the Trinity as the three relations in one substance. Finally, Boethius expressed the similar teaching in a perfectly logical way as a system where the relations between Father, Son, and Spirit are interpreted according to the law of identity (A = A) as relations of God to Himself. This kind of Trinitarian doctrine, looking back at Aristotle’s Categories, was transmitted to the western scholasticism where it got transformed into a doctrine of 'subsistent relations' in God.

Keywords: Greek philosophy, Aristotle, logics, Categories, Metaphysics, Theology, Trinitarian Doctrine, Marius Victorinus, Augustine, Boethius

Tamara Dlugach. Two 18th century concepts of construction (Kant and Fichte)

The author proposes to explore the role of the principle of construction in the writings of Kant and Fichte. Kant brought to attention the activity of cognisant reason: in 18th century he was the first European philosopher who demonstrated that no cognition at all is possible in the absence of active reason. Later Marx would arrive to the same conclusion, though with a different outcome: while for Kant this vision of the role of active reason meant that knowledge must needs be limited to phenomena, for Marx it was the indication that we know the world as it actually is. Activity, according to what Kant writes in the preface to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, has the form of experiment, the real experiment being determined by the thought experiment in which the object of pure sensual contemplation is created. The model of universal object, a scheme, exists only in thought, and it is only in relation to it that a singular object can be known. The schematism is actually where the act of constructing and cognizing of the objects by reason is manifested. In Fichte, the constructive role of reason attains even greater importance: according to him, conscience traverses the same path twice, first when from the given states of conscience it creates the object of knowledge, and the second time when, parting from the constructed object, it creates, again by way of constructing, the image of the object. For Fichte, at the origin there always is practical activity of the spirit which dictates the subsequent course of actual practical activity.

Keywords: construction, scheme, man, reason, Kant, Fichte, constructivism, realism

Faris O. Nofal. ʼAbū Muʻīn an-Nasafī’s theology as quintessence of Mātūrīdī’ philosophy

The present paper offers a comparative study of philosophical and theological positions of ʼAbū Muʻīn an-Nasafī and other mutakallimun of Islamic Golden Age. The author examines an-Nasafī's theories concerning God’s knowledge and other attributes, the so-called 'kasb' theory and other ontological, epistemological and semantic problems. He further inquires into the reception of mutazili’ and ashari’ teachings in early maturidi’ thought. Particular attention is paid to the evolution of Maturidi theology in the context of 'Sunni' branch of classical Kalam development. There follows a brief overview of ontological terminology used by an-Nasafī and further developed in Kalam and Arabic Peripatetic school.

Keywords: an-Nasafī, maturidism, muʻtazilism, ashʻarism, kalam, Arabic Peripatetic School, Classical Arabic philosophy




Andrey Prokofyev. ‘Keep your eye on the intuitions…’ (theoretical problematizations of intuitive moral judgments in contemporary ethics)

This paper explores how the knowledge of content and psychological foundations of strong, stable, immediate moral beliefs can be used in ethical theory. In contemporary ethics, such beliefs are usually termed ‘intuitive moral judgments’ or ‘moral intuitions’. The author evaluates three theoretical models that employ the analysis of moral intuitions. First of them, the social intuitionism of Jonathan Haidt, proceeds from the thesis that automatic intuitive reactions dominate our moral experience and considers moral reasoning (and moral philosophy as well) as a secondary, superficial activity lacking any binding force. In place of the philosophical examination of morals Haidt actually substitutes an approach with methods of evolutionary biology. The author proceeds to show that Haidt's model leaves unanswered the question of justification of morality and therefore can not offer an adequate explanation of it. There are some other theories which, while attempting to find a justification of moral norms and make a reasonable choice among them, still have an interest in the analysis of moral intuitions. Frances Kamm justifies and selects moral norms by establishing coherency in the sphere of intuitive beliefs. Peter Singer and Torbjörn Tännsjö try to separate the intuitions that are rational and have an actual imperative force from those which are generated by specific conditions of human evolution and should be discarded. The first class includes requirements of consequentionalist ethics, the second one deontological side-constraints. The author exposes the theoretical vulnerability of the model of Singer and Tännsjö and points to the strengths of Kamm's model.

Keywords: morality, ethics, moral psychology, moral intuitions, utilitarianism, deontological ethics, Jonathan Haidt, Frances Kamm, Peter Singer, Torbjörn Tännsjö




Sergey Korsakov. The initial stage of the Beletsky 'case' (archival publication)

In the recent years there has been a growing interest among the historians of philosophy in the famous letter written to Stalin by Zinovy Beletsky, Professor of Moscow State University. It served as pretext for the replacement, in 1944, of the administration of the Institute of Philosophy of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, of the Faculty of philosophy of Moscow University and of the journal Under the Banner of Marxism. Third volume of the History of Philosophy was deprived of the Stalin prize. To this day anyone who wrote on Beletsky inevitably started with that same letter. The purpose of the present article is to exhibit the background of the appearance of that document and Beletsky's reasons for writing it. Transcript of the discussion of Beletsky's views held at the Institute of Philosophy in 1943 is published here for the first time. Following this discussion Beletsky, who had been Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of the Institute for ten years, was dismissed on the ground of poor performance. He then joined the Faculty of philosophy of Moscow University and sent his letter to Stalin, which had far-reaching consequences. One of the questions discussed during the 1943-44 debates at the Institute of Philosophy was the appraisal of of the role of German classical philosophy: whether to consider it one of the theoretical sources of Marxism or a forerunner of Nazi ideology. On Beletsky's initiative and with Stalin's sanction a misleading and distorted interpretation of it became official and mandatory, which lead to destructive administrative measures and greatly hampered the progress of history of philosophy in the Soviet Union. 

Keywords: Z.Ya. Beletsky, Soviet philosophy, Stalinism, Institute of Philosophy, Faculty of philosophy of Moscow State University




Irina Blauberg. Henri Bergson and the logic of imagination

This is a review of Ioulia Podoroga's recent monograph on Bergson (Penser en durée. Bergson au fil de ses images. Lausanne: L’Age d’homme, 2014). Podoroga proposes a new reading of Bergson's oeuvre based on the analysis of images in his texts. In this book, Podoroga concentrates on the technique of thinking of the French philosopher, the modes of argumentation he uses and the particularities of style in his writings. Bergson, according to Podoroga, initiates the new practice of 'image thinking' allegedly capable of expressing the immediate experience of duration, of temporality of human existence; it is from this standpoint that Podoroga examines such works as Time and Free Will, Matter and Memory and Creative Evolution, as well as some of Bergson's texts on methodology. Podoroga explains the meaning of various metaphors, images and diagrams employed by Bergson, their interaction with one another and with the theoretical notions he frequently recurs to. From the study of such material she derives a typology of images in Bergson's philosophy and concludes about the existence of a special 'logic of creative imagination' followed by Bergson in his attempt to 'think in duration'. 

Keywords: image, logic of imagination, Henri Bergson, duration, intuition