Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences




  2015, Vol. 1, No. 1
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2015, Vol. 1, No. 1

Philosophical anthropology

2015, Vol. 1, No. 1.

CONTENTS

 

FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

 

ESSENCE OF MAN


Pavel Gurevich. Desacralization of brain.

This study discusses a particular approach in modern science that could be described as desacralization of the brain. Classical philosophy considered the brain an amazing work of God. The brain was seen as a source of rationality and memory and also as a sign of human greatness. However, the defects, observed in the brain during its study, denounced its value of a great triumph of evolution. A number of current studies charge the brain with a variety of serious faults. Thus, philosophy needs to reconsider such concepts as man, consciousness, brain and evolution.

The author refers to different neurological studies and tries to link their results with the philosophical-anthropologic insight. This study is the first to analyze the brain desacralization phenomenon. The author is critical of those researchers who intend to eliminate psychology and reduce all psychological processes to physical reflexes. He also disagrees with those who reject human free will relying on partly incorrect researches. Many of the problems introduced in this study require a more thorough philosophical study.

Since ancient times, the brain was treated as the seat of the soul. The soul understood as a subtle matter is able to travel through the brain faster than lightning. However, learning the functioning of this wonder of the universe was extremely hard for people. It was only in Renaissance that the Church allowed dissection. With a lancet, one was determined to penetrate the human brain and to disclose its mysteries. Learning the workings of the brain seemed to bring people on the brink of outstanding discoveries. Though even in our times when science has studied almost every brain gyrus and ganglion, the mysteries of the brain remain unrevealed and the transcendent horizons do not expand. We are still amazed by the enormous speed of information flow in grey cells, still surprised by the number of thoughts that come to the vigorous minds of common earthlings, still fascinated by the depths of memory. The power of the brain, even of a sleeping one, is astonishing. The brain is the symbol of incredible discoveries, a storage center of an unbelievable range of ideas. The brain is at its best when creating something new and unseen.

However, the further progress in brain studies brought more and more disappointments. Those men of science who invented the lightning rod probably felt the same. At first they believed they could tame the lightning, but in never happened. The scientists appeased their enthusiasm and even suggested that fireballs possess rationality… Anyway, the belief that the brain is unique and untamable seemed to be undermined.

With the accumulation of groundbreaking knowledge on the human brain, its mystic aura began to fade. The magic disappeared as the brain turned out to be just another kind of machine, just another gadget. Though still regarded as powerful and fast, unique and capacious, with the invention of computers the brain was thought to be easily constructible. The conflict between brain and computer added some arguments for the significance of the brain. It has many inherent defects though at first view it seems to have perfect features. However, the brain is a rough sketch, a preliminary outline. It looks as if nature has been working hard to endow it with positive features but failed and lost all interest in its own miraculous creation.

Surprisingly, whenever a new discovery in neuroscience is about to reestablish the conviction in the holiness of the brain, it starts to resemble a powerful but defective machine that could even destroy humanity. Moreover, today the very process of studying the brain mysteries is devoid of that veneration which we observe on the faces of spectators, pictured in the Renaissance paintings of anatomy lessons. The brain is no longer a planet injudicious amidst the planets calculated. It no longer raises numinosity, for now it is treated as an object with quantitative and qualitative characteristics equally to any other physical object. Scientists mostly discuss brain clusters, biorhythms and structures. The magic turns into an engineering and neuroscience project.

However, today the idea of inherent and evolutionary viciousness of the brain surprisingly gains popularity. Actually, where does the belief in the reason and impeccability of evolution comes from? Indeed, today in neurospecialists do their best to demystify brain. They blame God as a universal designer who could not directly create a perfect mechanism that would be a worthy present to humanity. Whereas evolution implies incongruities, rejection and even extreme eccentricities. Evolution and preestablished perfection are incompatibles.

Further the article discusses the theory according to which consciousness is not necessarily a product of the brain. Stanislav Grof doubts the logics of this conclusion, made by the mechanistic science. Indeed, other theoretic systems would interpret the given data differently. He illustrates it with a simple example of television. Only all the components working properly provide high-quality image and sound while any defect or damaged component brings a specific distortion.

Considering these arguments the discussion on the defects of the brain is almost dismissed, as it turns out that the brain is only a translator for the psyche and not its generator. Perhaps, our brain is not the perfect instrument to transmit information which rashes upon us from other sources. This would mean that the brain is not the source of human thoughts and passions. There are no grounds to attribute to it the astonishing discoveries, praised by poets and philosophers. Great mysteries are now divided from the brain, and it has lost its aura of sanctity and righteousness.

Keywords: brain, consciousness, human, memory, rationality, neuroscience, stupidity, physiology, psyche, intellect

 

 

HUMAN NATURE


Nadezhda Volkova. Is the soul of Socrates eternal? On the problem of explanation of the individual qualities in Plotinus.

In an early treatise V 7 (18 in chronological order) "On the question whether there are ideas of particulars?" Plotinus proposes to adopt the ideas of particulars as a condition to return to the world of intelligible. “‑ Is there an idea of each particular thing? – Yes? If I and each one of us have a way of ascent and return to the intelligible, the principle of each of us is there. Is Socrates, that is the soul of Socrates, always exist, there will be an absolute Socrates in the sense that, as so far as they are souls, individuals are also said to exist in this way in the intelligible”[1]. That is, if the soul of Socrates is eternal, there must be the idea of Socrates and all other individuals. However, conception of ideas of particulars contraries to the Platonic doctrine, since the idea always stands as “one over many”, one idea is sufficient for the emergence of multiple copies.

Before turning to the arguments in favor of the ideas of individuals, let us try to find the preconditions for the origin of such a theory. Plotinus needs to explain not only the question of ascent, but also different individual qualities, i.e. to solve the problem of individuation. He could not attribute the differences in the individual qualities to matter, as Aristotle did. The first matter cannot be considered as a source of individuation, since it does not have any qualities, it is able to report things nothing but numerical differences (for example, there are two fires, while the idea of fire is just one). Nonnumeric differences require further explanation. These differences may be explained by the lack of realization of the forms in matter. Thus, Plotinus understands, for example, ugliness (I 8, 11-14). The source of all individual differences should be intelligible, because the world of intelligible contains everything, which really exist. Does it mean that Plotinus was to take the ideas of particulars? If we study his philosophical system, we see that it is designed as follows: on the top of his metaphysical structure is the One, transcendental unity, standing over thought and being. The Mind is below it, it is “one-many”, because the thought needs no less than two – thinking mind and the object of thought, this is the origin of multiplicity. Soul is below the Mind, it is “one and many”, and finally the corporeal world, which is just many (see V 1). As a result, the development of original unity gives a diverse and spatially separated sensual world. Thus, an explication of higher principles cannot assume the presence of ideas of individuals. The only basis for development of the theory of ideas of particulars is the principle of completeness of the intelligible world, which means that there could be nothing that would not have a place in the intelligible, so the possibility of the ideas of particulars still remains.

Let us consider the main arguments in favor of the ideas of particulars. They are concentrated mainly in the first chapter of the treatise V 7. Plotinus raises the question of the existence of ideas of particulars in the context of the possibility of return to the intelligible. Plotinus uses the term ascent - ἀνᾰγωγή. For different living beings ascent may be different, for example, to philosophers it is the dialectic method (I 3, 1 "On Dialectics"). For Plotinus not only every person, but also every living being can return to the intelligible world, it means that all creatures have some base there. Is the individual soul such a base? Moreover, if it is eternal there is the idea of such soul. However, Plotinus sees the difficulty in this theory, because it contradicts with conception of reincarnation: "If Socrates does not always exist, but the soul which was formerly Socrates becomes different people at different times... then there will not be this particular person also in the intelligible world”. We know that Plotinus believes in the idea of reincarnation. Therefore, there will be no ideas of Socrates and other particulars. Plotinus shifts focus from the idea of particular to the particular soul. The reborn soul contains all the individual characteristics of all people, which it animated. “If the soul of each individual possesses the rational forming principles of all the individuals which it animates in succession, then again on this assumption all will exist there”. It is not enough to postulate just one idea for all man. We must look for intelligible principles of the individual qualities in the particular soul. Plotinus does not take the position that each particular needs its own idea, but all particular qualities should be in the particular soul. “There cannot be same forming principle for different individuals, and one man will not serve as a model for several man different from each other not only by reason of their matter but with a vast number of special differences of form”. Therefore, Plotinus argues that individuation is not a product of the difference in the place or the matter; it is the result of differences that have a place in the intelligible. The aim of this short and controversial treatise is to revise the school known problem of the existence of ideas of particulars. Plotinus does so in the context of his well-developed metaphysical system. Plotinus has never considered the concept of ideas of individuals as a solution of problem of the presence of person in intelligible realm, considering that such a foundation is "unfallen part" of the soul. “Unfallen part" of the soul is the eternal soul, which always has its place in the intelligible world.

Keywords: ancient philosophy, individual qualities, matter, idea, ideas of individuals, soul, problem of individuation, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus

 

 

METHODOLOGICAL PROBLEMS


Elvira Spirova. “The other half of the intellectual globe”.

The author of this article attempts to consider Wilhelm Dilthey`s philosophical works in terms of philosophical anthropology. Leading minds of this movement, such as Nicolai Berdyaev, Martin Buber, Max Scheler and others do not refer to Dilthey as a philosopher associated with philosophical study of man. However, the author believes Dilthey`s contribution to philosophical anthropology to be significant. First of all, his knowledge of philosophical-anthropological thought is highly competent and original. For another thing, Dilthey can provide several ideas that have a direct import of philosophical anthropology. Finally, his proposition to separate human sciences and natural sciences made a significant methodological break-through. Human sciences, crucial for the understanding of man, could hardly be established without this distinction.

Today the assertion that human knowledge differs essentially from other kinds of knowledge is hardly disputable. Many European scholars made an attempt to follow the history of philosophical-anthropological thought. They relied on a belief that it is history that reveals different sides of human existence. A historical view on human nature as a consistent and widely acknowledged approach in humanities forms in 18-19th centuries. According to specialists, the discovery of man as a special reality, fundamentally distinct from other creations of nature, was made much earlier, in the middle of the 1st millennium BC in the so-called Axial Age. It occurred mainly owing to the recognition of the possibilities of moral development.

There is no doubt that historical knowledge is fundamental for human self-understanding. What other ways except for the historical approach are there to form a notion of human nature? It is in history that man reveals different sides of his existence. With the historical approach we can consider “being human” as a process of self-creation that is extended from the past to the future. Human self-creation becomes possible as a result of a reflective circle of thought and action. However, the article raises a question, whether it is reasonable to identify the becoming of man with the gradual development of notion of man.

According to the author, it is possible to assume that any knowledge about man, obtained in some certain historical period, does not necessarily reveal the authentic human nature. Mistakes, misbelieves and misapprehensions are likely to appear during the accumulation of anthropological knowledge. For example, today the Enlightenment assumption of the universal human rationality is hardly acceptable without corrections. Of course, one could argue that this concept was improved by subsequent ages. The question is whether philosophers succeeded in perceiving the very core of man. It seems fair to assume that knowledge about man, so painfully accumulated during the centuries, in fact has little to do with the object of philosophical thought itself.

Further, the article discusses Dilthey`s philosophical-anthropologic ideas as such. Dilthey argues if there is actually such thing as uniformity of human nature. It is very difficult to determine the basic features of man, since man`s scope of knowledge and his field of activity in history are so broad. The article notices that the anthropological-philosophical thought also depends on the opposition of naturalistic and spiritual perspective on man. The theory of neo-naturalism aspires to disclose all the mysteries of man through biology. Neo-naturalists believe that the mystery of brain, the mystery of conscience, the mystery of the entire mental life of man could be revealed only on the grounds of evolutionary theory and with neurosciences mobilized. In the same time, as the article shows, another line of thinking appears, which believes that the human being is not only an animal. It is also a special kind of entity. Therefore there is no reason to identify animal mind with the mental world of man, as neobehaviorists do.

That said, the author explains that Dilthey have never denied naturalistic knowledge. Among other things, he showed a great interest in the achievements of positivists. However, his main interest was devoted to the mental states of man. As the article shows, it is highly disputable to relate Dilthey`s theory to the irrational version of philosophical anthropology. As the author believes, this contraposition of rationalism and irrationalism requires philosophical reconsideration. Of course, Dilthey belongs to the “philosophy of life” school (Lebensphilosophie). In this context his philosophy was a reaction to Hegel`s panlogism. Dilthey was labeled as an irrational philosopher in those times when any deviation from Hegelian paradigm seemed no less than a disavowal of the heuristic model of reasoning.

What reasons are there to talk about Dilthey`s irrationalism? Only that he thought that any attempts to understand man from axiological, transcendental or rational perspectives are weak. If such is the case, nearly all the works of philosophical anthropology are to be considered as irrationalism. Human existence cannot be reconstructed, since it does not follow mechanical principles. Any endeavors to enter the world of human transcendence through some fragments of human mentality seem fallacious. What rationalism can grasp does not mean that there is no insoluble residue in man. By the way, this thought can be traced in some works of Jacques Lacan.

According to the author, Dilthey`s concept of the stream of life should not be identified with some dark uncontrollable abyss with no structure. Fixedness and flowing are no more than various phases of the universal becoming. That is why sometimes historical life unfolds in its different forms and sometimes it mingles with the stream itself. Dilthey does not consider individual as an isolated entity. Individual is integrated into the universal life.

Keywords: philosophical anthropology, philosophy of life (Lebensphilosophie), Wilhelm Dilthey, humanities (Geisteswissenschaften), human nature, naturalism, mental life, sense, history, society.


 

FACETS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE


François Laruell. Les deux sources de l'éthique en régime technologique [Two Sources of Ethics in Technological World]

 

 

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY


Andrey Smirnov. Substance-oriented and process-oriented worldviews (A study of culture and worldview typology).

In philosophical anthropology there are many methods to compare different cultures. While studying the variety of cultural worlds it is impossible to overlook the differences in mechanisms that constitute the cognition. This study considers the means of conceptualization, i.e. the way mental representations are formed, as a principle on which to establish culture typology. It is essential for the author to understand and to demonstrate the way each culture thinks. The main focus of this article is to render and study forms of mental organization and conceptualization. Different ways to mentally explore reality inevitably produce specific worldviews. This refers not only to some scientific theories, but mainly to the way common notions of the world order arise in mass consciousness.

The article discerns two levels on which reality can be perceived: spontaneous language and reflective theoretical. Both levels are considered in terms of conceptualization. The first level is determined as linguistic, the second – as logico-philosophic. The author shows that conceptualization is closely connected to the pursuit of coherence, while coherence is directly related to integrity. It is these two concepts that establish intuitive comprehension of reality. This tendency to see the world not as fragmented, but as integral, seems to be a characteristic anthropological demand. The world is multiform, but it is also constant.

The study considers two large cultural areas, the Western and the Arab. This said the question remains open whether the results of the Arab study are applicable to other related Semitic languages and Semitic-based cultures, especially to Hebrew and Jewish culture.

Discussing the linguistic level of reality comprehension, the author shows that language is a theoretical construct. However, in everyday life we deal not with language, but with speech. Coherent speech is described here as a speech telling, whereas telling is a process that forms subject-predicate constructions. In other words, coherent speech is a sequence of coherent sentences, whereas a coherent sentence is that which consists of a subject and a predicate, both in linguistic and logical terms. This is the way speech actually becomes coherent. Thus, there are many versions of linguistic phrases for one single proposition. Not only does one logically correct form unify the entire variety of expressions in one language, but it also reduces the interlingual diversity and, therefore, ascertains interlingual translation. Thus, according to the author, our main purpose is to feel out this underlying structure in order to understand what the variety of surface structures is to be reduced to.

The author believes that though the rapid leap from Aristotle to Noam Chomsky has smoothed some curves, it did not alter the main point: characteristic of the Western thought is the substance-oriented worldview. It sees the world as a whole of things-substances. Understood in such way, things make the “what” of the world and ascertain its unity, while the features, qualities and relations between these things make the “how” of the world, its multiformity and diversity. This is the basis of Aristotelian physics, which explained the world order throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Modern science adopted this basis. As the author notices, there is no information on whether there were any real endeavors to build some other non- substance-oriented type of worldview. He proposes that such attempt should be made.

The study proves that substance-oriented worldview, purposefully built by logico-philosophic principles and intended to weave a solid cloth of conceptualization, does not actually cope with its task. It is probably the same with any alternative worldview: along with some aspects of the world it will also miss those which are well captured by the substance-oriented worldview. From this point of view, language is more universal than any logico-philosophical worldview: it implies different ways to construct a monistic worldview, neither of which could encompass all dimensions of the world. Such logico-philosophical worldviews are alternative and, therefore, plural. It appears that the logico-philosophical worldview depends on culture, while the linguistic worldview is more universal. To the mind that usually associates universality with science and cultural exclusiveness - with language, this conclusion would seem contradictory.

According to the author, the alternative to the substance-oriented worldview is created by the Arab thought. It is based on the intuition of a process and thus could be determined as a process-oriented worldview. The article considers it both on spontaneous linguistic and logico-philosophical (reflected) levels. The author`s point of departure is the fact that the constantly renewed analysis of the relation between language and mind was one of the main themes of the last century. He articulates the idea, according to which Arabic language, that is as a language exactly, should not necessarily provide a process-oriented and not a substance-oriented worldview since there is no special evidence to the contrary. Moreover, even formal features of Arabic language do not reveal any tendency to form a process-oriented worldview. This tendency is to be found not in Arabic language, but in Arabic speech. Of course, they are connected, but at the same time they differ, and this difference is directly relevant to thinking.

The resulting idea of the article is that, owing to its basic conceptualization mechanism, Western culture forms a substance-oriented worldview. In the same way, the mechanism of conceptualization provides the profound fundamental integrity of Arab (or even wider Semitic) cultural area and results in a process-oriented worldview.

Keywords: typology of cultures, worldview, conceptualization, linguistic level, logico-philosophical (reflected) level, the West, substance-oriented worldview, Arab culture, process-oriented worldview, mind

 

 

PSYCHOANALYTICAL ANTHROPOLOGY


Vadim Rozin. Memory: an anthropological study.

This article discusses causes of the recent interest in anthropology. It argues that anthropologists should reconsider their view of man and actualize the method of “analysis of a distributed whole”. Along with the determination of different aspects of the studied, this method suggests change and reconsideration of the basis, which lies under the description of these aspects. The article suggests that the nature of memory could be understood through the author`s theory of personality and psychic realities and provides the key points of this theory.

According to the enunciated theory, memorization is not fixation, storage and reproduction of past experiences, but a process of reorganization and reprogramming of life. Firstly, it allows freeing human mind and concentration, and secondly, when required, it enables one to construct an event, which incidentally would be identified as a recollection. From this point of view, remembering events is not relevant. What is more essential is to create such organization of living, such schemes and scenarios of life which allow one to function in terms of the events entitled to the so-called memorization. However, the main point is that the event should be not memorized (in sense of fixation and storage), but transferred into a special mode of organization of living and as a result be removed.

On several case studies the author shows that we memorize those events which are necessary for construction of different realities or those which are included in our life scenario. For example, the author analyses one of the tragic moments in Marina Tsvetayeva`s life, which she had fixed down in her diaries. With the help of the diary (provided that Tsvetayeva used to reread it) she could memorize and remember some events and details, which she would likely wish to forget for good. To sum up, one could say that along with the invention of means to expand the abilities of memory appears the concept of a “social body” of memory. First of all it includes different languages and psycho-technics which enable memorizing and forgetting of events. The given case clarifies one other point. The diary gave access to Tsvetaeva’s memory for other individuals (readers of the published diaries, internet users). This creates basis for another kind of memory - “social memory”. Its subjects are social communities and groups, not individuals.

This article considers the phenomenon of memory both in its natural and artificial-natural modality. The author states that in addition to new possibilities with the semiotic and psycho-technic inventions memory was to some extent released from anthropological bounds. For example, it is now possible to memorize and remember some events which are not part of your life scenario. If today we can read on the internet books from the London Library, our memory is structured, expanded and equipped by computers, by foreign language skills, by our psycho-technic faculties. What shall we make of this, considering the seemingly clear and straightforward belief that memory is based on biological reality? It is true that biological structures underlie memory and other biological faculties. However, in human beings they are transfigured due to languages and psycho-technics. In the same time the invention of new semiotic and psycho-technic techniques, that enrich memory faculties, also brings transformation of memory content. The fact is that to write down some event in a diary or to take a keepsake shot, for example, it is necessary to structure and shape the event in the form each medium requires.

The closing part discusses different kinds of memory. Animal memory is often identified with human memory. However, it is doubtful that animals have memory similar to ours. On one hand, animal memory is based on biological grounds only (it is necessary to consider particularly the case of a memory based on chemical signals), on the other hand, animals have no personality or realities, peculiar to human beings. We could say that on the opposite pole lies our “technical memory”, such as a computer memory. It is a way to storage information, i.e. a constituent part of a social body of memory, and not a memory in anthropological sense.

In conclusion, the question arises whether we should consider memory of a modern man and that of a man of past ages equal. The same question concerns child and adult memory. The resulting regular answer is based on the fact that in culture the concept of personality forms only in Antiquity; in ontogeny it appears no sooner than in the adolescence, when we send children to school and intend them to be independent. Besides, memorizing and forgetting techniques widely differ in various cultures. If so, we have to admit that in different periods of human development (in phylo- and ontogeny) our memory suffers changes. It also differs for adults and for children, for modern man and man of the previous cultures.

Keywords: philosophical anthropology, human being, memory, personality, reality, memorization, forgetting, psycho-technics, world, dreams.

 

 

HERMENEUTICS


Otto Dorr-Zegers. Hermeneutics, dialectics and psychiatry.

The author attempts to highlight the relationship between hermeneutics and dialectics on the one hand and psychiatry on the other, giving particular importance to the contributions of Karl Jaspers to these subjects. He first discusses the coincidences and differences between the method of understanding in the sense of Jaspers and the hermeneutic approach in the sense of Gadamer. Afterwards he describes the multiple ways in which a hermeneutic attitude can be applied in the practice of psychiatry. Thus, even before the psychiatrist try to understand a psychopathological phenomenon he finds himself needing to adopt such an attitude. The classic Rümke’s description of the “Praecox-Gefühl” (feeling of what is schizophrenic) and our description of a “Melancholie-Gefühl” (feeling of what is melancholia) represent two examples of the significance of such hermeneutic attitude in the first interview and in the diagnostic process. The importance of a strict separation between the true and the false prejudgements and/or intuitions in the preverbal moment of the encounter with psychiatric patients is emphasised. The role of hermeneutics in the verbal encounter with the patient is also analyzed by describing typical language and thought disorders in schizophrenia as well as in severe depressive states. After a brief description of the transcendence of dialectics in the history of western thought, the author tries to demonstrate the advantages of a dialectic perspective in psychiatry: to see the positivity of the negative; to question the rigidity of concepts like normal-abnormal, healthy-ill, etc.; and above all, to look at the different non organic psychopathological conditions as displayed in polarities, one side being the opposite with respect to the other and vice versa and to consider the healing process itself as movement in the opposite direction until the right balance is reached. Finally, the author attempts to show how hermeneutics and dialectics are essentially linked, because the “opening” characterizing hermeneutics is materialized in the question, whose inherent negativity is isomorph with the one of the dialectic experience. In turn, psychiatry praxis demands the ability to know how to question, how to fail and how to dialectically salvage some knowledge from this failure.

Keywords: hermeneutics, dialectics, phenomenology, psychopathology, method, understanding, schizophrenia, mania, depression, square of oppositions

 

 

HUMAN LIFE-PROJECT IN EXISTENTIALISM


Aleksey Fatenkov. On the non-stranger (with affection to Albert Camus).

Not without bias, this study considers the figure of Albert Camus, reflects on his ideas in framework of existential realism and tries to draw up a response.

The introduction discusses the methodology of a “co-reflection” genre. In this case emotional and dialectic attitude plays an essential role. Reflection, understood as a side view, is rejected here. It is argued that hermeneutics expand limits of reflection but do not overpass them, whereas mental comprehension, being only a part of overall comprehension, tends to exceed the scope of pure intelligibility. The author employs modernist stylistics with its prominent subjective approach and opposition to the objectivist paradigm, ceremonious classicism and unceremonious postmodernism. Contrary to them, modernism takes both the author and the sacral level of reality with genuine respect, characterizing them both with extreme contradictions and aesthetic emphasis.

In conjunction with the great inevitable, vicissitudes of love and the longing for rebellion the article focuses on such crucial existential problems as earthly and human, life and death, stranger and non-stranger. Camus` conceptions are regarded in correlation with the conceptual milestones of Russian culture and French intellectual tradition, mainly represented by Jean-Paul Sartre. The central place in the existential “nature-culture” nexus is given to the nature aspect. The viewpoint that reduces individual to atomic is declared inaccurate.

Nature and man are neither outsiders nor strangers to each other. It is true that sometimes nature rejects us after all, but no sooner than we give up and reject ourselves, tempted by the otherness. There is no hypocrisy in nature and no lament on our departure. This, however, does not mean that nature does not deplore it. Rather, it neither shows nor exposes its feelings. There is no need for nature to shun us. To shun our own nature or nature as such would be ridiculous of us. Freedom does not suffer from natural limits. It does not break with the natural cycles but integrates into them. Death is a natural obstacle that does not cross out freedom. The only true freedom is that of a dignified acceptance of death. According to the existential realist viewpoint, nature is at the same time the stronghold of the ensemble of values, the piece this ensemble arranges and the element of a value composition. On the foreseeable horizon of the modern period, the distrust of nature forebodes a Cartesian (mechanistic, deistic) estrangement from it. There is no way to escape a nihilistic finale.

A culture that did not lose touch with its natural roots appears as an unquiet memory. No wonder tectonic plates of paganism and Christianity play a significant role for those belonging to secular tradition. They replicate and fulfill pagan and Christian desires alternatively (though, perhaps, one-sidedly). That does not make them feel better, on the contrary - it is easier to comprise the faults of both religions, as any faults whatsoever, then to sum up their merits.

Existential philosophy, broadly understood, gives particular attention to the problem of estrangement, especially to the state and process of distortion that befalls human nature and essence. Estrangement, or losing a part of something that one either had initially or acquired or compiled at some moment, is not the worst woe. There is no integral entity that exists in us since the moment of our birth, and we are ready to endure this fragmentary incompleteness further. To lose something dear you have not had initially, but acquired accidentally, is even more tragic And yet this is not the extreme point. You find yourself above the abyss when you do not lose something you have not had, but could have had. The Russian word for it would be not estrangement, but was not meant to be (no irony implied). In French it would be called non-existence, in Russian translation – несуществование.

We accept the world and at that same moment we reject its indifference to us. We reject it either in silence or complaining. Rebellion is a gesture, a way to express oneself. A cry of hope and a desperate scream both merge in one voice. It is really a fight for life and existence. Uprising for the sake of death and non-being is the caprice and the lot of gods. Human rebellion is a persistent demand for a true and better life, not for a life which is eternal and just present. Beyond the rebel no there is always a yes. They are bound together. A rebel is always a spontaneous natural dialectic. Here spontaneity is a mark of distinction, not of a void. It laughs good-naturedly over the sanctity of logic and all the uniformity of discourse and praxis. The excluded yes and the exclusive no indicate the decay of rebellion and its nihilistic end. They also signify the profoundly negative version of life and thought dialectics.

We accept the world and reject the inevitability of suicide, thus taking the entire world as it is, “with love and squalor”, upon our shoulders. Only earthly human love brings us back to ourselves. Love is far from necessity and close to inevitability, i.e. to something that did not happen to be avoided. However, the reverse is not true: inevitable is not always worth of love. It seems that love is without choice, but not without freedom, whereas freedom is closer to completeness than to choice.

Keywords: philosophy, Albert Camus, affection, earthly, human, stranger, non-stranger, rebellion, love, inevitable

 

 

HORIZONS OF PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY


Raisa Aleynik. Fundamental ontology as anthropology.

Interest in Martin Heidegger`s philosophical oeuvre does not wane for several reasons, discussed in this article. For one thing, until recently his philosophy gave one a feeling of obscurity and mystery. For another thing, the belief is that Heidegger`s merits exceed his sins. This article discusses the problem of uniformity and integrity of Heidegger`s works. Is it possible to interpret his fundamental ontology as anthropology and existentialism?

The article considers the reaction of German society to his book Being and Time in the context of time. The book was published in 1927, when the defeated nation was paying reparations, surrendering its territories and experiencing a period of crisis. However, according to Heidegger, academic philosophy was in state of a “liberal cultural submission”. This concerned neo-kantianism and phenomenology. Heidegger believed the world of his contemporaries to be faceless and false, whereas philosophy was unable to answer the needs of the time in his opinion. Philosophy neglected the existence of man and made itself into a foundation of scientific knowledge and its strict method. Husserl discovered the field of consciousness and tried to make it a system, intending thus to create a basis for cognitive work. However, Heidegger conceives phenomenology not as purely theoretical, but as a research work of letting something be seen. The reason why Heidegger`s book became so popular is that it came as a crucial affect of protest against the equalization of all kinds of individual life that comes with development of industrial society and its control over public opinion.

Heidegger encouraged questioning again what is being, meaning the temporal being of man, which is prior to all other things existent. The article points out that Being and Time was never actually completed. What Heidegger managed to create could be interpreted as anthropology with existential perspective.

The isolated individual of classical thought, concerned with the problem of cognition, is the exact opposite of Dasein. Individual life is filled with care of self-being and expresses in dread. This key motive explains the means by which man relates to the analysis of time, on which human existence is built. Human existence is bound with care. The meaning of being in temporal scope is being-towards-death. Death enables existence and it also annihilates it. To sense true existence is to sense in oneself the dread of being-towards-death.

Accordingly, fundamental ontology proves to be anthropology. Its therapeutic effect was established by Swiss psychiatrists Ludwig Binswanger and Martin Boss. Binswanger elaborated Heidegger`s analysis of Dasein with the mode of being-with-others. Martin Boss considered mental abnormalities in terms of key concepts of Daseinsanalysis, for instance, one`s openness to the world, one`s ability to deal with the present, not trying to escape in the past or future. Boss believed that most mental illnesses result from inability to exist, to open oneself towards the world.

Heidegger`s late oeuvre is regarded through the Daseinsanalysis of historical existence (Being and Time, V, 74). In his late works he calls man not the “lord of beings” but the “shepherd of being”, whose mission is to be called by the being itself to defend its truth. The work of art gives humanity grounds for the outlook on themselves in their history.

As the article demonstrates, later Heidegger proposes that man should return to his archaic origins, which will reveal more than Socrates or Moses. This implies paganism, or neo-paganism, that was very popular at the time. All this shows Heidegger as a consistent and thorough author, who held to his ideas of 1933.

Keywords: fundamental ontology, anthropology, existentialism, Daseinsanalysis, being-towards-death, psychiatry, historicism, origin, paganism, national-socialism

 

 

SCIENCES OF MAN

David Spektor. Consciousness: knots and threads (an introductory essay in anthropology).

The study considers consciousness through the prism of historical-theoretical approach. The applied method of reduction distinguishes a number of basic functions that were rather independent at the dawn of history (and at the beginning of ontogeny also); only with time did they form consciousness into a relative unity. The study begins with criticizing popular concepts based on the fundamental methodological contraposition of nature to its other (i.e. consciousness). To analyze this mutual base, we use the cases of Marxism and psychoanalysis. The study shows that this contraposition inevitably leads to the mystification of consciousness. The alternative is to acknowledge the duality of nature, to distinguish specific lines of genesis that trigger and maintain different instincts. From this point of view, consciousness is no longer an element of the nature-consciousness opposition, but a link relating the two evolutionary based modes of reflective and spontaneous situational reactions. Thus, the problem of cognition, separated from the cognitive base and reverted to its original (and lost) sense, appears in a new light.

This article argues that:

  • in its first dawn consciousness has little in common with familiar forms; rather, it is opposite to them. It is a “divine madness”, apophatically defined by the rejection of detachment based on the self-preservation urge. The positive support for this “divine madness” is the spirit of patriotism that inspires the coordinated spontaneous collective actions;
  • in its origin consciousness is mainly initiative and not reflective. It does not follow the logic of the matter (which in the framework of this study is the otherness unity (the unity of the otherness) devoid of logic and thus different from the ordinary thingness). On the contrary, it draws the adepts together and throws them into the flow of initiative urge which has no underlying plan but relies on the mutual support of those illuminated by the (totemic) spirit.
  • ceasing to slavishly obey the “logic” of thingness that deeply penetrates its pores, consciousness restores the precedent as a norm to be established which controls the external and the will-bound; in this volitional act consciousness is supported by the transcendental schematism that relates the precedent (of an unprecedented action) only with the support conditions, determined by expression and contagion aesthetics.

To reveal the linearity of consciousness one should overcome its hermetic unity which obviously mystically compensates its discrepancy.

The nature of consciousness is not confined to the cognitive function - a blinding annoying stereotype that ideology cunningly implanted aiming to narrow understanding of understanding and bury it in mechanicism and slavish obedience to the logic of the matter.

Consciousness should recover and recreate its original connection with freedom and establish it on the basis of being, therefore releasing it from mysticism. At the same time, cognition restores the original ontology letting the precedent dimension into its deep secret vaults. Consciousness contains being, binding together the extremely adventurous with the ordinary stereotypical, turning the former into the latter and making the latter the subject of the former.

Keywords: consciousness, sensuality, intelligence, Marxism, psychoanalysis, libido, biologism, replacement, alienation, inspiration

 

 

HOMO COGNOSCENS


Anne-Françoise Schmid. Des Humains, qu'ils philosophent par hypothèse [Philosophical Reasoning by Means of Hypothesis]

 

ECHOES OF THE EVENTS

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

 

 



[1] Translated by H.A. Armstrong.