Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 2
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Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 2




Michael J. Loux. Metaphysics in the analytic tradition (translated by Pavel Butakov)

The present paper provides an outline of the history of analytic tradition in philosophy from the point of view of its relation to metaphysical problems. First, the birth of the tradition is shown be a reaction against the metaphysical style of the British philosophy of Absolute Idealism. Even during this early period of analytic philosophy, however, i.e. the logical atomism and positivism which can be characterized as hostile towards any metaphysics, there were certain internal theoretical problems that could not have been resolved without a resort to metaphysics. The next period in the analytic philosophy became known as the ordinary language tradition, and it was more open towards metaphysics, though not yet particularly interested in it. This tradition was superseded by the metaphysical naturalism of Willard Van Orman Quine and the descriptive metaphysics of Peter Frederick Strawson. The full blossom of analytic metaphysics, as well as the shift of its center from Europe to America, occurred under the influence of Roderick Chisholm. Since then the main debate in analytic philosophy has been centred around the opposition of the reductive and non-reductive approaches to metaphysics. Finally, due to the successful introduction and application of the Leibnizian framework of possible worlds, analytic philosophy entered its golden era for metaphysics.

Keywords: analytic philosophy, metaphysics, logical atomism, ordinary language philosophy, reductionism, possible worlds


Vladimir Shokhin. Analytic philosophy: some unbeaten tracks

Vladimir Shokhin suggests another revision of the canonical history of analytic philosophy which for Michael Loux stands as something self-evident. Shokhin’s point is that the seemingly indubitable verity of the picture that makes analytic philosophy emerge at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the philosophical revolution brought about by Moore, Russel, Witgenstein and, in part, by Frege, is actually nothing more than a stereotype opinion shared by the majority of historians of philosophy. As a matter of fact, analytic philosophy as a self-сonscious trend begins to crystallize only half a century later, whereas as a format of philosophizing, along with the analytic method as such, it dates back to the Middle Ages and Antiquity, with many obvious parallels even outside the Western philosophical tradition. In the second part of his paper, Shokhin criticizes another commonplace assertion, namely that it is the theory of possible worlds which provides the best avenue to develop any contemporary metaphysics, the analytic one in the first place. Estimating this concept as philosophically quite meagre, Shokhin proposes instead an idea of mental, non-empirical existence of objects, which has strong medieval roots and finds important parallels in Indian thought; it could, therefore, provide a firm basis for stratifying the layers of reality. The latter undertaking is considered by Shokhin as very promising for contemporary ontology.

Keywords: analytic philosophy, analytical method, controversy, dialectics, Antiquity, Middle Ages, Eastern philosophies, possible worlds, mental objects, layers of reality





Julia Sineokaya. On the project Anatomy of Philosophy: the way a text works

Igor Dzhokhadze. William James’s Pragmatism: some basic ideas and their genesis

William James’s book, published in 1907 in New York, was considered by contemporaries as a manifesto of pragmatism, a new philosophical movement. This marvelous work, written in an engaging and accessible style, provides a detailed account of the pragmatic ('instrumental') conception of truth. All our theories, James insists, are instrumental, are mental modes of adaptation to reality. Any idea that helps us deal, whether practically or intellectually, with a certain reality and affect it in a desired way, should be considered as useful, therefore true. Truth is a class-name for all sorts of definite working-values in experience, “what would be better for us to believe”. For James, the question of how much of what we perceive is 'given' and how much 'added' is meaningless, like the question of whether a man essentially walks more on his left leg or his right: one cannot separate the 'real' from the 'human' factor in the growth of one's cognitive experience. Such interpretation of pragmatism so dismayed Charles Sanders Peirce that he renamed his own variant 'pragmaticism' (a term he hoped was “ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers”). In more recent time, at the turn of the 21st century, the long-ago dispute between James and Peirce echoed in the Rorty-Putnam debate which has had considerable resonance in the US (and beyond) and showed that in our days, a hundred years from the publication of James’s book, pragmatism still retains its philosophical import and attractiveness for many professional thinkers.

Keywords: Pragmatism, truth, experience, reality, instrumental method, rationalism, empiricism, James, Dewey, Rorty, Putnam


Andrey Seregin. Origen’s treatise On First Principles

This article is about Origen’s treatise On First Principles, one of the most influential and controversial works in patristic literature, which was written in Greek, but has come down to us for the most part in a later Latin translation. Beside some questions concerning its genre and the adequacy of the extant Latin translation, the author discusses the general problems concerning Origen’s highly original religious and philosophical worldview that found in this treatise an especially vivid expression, largely contributing to his reputation as unorthodox or even heretical thinker (among other things, here belong his views on the preexistence of souls, on successive worlds and on universal salvation). The author aims to show where precisely these views diverge from the standards of orthodox Christian thought and which motives prompted Origen to formulate such hypotheses. In particular, Origen admitted the preexistence of souls in order to put forward his own version of theodicy, i.e. the universal salvation, because in his opinion the universe can only be perfect if it is completely free of any evil, and he argued for multiple successive worlds to make it possible to reconcile his own universalist eschatology with traditional particularism.

Keywords: Early Christianity, Origen, origin of the soul, patristics, successive worlds, theodicy, universal salvation




Valery Petroff. Corpus Areopagiticum as a project of intertextuality

The article discusses the intertextual nature of Corpus Areopagiticum – the body of texts composed at the turn of the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. in an attempt to reconcile the philosophy of Neoplatonism and Christian theology. It is argued that Corpus Areopagiticum is a striking example of intertextual approach, in which the text is intentionally bivalent and in many cases consciously constructed by its author as referring simultaneously to the two different traditions (Neoplatonic and Christian); moreover, it is formed so as to allow for diverse readings which change depending on what other text or tradition is assumed as its interpretive context.

The strategy of bivalence is consistently carried out at all levels: the doctrinal, the lexical, and the meta-textual. In doctrinal terms, the author deliberately formulates theoretical positions that would render his concepts acceptable to both traditions. Among meta-textual devices one can indicate the practice of introducing into the narrative of supporting characters (authoritative historical or fictional figures) from both traditions, which have a complex back-story of their own. Textual bivalency is achieved also by lexical means, such as when specifically Christian vocabulary or technical Neoplatonic terminology is emphasized.

Both on theoretical and on practical level the Areopagite consistently advocates the multi-layered discourse and multi-level representation of truth, stating that doctrinal content heterogeneous to the superficial appearance is hidden behind the veil of the narrative (or myth).

The keys that provide access to internal (but not explicitly expressed) contexts, forming a metaphysical framework of Corpus Areopagiticum, are references skillfully incorporated into the text, which clearly and unmistakenly guide the attentive and informed reader toward the undisclosed sources of its author’s thought.

Keywords: the Corpus Areopagiticum, intertextuality, hermeneutics, Neoplatonism, Christianity, relevant contexts, bivalency, discourse, meta-text


Seyed Javad Miri. Farabi and three different strategies of interpretation

There is no doubt that Farabi played a significant role in the history of world philosophy. What is not altogether clear, however, is the nature of Farabi’s significance for philosophy as such, since it seems that opinions about the weight of his contribution vary dramatically. In other words, how are the contrasting modes of discourse on Farabi to be conceptualized? Is his importance of a merely archaeological nature? Is Farabi’s significance of any historical value? Does he possess any contemporary meaning for post-secular social theorists of this day? In answering these questions, I have come up with a classificatory scheme which may be of use in conceptualizing contradictory trends in approaching Farabi’s intellectual legacy.

Keywords: Farabi, Eurocentrism, house mentality, field mentality


Yulia Azarova. Hegel and Derrida: philosophy, language, reflection

In considering the philosophical projects of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Jacques Derrida, the author formulates two principal questions: is it possible to break with Hegel today? How powerful and radical must be this rupture? The main problem stems from the fact that the Hegelian project is by nature self-referential. It represents the type of philosophical system that comments, explicates and interprets itself. Any critique of such a project is, therefore, quite difficult.

Hegelian system creates an element that Derrida names 'the image of one's other'. This allows Hegel, in this project, not only to anticipate any future criticism but also to respond to it in advance. The system of Hegel has a priori integrated all other systems in its own perspective, seeing as the growth of any such systems is assumed to be a part of the historic development of Hegel's own system.

In order to overcome a project of this kind, one needs a specific approach which would take into account Hegel's method of protecting his work from criticism. According to Derrida, this particular method consists in Hegel's constant appeal to the history of Spirit regarded as history of the intelligent and self-interpreting being.

Provided that the architectonics of Hegel’s project reproduces the telos of the self-development of Spirit, the deconstruction of such telos makes possible the critique of the Hegelian project without reproducing the project itself. Derrida, therefore, does really achieve a radical break with Hegel.

Keywords: Hegel, German classical philosophy, Derrida, French philosophy of 20th century, system, totality, language, reflection




Denis Letnyakov. Toward a genealogy of imperial consciousness in Russia

This paper explores the imperial consciousness in Russia. The author reconstructs the peculiarities of premodern political culture of the Russian peasantry and comes to the conclusion that, against what is widely believed, one cannot legitimately assert that Russians have been an 'imperial nation' since the 15th or 16th century. In fact, peasant political consciousness (one has to be reminded that till 1930-ies peasantry remained the overwhelming majority in Russia) retained a radically local character and remained limited to the level of a peasant community. The masses had a very foggy idea of imperial institutes and never identified themselves with these, let alone understood the aims of imperial politics. The masses embraced neither the idea of Russian messianism (because they did not consider themselves as Russians yet) nor the idea of the Orthodox messianism (because popular Orthodoxy was mainly reduced to ritualism).

The complex of ideas and values connected with the notion of empire entered mass consciousness of Russians only during the Soviet period. It was connected with the modernization of the Soviet society that made it possible for the masses to perceive the imperial idea taking into consideration that in 'the Soviet empire' Russians assumed the position of the 'imperial' nation. The post-imperial syndrome in contemporary Russia, therefore, is rooted only in the Soviet era.

Keywords: empire, imperial consciousness, peasantry, people, political culture, tradition, modernization





Teresa Obolevitch. The participation of Russian philosophers in the Second Polish Philosophical Congress (1927)

The 20s – 30s of the 20th century was the time of intensive contacts between Russian émigré thinkers and Polish intellectuals. The first decade of the last century brought about the idea of organizing the Congress of philosophers from Slavic Countries, but War World I shattered these plans. Only in 1927 a group of Russian philosophers (Nikolai Lossky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Semyon Frank, Boris Hessen, Ivan Lapshin, Sergei Karcevsky) was finally invited to participate in the Second Polish Philosophical Congress where they delivered several talks. Almost all papers delivered by Russian participants were published, sometimes as abstracts, in The Memorial Book of the Congress in Polish, which contributed to the dissemination of Russian Thought in Poland.

The present article discusses the historical and philosophical context of the event and the main ideas the Russian philosophers expounded during it; it also traces down their influence on the development of philosophy in Poland and elsewhere. Particular attention is paid to the debates over the possibility of the existence of 'Slavic philosophy' taking place not only in Poland, but in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia as well; the role of Nikolai Lossky’s Polish student, Tomasz Parczewski, in making the participation of the Russian delegation in the Polish congress possible is also discussed in some detail. It is pointed out that the tradition of studies in Russian philosophy in Poland is still present.

Keywords: The Polish Philosophical Congress, Kazimierz Twardowski, Russian philosophy, Nikolai Lossky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Semyon Frank





Nigina Sharopova. Curators’ art and the problem of method

This is a review of the recent Russian translation of Thierry de Duve's Pictorial Nominalism: On Marcel Duchamp's Passage from Painting to the Readymade, with a particular focus on the method followed by the celebrated Belgian art historian in this book. This choice of perspective is dictated, on the one hand, by the originality of de Duve's approach which sets his work apart from everything else written on art in general or on Duchamp in particular, and, on the other hand, by the fact that the author himself fails to submit his own method to any consistent analysis. This review explores the nature and the advantages of the said method in detail. The chief metaphor around which the reviewer centres her interpretation is that of 'curators' art' with its main characteristic which consists in disjoining an object of art by forming a specific context, a space of utterance, instead of directly applying a set of existing concepts or theories. This makes it possible to maintain the autonomy of an object. Duchamp and other figures (first of all Siegmund Freud) are 'put' into a single 'space' where none of them can enjoy the right to exclusive possession. One is, therefore, entitled to speak about the propositions derived from that 'space' as, in a certain sense, objective. The way this method works is further shown by following one of the main lines of de Duve's study, i.e. the emergence of ready-made in Duchamp's art. The reviewer shows how de Duve, in the space he constructs between Freud and Duchamp, succeeds in finding the meanings that allow him to describe Duchamp's transition to ready-made, as well as the rise of new figures (František Kupka, Sonia Delaunay, Kazimir Malevich) which find their place in the same space. Taking apart the mechanism of their interaction with Duchamp brings de Duve to the desired result: the birth of ready-made.

Keywords: avant-garde, ready-made, handicraft, abstraction, Freud, Marcel Duchamp, Malevich