Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 3
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Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 3




Vitaly Tselishchev. Is Tarski’s theory of truth a philosophical one?

This article examines to what extent Tarski’s conception of truth in formalized languages can be considered a satisfactory philosophical theory of truth. Criticism of Tarski's theory by Hilary Putnam and some other philosophers gets viewed against the defence of it by Panu Raatikainen. The author explores the methodological status of Convention T and the homophonic theory of relationship between the object-language and the meta-language as a condition for Tarski's explication of the semantic concepts, arguing for the metaphysical neutrality of Tarski's theory and its convergence with the deflationary conception of truth by way of trivialization of the semantic content of the latter. The paper then proceeds to analyzing the role of truth predicate in Quine's theory of the functioning of language, the conclusion being that in the first place one must expose the conditions under which Tarski's conception will deserve to be considered a philosophical theory of truth. In the writings of the philosophers, indeed, there is a lot of confusion as to whether the said theory is an elaboration of some accepted theory of truth such as correspondence or coherence theory, or it is altogether irrelevant to any classical theory of truth. Formalization of a philosophical context normally pursues two objectives: firstly, it seeks to clarify intuitions, and secondly, to explicate intuitive ideas. As soon as one accepts the view of explication as elimination, the intuitive conception of truth cannot any longer play any significant role in the appraisal of Tarski's theory, since the latter is a typical case of explication. Tarski substituted the intuitive idea for the exact notion suitable for scientific discourse; as a philosophical explanation of truth, however, his theory as an absolute failure.

Keywords: Tarski, truth, semantics, deflationary theory of truth, logic, Convention T, Quine, denotation


Ivan Karpenko. The problem of interpretation of the concept of space in some of the multiverse hypotheses in contemporary physics

This paper examines a number of multiverse hypotheses deriving from certain theories of modern physics, in order to determine the usage they make of the concept of space. The author lays emphasis on scientific explanations of the type first formulated in Early modern period, taking account of ancient sources only to the extent they came to be reconsidered, further developed or denied by subsequent philosophy and science. The interpretations of space in the history of philosophy and science, therefore, are considered from the viewpoint of their interrelation with contemporary physical notions. This connection does actually occur, since leading physical theories in their explanatory part (where available) often make use of categories and meanings formulated by preceding philosophy. This said, physics itself (and still less mathematics) never engages in explaining what space actually is, leaving this task to the philosophy of science. Apart from traditional philosophical sources concerning the problem, the author brings into consideration the ideas expressed by contemporary scientists which influenced, directly or indirectly, the interpretation of the category of space. The names of Steven Weinberg, Edward Witten, Nicolas Gisin, Alan Guth, Juan Maldacena, Leonard Susskind, Stephen Hawking and Gerard 't Hooft deserve here a mention in the first place. The methods used in the present study include cognitive interpretation of formal contents of physical and mathematical theories, comparative analysis of philosophical texts, hermeneutics and phenomenology (in the sense of the analysis of representations). It is argued that the emergence of modern multiverse theories contributes new aspects to the understanding of space. As a result, one can draw conclusions regarding the interpretation of space in present-day philosophy of physics.

Keywords: concept of space, philosophy of physics, multiverse, history of science, quantum physics, superstring theory, eternal inflation




Galina Vdovina. 'Live and dead': 17th century scholastic philosophers on soul and body

The article aims to present the ontological doctrine of the soul and the animation in relation to man as developed throughout 17th century in the scholastic treatises having the common title On the soul. The starting hypothesis was to assume that at the heart of the proto-biological understanding of man there were two basic distinctions: 1) between the living in the first act and the living in the second act, 2) between the living and the mechanical ('dead'). The examination of the theories developed by 17th century scholastic writers is preceded by a brief analysis of the general version of mind-soul problem such as formulated and discussed in medieval scholasticism. The present paper includes two parts, in the first of which the author explores scholastic hypotheses of how a composite being can possibly be formed of the soul and the body, while in the second she offers a more detailed view of various doctrines concerning the living and the dead components of which a fully constituted human individuum consists. A close look at the ontology of the soul and the body as expounded in 17th century writings On the soul allows for a more accurate and complete understanding of the context and conditions in which the germinal phase of the new European science of biology was taking place. On the other hand, it is obvious that the turn taken by science of the soul in 17th century universities was by no means the one towards more perfect experimental methods in studying the living things and man in particular, seeing as it chose to follow the course of philosophical and theological reflection on human reality. The contradiction between the naturalistic science of the soul as it had been originally conceived by Aristotle and the philosophical and theological character it assumed in 17th century contributed to the internal tension that eventually caused it to explode from inside.

Keywords: scholasticism, 17th century, treatises On the Soul, Aristotle, soul, body, live and dead

Ilshat Nasyrov. Al‑Ghazzāli’s critique of philosophy

There is a stereotype that the reason why the Muslim world lags behind the West is that the secular in Islamic countries is subordinated to the religious power and science to religion. A very common point of view in academic circles is that a major role in the decline of rationalism in the Muslim world and the rise of mysticism belongs to the famous Islamic thinker and theologian Abū Hāmid al‑Ghazāli. Those who consider him an anti-philosophic irrationalist most often refer to his well-known book al‑Munqudh min al-Dalal (Rescuer from Misguidance) according to which all philosophers bear the stigma of unbelief and godlessness. The present article attempts a new approach to the study of al‑Ghazzāli’s critique of philosophy and rationalism in general. In the recent years, a number of scholars provided new evidence showing that al‑Ghazzāli never criticized reason and rationality as such, but rather the position which claimed for human reason the status of absolute validity. In fact, al‑Ghazzāli followed precisely the rationalist line in the Islamic theology (Kalam) and himself became a major representative of Islamic peripatetism most perfectly embodied in the doctrines of Avicenna. Thus, Al‑Ghazzāli’s theory of mystical cognition is based on Avicenna’s teaching.

Keywords: al‑Ghazzāli, mysticism, Sufism, philosophy, Avicenna

Ksenia Vorozhikhina. 'Eternal truths' and the freedom from reason. Some traits of Lev Shestov's philosophy as seen in his 'Athens and Jerusalem'

This is a study of Athens and Jerusalem, an important book by Russian existentialist philosopher Lev Shestov. A closer look at this work allows to reveal and examine the specific features of Shestov's philosophical thinking, such as his usage of binary oppositions, a tendency toward self-analysis, his preference of the indirect form in exposing his thoughts, his rejection of any claim to originality, the prevailing optimism, humanism, etc. All this is combined with seeming simplicity, scarcity of special philosophic terms, a style rich in aphorisms and irony, a manner which can be called 'incantational' in the sense that the author intentionally repeats many times the same words and phrases, the apparent lack of system, imprecise quotations, and so on. Such is the textual background for Shestov's major ideas which include the 'critique of reason', the opposition between reason and life, between rational thinking and freedom, between speculation and faith, as well as the philosophical method of 'peregrination across the souls'. Athens and Jerusalem is essential when inquiring into the problem of the nature of Shestov's religiosity and his attitude to Christ and the Bible, his interpretation of the original sin and his understanding of the figures of Job and Abraham, and, more generally, his view of God and man.

Keywords: faith and reason, Lev Shestov, emigration, existentialism, Job, Abraham, original sin, religious philosophy, groundlessness



Tamara Dlugach. Man in Fichte's system of philosophy

The purpose of this paper is to examine how Fichte evaluates man's role and position. For Fichte, man is the goal of philosophy and the purpose of the Universe. At the centre Fichte's reflections is the assertion of man's autonomy. In this respect, Fichte exceeds the confines even of Kant's thinking who insisted on the autonomy of human reason alone, whereas Fichte – on that of man as a whole. From several definitions of man given by Fichte it becomes obvious that, on the one hand, man is a natural being created by nature in its unhurried motion, while on the other hand, man holds sway over nature by changing it and becoming its master. Incidentally, no thinker approaches Fichte's ideas on man as the master of nature as close as Marx. The highest faculty in man is, according to Fichte, his involvement in moral law (which is also evidence that in his system activity receives an idealist interpretation). The moral law is at the same time the supreme Will on which all finite wills depend. It prompts man to desire something, in the first place to desire to change all that exists. This is the point where the creative faculty is turned on, which has to be formed by the new education. Man creates new ideal forms and then implements them in reality by means of activity. It is for the sake of activity that cognition exists which, in fact, is no more than a knowledge of knowledge. This is how man transforms the world.

Keywords: Fichte, nature, will, thinking, supreme Will, activity, progress

Elena Samarskaya. Incompleteness of history as a philosophical principle in the early works of Raymond Aron

The present article examines Raymond Aron's view of history as laid down in his early philosophical writings. It proceeds from the assumption that Aron's position was not immune to changes, so the position he took during the 60s would differ from the one he held toward the end of the 30s. It is important to note, however, that from the very start his stance was clearly anti-metaphysical and subjected to major influence from German neo-Kantians of the late 19th – early 20th century. From those philosophers Aron inherited the principle of understanding as a means of cognizing the past, but in doing so he rejected the intuitionist approach influenced by Dilthey and gave it an intellectualist interpretation which assumes that the understanding of past events must be based on recreating the historical situations and the respective decisions made by the subjects of history. Moreover, Aron was critical of scientistic tendencies typical of neo-Kantian thinking: he maintained that it proved helpless when faced with major philosophical problems which are unyielding when approached with positivist methods. At the same time, Aron recognized that neo-Kantians paved the way to the new, non-metaphysical philosophy which in his early writings he designates as 'historism' or 'relativism'. In his main philosophical work of the early period, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, Aron concentrates on the activity of an observer of the past, a historian. The latter judges history from the present, according to his personal experience, and gives a rational reconstruction of historical events. The dependence of historian's view on the present and the incompleteness of history make the multiplicity of its interpretations legitimate. The notion of progress turns out to be an extrapolation of a present viewpoint onto the past. Aron's early texts, such as the Critical Philosophy of History and the Introduction to the Philosophy of History, are marked by an anthropological approach to history. During the 50s and 60s his attitude changes as a result of his studies of global industrial society. Aron passes to the macroanalysis of history and gradually develops a strategic approach to it which eventually closes the cycle of historic interpretations which had the theory of understanding at its beginning.

Keywords: philosophy of history, progress, neo-Kantianism, theory of understanding, determinism, totality, existentialism, historism  

Alina Pertseva. Appearance, politics, subjectivation: from Foucault to Rancière

The author takes as a starting point the conflict between Michel Foucault's description of panopticism and Jacques Rancière's claim that the imperative of emancipation consists in one's making oneself visible in the public space, and, by comparing the methods followed by both philosophers, exposes the discrepancies in the way either of them thematizes each of the three elements which combine to make for the said contradiction, i.e. politics, subjectivation and appearance. Parting from Foucault's archaeological method and his concept of power, Rancière aims at making the practices of resistance to power positively conceivable. This is achieved mainly by introducing the notion of 'subjectivation' as a productive form of resistance. As a key characteristic of the subject, along with its finitude, being for the other, etc., Rancière puts forward its ability to influence the existing 'division of the sensual'. Rancière's more open attitude towards the problem of emancipation can be explained, among other things, by the role allotted within his philosophic system to aesthetics both as sensual cognition and as discourse on the arts. It may be argued that, among the three actors of the aesthetics, the philosopher, the author and the spectator, it is the latter who is the immediate object of emancipation for Rancière. To the extent the spectator displays activity not expected from him or her within any regime of sensuality implying a hierarchy between activity and passivity, he or she brings this regime into question. There is a correlation between subjectivity and spectatorship: it is precisely because the subject, for Rancière, is what is 'unaccounted for' in the current order of distribution of the sensual that it can be seen by the 'emancipated spectator' alone and thus escapes the 'trap' of panopticism.

Keywords: Jacques Rancière, Michel Foucault, appearance, subjectivation, subject, aesthetic regime, panopticon, police, emancipation, spectator




Sergei Korsakov. Victor Konstantinovich Serezhnikov: sketch of a biography

This is a biographical sketch of a notable Soviet historian of philosophy Victor Serezhnikov. Member of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, Serezhnikov became one of the first research fellows of the Institute of Philosophy and professor of the faculty of letters of Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History, writing monographs on ancient philosophers, La Mettrie and Kant and publishing translations of many classical works of philosophy. Even before the October Revolution, while the writings of materialist philosophers remained banned by tsarist censorship, Serezhnikov managed to translate and publish abroad a volume of works of Diderot and another one of La Mettrie. The present sketch of Serezhnikov's biography is for the first time based on documents from various archives. Particular attention is given the role Serezhnikov played in the study of ancient philosophy in pre-war USSR. The author extensively quotes the letters wich Serezhnikov, who was subjected to repressions and died in labour camp, sent to his relatives from prison. The memoirs of Serezhnikov's daughter Vera, reproduced in the Appendix, offer a glimpse into the atmosphere of family life of a Soviet professor of philosophy during 1930s.

Keywords: Victor Serezhnikov, history of philosophy, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stalinism




La conscience philosophique et le monde. Entretien avec le professeur Philippe Capelle-Dumont (par Tudor Petcu)

Le rapport entre la philosophie et la théologie. Entretien avec le professeur Jean Greisch (par Tudor Petcu)