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61.Журнал Сибирского федерального университета. Сер. Гуманитарные науки №3 2013

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Æóðíàë Ñèáèðñêîãî ôåäåðàëüíîãî óíèâåðñèòåòà
Journal of Siberian Federal University
6 (3)
Ãóìàíèòàðíûå íàóêè
Humanities & Social Sciences
Редакционный совет:
академик РАН Е.А. Ваганов
академик РАН И.И. Гительзон
академик РАН А.Г. Дегерменджи
академик РАН В.Ф. Шабанов
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.Л. Миронов
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р техн. наук
Г.Л. Пашков
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.В. Шайдуров
чл.-корр. РАН, д-р физ.-мат. наук
В.В. Зуев
Editorial Advisory Board
Eugene A. Vaganov
Josef J. Gitelzon
Vasily F. Shabanov
Andrey G. Degermendzhy
Valery L. Mironov
Gennady L. Pashkov
Vladimir V. Shaidurov
Vladimir V. Zuev
Editorial Board:
Mikhail I. Gladyshev
Founding Editor
Vladimir I. Kolmakov
Managing Editor
Olga F. Alexandrova
Executive Editor
for Humanities & Social Sciences
Natalia P. Koptseva
Gennadiy V. Boldyguin
On the Meaning of History
– 325 –
Vladimir I. Zhukovsky and Daniil V. Pivovarov
Istina-Truth and Pravda-Truth: Alienating and Assimilating
– 334 –
Yekaterina A. Batiuta,
Aleksandr V. Pertsev and Yekaterina S. Cherepanova
Back to Kant? (on the topicality of the ideas of philosophical
– 346 –
Roman K. Omelchuk
Religious and Political Philosophy of the Social Education in
Ancient China
– 357 –
Petr L. Popov
On Significance of Religion Factors in Forming Civilization
Identities in Northeast Asia, West Asia and Europe
– 369 –
Yury F. Abramov,
Pavel V. Ushakov and Sergey V. Khomuttsov
The Utmost Reality in Philosophy, Mysticism and Informology:
the Knowledge-Studying Method
– 375 –
Elena V. Orel and Maria V. Semenova
Renaissance and European Classical Painting as Two Types of
Artistic Creativity
– 394 –
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for Humanities & Social Sciences:
Gershon M. Breslavs
Sergey V. Deviatkin
Sergey A. Drobyshevsky
Sergey M. Geraschenko
Oleg M. Gotlib
Boris I. Khasan
Galina A. Kopnina
Natalia V. Kovtun
Aleksandr A. Kronik
Pavel V. Mandryka
Boris V. Markov
Valentin G. Nemirovsky
Daniel V. Pivovarov
Andrey V. Smirnov
Viktor I. Suslov
Evgeniya V. Zander
Igor S. Pyzhev
Vladimir I. Suprun
Liudmila V. Kulikova
Olga G. Smolyaninova
Nicolai N. Petro
Dr. Suneel Kumar
Nadezhda K. Barsukova
Some Aspects of the Idea of God in the World Religions:
an Attempt to Make a Comparative Analysis
– 399 –
Oleg I. Kulagin
Workers in Forests: Social Identity and Labour Motivation in
Timber Industry of Karelia in 1917-1928
– 406 –
Alexei V. Nesteruk
A œParticipatory UniverseB of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional
Correlate of Embodied Subjects and an Example of Purposiveness
in Physics
– 415 –
Alexandr G. Kislov and Ol’ga V. Shmurygina
Forthcoming Plans for Institutional Transformation of Russian
Higher Education
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Oksana A. Gavriliuk and Anastasiya V. Lakhno
Professional Autonomy of a University Teacher in the USA and
Russia: Freedom from Control or Freedom for Development?
– 455 –
Свидетельство о регистрации СМИ
ПИ № ФС77-28-723 от 29.06.2007 г.
Серия включена в «Перечень ведущих рецензируемых научных журналов и изданий, в которых должны
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Ludmila A. Ivanova and Olga. M. Verbitskaya
Media Education in Foreign Languages Teaching $ Tribute to
Fashion or Requirement of the Time?
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 325-333
УДК 930.1
On the Meaning of History
Gennadiy V. Boldyguin*
University for Humanities
19 Student Str., Ekaterinburg, 620049 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The article is devoted to historical knowledge that the author, by analogy with “the meaning of life”
calls “the meaning of history”. This aim cannot be the idea of history as a tool useful for unhistorical
purposes. The meaning of history is in establishing the truth and in participation in the intellectual
process, called “the court of history”.
Keywords: the meaning of history, the court of history, the necessity and inevitability, historical
reconstruction, purpose, motive.
The problem of the meaning of history is
one of the most complex issues of the European
science tradition. Its foundation dates back from
the cult of truth which was formed in the Ancient
Hellas, and which was supposed to be reached
and proved regardless of whether genuine
knowledge complied to the beliefs of the majority
or it contradicted them, whether it was pleasant
to an individual, people or the mankind or this
knowledge was bitter and disgusting, whether it
was useful or useless.
Such a cult was not familiar to the great
ancient oriental civilizations that were deprived
of humiliating (as it was regarded then)
requirement for a guru, a teacher, a sensei to
prove to everybody and especially to the gosling
pupils the verity of his statements. Even in the
second half of the 19th century the cult of truth
for truth sake was unknown to the Chinese, who
decided to deprive the translation of the Euclidian
geometry schoolbook into Chinese of all the
proofs, considering them practically useless, as
problems could be solved with the knowledge of
theorems without the knowledge of their proving.
Apparently, they considered mathematical
proving as a certain intellectual decoration, a
certain European ceremony.
Herodotus, who came from Hellenic world,
was not a zealous adept of the cult of truth,
which become very popular in Attic and Italic
periods of his life, though he was critical about
authenticity of the certain sources of his spoken
stories that were published later by his followers.
Those published stories were called History, and
this title was given either by himself or by his
followers. Properly speaking, Herodotus was not
a historian. Hellenes called the genre of his stories
logography – word description of geographic,
ethnographic and historical data provided by
travelers who came back home. Many centuries
after, retired soldiers from Suvorov’s army used
similar stories to broaden the mind of their fellow
villagers. The first historian in today’s meaning
of this word was Thucydides, and his History of
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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Peloponnesian War even in today’s standards is
an example of historical reconstruction of what,
where and when it had happened, without having
the goal of edification and without any other
practical goal. Thucydides’ book has become for
his contemporaries an example of the scrupulous
reconstruction of the past, and for us – the main
source of knowledge about the war between
Sparta and Athens.
But why do we need this knowledge about
the battles, heroic deeds, alliances and betrayal
that took place about two thousand years ago?
What are we looking for in those descriptions?
And what were Thucydides’ contemporaries
looking there for? What made him describe the
events that ended up nowhere and that will never
happen again?
All these and the similar questions excited
even those who were involved in the cult of
theoretical (contemplative)1 knowledge, which
(unlike practical knowledge about the acts
that make it possible to achieve the required
results) only gave useless truth to the cognizer.
Indeed, what was the use for barbers and poorly
educated craftsmen who put into practice the
Industrial revolution of the 18th and19th centuries
in theoretical mechanics (that they ignored) and
in thermal technology (that only emerged after
the invention of the steam engine)? Why do we
need the knowledge of the laws of nature that we
cannot change and that similarly to the legal laws,
to authorize everything that is not prohibited,
without saying a word on what does all this
The problem of the use of knowledge about
what is existing without saying how this existing
can be changed, or how it can be used in personal
purposes, emerged in parallel with formation of
the basis of theoretical cognition. Even Plato,
who was the first to describe disinterested love
for knowledge, without which love for wisdom
that he admired so much was impossible, tells
an anecdote about Thales, who proved the use
of astronomical observations, due to which he
predicted a good harvest of olives and made good
money on creameries. Many times European
thinkers raised an issue of the use of history:
particularly the issue of goals, to achieve which
the history could be used as a tool, and the issue
of ways of using it.
F. Nietzsche in his work ‘Use and Abuse
of History for Life’ gave the best answer to this
question. Nietzsche, who believed creation
(creation of the new) to be the major attribute
of life, and who opposed it to death, considered
history with its inclination for archaic extremely
harmful. In his opinion, creation was possible
only in dusky atmosphere of ignorance, and
hence it required the oblivion of the past, as it
distracted life from creating the new. Leaders
of the Soviet state had similar opinions, and for
this reason they struggled against relics of the
past and even forbade in the mid-twenties of the
20th century teaching of history at school and
faculties of history in higher schools. Both were
rehabilitated only ten years later, apparently for
the same reasons that guided Nietzsche, who
acknowledged that cognition of the past which
was the product of life itself, could be used as a
mean to achieve 3 of its goals in the form of 3 types
of history, though under strict control over them.
Firstly, monumental history can give motivation
for imitation and development. Secondly,
antiquarian history – due to the veneration of
the past – helps to preserve life. Thirdly, critical
history is useful as it helps to break the bonds of
the past and destroys it in order to be able to live
Apparently, after Nietzsche nothing new was
said about history as a useful mean. Obviously,
since then the area of exploiting history has
considerably broadened. There emerged subject
areas for which reconstruction of the old and
recent past (for instance, polls that became history
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immediately after holding them) serves the basis
for creating various sociologic, economic and
historiosophic concepts. But history as knowledge
about the past represents for many people not a
mean, but a purpose, the achievement of which
justifies their efforts. This fact makes it possible
to raise an issue of the meaning of historical
cognition. Maybe, the answer to this question
will help to understand why history is necessary
for historians and for us, its readers who are not
going to use it in political or any other practical
The problem of the meaning of history is not
a matter of the goal towards achievement of which
the mankind moves consciously or unconsciously.
First of all, it is a question of the meanings of the
word history, but also of the meaning of historical
cognition, that is the goal that makes historians
look in the past for unknown events or to present
in a new way the well-known ones. The term the
meaning of history implies clarification of the
purpose of those who together with historians
investigate the events of bygone times. In spite
of the likeness of the goals of historians and their
readers and listeners, they are still different.
In the Russian language the word meaning
in logical-semantic analysis of judgments is used
as the synonym of the term sense. But when
it’s about the meaning of the act or the meaning
of life, this word is used as a purpose of the
act committed in the first case, and a thought
inseparably associated with our life in the second
case. It supports our determination to live further
with clear understanding of the fact that death is
inevitable. The purpose of an act is not the same
with different people; it is hidden from the others
and is not always clear to the one who commits
the act; but if it is clear, the meaning of the act
equals motive. At most the meaning of life is not
clear to a human being. And these two elements –
meaning and life – are knitted together so
strongly, that efforts to treat meaning separately,
to make it distinct are successful extremely
rarely. Most commonly, the purpose of one’s own
life is found out when it is achieved or when we’re
disappointed in it, as well as when we understand
that it is impossible to achieve it. And then life
that becomes useless finishes, unless we find
immediately a decent alternative to the previous
The word history as well as its analogues
deriving from the Greek “historia”, has two main
meanings in all the European languages. The first,
and, as many believe, the most important one,
is the events of the past. The second important
meaning of the word history is description of the
events of the past, in most cases a scientific one.
All other ways of using this word are variations
of the two most important ones. For instance,
various common life stories representing events of
private life of the recent past, translated verbally
by a storyteller who regards them indicative.
The memory of them is not reliable and durable
unless it is documented in writing or in printed
format – in the form of historical anecdotes which
characters are celebrities of their time, who, due
to their extraordinary acts really or supposedly
influenced their contemporary life and thus,
influenced further history.
Common life stories include scandalous
stories, in which, according to N.V. Gogol,
Nozdryov, whom the writer, for this reason,
called the story man, landed permanently. Using
the word story to denote a scandal is absolutely
justified, at least in Russian. Scandal is an event
of the past, though recent (and therefore, it
becomes history in the first meaning of the word),
that became public due to its personal touch,
and consequently became one of the stories (the
second meaning), that are told and discussed for
some time.
And what is strange: if nobody speaks about
the scandal, thus, making its historical description
that becomes public, then there is no scandal.
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Scandalous event that is usually perceived as an
out of the ordinary breach of decency, in itself
does not make the event a scandal. Stories that
should be avoided to be shared, that are scandalous
events of the past, become such as soon as they
are spoken about, become public due to their
historical reconstruction that became known
to close, remote or even unfamiliar people. No
publicity, no scandal, no story – such was the
fact that another Gogol’s character – lieutenant
Pirogov from “Nevsky Prospekt”, who first got
into a huff and then forgot the humiliation, stated
with pleasure.
But isn’t it the same with all the events of
the past that are described by multiple scientific
histories – political, social and cultural ones? We
do not know anything about those events apart
from what is said about them by the corresponding
histories, as if without them the events of the past
would not happen at all. But why as if ? They
do not exist in the real life: they disappeared
in the old or recent past. They only exist in the
form of historical reconstructions, which solely
make them interconnected with existence (in
other words, make them events). That is why
the same word history means both events of the
past, and their description. But did those events
of the past happen and did they happen in such
a way that they were described by the historical
reconstructions? The solution of these problems
depends on the mastership of historians and on
many other factors influencing the perception of
their research by contemporaries and descendants.
Nobody managed to compare an irretrievably
disappeared event with its description.
There are several more science disciplines in
which their names and subject matters coincide
partly or totally, for instance, geography and
geology. Their subject matters are single objects –
the Earth surface in the first example and its internal
structure in the second example. Single objects are
also subjects of historical reconstructions, though
their singularity is not determined by the unique
character of the researched object, but, according
to new Kantians V. Vindelbandt and H. Rickert,
by a specific method, requiring from historians
to describe a rather ordinary (from the point of
view of the natural science method, unifying its
objects) event as a unique one, having its own
feature, different from anyone or anything else.
According to them, there were two methods that
formed in us two different images of reality: one
of them was the world of nature that excluded
anything radically different from another, but
put everything under control of perpetual and
permanent laws; and cultural and historical
world where everything was single and unique.
In the world of history, according to O. Spengler,
who emphasized the uniqueness of the events that
it describes, they use ordinal numbers, banning
to change places of summands, making – when
added up – a historical date, which, however, was
easily allowed for cardinal numbers, creating
the foundation of the image of perpetual nature
repeating itself.
One can argue the fact that the opposition
nature-history determines the horizon of
thinking of any people in any time. However, it
is difficult to argue that for a historian there is
no more honorable task and more joyful result
than to discover in everyday life routine of the
past an outstanding event that is either completely
unknown to the most of his contemporaries,
which for this reason was not described by
anyone, or a radical change in its image that
was formed by the previous descriptions. An
unmatched, unique, singular, whether it is an act
of a single person or a movement of big masses
of people, legal system of a disappeared state or a
religious cult of a small tribe, scientific mentality
of a certain era or its predominant prejudices – all
these and many more that have certain influence,
are interesting both for historians and us, their
readers and listeners.
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The unique character of the events of the
past reconstructed by historians predetermines
their isolation from each other and presence of the
gaps between them, which makes it possible for
social and political scientists, science and religion
theorists to advance various speculations about the
reasons of those events and their consequences,
about orientation of historical process and
its driving forces. It happens that historians
build such hypotheses themselves, abandoning
subject matter of their science – singular and
unique. Becoming quasi-politologists, quasisociologists, quasi-science theorists etc., they
see in reconstructions not the final purpose of
historical studies, not their meaning, but only
an intermediate stage, a useful mean to achieve
another higher purpose, for example, to illustrate
and verify philosophical anthropology, social or
any other summarizing theory, using historical
Verification capacities of the so-called
historical facts in humanology and social
science are not less not more than empirical
data in natural sciences. The goal and the limits
of verification capacities in natural sciences
consist in delimitation of the scientific language
as compared to the other languages. Facts of
history are considered by authors of sociological,
politological, economic, anthropologic and other
similar theories as analogues of the empirical
data in natural sciences, collected to persuade
the readers in their correctness. Not in the
verity, but on a bigger level of verification than
that of other competing authors, and therefore,
with a more scientific approach of their own
theories. But historical description of a single
event is not empirical and moreover, is not a
fact, but the result of historian’s conclusions
about something that does not exist any longer,
and possibly, has never existed. Certainly, the
reference to historical reconstructions verifies
scientific scrupulosity of the authors of theories,
who studied a variety of statements about the past
and the present eluding in this past, but in no way
their verity and correctness in arguments with
competitors. The past which is known to us is a
starting point for humanitarian and social science
concepts. It is a summation of historians’ thoughts
about the unique events that are interlinked and
interconnected only by a chronological sequence
that does not necessarily mean that the preceding
event caused the following one.
The world of history is a world of purposes,
where every preceding event does not necessarily
cause the following acts of people, but only the
ones that came in field of their view. But even in
this case such an event is not a reason inevitably
causing certain acts, but a cause of completely
different acts. Summer rain is not the reason, but
a cause: to come into the shop for certain people;
to show out a new umbrella for the others; to
jump across warm puddles for children, etc. A
cause is a preceding event, which passed through
the prism of human purposes. As for the motive,
it represents a justification of an act initiated by
the cause of an act, a proof of a person to him/
herself of the meaningfulness of his/her acts, of
their rational viability. However, a human being,
Homo sapiens, is reasonable only in part. When
a person shapes goals, this process is influenced
not only by a person’s mind, but also by a person’s
passions (affects) that a person controls only to
a certain extent, and which occasionally make a
person plunge into adventures. And because of
irrational origin of a person’s own purposes he/
she cannot always explain their meaning.
Is a historian capable of identifying all
these purposes without the knowledge of what
reconstructions of the events of the past will
not be comprehensive and veracious? What is
interesting and useful there for us in stating
single, inimitable and not quite reasonable acts
of historical personalities? Do we care whether
Aleksandr Menshikov was a descendant of Polish
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nobles, as he assured himself, or a plebian, as his
enemies said? What can the accurate knowledge
of his origin give us? How can this knowledge
about the person who lived 300 years ago serve
us after his death? The answer is known for a
long timei: history teaches only the fact that it
cannot teach anything. But historians are not
embarrassed by the uselessness of their work for
those who want to use their reconstructions as
a mean to achieve their own practical purposes.
No reasons turn them away from their favorite
activity – retrieving single events from the dark
of the past. What moves them apart from the cult
of love of knowledge for knowledge sake, typical
for European science? Is it really a matter of
love of laurels and glory? What is the meaning
of historical studies? What real objective do
they pursue? What is the reason of historians’
and their readers’ curiosity for the purposes that
caused actions of the people who disappeared
long ago, or at least for the motives justifying
their actions?
A historical reconstruction has to describe
real events, and not fantasies of their authors.
L. Ranke and his great followers J.G. Droysen
and J. Burckhardt, working in the 19th century
on terms of validity of historical essays, made
the conclusion that all the single events of the
past cannot be their objects, but only those that
can be reconstructed on the basis of the written
sources. All other evidences of the past are either
prehistoric or unhistorical. The elaboration of
the concept of historical made it possible to draw
a line between scientific history and the myths,
legends and common life stories, on the one hand,
but also sciences about the past that were actively
formed in the 19th century, such as paleontology
and archeology, on the other hand. A written
source requires critical reading and comparison
with other written documents, as their direct or
indirect evidences of the events are conditioned
with personal purposes and motives of their
authors, often hidden by them, but occasionally
non-conscious. It turned out that without studying
the motives of both participants of the events, and
the authors of such evidences, a reliable historical
reconstruction is not possible.
Without regarding real opportunities that
emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries due to
multiple techniques of understanding the motives
that guided people of other disappeared cultures,
let us ask ourselves a question about the meaning
of such understanding. What does it give to the
historians? What does it give to us, the readers?
Do we really care which motives guided a
historical character when he/she committed the
actions? It is widely thought that history does
not have subjunctive mood, and thus, it is useless
to ask such questions as: what would happen
under different circumstances. Historians should
speak exclusively about something that really
happened, and not about something that could
have happened. The event of the past has no
alternatives. And no one can know this. It is
such an obstacle for fantasies and speculations
that nobody can avoid or overcome in any other
way. It is thought that the meaning of history, its
main mission and its purpose consist in coming
to know such necessities.
However, the action, which is becoming
the past and thus, becoming a necessary event,
still isn’t becoming inevitable. It could be
different. And we know that. Still, we do not
know what it could have been. But people who
became historical characters due to the writings
of researchers of the past knew that they could
have acted in a different way, not in the way
that they acted. They knew that in the given
circumstances they were free enough to choose
a different goal and different means to achieve
it. But the important thing they did not know
was a distant consequence of their free choice.
Instead, it is known to their descendants, who are
able to judge, whether their ancestors were right
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or wrong in their choice, and whether their acts
made or did not make an irreparable harm to the
following generations.
Ancestors are defendants of the descendants.
Every new generation makes its own judgment
of history. And historians and readers of their
reconstructions play different roles in this
judgment. Some historians stands for prosecution,
others – for defense. The first reconstruct the event
due to different evidences and proofs, trying to
prove the malicious intent of a historical character
or his/her criminal negligence. Historians-lawyers
on the same or newly discovered grounds draw
the picture of the same event, which, however,
demonstrates the lack of criminal intents (and
it is known that without them there is no crime).
Instead, they depict careful precaution and good
cause for descendants of the act committed by
the defendant historical character or the group of
Two images of the event are taken to our
judgment, judgment of the readers of historical
works who deliver a verdict, which, however,
will never be unanimous and definitive. And it
means, that historians’ work will never stop, and
its meaning consists in the fact that both they
are and we are, their readers, respond to the last
silent (and sometimes written in the memoirs)
request of the ancestors to study thoroughly all
the circumstances preceding and accompanying
their actions, including their motives. We are,
the readers, playing the role of the jury of our
generation, make judgments on those who are
gone. It is impossible for us not to judge them.
Like they did in their own time, we are afraid of
the judgment of history, and we yearn it, as we
know: there is no worst punishment both for us
and for them, than oblivion by the indifferent
descendants who are not able and not even
willing to see the difference between our face and
someone else’s. Let there be eternal damnation
according to the verdict of the Last Judgment, let
there be tarnation of the descendants pronounced
by the judgment of history, but not the complete
disappearance of my Self in the dehumanizing
darkness of the past, thinks Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.
And this approach is shared by all those who
grew up under the influence of Jewish, Christian
and Islamic cults.
Buddhists, for example, do not aspire that.
For them isolated existence, even in paradise, is
not the meaning of life, but a punishment. The
aim of a Buddhist, making his life meaningful is
different – to stop reincarnations and to get rid
of the isolation by dissolving in Nirvana with the
whole world. Therefore, Buddhism has no interest
for history which values only single events and
accuses or defends ancestors. There is no history
in Hinduism either. It is absent in all the religions.
Instead, there are myths – stories that set
examples of right and wrong acts in the form of
common life stories. Occasionally myths include
details of the past documented in other sources.
However, the meaning of myths is not to establish
whether any of the inimitable events of the past
took place, whether they happened in a certain
place at a certain time. Their task is to encourage
a person to reproduce on a permanent basis the
norms of behavior approved by religions and to
prevent something that is not approved. Religious
stories are always useful: they are used as means
to achieve certain unhistorical purposes, but
they are never regarded as a final goal in itself.
Historians have nothing to do with myths. The
most efficient way of delivering them was and
remains an oral and ideally cadenced narration of
the stories. And most important, the judgment of
their characters was already made, and the final
verdict was delivered not by the humans, and for
this reason cannot be contested.
In ancient and medieval China and other
countries of the Far East and South-East with
influential Chinese traditions that have not
disappeared completely by now the education
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was basically historical. An applicant became a
student, and for a long time thoroughly studied
certain approved essay, which exposed the history
of ruling class by the famous administrators of
a certain rank or victories of the commanders.
Teaching was based on a precedent that guided
officials and military commanders in case of
similar situations. The interest for the past here,
as well as in myths, is absolutely practical,
and therefore excludes the concept of history,
as studies of inimitable events of the past are
valuable in themselves.
European historians who thought that
the meaning of their activity was to serve the
judgment of history in the process of hearing the
arguments of the parties, create more and more
detailed images of the events of the past that
have already influenced their contemporary life,
and in terms of distant and not always apparent
consequences influenced our lives as well. What
do these ghosts of the past that revived in historical
reconstructions do amongst us? Do they influence
us again? What does this influence consist in? Is
it possible to use purposefully these ghost images
whose power after taking them out of the dark of
oblivion may surpass their former strength? We
should be careful when dealing with them.
Let’s remember Renaissance era with
unprecedented immorality of its giants and with
further cataclysms starting with an innocent, at
first sight, liquidation of white spots in history.
The most important of them were establishing
the forgery of Donation of Constantine and
translation of the Bible into different languages.
Let us also remember the ghosts that became
apparent in white spots of history of the USSR
and the CPSU that escaped from the arms of those
who initiated perestroika. Those ghosts were
supposed to be used for the sake of acceleration
and democratization and largely contributed to
the crash of the USSR, the CPSU and the whole
global socialist system.
The efficiency of historical reconstructions
may be extremely high, and its consequences
may be even darker than the grave dark of
the past. The future that comes as the result
of our decisions is different from the one that
is propelled by the laws of nature. Halley’s
Comet will always approach Earth with regular
periodicity. And we know when it happens next
time. Unless the mankind invents new means
capable of changing the orbit of notorious comet
for its own purposes. The future caused by our
free acts, including historical reconstructions,
is not predictable, but is just assumed. It is
impossible to know it. We may only believe in it,
believe that our acts that we may commit or not
commit will bring us to the expected purpose.
The duty of historians is to remember about
that. Similarly to the medieval alchemists who
wanted to change the nature of things (celestial,
according to them) and to cleanse their souls
from all the sinful thoughts before they start
their mighty works, historians should cleanse
from temptation to serve self-seeking interests of
one or another political party, of one or another
theory, promising the knowledge of human
existence laws or causa fi nalis of historical
process. Historians have a more important and
honorable task – to encourage the judgment of
history, disclosing minor circumstances of the
studied matters, including reasonable motives
of defendants and their unreasonable purposes.
These studies represent a response to the plea
of those who are gone to arbitrate them. They
constitute the meaning of historical science, its
goal that its servants do not always realize. We
should remember that the phrase truth is born
in arguments appeared in dicasteries (civil
courts) of ancient Greece, where disinterested
dikasts (judges, and earlier – fair people who
shared trophy and community lands) facilitated
hearing the arguments of the parties in order to
fi nd aletheia (truth), thoroughly hidden from the
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others, and sometimes hidden from themselves.
The expression scientific discovery dates back
from that time.
But historians are human beings, and nothing
human is strange to them, including irrational
passions making some people to support the
position of accusation and the others to play for
the defense team. Affection and antipathy do not
emerge in mind which cannot always control the
acts, but are caused by passions. Is the question:
“whether historians’ preferences prevent
impartial investigation of the events that they
are interested in” appropriate? No, it is not. Only
voluntary fakers of history are always reasonable
and cold-blooded, and they mercenarily tempt
politicians with their useful goods. Without
passionate attitude to their work, without love for
truth, its scrupulous studies are not possible. C.
Helvetius once said that dispassion is a sign of
imbecility. And F. Stepun, explaining exposure by
O. Spengler of the finest shades of ‘Apollo’s soul’
with his love for ancient Greece, wrote that love
does not make the enamored person blind, but on
the contrary, makes it possible to see in the object
of his/her affection something, that indifference
could never see there. However, disaffection
also adds to the sight of the person who hates,
who looks for and, most importantly, finds in the
object of his/her dislike signs of ugliness, that
he/she does not notice or easily forgives in close
people or in those he likes, or even in strange and
unknown people.
Readers of the historical essays, jury of the
judgment of history – are not dispassionate either.
They love, they hate, and therefore they will
never let the proceedings stop, as they will never
be unanimous in pronouncing a sentence to their
ancestors. As for the latter, they will not allow it
either, as, in compliance with the unvoiced pact
of the parties, they have a right of calling on the
judgment of the new generations of indifferent
descendants. And so it will continue till the end
of time, if this end happens, but in this case,
history in both meanings of this word will lose
any meaning, and will stop its existence. And
nobody will care about the genuine authorship
of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, or whether
Lenin was a German spy.
The word theōria means observation, contemplation. Ancient Hellenes divided it into sensuous and speculation.
О смысле истории
Г.В. Болдыгин
Гуманитарный университет
Россия 620049, Екатеринбург, ул. Студенческая, 19
Статья посвящена исследованию цели исторического познания, которое автор по аналогии
со «смыслом жизни» называет «смыслом истории». Этой целью не может быть мысль об
истории как средстве, полезном для неисторических целей. Смысл истории в установлении
истины и участии в интеллектуальном процессе, который называется «суд истории».
Ключевые слова: смысл, история, суд истории, необходимость и неизбежность, историческая
реконструкция, цель, мотив.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 334-345
УДК 111.83
Istina-Truth and Pravda-Truth:
Alienating and Assimilating Knowledge
Vladimir I. Zhukovskya* and Daniil V. Pivovarovb
Siberian Federal University
79 Svobodny, Krasnoyarsk, 660041 Russia
Ural Federal University named after B.N. Yeltsin
51 Lenina, Ekaterinburg, 620083 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The authors aim to determine the differences between the categories of istina-truth and pravda-truth.
It is shown in this article that istina-truth and pravda-truth are differently bound with each other, and
contradictions between them are frequent. It is proposed to apply in gnosiology such new concepts,
as “alienating cognition” and “assimilating cognition”, “epistemic truth” and “existential truth”.
Technical and natural-science cognition are examples of knowledge with a dominant of the alienating
beginning. On the contrary, religious and philosophical cognition – are mainly “assimilating
cognition”; they are interfaced not so much with the search of epistemic truth, but, first and foremost,
they try to find the ontological truth of life.
Keywords: istina-truth, pravda-truth, alienating cognition, assimilating cognition, epistemic truth,
existential truth.
Hegel has somehow told that “istina-truth”
is a great word and a greater subject; if spirit
and soul of the person are still healthy, his breast
should be raised above when listening to the
sounds of this word. But what is istina-truth?
There is no unequivocal answer to this question,
and the term “istina-truth” is initially multiplevalued.
Hebrew “‫( “ ןֵמאָ‬amen; so be it; verily, truly)
designates: 1) opposite to lie or non-pravdatruth; 2) reliability, trust, fidelity. Ancient Greek
“άληφεια” (aletheya) is translated as: 1) true;
2) opened and fair; 3) an original reality; 4) a real
object, instead of its copy. Latin “verus” means:
1) true; 2) truthful, and “veritas” – istina-truth.
Istina-truths are subdivided into necessary and
casual, analytical and synthetic.
Plato speaks in his dialogue “Theaetetus”,
that it is possible to own some istina-truth, not
owning knowledge. Not being cognized, this
istina-truth somehow is present in thinking. But
knowledge is impossible without Logos, without
any reasonable-verbal report. Limited istina-truths
should be such istina-truths which are realized
and designated by names. According to Plato,
the uttered ideas are incomplete and false, and
the uppermost truths about life are inexpressible.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to think about life,
even if it is incomprehensible. According to
Descartes, clear istina-truths are from the God;
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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according to Spinoza, the unconditional istinatruth is how the God sees the world; therefore,
the genuine istina-truth is an attribute of full and
exact knowledge.
Some philosophers-pragmatists stipulated:
“Even if the God actually does not exist, but the
person needs the God very much and believes,
that the God exists, then the God certainly will
appear as a real force”. The utopian function
of philosophy justifies itself when the force of
people`s belief substantiates a utopia, inhaling
a life into it. We remember that in Russia,
the testing area of utopias, in XX century the
communistic ideal took the shape of the Soviet
power, gave birth to a rich culture and existed for
more than half of a century. So, the concept of
utopian illusion is quite compatible to the concept
of real feasibility.
Not only the epistemic-true knowledge is
capable of being materialized, but subjectiveillusory knowledge, which maintenance does not
possess objectivity and which is not adequate to
the external world, can be materialized as well.
Atheists-materialists are inclined to consider
religion to be one of the forms of powerless utopian
delusion. But is it fair that such embodiments of
faith in the Absolute, as cultures of Buddhism,
Christianity and Islam are claimed to be illusions?!
Is the difference between the substantiated ideas
of science and religion so great?
Generally speaking, it is not too important,
whether the initial idea is adequate or inadequate
to laws of the protogenic nature (whether such a
portrait, type of furniture, a facade of this house
“is realistic”, etc.?). The ability of an idea to be
materialized, to find separate real existence
to satisfy human needs, to develop society is
much more important. Philosophers-pragmatists
revealed an enormous role of will and belief in
the process of materialization of ideas which
were invented by the consciousness: the stronger
the will and belief are, the sooner and more
successfully the imagined world becomes the
valid world.
Two types of philosophy always compete
with each other in the West-European philosophy:
theoretical and practical. The first is guided by the
concept of istina-truth, and the world of istinatruths rather reminds the transcendent domain of
Plato’s ideas, opposite to the sphere of the fluid
material phenomena. M. Heidegger named such a
type of philosophizing “an eidetic discourse”. On
the contrary, the practical philosophy is aimed at
concept of the Good (benefit), on human needs
and consequently prefers another – an axiological
method of analysis.
At the beginning of XX century theoretical
philosophy rigidly demanded to release the
knowledge, which declares itself as istinatruth, to set it free from any sort of axiological
formulations. In its turn, philosophersaxiologists imposed a veto upon building
their reasoning as an image and similarity
of theoretical scientific knowledge. Unlike
theoretical and practical versions of philosophy,
the religious discourse, as a rule, aspires to
harmonization of istina-truth and the good – in
conformity with the standard of kalokagathia of
divine essence.
In eastern doctrines (Hinduism, Buddhism,
Taoism, Confucianism) istina-truth is understood
as saving knowledge: 1) as the word of the
Teacher specifying the true way to rescue; 2) as
overcoming of illusion in favor of an original
image of reality; 3) as a way of restoration of
world harmony (for example, through reverence
of traditions in Confucianism, laws of Empire in
In theistic doctrines istina-truth is defined as
conformity of some statement to divine revelation.
So, in Judaism and Islam truth is a saving Law,
fidelity to precepts of the God, transferred to
people through Moses or Mohammad. For
Christians istina-truth is not a certain universal
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abstraction, but it is the alive and saving person –
Jesus Christ – who once uttered: “I am the way,
truth and life” (John. 14, 6).
Lie is an antipode of istina-truth, pravdatruth and honesty. In formal logic the term “lie”
designates “not-true” in the most abstract sense. In
philosophical and religious texts a lie and slyness
are distinguished from mistakes and errors and
are defined as the purposeful distortion of fact of
the matter. From the religious point of view, a lie
is a sin, a moral harm, a vain attempt to deceive
the God. First of all a man who tells a lie harms
to himself because he spoils his relations with the
A lie can have different scales and degrees
of danger, possesses destructive force and causes
sharp conflicts between people. Christians
consider Devil as “the father of any lie” and as
the most unmitigated liar who tempts people and
induces to lie those who have weak spirit. Jean
Baudrillard regards our modern civilization as
a product of total simulation (conscious or not
realized); our life is filled with simulacrums – by
crafty fakes of lie under istina-truth, disgraces
under beauty.
As it is known, in classical philosophy
there were three different interpretations of the
istina-truth in which istina-truth was understood
as coincidence of knowledge with objective
reality (in Latin: veritas est adaequatio rei et
• t h e o r y o f c o r r e s p o n d e n c e rests
on the principle of conformity of knowledge to
a piece of material world (Aristotle writes in
“Metaphysics”: “To speak about real, that it does
not exist, or about not real, that it exists, means to
speak false. And to speak, that real exists and not
real does not exist, means to speak true”);
• e s s e n t i a l i s t d o c t r i n e leans on a
principle of conformity of things to its nonmaterial originals – to transcendent ideas (Plato,
etc.) or immanent essences (Hegel);
• c o h e r e n c e t h e o r y o f t r u t h is based
on a principle of conformity of knowledge to
some form of human consciousness:
- to congenital cognitive structures
- to conventions of social groups
- to purposes of persons (James);
- to aprioristic forms of thinking (Kant);
- to self-evidence of intuition (Bergson);
- to sensations (Hume).
Any theory of “conformity” stumbles at a
question “conformity to that?”. It cannot express
exactly in an obvious form that an object to
which the knowledge is presumably being put
in is conformity. For example, to what object
the statement “My hand hurts” corresponds? In
fact the pain is subjective. It is not registered by
devices, and an actor is able to simulate it on a
stage quite plausibly.
Suhotra Svāmī explains the specified
gnosiological difficulty by the means of an ancient
Indian parable about the scapegrace, the ascetic
person and homeless dog: each of them sees the
same – a woman. However each of them sees her
in a different way: as an object of pleasure, a clot
of flesh and food. “If the correspondence is istinatrue, to whose istina-truth the utterance “Here is
the woman” corresponds? <…> the scapegrace,
the ascetic and the homeless dog, looking at the
evident sample of the woman, will pay attention
to different properties, attitudes and aspects of the
defined object. Everyone <…> will understand
the word “the woman” and its value in a different
way.” (Svāmī, 1998, p. 60-61).
As a rule, scientific and unscientific
istina-truths do not reject each other, but act as
supplements for each other. D.A. Tsyplakov
illustrates this rule by means of the following
example. “We see a student running towards a
bus-stop following the bus. It is possible to give
two answers to the question “why is he running?”:
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“because of the contraction of his muscles”
and “because he is late to the lecture”. Both of
these answers can be istina-true, and they do not
contradict and supplement each other. Similarly,
religious istina-truths speak about the good,
beauty, the moral pravda-truth, and scientific
istina-truths describe the world in the practical
plan” (Tsyplakov, 2011, p. 71).
Irrationalism in understanding of istinatruth amplifies in philosophy since XX century.
Nietzsche connects istina-truth with ideas of
eternal returning and reassessment of values.
Existentialism contrasts the objective istina-truth
and representation about personal istina-truth as
an intuitive appearance of original being to some
individual. Sartre sees the essence of istinatruth in freedom. J. Maritain and N. Hartmann
declare that istina-truth is a special ideal object
in structure of transcendental being. Theorists of
Postmodernism speak about knowledge as about
a process of eternal and unsuccessful “quest” for
Is istina-truth objective really or not?
Sometimes this question should be answered
with an aphorism: “We tolerantly treat other
people’s opinions, as long as we do not have our
own opinion”.
According to Heidegger, who continues
the antique tradition, in order to find out istinatruth, it is necessary to use pro-duc-tivity, that
is to withdraw istina-truth from its hidden place
using a technology; and technique itself is a kind
of truth-making. The attribute of objectivity is
no longer ascribed to istina-truth in non-classical
philosophy; istina-truth is identified either with
specific conditions of soul (Kierkegaard), or with
value (Rickert), or with language interpretation
The istina-truth and value become more and
more closely connected. The concept of value
began to affirm in gnosiology in the second half of
XIX century. Lotze introduced it to philosophy. He
believed that value occurs exclusively in situations
of its significance to a subject, but it is not the
product of arbitrary treatment. Value is objective
because it is a mutual intersubjective form of
volition and human behavior. In postnonclassical
philosophy the problem of istina-truth turns to be
one of aspects of a game subordinated to those
rules, which are randomly chosen by that or other
subject (Foucault).
The Russian language marks the ontological
attribute in the word “istina-truth” – the existing,
original, real. Two sorts of istina-truths are
distinguished in the Russian spiritually-academic
philosophy of XIX century: the ontological istinatruth (it has objective character and it is stored
in the very being) and the logical istina-truth
(it is subordinated to ontological truth, and it is
subjective and expressed in human judgments
about being).
The judgment is considered to be istinatrue, when it corresponds to things created
by the God. Cognition and life, ontological
and logical truths coincide in the God. Divine
Reason is considered in orthodox gnosiology
to be the main criterion of istina-truth (Tsvyk,
2004 p. 14-30).
In particular, Kudryavtsev-Platonov (18281891) proved, that there are two opposite parts in
any cognizable thing – 1) ideal, possessing more
true life; 2) phenomenal, caused by accidental
modifications. The ideal world is the objective
maintenance of istina-truth. Top of hierarchy of
ideas – the absolute idea summarizing in all of
property of ideal life and possessing the absolute
istina-truth. This idea is perfect, and the form of its
being is individually-concrete. It is inexhaustible.
The God possesses it only, it is not allowed to a
human being to learn it completely. According
to Kudryavtsev-Platonov, the establishment of
istina-truth of a thing is tied with reference of
this thing to values-samples: it is necessary to
compare the empirical aspect of a thing with
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what this thing should be (Kudryavtsev-Platonov,
It is proved by Kant: in order to learn a thing
it is necessary to operate with this thing and
our operations change cognizable objects. As a
result, a human being learns not that originally
exists as primordial nature, but that is recreated
by him under schemes of his concepts and
creative imagination. According to Hegel, there,
where there is mutual reflection of the subject and
object, measurement of force of creativity needs
a special notion of istina-truth as a measure of
conformity real with ideal (that is as a degree
of coordination emergent (new quality) with the
original-essence). Therefore Hegel often defined
istina-truth as harmonization (conformity) of a
thing with its notion. So, the constructed house
is evaluated as “true” when there is adequacy
between this house and previously approved
architectural project. It is logical to apply nonclassical notion of istina-truth of Plato and Hegel
to processes of mastering knowledge. We shall
name this notion “existential truth” (in Russian –
The existential istina-truth is some
correspondence between the human existence
and a proper ideal of being. The criterion of
justification of ideas and ideals of a person is
completeness of assimilation of vital space and
a degree of satisfaction with this assimilation. It
is not necessary to search, with persistence of a
naive realist, only epistemic istina-truth in the
knowledge displaying the world together with
human relationship to the external world [D.V.
Pivovarov, 2012].
Knowledge by all means includes individual
understanding. To “understand” means: 1) to
express cognizable objects in concepts; 2) to
imagine these objects with a help of evident
models – in forms of secondary sensuality; 3) to
allocate the comprehended object with the sense
contained in a personal semantic context of the
subject. Sense-meaning, which an individual
attributes to the cognizable object, either is
creatively invented, or taken from already old
habitual senses. To understand the physical world
in religious sense means to imagine this world
as: 1) a product of divine creation; 2) object of
Providence; 3) the medium among people and the
It is necessary to consider virtual division in
spiritual processes of two maintenances of an ideal
image-emergent: one of them is consciousness, and
the second – self-consciousness. Consciousness
is not able to distinguish fully, what in emergent
was exclusively “mine”, and what was put into
it from outside, from «alien being». At least, it
demands great existential efforts and theoretical
Some part of “my-other” (in Russian – “своеиное”) enters into the maintenance of an image
of self-consciousness, while there is «my” in the
content of image of consciousness. And in the
latter case this addition of “my” is not so harmless,
so far as the ideal image of consciousness, being
extrapolated through objectification of subjective
goals on the external world, is materialized in
things and also in processes of artificial nature
which significantly differs from protogenic
The classical notion of istina-truth does not
measure adequacy of images of consciousness
and self-consciousness in their entirety. Is it
possible to estimate our subjective experience
of assimilation of external world as true or
false? Whether the predicate “true” is applied to
images of self-consciousness and what are the
images of self-consciousness in general – what
is a proportion of “picturesqueness” (imitation)
and “expressiveness” in such images? I think
that there are no unequivocal answers to such
The concept of vital pravda-truth (existential
istina-truth) is applicable not so much to designation
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of the objective maintenance of natural, social
and mental processes (though it assumes partial
reproduction of such maintenance in the removed
kind), how many it is interfaced to uniqueness
of personal experience of internalization of the
world – to harmony of individual relationship to
objective world. Generally speaking, how many
people there are, so many are vital pravda-truths.
Collision of mutually exclusive vital pravdatruths can be fine and ugly, tragic and comical,
ennobled or low.
Unsurprisingly, philosophy of pragmatism
identified istina-truth with the property of idea
to give the constructive character to our activity,
to lead to practical successes, to bring vital
advantage. Philosophers-pragmatists, debunking
the claims of Marxists in the possession of the
absolute epistemic criterion of truth (the criterion
of practice), turned philosophical thinking
to a theme of vital pravda-truth. The vital
pravda-truth is a syncretic alloy of the removed
objective contents (it makes it related with an
objective istina-truth) and of subjective-personal
moments in worldview (this distinguishes it from
epistemic istina-truth). Often similarity is taken
for its criterion: to prove pravda-truth means to
establish subjectively the similarity between
discussed situations and previously estimated
When the person, painfully solving his
conflict with the world, searches for new
milestones of own sense of life – he searches for
a new pravda-truth for himself. Having found
this pravda-truth, he subjectively accepts it for
universal epistemic istina-truth, true for all
people, and sometimes is indignant, why others
do not accept his vital position. The conflict of
different vital pravda-truths (both inside of a
person and between people) is always inevitable.
There is a close communication between pravdatruth and belief (for example, some people say:
“To be faithful to his own pravda-truth”). The
typical vital pravda-truth, the basis for the
allocation of which common human moments
of outlook serve, is the criterion for comparison
and an estimation of diverse vital pravda-truths
(Zhukovsky, Pivovarov, 1998)
The thought about any being always
contains any subjectively-anthropic component.
The intensive thought about being is similar
to the fused metal filling of the melting form –
becoming anthropomorphic it seizes the subject.
The person materializing his ideas and ideals
creates a new reality, which to a large extent did
not coincide and conflicts with the world of wild
nature. Substances of this new world are the alive
activity, expanded reproduction and realization
of ideas and ideals (Zhukovsky, Pivovarov, 1991,
p. 44–84).
The “second nature” comes back
spontaneously into a condition of the protogenic
nature there, where this alive activity stops.
(Certainly, there are not only distinctions, but
also a generality between the wild nature and the
human world, otherwise they could not coexist
and cooperate physically. Laws of a noosphere
are primary factors of social totality and of all
social concreteness.)
Let’s strengthen the acuteness of the notion
of existential istina-truth with the help of one
“tricky” example. Let’s admit that we look at
clouds and we observe a set of pictures replacing
each other. Points, lines and volumes, visible
in clouds and taken by themselves, are firstly
absolutely senseless – they are some uncertain
events. But if only to organize illusory these
events in connection with any setting, and
they immediately become “facts” for us. These
“facts” are selected and developed into a picture
of a cloudy reality (images of a sea, mountains,
military units, people, animals and so forth).
“Facts” vary when we change our setting and
shift our attention to other configurations, and
another picture of the same part of heavenly
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space there appears already. Cloudy pictures are
emergents, resulting in the merger of external
optics with cognitive stereotypes of a man. Not
only consciousness, but also subconsciousness
are involved in its production.
If to extrapolate this example on any
cognitive process (religious, scientific, technical,
art, etc.) the existential istina-truth becomes
noticeably commensurable with epistemic istinatruth. Let’s say, this cloud is a real thing, and our
contemplation of it just as the cloud is probably
true in the epistemic sense. However it is difficult
to recognize a set of pictures which we see in
clouds as true from epistemic point of view.
Nevertheless, it is easy to embody these picturesillusions into material components of the social
Isn’t that the same as in the cases of
scientific, technical and any other kind of
creativity in general? Some critics may say that
a cloud and whimsical freak of imagination is
one matter, but quite another matter – science
and technics where materialization of ideas,
invented or devised by scientists and engineers,
is tied with regular experimental verification of
knowledge. However, is the difference between a
cloud and, say, an object of scientific knowledge
so essential?
Instead of the example with clouds we
shall try to realize other project. Take a piece
of drawing paper, a pencil, a penknife and an
elastic band. Begin to grind down the pencil
with a knife, arbitrarily drive it over the paper,
and graphite dust forms chaotic heterogeneity on
your paper. Then chaotically drive on the settled
graphite with a sharp end of the other – repeatedly
rolled-up – paper. Different scrawl, crossed
lines, geometrical configurations are formed on
the drawing paper. Turning this drawing paper
in different sides, we comprehend the “seen”
images and select the most beautiful among
them. It is possible to imagine such pictures as
many as necessary, but each spectator “beholds”
something his own, personal.
Now it is necessary to fix mentally the
liked picture and, keeping it in our memory, to
erase all superfluous by means of elastic band. It
happens that the result deserves an art exhibition.
Materialization of illusions is reached in this
case by elimination unnecessary graphs from
objectively real uniformity – according to known
analogy about a sculptor which eliminates all
superfluous from a block of marble and takes the
perfect statue from it.
It is asked, whether there was an objectively
real original which copy became our picture?
Whether it is possible to consider chaos of
configurations of a graphite dust (cloud) as the
initial original? Or the original is covered in
“egoism” of the author of the picture? It is difficult
to answer this question.
The cloud or leaf of a drawing paper with
graphite graphs is a hint on plenitude of being
with an incalculable set of potential opportunities;
we create something separate while limiting this
plenitude of being. It is hardly possible to check up
epistemic validity of the copy of this “something”
through our practice or external experience. It is
difficult to be kept from a temptation to draw
an analogy between a picture in clouds, a statue
in a block of marble and the scientific theory
about experimental object. Why a row of equally
plausible but alternative reviews of the same
objective domains always compete among each
other in any science? Probably because we see the
world as such, what we want to see and understand
it, and we understand it, in final analysis, how we
are able to operate with it, to act practically with
the world.
Classical rationalism started with the firm
belief that: 1) the external world is one and
continuous; 2) there is only one istina-truth about
this world, and all people have the same uniform
istina-truth; 3) the scientific istina-truth is
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universal and general for all of us; it is necessary,
uncontradictory, self-evident. Irrationalism and
critical rationalism expose to this opinion its
radical doubt. If to believe, that the God is capable
of creating any possible world, and a human being
is similar to the God, then the world surrounding
us is not one and common for all, and people are
able to create any original worlds and imagestheories of these worlds.
For example, the sphere of fine arts is made
by the sum of alternative art worlds and consists
of “strange” art istina-truths competing among
themselves. Science and technics have skillfully
created a set of different new realities which are
subordinated to the special independent laws
which have been thought up by scientists and
engineers. Hence, it is logically true to match
against classical principles of uniqueness,
universality and uncontradiction of scientific
istina-truth the non-classical concept of pluralism
of paradoxical scientific istina-truths about the
possible worlds.
For instance, L.I. Shestov pulled out against
rationalism of classic science absurd istina-truths
of faith (say, faith of Christians in the crucified
God) – he provided istina-truth with properties of
non-self-evidence, paradoxicality, freedom and
existential uniqueness.
Considering pluralism of representations
about the notion of istina-truth, it is expedient
to enter two new terms into the general theory
of knowledge: “assimilating cognition” and
“alienating cognition” (Pivovarov, 2009, p. 3038)
“internalization”; in Russian – “освоение”,
“усвоение”, etc.) designates the process of
receiving new facts or of responding to new
situations in conformity with what is already
available to consciousness. Internalization is
also often associated with learning ideas or skills
and making use of it generally. Internalization
is the long-term process of consolidation and
embedding one’s own beliefs, attitudes, and
values, when it comes to moral behavior.
The opposite of “assimilation” is the term
“alienation” (in Russian – “отчуждение”)
translates two distinct German terms:
Entauberung (“externalization”). Both terms
originated in Hegel’s philosophy, specifically in his
Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). “Externalization”
(also – embodiment, incarnation, manifestation,
materialization, objectification, substantiation,
etc.) means to put something outside of its original
borders. Alienation is often a harmful separation,
disruption or fragmentation which sunders things
that properly belong together. To be alienated is to
be separated from one’s own essence or nature.
However, Hegel talked about alienation
not only as the painful loss of oneself, slavery,
social disease; and he understood assimilation
not only as the exploration of positive growth
of maintenances of itself. Being in this regard
a consistent dialectic (in opposition to Marx),
Hegel singled out the positive and negative
points both in alienation and assimilation. In his
opinion, there are two types of alienation: slavish
and free. Assimilation also can either increase
the freedom of the subject, or, on the contrary,
enslave it (Pivovarov, 2009, p. 63-72).
Assimilating cognition (gnosis) unites
the subject and object so, that cognizable thing
becomes subjective and vitally valuable to the
learning person. Thus, the object can be not
only external (even transcendent) in relation
to its subject, but also immanent (sometimes
transcendental); therefore it is necessary to
allocate in assimilating knowledge, in its turn,
its externally-transcendent and immanentlytranscendental versions.
Assimilating cognition is emotional, frank
and intimate relations of a person to perceived life;
it can be characterized as an existential attraction
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of the subject to his object in such forms of love,
as storge, eros, agape, mania, philio. Assimilating
cognition is integrally connected with axiology
of hearts, with spiritual fideism and belief; and
istina-truth can be found out due to its beauty.
The object is anthropomorphized and
cosmounified by the learning subject in the process
of assimilating cognition. Anthropomorphism is
the identification of human being with non-human
“other-being”, description of natural things by
means of human properties. I suggest to use the
term “cosmounification” to refer to the process
of the speculative thinking about all possible
universes in exactly the same way as thinking
only about one (our) universe; all the other are
“standardized” and are seen only through the
lens of a single monistic point of view. Absolute
reality is anthropomorphized and cosmounified
in the process of its religious development.
Philosophers always care about “anthropic
paradox”: the world is huge and old, but the
mankind has arisen recently on Earth and
beholds the world from the tiny observation post.
Nevertheless, all properties of the world known to
us are shown only through attitudes of Universe to
a human back street – no one, except us, observes
attributes of the Universe (its size, age, etc.). And
though all we well know, that the world existed
long before us and it is not dependent on our
existence, nevertheless those properties which
we attribute to it, come to light only through
our touch to this world (Frayn , 2006). The same
paradox can be applied also to the theme of God’s
being: divine attributes, anyhow, are relative to
human existence.
Alienating cognition (επιστεμη, episteme),
on the contrary, separates learning and cognizable,
transforms the subject into the discharged,
passionless and objective observer, and object –
into something “absolutely other». Not only
external (including transcendent) things but also
immanent (sometimes transcendental) things can
be objects of such cognition; therefore alienating
cognition can be subdivided into exterior and
interior alienating cognition.
Alienating cognition aims to the «objective
istina-truth»; it is defined, according to Stagirit,
as correspondence among knowledge and
objective reality and it is verified by neutral
criteria (by external experience and reasonable
self-evidence – through any experiment and
“figures of logic”). This kind of istina-truth is
external istina-truth.
Assimilating cognition is focused on another –
on that what in Russian you can designate by the
term “pravda-truth” which is bad translatable, for
example, into English. International analogue of
“pravda” can be “existential truth” – immanent
truth. Epistemic istina-truth is one for everybody,
it is intersubjective and neutral in axiological
sense. On the contrary, the existential istinatruth-aletheia is each person's own; it is soldered
to principles of an individual internal life and it
has personal and valuable character obviously
expressed. It is difficult to verify pravda-truth
with a help of criteria of material practice or
rational consistency. People prefer to verify
pravda-truth by using spiritual criteria – with
criterions of faith, conscience and intuition. A.L.
Kazin said in one of his speeches: “Pravda-truth
is such a beginning which is more likely silent
about itself, than speaks about itself. And, in
general, it is necessary to treat pravda-truth
cautiously. Pravda-truth does not cry out loud
that it’s pravda-truth.”.
In S.F. Denisov’s opinion, non-pravda-truth
relates in the narrow sense to the choice of nonexistence (with trends towards Thanatos) and with
influence of destiny (blind fatal cases). Denisov
enumerates among the basic modes of modern
non-pravda-truth such forms as callousness,
indifference and aestheticism, and he sees the
main reason of boredom that people stay in
non-pravda-truth though remember the former
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pravda-truth. Pravda-truth is a conscience that
is a joint message about life in accordance with
representations of goods and benevolence. “In a
broad sense pravda-truth is a hierarchical system
of values on the basis of which the vital tendency
of human life is formed. <…> Pravda-truth is,
perhaps, the basic determinant of human life, but
alongside with this factor destiny has enormous
pressure on human activity. Pravda-truth and
Destiny – here are two most widespread concepts
by means of which people are trying to explain
their life“ (Denisov, 2001, p. 49-50).
In Ancient Russia almost all fields of human
activity were defined by pravda-truth and nonpravda-truth. “A man could live under “pravdatruth”, because it is the Divine precepts and church
rules. Also he can be judged in accordance with
it, because “pravda-truth” is the court, as well
as court trials and even the fee for appeal of the
witness in the court” (Yurganov, 1998, p. 46).
I.S. Peresvetov, the original Russian thinker
of XVI century, wrote that pravda-truth is a set of
the God’s commandments which have the status
of laws both for sovereign, and for its citizens.
Being norm of a life, pravda-truth results from a
unique divine source – from Bible. The orthodox
belief helps people to execute and understand
pravda-truth, but spiritual persons have the
fullest knowledge of divine precepts (Yurganov,
1998, p. 46).
Istina-truth and Pravda-truth are differently
weaved with each other, just as interrelations of
objective knowledge with subjective belief are
various. Contradictions between them (istinatruth and pravda-truth, belief and knowledge)
are frequent. There are: true pravda-truth and
false pravda-truth; pravda-lie and non-pravdatruth; rescue lie and murderous pravda-truth. For
example, our national fairy tales express the deep
truth of life, but contradict truth of facts (a Russian
proverb says: “This fairy tale is a lie, but there is a
hint in it – it’s a lesson for a good guy!).
Certainly, the named kinds of cognition –
assimilating and alienating – are abstractions
torn off from each other. In objective reality (in
everyone separate cognitive action) they are jointed
in this or that proportion, and contradictions
between them are possible. Finally assimilating
and alienating kinds of cognition grow from the
same roots, namely from the process of interaction
among “mine” and “alien” – from controversial
experience of assimilation and alienation.
Examples of cognition with a dominant
of the alienating beginning are technical and
natural-science cognition. On the contrary,
religious and philosophical cognition are
examples of assimilating cognition mainly;
they are associated not so much with the search
for epistemic istina-truth, as with the search for
ontological pravda-truth of life. For this reason
religious and philosophical systems continue to
render powerful influence on minds of people
even then when “rational-scientific criticism»
rejects its by means of objective criteria of
epistemic istina-truth.
Any of great philosophical doctrines, unlike
scientific theories, never becomes outdated,
and this fact probably reflects the fundamental
difference of wisdom (sapientia) from scientific
quality (scientia). “Revelation is a display of the
basis of Being in human knowledge” (P. Tillich).
Seeing kalokagathia in the absolute personal
Being (i.e. unity of the absolute goodness, truth
and beauty in the God), theologians approve, that
Being resists alienating cognition, and Being
opens to a person internally through the spiritual
part of his soul – through his conscience and inner
synthesis of his heart, that is through mystical
communication of the person with the Absolute.
Existentialism is a branch of modern philosophy,
aspiring to reunite and counterbalance gnosis and
episteme – assimilating and alienating cognition.
Sometimes researchers (in particular in
Christianity) prefer to designate religion using
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the term “faith”, and in other cases religion is
defined as a special “saving knowledge”. Many
atheists, confusing pravda-truth and istina-truth,
estimate religion as the “blind” and empty belief
which does not have its objective analogue in
reality, and they oppose religion to the cold
educated reasoning. Theologians argue amongst
themselves trying to describe human cognition
of the Absolute through the faith. For example,
pantheists believe that direct faith is sufficient to
know the God. Theists demand to add empirical
evidences of the Epiphany and logical proofs of
being of the God to religious faith.
It is much told by Apostle Paul, Tertullian,
Pascal, Kierkegaard, Karl Barth etc. about
an incommensurability of belief and reason.
Religious belief is often focused on something
transcendent, physically impossible, wonderful,
therefore its istina-truths seem to our reason
paradoxical, senseless and even absurd.
The contradiction between absurdity of
belief and logicality of understanding is reflected
in Kierkegaard’s formula: “to trust, means not to
understand”. It is impossible to prove belief, but it
is possible to clarify it. As a rule, it is impossible
to force someone to believe, – faith can be found
only through our free choice; “slave is not the
one who prays to God“. If the istina-truth, via its
own light, is not able to attract someone’s mind,
then external force will not help to do this” (J.
Lock). The true belief is spread in heart by the
God (R. Niebuhr). At the dawn of Christianity
philosophers-Gnostics identified the specificity
of assimilating cognition with the term “gnosis”.
References (all in Russian)
Denisov S.F. Vital and anthropological senses of Pravda and Non-Pravda [Dziznennie i
antropologicheskie smisli pravdi i nepravdi]. Omsk, 2001. – 205 p.
Frayn M. The human touch: our part in the creation of Universe. Cambridge, Faber, 2006. – 704 p.
Kudryavtsev-Platonov. Collected works. Vol. 1. Issue 1 [Sochinenia]. Sergiev Posad, 1893. – 457 p.
Pivovarov D.V. Gnosiology of religion [Gnoseologia religii]. Ekaterinburg, 2009, 380 p.
Pivovarov D.V. Two conceptions of alienation: religious alienation, Religious Studies, 2 (Moscow,
2009), 63-72.
6. Svāmī Suhotra. Shadow and Reality [Ten i Realnost]. Moscow, Philosophical Book, 1998. –
7. Tsvyk I.V. The Problem of truth in Russian spiritually-academic philosophy of XIX century,
Bulletin of the Moscow University, 2, series 7, Philosophy (Moscow, 2004), 14-30.
8. Tsyplakov D.A. Religious and scientific truth: aspects of secularization, Religious studies, 1
(Moscow, 2011), 71.
9. Yurganov A.L. Categories of medieval culture [Kategorii srednevekovoi kulturi], Moscow, 1998. –
468 p.
10. Zhukovsky V.I., Pivovarov D.V. Intellectual visualization of essence [Intellektualnaia vizualizatsia
sushchnosti]. Krasnoyarsk, 1998. – 223.
11. Zhukovsky V.I., Pivovarov D.V. Visible essence [Zrimaia sushchnost]. Sverdlovsk, 1991, – 284 p.
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Истина и правда:
познание отчуждающее и осваивающее
В.И. Жуковскийа, Д.В. Пивоваровб
Сибирский федеральный университет
Россия 660041, Красноярск, пр. Свободный, 79
Уральский федеральный университет
им. Б.Н. Ельцина
Россия 620083, Екатеринбург, пр. Ленина, 51
В статье делается попытка определить различия между категориями истины и правды.
Показывается, что истина и правда по-разному переплетены друг с другом и между ними
нередки противоречия. Авторы вводят в гносеологию такие новые понятия, как «отчуждающее
познание» и «осваивающее познание», «эпистемическая истина» и «экзистенциальная истина».
Пример познания с доминантой отчуждающего начала – техническое и естественнонаучное познание. Напротив, религиозное и философское познание суть по преимуществу
познание осваивающее, сопряженное не столько с поиском эпистемической истины, сколько с
постижением онтологической правды жизни.
Ключевые слова: истина, правда, отчуждающее познание, осваивающее познание,
эпистемическая истина, экзистенциальная истина.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 346-356
УДК 141.319.8
Back to Kant?
(on the Topicality of the Ideas
of Philosophical Anthropology)
Yekaterina A. Batiuta*,
Aleksandr V. Pertsev and Yekaterina S. Cherepanova
Ural Federal University named after B.N. Yeltsin
51 Lenina, Ekaterinburg, 620083 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The importance of philosophy in people’s lives is still a very topical issue in terms of philosophical
anthropology; moreover, this field of philosophical knowledge has brought a vital perspective to
the problem. The authors raise the question of transformations in philosophy and philosophical
education in Russia. Contemporary philosophy should return to the anthropological ideas of
I. Kant about free mind and criticism. The contemplations presented in the article also include
polemic points of complex relationship between philosophical world-outlook, religion and everyday
worldviews and their influence on modern education. During the Soviet era, the Russian people
have accumulated some painful experience of dealing with philosophical and ethical prescriptions,
and it is anthropology that could replace normative approach in education with a new outlook of
humanism and tolerance.
Keywords: philosophy, philosophical anthropology, society, world outlook, religion, meaning of life,
state and society, philosophical education
About two decades ago, the authors of
this article forwarded an initiative to enroll
Philosophical Anthropology in the list of majors
for the Philosophy departments of the country. It
is time to contemplate on where we have come
to. Here, however, some clarification is required,
especially for our overseas readers.
In the year 1991, CPSU was labeled as an
organization involved in attempting a coup d’état
(establishment notoriously known as SCEG).
Alongside with it, the entire Marxist-Leninist
philosophy based on dialectical materialist
philosophy and scientific communism was
banned. Thus, philosophy of dialectical and
historical materialism elapsed “de jure”, not in
the least “de facto”. Since people who taught this
philosophy throughout the country, from schools
to universities, still kept carrying out their
activity, delivering their knowledge.
At present, Russia enjoys about 6 thousand
professional philosophers (this figure corresponds
to the number of the Russian Philosophic Society
members registered in the “Bulletin”, the annual
list of the society members; there is every
reason to believe that it is the members of the
professional community and newcomers who
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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constitute the RPS with the desire to participate
in the association’s congresses and conferences
and publish their papers in the ‘Bulletin”).
After the repeal of mandatory all-state
philosophy in the year 1991, these professionals
officially stopped teaching so-called “diamat”
(dialectical materialism) and “histmat” (historical
materialism). Since then they have delivered
“general philosophy”. But the division of the
former Soviet philosophers has preserved their
general notions of philosophy, the subjects and
challenges, structure, etc., and it is quite natural.
People cannot change their views overnight
while others see it as dishonourable. Dialectical
and materialist philosophy at that time was
presented as a science. In addition, any science is
knowledge that does not change at any rate under
any social cataclysms. That is why, a post-soviet
philosopher takes themselves as a researcher who
cannot and does not have to give up their science.
They should carefully observe all the alterations
going on in the country, analyze them and form
their own scientific judgment about the topic. If
Russian modernity does not match their ideas of
truth, goodness and beauty, a scholar must call
for its modification in the proper direction.
Perceiving themselves as an arbiter
of changes, a modern Russian professional
philosopher still believes that philosophy is
a scientific world outlook. The essence of it
lies in the opinion according to which scholars
representing some “specialized” fields see the
world in a one-sided, one-angle, incomplete and a
single-aspect manner. This is why these sciences
are called “specialisms”, and all sciences, except
for philosophy, belong to this type. Only a
philosopher, apart from a physicist or a biologist,
can consider our world as a whole in all its fullness
and diversity. The challenges of other scientists
(chemists, economists) do not stretch to creation
of Weltanschauung. They are engaged in their
specific fields of study, whereas a philosopher’s
task is to bring the results of all sciences together.
This is how a national philosophic community
of many thousands takes its mission. Of course,
they do not consider themselves a community
of retrograde or conservative persons. They are
ready to consider everything that is occurring
in the world and the country, in science and in
culture, in politics and economy. However, one
has to order this new knowledge with respect to
existing one and distribute it tropically among
pre-arranged files.
A philosopher possesses three of such files.
He or she is accustomed to defining their science
as a science of nature, society and cognition. So,
due to the definition, philosophy can have just this
very structure. And, vice versa, everything that has
another structure is not considered as philosophy.
This is the reason why only two specialties for
future philosophy pros were customary for
university and academic philosophers. One of
them was former “dialectic materialism” which
now sounds as “ontology and epistemology”, i.e.
study of the world on the whole and its cognition.
The second one is former “historic materialism” –
today’s “social philosophy”. These old wineskins,
i.e. catalog’s sections, need to be filled with the
new wine of modern philosophy. But what if
the ferments of young wine could burst the old
wineskin? Would a certain contemporary address
use containers in search for the things necessary
for a new life, even if these old wineskins were
full of new contents?
After the year 1991, sciences in Russia
felt somewhat liberated from philosophy (their
representatives were secretly offended for some
time that philosophers tagged their sciences as
“specialisms”, denying their abilities to generalize
and to see the world as a whole). At the beginning,
the academic community tried to abolish
philosophy in general: at least as a compulsory
exam for the future candidates of science. The
decision was made by the Russian Academy
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of Sciences. Nowadays they a bit soothed their
stand and admitted that the Vienna Circle had
been right: each science has its own philosophy
which must be taken as a exam by all the future
candidates of science. In parallel, the community
of “specialism” sciences established good
relationships with the Russian Orthodox Church
which used to come under fire by philosophers.
Quite recently, on September 28, 2012 Moscow
State University awarded His Holiness Patriarch
of Moscow and all the Rus’ Kirill with the title of
an Honoured Doctor. It is worth noticing, that the
church as well as philosophy cannot be considered
a competitor of “specialism” sciences, but still
it offers the general worldview, “converges”
the results obtained by specific studies into one
picture. Therefore, the public of positive sciences
preferred to disown of philosophers’ “scientific
world outlook” and allied with the Church.
Thus, common notions of the role
philosophy plays in society are wrecking
spectacularly. Scientists are against any
alliances with philosophy. And the society, the
unenlightened majority in particular, is not
willing to ally with the scientists. The sentiments
and the frame of mind of the silent majority are
perfectly indicated by the TV ratings. These
ratings go up dramatically when the public is
shown the things classified as fraudulent by the
science, such as wizards, folk healers, shamans,
mediums of all kinds. A scholar today is brought
down to the position of an enlightened servant
for an uneducated ruler (in modern terminology
they are called experts). At a breathtaking speed
prehistoric and pagan forms of the world outlook
which seem to have been totally ruined by
Christianity and enlightenment are rising from
the dead. Shamans tour across Russia gathering
full stadiums of audience.
In this situation the government goes
on cutting budget students vacancies at the
universities’ Philosophy departments. This
number has been gradually decreasing by
about 10 % for 5 years, which means that it
has decreased by more than a half. The official
pretext is abundance of human science graduates.
It is true regarding the great number of lawyers
and economists who are trained by both state and
non-state educational institutions. Nevertheless,
non-state universities do not provide education
for philosophers! It seems like it is time when
it is sufficient to clarify what role in society
philosophy is to accomplish. Does it need to
play its previous role of the “general theory of
everything” (S. Lem), i.e. critically general study
of the world, cognition and society? “Specialism”
sciences apprehend the world, and philosophy
even if it wished to, cannot compete with them
in this respect. Then, perhaps, philosophy should
deal with cognition of cognition or with the
analysis of scholars’ cognitive activity? There is
no order for this activity among scientists. Even
government appeared not to be interested in this
sort of research, though there might be lots of
promising findings. Sociologists and political
studies researchers are far more successful in the
society cognition, primarily due to the fact that
theoretical level of these fields can ensure good
understanding between these sciences and the
modern society.
What is left for philosophy?
First and foremost, it is philosophical
anthropology. This is not just a philosophical study
of a human being. This is something different. It
is a look at all the knowledge acquired by human
beings as human knowledge. It is a specific way
to perceive processes going on in the world, the
way when any piece of information about a tiny
happening in the Great World structure or in the
Little World structure immediately awakes the
question, what it may mean for people. Is it possible
that we came very close to an anthropological
turn in philosophy made in Europe by I. Kant and
are now standing face to face with it?
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The gist of this turn should be seen in the
fact that philosophy is recognized as a field of
knowledge and activity that is non-natural for a
science, but vital for a man.
The advanced philosophy theses that lie
beyond empirical sciences and cannot be refuted
or confirmed by experience. But these theses set a
meaning to human life and without this knowledge
a person falls into neurosis and cannot survive
under modern conditions (though the meaning of
life issue looks absurd from the point of view of
empirical sciences).
All mentioned above is typical philosophical
anthropology reasoning. Its urge is witnessed by
the following famous joke:
A patient asks: “Doc, will I live?”
The doctor answers: “What’s the sense of
A person who is terminally ill does not
expect a representative of the “positive” science
of medicine to philosophize over the meaning
of life. But a doctor seems to have lost it while
experiencing an emotional upheaval. Thus,
scholars need to have critically general (not
specifically scientific) world outlook. It is
necessary not only for the prospects it opens for a
man. The absence of such anthropology-oriented
outlook is the absolute evil for human beings.
The greater evil is when this outlook exists but
it is not in line with positive sciences. The lesser
evil is when the existing outlook agrees with their
results, with everyday life and political, economic
and cultural life collisions.
A philosopher, unlike a geologist, can
presumably tie up everything that is psychologically
vital to a man but remains unclaimed as long as
they are involved in “particularly scientific”
cognition, into one integrated world view. Let
us define the position of I. Kant who had been
precisely calling for the anthropologic turn.
The Konigsberg thinker wrote: «The fact that
the human mind may ever give up metaphysical
researches is as little to be expected as that we
may prefer to give up breathing, to avoid inhaling
impure air. Metaphysics will always exist in
the world; nay, everyone, especially every man
of reflection, will have it, and in case of need
of a recognized standard, they will shape it for
themselves according to their own pattern. What
has hitherto been called metaphysics, cannot
satisfy any critical mind, but it is impossible to
forego it entirely; therefore the Critique of Pure
Reason itself must now be attempted or, if one
exists, investigated, and brought to the full test,
because there is no other means of supplying this
pressing need, which is something more than
mere thirst for knowledge»1.
Note several key points of this quotation.
First, each person, not only an intellectual,
has their own philosophy. Speaking about such
individual philosophy Kant does not mean one or
two profound wisdoms any person can sometimes
come up with. He speaks about metaphysics, i.e.
proceeding from the meaning of this notion in
his philosophy, he infers thoughts of the world
as a whole, of a soul, of the transcendent that is
beyond experience (experiment) and, eventually,
of a man’s freedom. All these ideas are typical
of every person irrespective to the fact whether
they have read at least one philosophy book
or not, whether they can express these notions
using the cultural language accepted in the given
society or not. (Mayakovsky used to describe
this inability by apt formula “aglossus avenue
is twisting”).
In other words, if a person is regularly
asked some questions, they will give quite
adequate answers. They will be able to explain
what their world is like, their capabilities in this
world, their ideas of the soul or (in modern terms
of philosophy, of consciousness) and finally,
their idea of the invisible forces able to assist
or hinder their efforts to freely realize their life
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Second, I. Kant says, that each person’s
metaphysics is tailored “in the absence of general
standard … in his own way”. In other words, I.
Kant supposes that any individual should possess
their own personal life philosophy, which allows
them to make the most important decisions.
It is of interest to note the thesis of individual
philosophic thinking, which is characteristic of
Third, I. Kant proposes that the need for life
philosophy is for no evident reasons ineradicable.
It will persist forever. A professional philosopher
can strain every nerve trying to prove such
philosophy to be imperfect, controversial and
inconsistent but it will be beyond their capabilities
to make this person give up philosophizing. “It
is as unbelievable as if we stopped breathing
completely in the fear of inhaling unclean
air”. Consequently, the person’s need for life
philosophy is vital: they cannot live without it in
the same way as they cannot live without air.
Fourth, I. Kant confines his task only
to criticism against hitherto existed and still
existing life philosophies. “What has been
considered metaphysics so far cannot satisfy any
inquisitive mind”. By the latter one must imply
the mind of Kant. This is he who is not satisfied
with either extensive doctrines of the greatest
metaphysicians, or, to even greater extent, simpleminded life philosophies of the rest of people.
What results from this dissatisfaction? I.
Kant finds himself at the cross-roads: his thesis
leads to three roads, and it is necessary to select
one of them. The first way is the following.
Admittedly, a person’s aspiration to have their own
life philosophy is irresistible. Let it be far from
satisfactory for my searching mind; it is enough
that its author feels pleased with it. My task can
just entail why this very philosophy meets the
needs of this particular person, becoming vital for
him or her. Why cannot this person do without it?
What biographic clashes were interpreted in this
unique way? What sources did he or she derive the
phrasing to express the stance from? What words
did he or she add, editing the sources according
to their fundamental needs? As a result, a more
general question arises. How and in what way can
such life philosophy help this person live? Why
is craving for philosophizing so insuperable and
Later on, this way selected by representatives
of existentialism and philosophy of life had
an influence on the corresponding fields in
The second way can be put as follows.
Admittedly, in this life every person is governed
by a certain life philosophy. However, the
principal thing is not the comprehension of a
separate individual but facilitation of mutual
understanding between people, provision of free
thought and intellectual tolerance in the society.
In case everyone goes into the shell of their own
philosophy, one will not be able to hear others. If
one sees it as the only truth, it results in denying
the other people’s right to create their own life
philosophies. If such a person possesses enough
charisma to paralyze a great number of people’s
abilities to independent thinking and make them
“co-thinkers” (more precisely “co-not-thinkers’),
they can found a party of authoritarian type. If
this party manages to come to power, democracy
will be over. Repressive state apparatus chastises
those who deviate from the solely true and
immortal doctrine forced in the society as a
“common” world outlook.
So, for the sake of democracy, equality,
tolerance, for the sake of human rights observance
one has to ruin, constantly and sustainably, each
person’s individual faith in exceptional rightness
of their own life philosophy. It is necessary to
devote oneself to devastating criticism against
each separate life philosophy and, as a tendency,
to criticizing the metaphysical thinking itself.
Metaphysics is dangerous owing to its potential to
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generate dictators and totalitarian regimes. This
threat is in its very essence. Experience brings
knowledge about particulars. A person is right
when they speak about things they witnessed in
person. However, “generalization” in “notions”,
which is characteristic of metaphysics, allows
a person to acquire the firm belief that they are
always right. Hence, people should break the
thinking in “absolute” philosophic concepts.
Criticism leveled at metaphysics in general, and
at each individual life philosophy, in particular,
will permit, once and forever, to deprive all and
everyone of arrogance and confidence in absolute
correctness. In this case, we will be engaged in
therapy of both scientific and everyday languages
to ensure that everything that does not match
experience is discarded and nip metaphysics in
the bud. Then, people will realize that the truth
is a result of a fair agreement between persons
equal in rights, when each of them obeys the
conventionally accepted rules of logics with
all the responsibility and honesty, shares their
own experience and vision of their part without
pretending of seeing the whole. If rationalism and
scholasticism procreate dictators, then empiricism
produces constitutions and parliaments. Long live
criticism at metaphysics!
This way was later chosen by positivism,
logic and linguistic analysis exponents.
There is, at last, the third way. In this case it
is necessary to start with criticism in metaphysics.
We can ruin an individual’s faith in their own life
philosophy. We can destroy a dominated societywide “ideology”, a system of metaphysical or
theological notions which “cannot satisfy any
inquisitive mind”. But criticism in its pure
form is like acid. It can only erode. It can give
rise to universal impiety and nihilism. AngloSaxon empiricists may feel at ease; their world
enjoys a developed specialization of labour with
a perceived need of people in each other, and a
market, which in contrast to bazaar, teaches to
reach agreement, establish strong relationships,
both act as independent from philosophy
constructive force in its own right. With this
state of things one can be an empiricist for the
given in practice and observation is progress.
There it is enough to be an empiricist (while
putting metaphysics to an end) in order to
readjust those who move in the right direction
and stop them from sinking into intolerance and
arrogance, irreconcilable idea-driven discord. In
Kant and Hegel’s times in Germany, as well as
later in Russia where observation could not give
anything but experience of standstill, philosophy
was not allowed to just criticize. It had to act as
a cementing basis in absence of other creative
nation-wide principles.
There is no time to wait until in Germany,
separated into tiny principalities, or in the
feudal “Pre-Perestroyka” Russian empire
there emerges a developed economy which,
in its turn, generates a market under which
people can learn how to negotiate, tolerate and
understand each other. Critically shattering the
wrongness and confusion of the individual life
metaphysics comprised in traditional society,
one should propose a new national philosophy of
freedom which is worth becoming universal. It
is sure to be created by me as an individual but
it is not individual for I sacrifice my own for the
mankind. One should always confine themselves
to peremptory imperative and think of themselves
as of all-human embodiment of reason. They kill
everything private in themselves and become the
Voice of humankind heralding universal values
and ideals. And at that they will appear (being
classic German philosophy or the exponent of
Russian Orthodox Church) completely intolerant
to everything not deserving to be all-human.
From now on philosophy has to be as it
were an all-state matter with the help of which
an enlightened monarch and his academic armed
force sets up a power exemplary for a mankind;
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philosophic culture imposed from the top through
education has to haul the left-behind economy.
This can occur only when all purposeful citizens
do away with their own private philosophies in
the same free manner as with luxury that can be
afforded sometime in the future. One must think
of motherland first and then of himself!
In Kantian-Hegelian times in Germany and
in Russia, since Peter the Great till perestroika,
philosophy was considered to be a State affair.
A philosopher saw themselves as a citizen and
a servant for a will-be ideal state. Later, after
enveloping all the people this state will disappear
to everyone’s satisfaction and delegate all its
functions to morale. That is why a thinker should
engross their whole attention in universal human
ideas which temporarily present the ideas of the
most enlightened, bringing- knowledge- to-theworld state.
They, indeed, can come across a private
thought. Nobody is protected from it. This
specific idea should be thought of at home, in free
time. A philosopher can share it with a friend,
tet-a-tet. Though it is not worth publishing since
publication of any philosophic thought is an act
that cannot help being pro- or contra-state.
We are perishing in the world under the
Our life is a blink of an eye, while oblivion
is eternal
The globe rolls in the Universe
And people live and disappear2.
As I. Raskin states, these lines belongs to
the ex-leader of KGB, later Secretary General
of the CPSU, Y.V. Andropov. The reading public
could read them only after perestroika in a book
that combines cynicism with the manifestation of
loyalty. The appearance of the poem in this very
book is quite explicable. A “decadent” thought
about the caducity of human existence could
surely come across the governing Marxist’s mind.
It had remained private until it was not published.
If it had come out, it would have been taken as
a state philosophic affair, or rather an assault on
the ideology of optimistic power, an attempt to
substitute dialectical and historic materialism for
desperate existentialist ideas.
In Russia both state and private ideas have
always been strictly differentiated. The very
supposition that philosophy might express the
own thoughts of a person, that it can be of private
use, that philosophy could voice a thinker’s
individuality, their unique and unmatchable
sensations and product of their life reflections,
seemed absolutely impossible.
However, honestly speaking, it should be
noted that the notion of philosophy as a state
affair appeared, indeed, not in Soviet Russia, but
was originated by “classic German” philosophers
highly respected by the Marxists. It was not
the Marxists who elaborated two different
philosophies: one for oneself and the other for
the prosperity of the state. If we go back to Kant,
we will find: «The public use of one’s reason
must always be free, and it alone can bring
enlightenment among human beings; the private
use of one’s reason may, however, often be very
narrowly restricted without this particularly
hindering the progress of enlightenment. But by
the public use of one’s own reason I understand
that use which someone makes of it as a scholar
before the entire public of the world of readers.
What I call the private use of reason is that
which one may make of it in a certain civil post
or office with which they are entrusted. Now,
for many affairs conducted in the interest of the
commonwealth a certain mechanism is necessary,
so that some members of the commonwealth must
behave merely passively, so as to be directed by
the government, through an artful unanimity, to
public ends (or at least prevented from destroying
such ends). Here it is, certainly, impermissible
to argue; instead, one must obey. But insofar as
this part of the machine also regards themselves
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as a member of the whole commonwealth, even
of the society of citizens of the world, and so in
their capacity of a scholar who by their writings
addresses the public in the proper sense of the
word, they can certainly argue without thereby
harming the affairs assigned to them in part as
a passive member. Thus it would be ruinous if
an officer, receiving an order from the superiors,
wanted while on duty to engage openly in subtle
reasoning about its appropriateness or utility;
one must obey»3. This thesis illustrates the very
core of enlightenment which never outgrew the
project stage in Germany and was spectacularly
and miserably implemented in the practice
of Russia. To put it simple, it implies that only
such a philosopher who edifies a government
and a nation has the right to use reason publicly.
Having been enlightened itself, the government
has grasped the philosopher’ stand, it starts to put
its wise plans for achieving all-humanness into
effect in one particular country. The government
functions as a mechanism ( → organon → body
→ bodies) which prevents even the state officials
from taking their own way: no free philosophizing
or improvising are not allowed, otherwise no plan
for mankind’s precepting will be realized!
But if even the statesmen’s intellectual
pursuits “should be occasionally limited”, what is
left to common subjects? Moreover, the state does
not require “private application of reasoning” by
“pure mortals”, and this “mechanism through
which these or those members of society could
behave in a passive way” must phase down every
attempt to think on one’s own in an enlightened
and enlightening country.
Though the trouble is that every person in the
pride interprets the principles of Enlightenment
too freely: they believe that under enlightenment
an individual is free to muse whereas, as a
matter of fact, this privilege is given solely to
the lecturer. Kant did have such an appeal: “One
should have the courage to make their mind
work!” And this courage is unlikely to be needed
for pondering over in one’s mind on one’s own!
A person should use their mental ability to wave
aside old religion and metaphysics in order to be
capable of perceiving Kant’s arguments, form up
in a column and march after him.
However, there are people impertinent
enough not to see it. Thanks to the critics who
have dethroned the former idols, these brave hearts
demonstrate an impulse to reflect on what God is,
what freedom is, what immortality of a soul is, i.e.
to solve “those tasks towards whose resolution as
the ultimate and only goal all metaphysics means
are directed” in their own individual manner4.
Certainly, nothing good or wise can come out
of it, no matter how emphatically they could be
persuaded not to inhale impure air of personal
In Russia, the very way of raising the issue of
tolerance towards private thinking is an indirect
evidence of the fact that the most grandeur
endeavor to teach peoples of the world through
developing a single all-human philosophy in an
isolated country collapses in the same way as any
other less ambitious attempts.
Thus, our results can be summarized as
Irrespective of evident developments in
the modern Russian philosophical thought
(that has undergone significant evolution since
the year1991), the general idea of the nature of
philosophy, its objectives, structure and basic
topics remains an unchanged vestige of the Soviet
era. In fact, this vision dates back to F. Engels
“Anti-Dühring” structures, where the author, in
his turn, discussed the book by Eugen Dühring
book, part by part. And all this gave rise to the
scientific image of philosophy as of “a science
studying the universal laws of Nature, Cognition
and Society”. This definition was canonical and
mandatory in the USSR. We cannot see even a
mention of a man among the “subject matters”
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of this philosophy. Soviet philosophy was antianthropological from its very nature, and all that
corresponded to the general communist idea: “an
individual is nothing; Society (Nation or Party) is
There is no “state” world outlook in
contemporary Russia. The state attempts to
substitute dialectical and materialistic worldview
for mandatory religion, but this process feels very
uncertain. The results of the survey conducted
among the parents of 4-grade schoolchildren
(they had to choose between the fundamentals
of religious culture or secular ethics for their
children to study) served as a sort of a test in this
respect. It was secular ethics that three thirds of
the parents preferred. It could be interpreted as
follows: modern Russian nation still likes to build
its way of life guided by secular values. Another
fact was added by Ms. O. Gredina, the Rector
for Educational Development of Sverdlovsk
Regional Institute, and it is instructive, too. 11 %
of those who chose secular ethics later refused
their choice because of ‘insufficient educational
quality’ and transferred their children to the
groups dealing with religious culture. The
reasons are quite easy to understand; secular
ethics was taught by available schoolmasters,
many of them had never taught humanities.
If you are a teacher of geography, drawing or
the like and you have to read ethics to 4-grade
schoolchildren, that is to explain the meaning
of Duty, Honour, Conscious to ten-year-old
children, you should be either as talented as Lev
Tolstoy or have a proper professional training
and proper training manuals. There are neither
such manuals considering age-dependent
characteristics and the role of plays in a 4-grade
schoolchild’s life, nor appropriate professional
training system nowadays. But the main point
is that ethics presents normative knowledge. It
prescribes required human relationships. No
discussions are allowed. The previously existing
ethics did not include the plurality of opinions
either. That is why ethics is highly unpopular in
the democratic era with its established freedom of
thought, freedom of actions, freedom of speech,
etc. The teaching of humanities has turned into
“provision of paid educational service” mainly
for the customer’s payment. Now there are not
many people who are ready to pay for sermons
or instructions. The customers themselves would
rather instruct the others to get the right and
successful living. Russians have accumulated
some painful experience of dealing with various
ethical prescriptions through the Soviet years,
recall that the Moral Code of the Communism
Builder that had been inscribed on the walls
of every respectable organization; so the older
generations connect ethics with the CPSU
Taking all this into account, philosophy
should return to schools, however, not as a ‘theory
of everything” duplicating positive sciences in
a rather perfunctory way, but as philosophical
anthropology. It is manifested in the fact that
it avoids dictates and allows discussions,
contemplations and interpretations; it is
different from the previous ethics. Philosophical
anthropology does not resemble descriptive factcollecting psychology either. Modern psychology
seems more like physics striving to study
individual to find the general. It does not admit
the concept of “values”. It treats feelings of people
as a sort of psychological crises or neurosis which
people should overcome. Finally it could lead to
the “medical” approach considering philosophy
as “superficial ideas” which people must get rid
of, even using medicines.
In this respect the advantages of German
philosophy are very valuable. Germans are
famous for their high-level philosophy to have
rejected teaching “pure metaphysics” at schools
and universities. They introduced ethics instead.
But this ethics is not normative. It comprises
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skills of discussing and reasoning of a person’s
moral state. The Head of Ethics Programme D.
Benner from Humboldt University once told
to this article’s authors that his philosophical
and pedagogical objective was to stimulate
schoolchildren’s thought. A present-day child
comes to school with one and the only conception
of his Duty, and these ideas are inspired by their
religious parents of relatives. Modern Berlin is
characterized by the fact that a great amount of
Turkish people has been living and working there
since 1945. Numerous builders, cleaners, traders
from Somali to Vietnam have overcrowded
Berlin. Finally, children of different or even
opposite cultures and values find themselves
together in the same classroom. Prof. Benner said
that he felt as if he were a successor of I. Kant,
following the idea “Have the manliness to use
your reason!” It is not necessary to have courage
being simply guided by ‘the elders’ repeating
their words without a trace of a doubt. But the
challenge of contemporary teacher is to establish
and to maintain the dialogue of cultures where
people can reason and defend their values in
peaceful discussions, but not in military battles.
D. Benner’s research group elaborated teaching
materials for discussions at ethics class. They
present mainly slices of life (extracted from fiction
and arts) and the questions to stimulate children
to define their life values and to reason them.
Here it is important to mention the difference
between “value” and “assessment” distinguished
by a neo-Kantian Geo Rikkert. Individuals can
assess everything subjectively, and philosophers,
analyzing and reasoning these assessments, are
able to estimate human values. It is the space for
dialogue that philosophical anthropology can
provide for modern society, but the honour of
being the founder of anthropology belongs to I.
Kant I. Prolegomeny ko vsiakoy budushchey metafizike, mogushchey poiavit’sia kak nauka [Prolegomena to Any Future
Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science], Kant I. Collected Works, Moscow, 1963-1966, Vol. 4,
Raskin I.Z. Entsiklopediya huliganstvuyushchego ortodoksa [The Rampageous Orthodox Encyclopedia], Moscow, Gamma, 1996, p.38
Kant I. Collected works, Moscow, 1963-1966, Vol.6, p.25, 29
Kant I. Collected works, Moscow, 1963-1966, Vol.5, p.512
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Yekaterina A. Batiuta, Aleksandr V. Pertsev… Back to Kant? (on the Topicality of the Ideas of Philosophical Anthropology)
Назад к Канту?
(Об актуальности идеи
философской антропологии)
Е.А. Батюта,
А.В. Перцев, Е.С. Черепанова
Уральский федеральный университет им. Б.Н. Ельцина,
Россия 620083, Екатеринбург, пр. Ленина, 51
В статье поднимается вопрос о развитии философии и философского образования в России.
Авторы в полемическом контексте представляют современную судьбу философского знания
и предлагают обратиться к философии Канта в попытке ответить на этот вопрос. Также
обсуждается проблема отношения философского и религиозного знания в современном
образовании. В статье подчеркивается актуализация философско-антропологического
подхода в понимании роли философии в жизни человека.
Ключевые слова: философская антропология, философия, общество, религиозное
мировоззрение, смысл жизни, государство и общество, философское образование.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 357-368
УДК 141.201(315)
Religious and Political Philosophy
of the Social Education in Ancient China
Roman K. Omelchuk*
The East-Siberian State Academy of Education
6 Nizhnyaya Naberezhnaya St., Irkutsk, 664011 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
In this paper we attempt to make the value assessment of the ancient Chinese philosophy in the context
of the concept of the faith ontology. The creeds of Taoism, Confucianism and the most influential
philosophical concepts are analyzed. It is proved that transformation of values from the tradition
to ideology determines the priorities of personal identity through the rationalization of human
consciousness. The given article will be interesting not only for philosophers, but also for all people
interested in current problems of human and society.
Keywords: faith ontology, ancient Chinese philosophy, continuity of values, rationality, ideology,
The given article is prepared with the support of the Council for grants of the President of the
Russian Federation (project “Faith ontology: personal and socio-cultural mechanisms of value
continuity”, grant No. МК-2493.2011.6).
Character education in ancient China
through the conscious influence on the human
nature is one of the most important tasks of the
Chinese classical philosophy. Despite the fact
that these ideas were expressed by the teachers of
all schools, the greatest impact was made by the
ideas of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism
that agree in the fact that knowledge is not
immanent, but is comprehended in studying. In
addition, the distinctive feature of philosophical
pedagogy of ancient China is the prevalence
of socio-centrist tendencies over personallycentrists ones.
In “Shi Ji” (“Historical Records”) by Sima
Qian (145/135 BC-90 BC) there is the first
classification of the philosophical schools in
ancient China that after additions made by Liu
Xin (46 BC – 23 AD) has gained the following
form: 1) natural philosophical doctrine or school
of Yin-Yang (Yin Yang Jia), 2) the teaching of
Lao-Zi (Dao Jia), 3) the teaching of Kong-Zi, or
a school of scholars (Ru Jia) 4) the teachings of
Mo Zi, or a school of Mohism (Mo Jia), 5) the
teaching of lawyers, or a school of Legalism
(Fa Jia) 6) the teaching of nominalists, or a
school of names (Ming Jia) and also the school
of eclectics-lexicographers (Za Jia), the school
of diplomacy (Zong Heng Jia), the school of
agrarians (Nong Jia) and the school of narrators
(Xiao Shuo Jia)1. Already in the early period of
philosophy development in ancient China, there
were so many different directions that the very
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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Roman K. Omelchuk. Religious and Political Philosophy of the Social Education in Ancient China
ancient Chinese spoke about the existence of “a
hundred schools”.
Opinions about the education and training
of representatives of different schools differed
mainly in the understanding of what is their
starting point. Thus, the Confucianist Meng Zi
(372/389-289/305 BC) saw the task of education
in the cultivation of the natural qualities, and
Xun Zi who was close to the ideas of Mohism and
Legalism (313/290-238/215 BC) though about
combining education with practical activities
that promote the elimination of natural defects.
It is clear that in this case the orientation of
education and training was determined by the
understanding of the human nature, his place
in the world. N.E. Borevskaia notes that “to
the beginning of the Zhou era (XI-III centuries
BC) the concept of Heaven has been gradually
separated from the idea of the Supreme emperor:
in the early Taoist and Confucian monuments it
is already impersonal and appears as the carrier
of nature concept as the universe, the force that
engages everything in the world in a legal way,
but not purposefully”2.
Natural (i.e., inherent) personal qualities xing,
including vision, hearing, speech, appearance
and thinking, are the basis by which humans
exist between the Heaven and Earth. However,
education presupposed the improvement of
its nature (xing) that in fact was implemented
through the development of value relations
between the ruler and the ruled, between father
and son, between husband and wife, between
older and younger, between friends. Devotion
to the emperor, filial piety and brotherly love
were those qualities the development of which
was the purpose of education in ancient China.
Comprehension of the deep concepts such as
philanthropy (ren), duty (yi), ritual (li), loyalty
(zhong) has lead to the finding of identity (de) that
was embodied not only in the intellectual features
of a person, but in her morality. One can only
imagine the qualities of the ancients admired by
Confucius who said about it in his treatise “Lun
Yu”: “In ancient times, people studied to become
better than themselves: but now they study to
become better than others”. The tendency to the
value degradation even in the time of Confucius
was so obvious that it was not possible to not
notice it. However, such a tendency is also taking
place today. Thus, the researcher of the early
Confucianism A.S. Martynov points out: “They
[Confucianists] believed that for this purpose [to
create a society for people – author’s note] it is
necessary to turn the cognitive social activities
primarily into the “cognition of humans” (zhi
ren) and cover the society with the self-perfection
process (xiu shen). We are still at the lower stage
of development than ancient Chinese society of
the “axial age”, because we continue to believe
without any grounds that solution of economic
problems will automatically solve all other
Generally these ideas can be expressed
in a single thought of Confucius: “You should
overcome yourself in order to return to
li”. Such kind of overcoming is a complete
rejection or transformation of selfish desires
that prevent conscientious performance of duty
that is so necessary for the maintenance of the
social balance. Playing musical instruments,
calligraphy, poetry, ceremonies in this case was
the important pedagogical methods that could
unnoticeably but deeply cultivate cultural values
in humans. For Confucius and his followers the
culture is acquired in the process of education
through inclusion into the spiritual culture of
their ancestors. Diametrically opposite position
was belonged to Lao Zi and his followers, for
whom training and education were the free
realization of their nature and did not allow any
form of compulsion.
It should be noted that for philosophical
pedagogy of ancient China the most important
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category is the category of Dao (from ancient
Chinese – “way”). Marcel Granet (1884-1940)
observed that “on the basis of any interpretation
of Dao there is the concept of order, universality,
accountability and efficiency”4. In a sense, Dao
serves as the ideal way of life, and therefore,
despite the differences in the understanding of
this category, all philosophers in ancient China
used it for educational purposes. Individual
realization of Dao was expressed in De.
Lao-Zi: to balance
the opposites within yourself
Lao-Zi (about 604-517 BC) is considered
as the author of the famous treatise “Dao
De Jing”5. His personality is both legendary
and mythological that does not deny the reality
of Lao-Zi existence in the past. Famous Russian
Sinologist V.V. Maliavin noted that “there is no
“doctrine of Lao-zi”: the book of the “dark” wise
man expresses not a particular objective sense, but
the pure life breakthrough, pulsation of the living
body of life, accident, surpassing every rule”6.
Perhaps that is why Lao Zi so often turned to the
concept of all-embracing emptiness, interpreted
as the “mirror emptiness” that does not exist
apart from reflects images, and is not reducible to
them. There are no truths that should be known,
but there is only the desire to implement the
values of life.
“All philosophical schools in ancient China
taught about the continuity of human and heavenly
being, but Taoists with particular depth and
consistency were developing the idea of not just
relationships between humans and the universe,
but of the internal continuity of the human heart,
on the one hand, and the transcendent emptiness,
from the other hand, the idea that eliminates the
opposition between subject and object, and all
the attendant difficulties and inconsistencies of
speculative thought. In the human heart, as it was
taught by Lao-Zi, there is the hidden inhuman,
truly heavenly glory, and it is something that is the
promise of humanity”7. We will try to reproduce
the value content of religious and philosophical
teachings of the ancient Chinese thinker using
several theses.
For Lao Zi the world consists in the fact that
opposites not only balance, but also complement
each other, so a person’s position in the world
is simultaneously the biggest challenge and
the greatest gift. Ritual for Lao Zi is that the
imperfect is brought as the sacrifice to the perfect,
but the full does not require the complement.
Omission for Lao Zi is that harmony does not
need improvement or enhancement, so, on the
one hand, inharmonious actions will only cause
new problems, and, on the other hand, all actions
must be harmonious. Emptiness for Lao Zi is
the space for such activity that is fundamentally
different from mercenary or forced one. Human
for Lao Zi is the qualities that are implemented in
a perfect way even in small things, and therefore
are attractive for sophisticated and asylum
people. Dao for Lao Zi is the way that should be
chosen, but not the idea of the way, that is why
the naturalness for him is greater than the ritual,
the practice is above the theory, and the action is
louder than words. Knowledge for Lao Zi is to
know not only life but death, so the person who
has known himself is eternal.
We will turn to the text of several chapters
that can be very valuable for teachers:
“The person who knows others is smart. The
person who knows himself is enlightened. The
person who defeated others is strong. The person
who has won himself is mighty. The person who
knows what is the prosperity, is rich. The person
who acts decisively, has the will. The person
who does not lose what he has is everlasting And
the person who does not die in the death, lives
“In ancient times, those who were able to
incarnate the way, did not want to use it to educate
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people, but used it to make simple-minded people.
Because it is difficult to manage people due to
their multiply knowledge. So the person who
controls the realm with the knowledge, is a thief
of the kingdom. And who controls the realm of
ignorance, the benefactor of the kingdom. Who
knows these two things, he is the sample for
everybody. To always know this sample is called
“the hidden perfection’”9.
“To know, but to seem ignorant is the
perfection. To not know, but to think that you
know is a disease. Only someone who knows his
disease cannot be sick. Wise people do not have
the disease. He knows what is the disease and
therefore he is not sick”10.
It should be noted that if the ontological
orientation of philosophy is typical for Thaosism,
for Confucianism this is the ethical one. Even
in this fact it is possible to see the fundamental
difference that affect the continuity of values.
In our opinion, legendary Lao Zi is one of those
“ancient” people who experienced in an absolutely
different way things that we understand as the
being of humans. Today, it can only be imagined
how and about there was communication with
each other of such persons, about whom Lao Zi
and Confucius spoke as about “ancient” people.
In the scientific literature can be found mention
of a meeting of Lao Tzu and Confucius. Words
of Lao Zi addressed to Confucius were about
the need to change oneself, but not about the
proud and moralistic aspirations to change others
through the teachings and instructions.
Kong-Zi: to be or to teach?
Kong-Zi (about 551-479 BC), known as
Confucius, at the age of just over twenty years,
became famous as the first professional educator
in China. In his philosophy the true nobility
arises only in the harmony of the naturalness
(spontaneity) and culture, since the prevalence of
the first over the second is rude, and the prevalence
of the second over the first is pedantry: “When
under heaven there are the ways, be in sight, but
there is no way – you have to hide. Be ashamed
to be poor and humble, when there is a way in the
country, be ashamed to be noble and rich, when
there is no way”11. It should be noted that if Dao
for philosophers acted as the ubiquitous natural
law of nature, Confucius used this concept as a
set of ideas, principles, and methods by which he
was going to send a man to the right way, manage
him, influence on him12. Dao, anyway, is not the
truth, but is only a true way to it. We have to note
that the views of Confucius and Lao-Zi on the
relationships of heaven and Dao were different:
if Lao Zi believed that the sky should follow Dao,
and Dao naturally follows itself, so for Confucius
Dao is based on the heaven.
Word for Confucius usually has the semantic
core and features some notional direction.
Researchers of the philosophical legacy of
Confucius are studying traditions in understanding
and translating into other languages of the main
terms of his legacy, but despite of the scholar’s
qualification, the accurate and specific meaning
of the word is lost in translation to some extent13.
For example, Ren is the most important category
in the teachings of Confucius and it is translated in
different ways, “the highest virtue”, “kindness”,
“truly human origin”, “mercy,” etc. One thing is
certain: ren primarily involves the value attitude
of one person to another. In the treatise “Lun
Yu” (“Conversations and judgments”) Confucius
defines ren as a commandment: “Do not do to
others what you do not wish for yourself”14.
The treatise “Lun Yu” was composed by
Confucius’ students after his death. For drafting of
the treatise that is the main book of Confucianism
and has fixed statements, actions and dialogues
of the teacher with his participation students
have spent from 30 to 50 years. Curiously,
the knowledge of the book by heart was the
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compulsory requirement of classical Chinese
education, although Confucius and his closest
students believed that the educated person is not
someone who knows a lot, but someone who acts
in a right way.
The social philosophy of Confucius opposes
li (ritual) as the basis of high moral qualities
and fa (laws) as the basis of rigid obedience
and strict regulation. The qualities of the ruler’s
individuality are exactly the only reason for
successful management. The ideal of a noble
man (jun zi) involves not only the origin, but
the qualities (moral and cultural human image),
so the achievement of such an ideal is becoming
available for everybody, regardless of his origin.
A The noble person is a mentor of the ruler, but
he should be an autonomous, moral, and original
personality (for example, “the noble men in
disagreement are in harmony, but the small people
cannot have harmony even in agreement”15).
However, according to the words of Confucius,
the noble man is not a “tool”, “instrument”16, the
means of social control, but, on the contrary, he
is its purpose. Antipode to the noble man is the
“low man” (xiao ren) who is constantly concerned
about the material prosperity, benefits and related
conceit. “It’s easy to serve, when the noble man
rules, but it’s uneasy to please him. He will not
be pleased, if you will please, not following the
path. When he manages people, it is based on
everybody’s talents. It’s difficult to serve, when
the little man rules, but it’s easy to please him.
He will be pleased, even if you will please, not
following the path. When he manages people, he
is extremely exacting to them”17. The person who
is low by nature had an appropriate social status,
so xiao ren is sometimes translated as the “little
The noble man always improves himself:
such self-fulfillment is carried out through the
service to own parents, the knowledge of people
in the process of prescribed social relations and
ultimately boils down to understanding of the
Sky. The motivation of self-improvement in
ancient China is fundamentally different from
that mood that has defi ned the worldview of the
ancient Indians, aspiring not to social stability
and harmony, but to release from material
existence for the sake of eternal spiritual life.
For example, it is clear, if we follow the logic of
“When you study [something] with love, you
will approach the knowledge, when carrying out
[something], you show diligence, then you will
approach the philanthropy, and when you have a
sense of shame, then you will approach the force.
[Those who] know it, also know how to improve
oneself. [Those who] know how to improve
oneself, know how to manage [other] people.
[Those who] know how to manage [other] people
know how to control the Middle Kingdom and
the state”18. Other aspects of the philosophy of
Confucius are disclosed in the process of reading
of his treatise “Lun Yu”. In general, in order to
imagine the style of the treatise, we will cite the
example of a few verses from the first chapter,
entitled “Studying”:
“The teacher said:
- Who looks into the aspirations of his father
when he is alive and after his death – in the way
he acted, and does not change his way for three
years, such person can be called the one who
honors parents ...
Teacher said:
- If a noble man during the meal does not
think about the satisfying of his stomach, does
not think about the comfort, living at home,
shows quickness in the business, speaks carefully
and corrects himself, drawing closer to those who
have their own way, he can be called the one who
loves to learn ...
Teacher said:
- Do not be sad that people do not know you,
but be sad that you do not know the people”19.
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For the noble man Dao is opening naturally,
for others – only during the process of education.
“Li Ji” (“Book of Requirements”) states: “The
thing that is given to [human] by the Heaven is
called his nature, [actions] corresponding to this
nature are called the [right] way, ordering of [this]
way is called education”20. Confucian “Wu Jin”
(“Pentateuch”) in I century BC became the basis
of Chinese educational system. “When as a result
of mental [effort] people acquire sincerity, it’s
called education ... Only that person [who] has the
greatest sincerity in China is able to fully develop
his nature. [Those who] are able to fully develop
their nature, are able to fully develop the nature
of [all] people, are able to fully develop the nature
of [all] things ... Sincerity is the thing [through
which human] completes the creation of himself
as a person”21.
Confucius highly assessed tradition as
such, but it does not give the right to consider
Confucianism as a conservative ideology.
L.S. Perelomov notes that the principle he
(“difference of opinion”) as a value criterion of
nobility distinguishes the noble man from the
small man, with characteristic principle tong:
“Having become the bearer of the principle
he, the “noble man” acquired the features that
were not able to give him any ren, or wen:
independent thinking, activity, ability to solve
problems, based on the recognition of the right
of opposing party to have its own opinion...”22.
Tradition in his understanding is closely
intertwined with the culture (wen) that cannot
exist apart from its transfer and continuity. For
Confucius tradition was embodied in the notion
of li that is translated into European languages
as “rites”, “ceremonies”, “etiquette”, “ritual”,
“rules of decency”. “Compliance with le meant
not only the fulfillment of certain rules, in the
understanding of Confucius it also included the
adoption of the values embodied in these rules”23.
For example, according to the thinker, the shame,
not punishment is the only valid method for
people changing.
Xun Zi (abour 313-238 BC) revised
ethical and political teachings of Confucius, in
accordance with the new trends of the Chinese
society in the social, economic and political areas.
The thinker came from the fact that humans by
nature are evil and greedy, envious and lustful,
“so it is necessary to influence humans through
education and law: you have to make him abide
the ritual norms and to do their duty, and only
then the person will acquire compliance and will
become the cultural one, that will to the order”24.
It should be noted that even after 350 years after
the death of Confucius, his teachings acquired
the status of a state ideology. The substantial
transformation was undergone by the concept
of noble person who has ceased to be a knighterrant of humanity, but was ready for a blind and
unquestioning obedience to the instructions of
his superiors25.
Mo Zi: substitution of concepts
for the sake of changes
Mo Zi (about 479/470-391/381 BC) is the
founder of the philosophical doctrine called
the school of Mohism. In the IV-III centuries
BC the teachings of Mo Zi26 had popularity
in China, as it followed the line of renewal of
ideas and was focused on social changes. Mo Zi,
like Confucius, believed that the ideology is
essential, but his position was not that ideology
should be aimed at the improvement of the lives
of citizens, but that the satisfaction of the needs
of the maximum number of people is possible
while improving the mechanisms of the state
The teaching of Mo-Zi was largely directed
against such reactionary aspects of Confucianism,
as the hierarchical rituality, blind worship of
the old days, the justification privileges of the
dominant aristocracy. The declared idea of
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universal love (jian ai), proposed by Mo Zi, often
took the form of denial of the family that was the
serious threat of conformism and civility cultured
by Confucius. “Universal love” was opposed to
“biased love” (be ai) to one’s inner circle: if the
first one supposed impartiality in the distribution
of the benefits and blessings of this world, the
second one supposed a passion to keep all the
benefits for themselves and their neighbors. We
will also note that biased love is used by Mo Zi as a
synonym for clannishness, nepotism, domesticity.
“Disregard for the feelings of a real person,” that
has been noted by V.A. Rubin27, here takes on
an entirely different reading: ancient Chinese
thinker criticized individualism manifested in
In an effort to overcome isolation and
individualism, Mo Zi offered to convince all
people of the benefits of altruism and the rulers
of the benefits of universal love. Obviously,
the sense of commitment that was so criticized
by Confucius is the only method for Mo Zi
to overcome disunity that was presented not
only in the political fragmentation, but also
in the interpersonal fragmentation based on
The image of the ideal unified state
described by Mo Zi is the first Chinese utopia of
universal conformity. Identity and uniformity of
the citizens, the priority of the public to personal,
blind obedience to the will of the ruler – these are
the main differences between the views of Mo Zi
and the views of Confucius regarded the state as
an organism banded by the kindred feelings of one
family. Establishment of the system of penalties
based on intimidation, and the best conditions for
the material and moral incentives, based on the
benefits – this is the approach to the management
proposed by Mo Zi. The main motive of the noble
man for him is material interest, encouraging
the faithful implementation of the routine work.
However, in the end, Mo Zi tried to protect the
interests of the state and its representatives, but
not the people.
The fact that the thinker inherent provident
ationality, can be understood from the following
description of Marcel Granet, “the fear that
people will lack the means of subsistence, rules
the mind of Mo Zi... he condemns hoarding
and even more luxury, the development of tax,
increase of the military power ... he strongly
argues that the war is the robbery that offers no
real benefits, it prevents both warring parties to
produce useful things ... the general rule should
be the hardworking moderation”28.
Mo Zi believed that people have the same
abilities that are, however, developed in different
people in different ways. Fanatical strictness of
Mohism implied the possibility of formation of
any person through education and ideology.
The fourth chapter of the Mo Zi’s treatise
“Soran” (“Imitation of sample” or “Effect of
example”) set forth the thinker’s idea of the
importance of the example and its influence on
people: “While carrying out the businesses in
China it was not possible to work without the
imitation of the model. Without imitating the
model no case has been completed. Even the
wisest servicemen being generals or advisers of
the ruler – they follow a certain method. The most
skillful master of all crafts also has a method ...
Currently the greatest people managing the Middle
Kingdom, as well as those who run the separate
kingdoms, if they do not have a method to measure
[their cases], they can not even be compared with
the masters of hundred crafts...”29 In the answer
to the question “what can be taken as a model for
management?” the philosopher emphasizes that
neither father nor mother, nor a teacher, nor a ruler
can be an example, if they do not have humanity
ren. The decline of culture is manifested in the
fact that the role models are inhuman, because
the mother and father, the teacher and the ruler
are philanthropic really rare. However, the Sky
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is always an exemplary model, so “preparing for
action, it is necessary to compare own behavior
with the [desires] of the Sky”, consisting in the
fact that “people mutually love each other and
bring each other good”30. The Sky is impartial
to the “servants of Heaven” because it feeds
everybody, without distinguishing big and small,
rich and poor, noble and ignoble. An example as
the condition of continuity was so important for
the teachings of Mo Zi, that he was ready to show
universal love by himself in order to draw the
rulers to this idea by his own example. On the
one hand, his method may seem traditional and
idealistic (in antiquity the authority has always
been God or his representative), on the other
hand – innovative and rationalist (as we know,
the European Enlightened also tried to follow
something just to attract the others to it).
Mo Zi’s views on the process of learning
differ greatly from the teachings of Confucius
about the innate knowledge (sheng zhi). The
analysis of the position of Mo-Zi makes it possible
to say that his view on the object of knowledge
in a sense can be considered as scientific: the
experience of past generations (history), human
relations (sociology), the principles of governance
(policy), impressions and observations of his
contemporaries (psychology), logical reasoning
(philosophy). The philosopher believed that on
the basis of the past we can know the future, and
on the basis of the evident – the hidden. Moreover,
he denied fate and believed in the transformative
human power. If Confucius wanted to see the
world through the eyes of authoritative books of
antiquity, so Mo Zi attached great importance to
the opinion of people, based on trust in feelings:
“The rule of the knowledge check about whether
there is something in China or not, is certainly
consists in the situation when you take facts as the
sample that have been seen or heard by huge mass
of people. If people really have seen something
or heard something, [it] should be regarded as
actually existing. The things that no one has ever
seen or heard, should be considered as really
non-existent”31. Perhaps, in such a position of
the thinker we can see both the desire to adapt
the ancient truth to the modern conditions and
scientific approach to the analysis of human and
the world on the basis of specific concepts.
Shang Yang:
the law as a method of control
Shang Yang (about 390-338 BC) is the
founder of the school of legalism (“legalists”),
known not only as a thinker, but also as a
statesman, reformer. At that time, in China there
was not any opportunity for existence of equal and
independent states, as each ruler chose between
domination and subordination. According to
the opinion of V.A. Rubin, “the specifics of the
theory of Shang Yang is in the fact that, rejecting
the idea of serving the people of the state machine
as the ridiculous naivete, he openly states that
the state is needed not for the people, but for the
ruler, and he needs it primarily for submission of
the people, and then for usage in order to gain
hegemony in the available world – in the Middle
Legalism doctrine set forth in the book
“Shang-jun-shu”33 (“Book of the ruler of the
Shang district”), fully overcomes the personality,
regarding it only as the means. Even the ruler is
considered not as having personal qualities, but
as occupying the position and having the will to
power over the impersonal mass.
The law as Shang Yang argued it, is the
essential means of management and achievement
of absolute power by the ruler, but this law
is not restricted by morality or religion. In
the understanding of ancient Indian, antique,
Christian and Muslim cultures the law has the
divine origin, but in China, no law has ever
been described that way. This law did not only
rewarded for denunciations, but punished for
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non-information. If the traditional understanding
brings the law and the high level of education of
citizens together, so Shang Yang saw the law as
the means to control the uneducated people.
Shang Yang paid great attention to the socalled “unification of people” (“concentration
people’s desires on the one”): specialization of
citizens on agriculture and war takes the total
character. Aiming at the development of vacant
lands (“new ground breaking”), the used measures
such as the ban on trade and travel, because in the
first case, the peasants will not be tempted by the
beautiful clothing and will be occupied only by
work, and in the second case, they will not know
about how things are going on in other parts of
the country. This policy, although it stimulated
the achievement of the ruler’s purposes, was
incompatible with education and could only lead
to the degradation of values. Shang Yang argued
that ignorant people, who are able to work are the
great force, and therefore education only distracts
people from their work.
Shang Yang relied on the following
understanding of the history: “In ancient times
people loved their families and honored greed,
in the Middle Ages people honored the wise and
enjoyed philanthropy, and in the later centuries
people began to appreciate those who are on
high positions, and honour these positions”34.
However, the understanding of the tendency of
values degradation encouraged him to the very
extremist methods of control: “If manage people
by punishment, they become fearful, do not dare
to do evil deeds, and when people do not do
evil deeds, they will be happy with what they
love. If we teach people with justice, it spoils
them, and when people are spoiled, the order is
collapsing, and where there is no order, people
are suffering from what they hate. That’s what
I call punishment, it is the basis of justice, it is
so-called justice in our century – it is the path to
violence. Indeed, one who tries to correct people
using what they hate, will definitely achieve what
they love, but one who tries to correct people
using what they love, will definitely stir to life
what they hate”35.
The attitude of legists to education, taking
the form of an open struggle, is clear from the
following lines of “Shang-jun-shi”: “When
education becomes a habit, people give up
agriculture and start talking, using pompous
words and false arguments ... So people are
moving away from the ruler and forming the mass
of unruly subjects. Education, therefore, leads to
the fact that the country is impoverished and the
army is weakened... The eloquence and wit are the
rebellion assistants, rules of decency and music are
the evidence of debauchery and idleness; kindness
and humanity are the supporters of violations, the
appointment and promotion of virtuous people are
the loophole for theft and embezzlement ... Under
the unification of education, I mean that admirers
of vast learning, debates, intelligence, honesty,
unselfishness, rules of decency, music and moral
behavior, regardless of whether they are clean or
dirty, should not be rewarded with wealth and
the ranks of nobility, they should not criticize
punishment, develop their own private views and
on the basis of them give advices to the higher
people”36. “Unification” of education, expressed
in its pursuit and destruction was caused by the
fact that it promotes independence in thought and
criticism of the state’s politics, so Shang Yang
advised to force scientists to use farming.
Shang Yang summarized the ancient
poetry, history, etiquette, music and also
the humanity, kindness, education, faith,
eloquence and wit in the concept of “lice”
(“parasites”), antagonistically perceiving the
culture (wen) as a whole. So, the music that
could contribute to the unity of related groups,
was also banned, and the outbreak of wars and
steeped in them were promoted as the only
method of destruction of culture and education.
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But this system of punishment and awards
proposed by the thinker is called “education”,
the effectiveness of which is determined by the
ability to use the features and imperfections of
the human psyche. Thus, given the attitude of
his contemporaries to the funeral ceremony,
Shang Yang developed the special conditions
(participation in the war, giving of the surplus
grain to the state, denunciations, etc.), the
fulfi llment of which allows its conduction.
Despite the utopian ideas of the ancient Chinese
philosopher, his teaching was applied by the
rulers of China in practice.
In contrast to the religious orientation of the
philosophy of ancient India that considers human
life through the prism of the suffering of the soul
imprisoned in the body and directing it to the
release from material bondage, the philosophy
of ancient China is focused on education of the
perfect human, or the ruler, the happiness of
whom can be attained already in this life.
The ideas of ancient Chinese religious and
philosophical thought can not be considered
as similar to the ancient Indian thought to the
full extent. Orientalist E.A. Torchinov gave
the example of the ancient Chinese model
describing the historical process that he calls a
linear regressive model: “The chapter “Li Yun”
of Confucian canonical text “Records about
Ritual” (“Li Ji”) describes the order of the
degradation of humanity: from the era of the
Great Unity (da tong) people have moved to
the era of the Great Prosperity (tai kang),
then – to the Small Prosperity (xiao kang),
then it has been the time of revolt (Luan)” 37.
From the example it is clear that the ancient
Chinese considered the story in a regressive
way, but for them it was linear. Compared to
the Vedic approach this view, though it reflects
a real tendency towards the degradation of
values, is pessimistic. Only in the possibility
to put the clock back you can find the roots
of the deification of the oldest wise people
known today. In the “Dao De Jing” by Lao Zi
and “Lun Yu” by Confucius there are several
references to the “ancient people”, on whom
these legendary, mythical philosophers were
See Feng Yu-Lan (1998) Short History of Chinese Philosophy. Moscow, Eurasia, 1998. Pp.50-53.
Borevskaia N.E., Toroptsev S.A. (2010). Chinese culture over time and space. 50 and 50 – the century in Sinology. Moscow, Publishing House Forum, 2010. Pp.46-47.
Martynov A.S. (2001) Confucianism. Lun Yu. Saint-Petersburg, Petersburg Oriental Studies, 2001. Vol. 2. P.163.
Granet M. Chinese thought, translated from French by V.B. Iordanskiy; general editor I.I. Semenenko. Moscow, Republic,
2004. P.209.
See Lao Zi. Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow, Feoria, 2010. 704 p.
Maliavin V.V. Dao De Jing. Text and meaning. Lao Zi Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow,
Feoria, 2010. P.38
Maliavin V.V. Dao De Jing. Text and meaning. Lao Zi Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow,
Feoria, 2010. Pp. 73-74.
Lao Zi. Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow, Feoria, 2010. P.326.
Lao Zi. Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow, Feoria, 2010. P.504.
Lao Zi. Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow, Feoria, 2010. P.534.
Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko, A. Shtukin.
Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. P.53.
Perelomov L.S. (2007) Confucianism and modern strategic policy of the PRC. Moscow, LKI, 2007. Pp.45-46.
See, for example: Conversations and judgments of Confucius, Originated, prepared, comments and general editing
R.V. Grischenkov; foreword by L.S. Perelomov. Saint-Petersburg, Crystal, 1999. 1120 p.
See, Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko,
A. Shtukin. Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. P.73.
Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko, A. Shtukin.
Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. P.83.
See, Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko,
A. Shtukin. Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. P.19.
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Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko, A. Shtukin.
Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. P.83.
Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. Pp.126-127.
Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by I. Semenenko, A. Shtukin.
Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. Pp.14-16.
Li Jin. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. P.119.
Li Jin. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. P.129.
Perelomov L.S. (2007) Confucianism and modern strategic policy of the PRC. Moscow, LKI, 2007. P.55.
Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and foreword by A.I. Kobzev.
Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. P.15.
Xun Zi. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. P.200.
See Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and foreword by A.I. Kobzev. Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. P.25.
See Mo Zi. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 1, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994.
See Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and foreword by A.I. Kobzev. Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. P.29.
Granet M. Chinese thought, translated from French by V.B. Iordanskiy; general editor I.I. Semenenko. Moscow, Republic,
2004. P.335.
Mo Zi. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 1, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. Pp.178179.
Mo Zi. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 1, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994. P.180.
Titarenko M.L. (1985) Ancient Chinese philosopher Mo Di, his school and the teaching. Moscow, Nauka, 1985. P.166.
Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and foreword by A.I. Kobzev.
Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. P.44.
See Shang-jun-shu. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print,
1994. Pp.211-223.
Shang-jun-shu. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994.
Shang-jun-shu. Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2, Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print, 1994.
Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and foreword by A.I. Kobzev.
Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. Pp.50,51.
Torchinov E.A. (2005) The ways of philosophy of the East and the West: understanding the beyond. Saint-Petersburg,
ABC-classic, Petersburg Oriental Studies, 2005. P.82.
Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 1. Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow, Print,
1994. 363 p.
Ancient Chinese Philosophy: in 2 volumes. Vol. 2. Originated by Yang Xing Shun. Moscow,
Print, 1994. 383 p.
Borevskaia N.E., Toroptsev S.A. (2010). Chinese culture over time and space. 50 and 50 – the
century in Sinology. Moscow, Publishing House Forum, 2010. 480 p.
Confucius. Sayings. The Book of Songs and hymns. Translated from Chinese and commented by
I. Semenenko, A. Shtukin. Moscow, AST, Guardian, 2007. 400 p.
Conversations and judgments of Confucius, Originated, prepared, comments and general editing
R.V. Grischenkov; foreword by L.S. Perelomov. Saint-Petersburg, Crystal, 1999. 1120 p.
Feng Yu-Lan (1998) Short History of Chinese Philosophy. Moscow, Eurasia, 1998. 374 p.
Granet M. Chinese thought, translated from French by V.B. Iordanskiy; general editor
I.I. Semenenko. Moscow, Republic, 2004. 526 p.
8. Lao Zi. Dao De Jing. Translated and commented by V.V. Maliavin. Moscow, Feoria, 2010. 704 p.
9. Martynov A.S. (2001) Confucianism. Lun Yu. Saint-Petersburg, Petersburg Oriental Studies,
2001. Vol. 2. 384 p.
10. Perelomov L.S. (2007) Confucianism and modern strategic policy of the PRC. Moscow, LKI,
2007. 256 p.
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11. Rubin V.A. (1999) Personality and power in ancient China: A collection of papers. Edited and
foreword by A.I. Kobzev. Moscow, Oriental Literature, 1999. 384 p.
12. Titarenko M.L. (1985) Ancient Chinese philosopher Mo Di, his school and the teaching. Moscow,
Nauka, 1985. 245 p.
13. Torchinov E.A. (2005) The ways of philosophy of the East and the West: understanding the
beyond. Saint-Petersburg, ABC-classic, Petersburg Oriental Studies, 2005. 480 p.
Религиозная и политическая философия
социального воспитания в Древнем Китае
Р.К. Омельчук
Восточно-Сибирская государственная
академия образования
Россия 664011, Иркутск, Нижняя Набережная, 6
В статье предпринята попытка ценностного переосмысления древнекитайской философии в
контексте концепции онтологии веры. Рассмотрены символы веры даосизма, конфуцианства
и некоторых наиболее влиятельных философских концепций. Обосновано, что трансформация
ценностей от традиции к идеологии определяет приоритеты личностной самоидентификации
посредством рационализации человеческого сознания. Данная статья будет интересна
не только философам, но и всем интересующимся актуальными проблемами человека и
Ключевые слова: онтология веры, древнекитайская философия, преемственность ценностей,
рациональность, идеология, символ веры.
Статья подготовлена при поддержке Совета по грантам Президента Российской Федерации
(проект «Онтология веры: личностные и социокультурные механизмы преемственности
ценностей», грант № МК-2493.2011.6).
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 369-374
УДК 20:308
On Significance of Religion Factors
in Forming Civilization Identities in Northeast Asia,
West Asia and Europe
Petr L. Popov*
Irkutsk State University
1 Karl Marx Str., Irkutsk, 664003 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
This article considers the issue of factors that determined lower significance of religion in formation the
civilization of the Northeast Asia vs. civilizations of Europe and West Asia. The weakness of political
influence of religion in NorthEast Asia is related to specific features of Buddhism and profound
ethnolinguistic heterogeneity of this region of the world.
Keywords: variability of content and uncertainty of volume of the notion “civilization”, political
influence of religion, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, ethnolinguistic heterogeneity.
The problems of civilization remain critical
in the modern cultural and social studies. This is
due to the fact that in the present-day world the
interaction in economic and political domains
is successful when it unites countries that are
considerably close in respect of civilization.
Examples are NATO (a military-political block),
European Union (an above-state structure that
has certain features of a federative state and
potentially is being such), and the Organization of
the Islamic Cooperation (an above-state political
structure carrying out basically consultative
The notion of civilization bears a considerable
share of uncertainty in terms of its scope and
content. However, despite this circumstance,
the analysis of publications undertaken by the
author (following Huntington, 2003) infers that
there is a “reasonable agreement” on existence
of 5 civilizations in the present-day world –
Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Islamist and Western.
Enumeration of these names raises the question
if there is a particular logical inconsistency
or incorrectness in the fact that some of the
civilizations are named by the religious indicator
(Islamist, Hindu), while others (Japanese,
Chinese) are named based on the ethnicity. Does
not this constitute a mixture unities classified as
civilizations that are indeed consolidated on the
basis of different types – religious and ethnic?
And if there is no such incorrectness and
these unities do appear as civilizations, then what
could constitute the explanation for differences
in religious and ethnic phenomena in their
development? Among the 5 main civilizations
two appeared in Northeast Asia (Chinese
and Japanese), two – in West Asia (Islamist,
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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Hindu), and one – in Europe (Western). Often
the Western civilization is referred to as the
Christian civilization (specifically so in the past
when its basics were founded). In other words,
Northeast Asia developed civilizations that are
least related to religion in their genesis. What
features of the development of civilizations in
Northeast Asia is this due to? Let us attempt to
consider this issues without claiming, naturally,
to be able to provide a comprehensive solution
(the latter of the questions raised appears to have
the most immediate significance to the presence
conference), but in the expectation of a particular
advance in their representation and analysis.
particular phenomenon (e.g. a confessional unity)
as the integrator of a multitude of civilization
phenomena may be higher or lower, depending on
the case. In certain cases, the ethnic factor may
step forward as such an integrator. Accordingly,
the content of the notion of “civilization” carries
certain variability. Similar variability was
typical for notions reflecting social realia. The
mechanisms forming the notions of variable
contents and fuzzy scope were reviewed by the
author in detail in previous publications (Popov,
The notion of “civilization”
It is known that the contemporary Western
civilization was formed in the early Medieval Age
when the level of culture (in the broadest sense)
of the peoples of Western and Eastern Europe
acquired the new meaning. The importance
of Christianity was high in the development of
this new environment. It became the important
intermediary between the semi-barbarian tribes
(Germanic, Romanized Celtic and Slavonic tribes)
and the ancient culture in its decline. Although
literacy was penetrating to peoples of Western
and Eastern Europe even before the spread of
Christianity, it is quite evident that formation of
written culture began in Christian monasteries.
The church quickly grew into an influential social
institution civil leaders had to cooperate with.
The peoples of the Western and Eastern Europe
beyond doubt had ethnic state self-consciousness,
and there is no doubt that they had a strong
religious self-consciousness – making them
feel themselves not only Catholic or Orthodox
in particular, but Christian in general. Wars of
Medieval Europe were mainly conducted under
the religious banners (Crusades against heretical
movements, such as Albigenses in Europe).
In the Medieval age the church was the
driving intellectual force of the Christian world,
Let us depart from the first question. Can
unities identified on the basis of ethnic attribute,
as well as unities identified on the basis of religion
be referred to as civilizations? In our view, yes,
they can.
The notion “civilization” implies a group of
countries that are consolidated and set apart by
a systemic similarity, i.e. a similarity based on a
complex of correlated indicators. In this respect,
this is the notion of civilization by its content,
e.g. from the notion of “confessional unity of
countries”, which implies a group of countries
united and identifiable under a single attribute – a
religious one. Nevertheless, the notions that may
be different by the content of the notion may
coincide or virtually coincide in terms of their
volume. In particular, the notion of the “country
that traditionally practices Christianity”,
although having confessional content, in terms of
its volume coincides with the notion of “western
civilization” that includes a multitude of various
The correlation of attributes-phenomena that
motivate to think in the notion of their complex
as a particular unity does not appear rigid. This
means that in certain cases the notion of the
Religion in the History
of Europe
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Petr L. Popov. On Significance of Religion Factors in Forming Civilization Identities in Northeast Asia…
and it was specifically in the realm of religiousphilosophic activity (in Western Europe) when the
decisive steps in the direction of contemporary
science were made (for more details see Popov,
The turnaround to the New Time, with
its different ideological and social guidelines,
was also associated with the religious conflict
(between Catholics and Protestants) sometimes
being extremely fierce.
Attenuation of religious enthusiasm in
the New Time, especially during the Age of
Enlightenment, also caused the attenuation of
the religion’s political significance. Wars were
now fought under the flag of national and state
interests, sometimes along with the flag of
chauvinism and racism. Alongside with that,
at least starting from the late 19th century, the
European philosophy turned its attention to
civilization unities of countries. Many of these
unities, including the European one, were formed
under the influence of religion. Therefore, the
growth of attention to civilization problems may,
potentially, be related to the trend of religion
strengthening in the present-day world, which is
inconsistently combined with the trend of further
The notion of “civilization”, as integrity
of related, mentally close country states, has
grown exactly on the basis of Europe. Military
conflicts may occur at present time, which cause
is to recollect the military-political situation of
the medieval age – countries of one branch of the
Western civilization acting together (not separately
as in the colonial age) against the civilizationdifferent countries, mainly Islamic countries.
Religion in the History
of Western Asia
There are two unities in Western Asia that
are referred to as civilizations: Islamist and
Hindu. Islam appeared as a relation linked with
heritage of Judaism and Christianity, but also
polemically directed at them. Religious selfidentification in the Islamic world is traditionally
strong, comparable to ethnic self-identification. In
accordance with an Islamic tradition, all Muslims
are a particular community. Islam is the religion
that grants a powerful sanction to military, and
therefore, political activity. Wars led by Islamic
nations were traditionally perceived by them as
having a religious side to them.
The processes of attenuation of the religious
power in the Islamic world were generally weaker
than in Europe. Starting from the second half
of the 20th century, political influence of Islam
has grown. For example, during the governing
of Ataturk (1920-1930) the attitude of the state
power authorities to Islam was negative. In the
spirit of many countries, Ataturk relied on ethnic
and state consciousness. It seemed that Turkey
was experiencing secularization following the
French type of the late 18th century and almost
following the Soviet type, too. However, already
under the governing of the nearest successors
of Ataturk, the style of attitude to religion has
changed, although the Turkish government did
preserve the secular character. At present, a party
of Islamic nature is at the power in Turkey, for the
first time.
The relations of religion and policy in
India were developing somewhat differently in
certain respects. Although in India the traditional
religion is closely related to self-consciousness of
Indians as the super-ethnicity, Hinduism was less
present on flags of warfare than Islam. This may
be related to the unwarlike character of Indians
as a nation. However, the ideas of non-violent
resistant of Mahatma Gandhi had connections
with local religious traditions. Inter-religious
conflicts in India were less fierce than in Europe
or in the Islamic world. Buddhism appeared in
India in the 5-6 centuries BC, being a religion that
is closely related to Hindu traditions, although
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being somewhat polemical vs. Hindi. The
increase followed by attenuation of the impact
of Buddhism in India was less dramatic than
the change of religions in Europe or the Islamic
world. Mutual penetration of Hinduism and
Buddhism reached a scale in ancient India when,
according to opinions of present-day researchers,
the difference between the two virtually eroded
in perception of the regular believers (Kochetov,
1984). This reminds little of the relation of
religions in Europe and Islamic world.
Religion in the History
of Northeast Asia
At present, the following territories are a
considered part of this region of the world: Asian
part of Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, North
Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. The Asian part
of Russia and particular areas of Western China
carry religious heritage related to other regions of
the world (Europe and West Asia). In South Korea
Christianity became one of the major religions
in the 20th century. In the course of further
consideration, as we refer to religious history
of Northeast Asia, we will consider Mongolia,
China, Korea and Japan, in their traditional state,
approximately till the end of the 19th century,
so that to reflect the specific feature of religious
traditions of this region of the world.
Political significance of religion (especially
in case of the religion not being the unique
feature of the country, as Shintoism for Japan)
was considerably lower here than in Europe or in
Western Asia. Conquests (e.g. of Mongols) were
not under the religious flags (on the contrary to
the conquests by the Arabs); religious differences
between the countries did not cause clashes
comparable in size to religious wars in Europe
in the Medieval Ages during the Reformation.
Buddhism spreading in India was assimilating
and including into its pantheon deities from
other religious traditions. Beyond doubt, this is
related to features of Buddhism as an outlook,
in particular, with polytheistic traditions
inherited from Hinduism. Ethnic and state selfidentification in Northeast Asia was traditionally
stronger than confessional identification.
Religious organizations, priest orders were never
as powerful as in India, Islamic world or in
The specific feature of Northeast Asia,
as opposed to Europe and Western Asia, in
terms of civilization, is not only that it carries
other civilizations, but also that the notion
of civilization here, as a typological unity of
countries, has a unique somewhat different sense.
The meaning of religion as a notion integrating
not only the ethnicity, but also the civilization,
is lower here. The dominant features become
factors of ethnolinguistic alliance and state
belonging. Ethnolinguistic diversity of Northeast
Asia is very large, considerably larger than in
Europe, and comparable to that of Western Asia.
By all appearance, profound ethnolinguistic
dissociation of the region is the factor that
prevents the transformation of the above-nation
religion (provided that it is flexible enough – just
the feature typical of Buddhism) in accordance
with various local traditions.
Europe is clearly dominated by peoples of
the Indo-European language family (Roman,
Germanic, Slavonic languages). Western Asia
is represented by large population of several
language families – Hamito-Semitic, IndoEuropean, Dravidian. In Northeast Asia there
are large peoples of Chinese-Tibetan, Altai,
Indo-European language families. Meanwhile,
the Altai language family is heterogeneous and
is not recognized by all linguists (Languages of
Asia and Africa, 1994); Korean and Japanese
languages are especially separated, both from
each other and other languages of the same family
(ibid). Chinese-Tibetan languages have nothing
in common with the Altai by origin.
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It is probable that the success of integration in
the economic domain achieved in Europe may be
linked to considerable heterogeneity of this region
of the world in a religious and ethnolinguistic
respect (plus enormous effect of religion in this
region in the medieval age, traces of which are
noticeable in the present-day secularized culture).
It has been observed (Arin, 2003) that apart from
the European Union there are no considerable
large international integration structures in the
economic domain.
Alongside with that profound heterogeneity
in the ethnolinguistic respect of such regions
of the world as West Asia and Northeast Asia
is seemingly a strong factor preventing the
development of European-style integration
processes in these regions. In certain parts of West
Asia, however, ethnolinguistic heterogeneity is
partly compensated by the religious homogeneity
(e.g. a group of Islamic countries of Sunnite
belief), given the traditionally high value of
religion in politics. However in Northeast Asia
in general, there is no religious heterogeneity and
in cases when countries are bound by a specific
religious unity (e.g. in Japan, China, Mongolia
one of the major religions or the principal
religion is Buddhism), this circumstance if
smaller importance, since the political value of
religion (especially above-national religion), is
considerably weak in this part of the world. It
is clear that economic and political integration
of countries depends on numerous factors; but,
at any rate, religious traditions in Northeast
Asia do not promote the integration processes
within this region of the world to the same
extent as in Europe or West Asia. This is true
for Eastern Asia in general, including Southeast
Asia. The significance of religions here, in the
majority of countries, is weak, but the value of
the ethnolinguistic factors is high, however, they
seem to divide Asia more than to unite it.
This circumstance, in our view, needs to be
accounted for in the analysis of the integration
prospects of Eastern Asia.
In this way, we may suppose that the
formation of civilizations in Northeast Asia, the
genesis of which will be more linked with ethnic
(super-ethnic), rather than religious phenomena,
is due to the two following circumstances:
specific features of Buddhism, as an outlook, and
the profound ethnolinguistic heterogeneity of this
region of the world.
Arin, O.A. Russia: not a step further (M. EKSMO, 2003), in Russian.
Huntington S. The clash of civilizations (M. AST, 2003), in Russian.
Kochetov, A.N. Buddhism ( M.: Science, 1983), in Russian.
Languages of Asia and Africa (M. Science, 1993 v.5), in Russian.
Popov, P.L. Elements of the theory of regions (Novosibirsk, SD RAS, 2005), in Russian.
Popov, P.L. Relationships of Religion and Science: historical and methodological essay (Irkutsk,
IGU, 2010), in Russian.
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Petr L. Popov. On Significance of Religion Factors in Forming Civilization Identities in Northeast Asia…
О значении религиозных факторов
в формировании цивилизационных идентичностей
в Северо-Восточной Азии,
Западной Азии и Европе
П.Л. Попов
Иркутский государственный университет,
Россия 664003, Иркутск, ул. Карла Маркса, 1
В статье рассматривается вопрос о факторах формирования в Северо-Восточной Азии
цивилизаций, имеющих в их генезисе более слабые связи с религиозными явлениями в сравнении
с цивилизациями Европы и Западной Азии. Слабость политического влияния религии в СевероВосточной Азии связывается с особенностями буддизма и глубокой этнолингвистической
разнородностью этого региона мира.
Ключевые слова: вариативность содержания и нечеткость объема понятия «цивилизация»,
политическое значение религии, буддизм, христианство, ислам, этнолингвистическая
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 375-393
УДК 111.3:2-184:2-58:002.6
The Utmost Reality in Philosophy,
Mysticism and Informology:
the Knowledge-Studying Method
Yury F. Abramova*,
Pavel V. Ushakov and Sergey V. Khomuttsov c
Irkutsk State University
1, Karl Marx Str., Irkutsk, 664003 Russia
Altai Academy of Economics and Law,
86 Komsomol, Barnaul, 656038 Russia
Altai State Pedagogical Academy, Barnaul
55 Youth, Barnaul, 656031 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The article presents the research of one of the most diffi cult and insuffi ciently studied problems.
This is the problem of existence and the main point of the objective reality’s resolute substance
(modern terms for this substance are energy-informational substance, informational-virtual
reality, etc.). It had been considered the main world’s reality, soteriological aim of existence for a
great number of adherents in many religious-mystic doctrines since ancient times. The adherents
regarded it as the utmost reality of objective reality and aim of a human’s life. A lot of possibilities
to study this amazing world’s phenomenon emerge on a new cultural, religious and scientific-andphilosophical background nowadays.
Keywords: religion, mysticism, philosophy, science, the utmost reality, God, theosubstance,
transsubstance, energy-informational substance, information-virtual reality.
The problem of the world’s immaterial,
or energy-informational substance has been
widely discussed in various fields of philosophy
and science (in ontology, epistemology, physics,
cosmology, psychology, energy informatics, etc.).
Its research focuses on various aspects – the
world’s fundamental principles, physical vacuum,
energy-informational reality, super mind, higher
substance, etc. The object of this article is a
study of interconnections between philosophicand-scientific and philosophic-and-religious
approaches to the research of the world’s energyinformational substance.
We’ll focus on several epistemological,
axiological and praxiological aspects of
comprehension of the world’s immaterial forms
attracting a human’s soul and mind at all times of
his existence – from primitive states to life in the
informational society being a result of scientific
and technical progress.
The main material of the article is connected
with P.V. Ushakov’s research of the so-called
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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utmost reality gaining its significant importance
in practically all human’s religious-mystic,
ascetic-mystic practices. However, it is differently
termed and defined in mysticism, theological
and philosophical doctrines notwithstanding its
absoluteness and uniqueness (Ushakov, 2008,
2009). Iu.F. Abramov’s research is devoted to
the problems of the informational picture of
the world, informational substance, ecologicalinformational reality, information-virtual reality
and civilization of XXI century. But at bottom
of fact it aims to disclose the utmost reality as
well but reflected in scientific-and-philosophic
categories of cognition. Moreover, taking into
account the achievements of various forms of the
human culture, the author is in search for the ways
of philosophic integration of knowledge about
informational substance in basic categories of
the main question of philosophy (Abramov,1988;
Abramov, Kuibar’, 2010, 2011). S.V. Khomuttsov’s
research covers the problems of spirituality
and considers the reality which constitutes the
Spirit of the World and a human, the society’s
spirituality, which is the utmost reality per se, but
does it in the focus of the human spiritual culture
(Khomuttsov, 2004, 2009).
Starting our reasoning with “analyticaland-inductive” material of human religious
and mystical knowledge in ancient times, we
should refer to specific ascetic-mystical religious
practices (AMRP) existing in almost all human
cultures. The experience of various interactions
between mystics-practitioners and later theorists
and a specific immaterial utmost reality, regarded
as the human’s soteriological aim (the aim of
spiritual rescue) in those practices, had been
perfected for centuries.
The integral philosophical research of such
mystical practices makes it possible to single out
the following levels of a mystic’s and adherentpractitioner’s understanding of the utmost
1) a practitioner’s own sense of new mystical
states, non-verbalized yet; 2) the ability to
verbally describe a mystical state; 3) a mystic’s
individual interpretation of his own experience
from some general positions; 4) interpretation of
mystical experience by another person which is
possible when an adherent’s personal verbalized
experience becomes the public heritage and the
subject of the appropriate specialists’ research;
5) cognition of mystical experience, mysticism,
AMRP, etc., being a specific problem of research
in various, more wider spheres, such as: 6) a
religious confessional cognition of the problem;
7) religious non-confessional, meta-confessional
cognition; 8) religious-philosophical (in its
general aspect) cognition; 9) general philosophical
cognition of the problem as a specific sociocultural phenomenon (repeated, reproduced
phenomenon) in social life.
In the typology mentioned above levels 7, 8,
9 can be considered to be “proper philosophic”
levels of mystical reality understanding as it is
here where “the knowledge over knowledge” of a
philosophical character is formed. In cases when
the utmost reality is comprehended by a definite
mystic-practitioner, these could be processes and
results of cognitive levels 4, 5 and 6. That’s why
the mystical reality in mystics-practitioners’,
ascetics-mystics’ mind is supplemented with the
richness of imagination and thus it is defined
differently in comparison with the definitions
given by mystics-theorists and philosophers of a
mystical area of research in particular.
Having briefly reviewed a multiform “view”
of the utmost reality, we’ll turn to a philosophical
analysis of possible approaches to its content and
the main point. For this it will be designated by
the initial term “mystical reality” (from Latin
term mystika – mystery).
First, we’ll regard this reality from religious,
mystical, philosophical points of view. Then
we’ll refer to the contemporary ideas of this
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reality from the points of view characteristic
to culturology and then scientific philosophy,
considering energy, energy-informational reality
of the world.
According to core philosophical ideas, the
main point of this reality can be reflected in
the universal objective world in the form of the
transcendent reality; in a subjective form – in the
form of the transcendental reality; and also in the
form of synthesis of both. At that the description
and definition of this higher, utmost, etc. reality
turn out to be quite different.
Firstly, such reality can be termed
differently – the personified (personal) God; the
non-personified divine reality; the utmost, higher
reality, the absolute idea, the transsubstance, the
Absolute, etc., in modern terms – the energyinformational substance.
Secondly, it can be differently described.
Thirdly, various properties either of a
personal, “anthropomorphic” character or an
impersonal, “cosmomorphic” character can be
attributed to it.
These make it very difficult to choose even
a general term that can be used in an extended
comparative and philosophic research to designate
this higher reality, revealed and defined in various
kinds of AMRP.
Considering the level of this reality
understanding by religious mystics (levels 4, 5,
6), it is possible to speak of the Divine substance
of a personified or non-personified character. At
this level it can be defined as Theosubstance
(transcendent or immanent). The process of its
cognition and methods applied can be designated
as theoepistemology and theomethodology
(Andreev, 2005; Florensky, 2001; Khomuttsov,
2009; Oldak, 1993; et al.).
But when cognition moves to more abstract
philosophical levels (levels 7, 8, 9) the main
subject of epistemological analysis turns out
to be a more abstract term Transsubstance –
transcendent and transcendental substance (the
Absolute, the Absolute Idea, the utmost reality,
the energy substance of the World, the world
virtual energy-informational substance, etc.),
including Theosubstance (a narrower category, if
the substance is regarded as the Divine substance
of objective reality). In this cognitive general
philosophic aspect transepistemology and
transmethodology can be spoken about.
Therefore, at various levels of understanding
the mystical we face the categories of different
degree of universality which are represented
by analogous but not identical concepts and
meanings. Hence, the utmost mystical reality is
differently defined in different types of mysticism,
especially with due account taken of nonverbalized or hardly verbalized states of mysticspractitioners of 1, 2, 3 levels of understanding the
reality in the course of their senses and feelings.
We’ll try to dwell upon this most complicated
problem “of all centuries and peoples” in a form
of a brief summary at least, though we realize
that its final solution won’t be possible. However,
the attempts to solve this set of problems to this or
that extent play a significant role due to a number
of reasons, and namely they make it possible to:
1) understand the meaning of life concepts
peculiar for numerous generations;
2) turn to the problems of understanding
universal fundamentals of objective reality;
3) find “the bridges” across the main
achievements in the key spheres of human
knowledge – science and religion.
The latter area in cognition seems to be
actively used by P.G. Oldak at the beginning
of the 90-s of XX century. He called it
“theoepistemology”, or cognition of the universal
divine point of the world both by means of
religious philosophy and mysticism as well as
science (Oldak, 1993).
It should be emphasized that modern
universal and scientific-and-philosophic pictures
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of the world have also turned to cognition of this
universal energy substance, power and main
point of the world but use other terms, such as the
world laws, the laws of the Universe, fundamental
interactions, etc.
However, as it is stated above, we have
termed this immaterial (energy) constituent part
of the world as “transsubstance” at the most
abstract general philosophic level (but not at
“lower” religious-and-philosophic and scientificand-philosophic levels). It is this most general
form that can make the term be the basis for
comparison, analysis, integration and, probably,
conceptual synthesis of similar knowledge
from various areas. Such angle of view makes
it possible to integrate relevant knowledge from
the areas of religion, mysticism, esoterism, nonreligious, scientific knowledge, various forms
of philosophic doctrines, etc., summarize the
achievements in research of both subjective
reality (in transpersonal psychology, for example)
and objective reality (for example, in the study
of physical vacuum, information world reality,
world space ontology in science).
Due to the complexity of the problem under
study we’ll consider the primary, less general
(other) concepts and only after that we’ll try to
bring them to the concept of Transsubstance.
According to the research, in all the cases
an adherent strove for some higher out-of-limit
substance with its specific, utmost and best
properties that served a leading light and limit of
his moral aspirations. These main properties can
be generally defined the following way:
I. The impersonal variant is Universal
Harmony (substantive characteristics which can
be revealed in various variants – a “cavitated” or a
“physically filled” world), Universal coherence of
phenomena, Universal Power, Universal Activity
(power, determinantal characteristics).
II. The impersonal variant, or the reflected
out-of-limit substance being a universal bond
between a human and the world, a human’s inner
harmony, gains a full-scale colouring in its energy
forms and manifests itself in supreme feelings
characteristic to a human – Universal Good,
Love, Beauty, Truth, Fairness (in a substantive
aspect), Universal Aim and Universal Will (for its
implementation) – in a determinantal form.
Both variants of describing the utmost reality
can co-exist and be defined in: a) transcendental
and b) transcendent forms.
This substance might be sensed and defined
(both in impersonal and personal variants) in the
subjective form, in the form of searching for it in
one’s soul, in the transcendental (Ia, IIa) or in the
objective (universal) form as the out-of-limit (for
ordinary humans’ senses) transcendent reality
(Ib, IIb). But practically in all cases and variants
it is a superior ideal of the objective reality for a
comprehending human. It is also the best aim of
existence caused by it and determining the wish
to aspire to It in the course of life and try various
forms of interaction with It.
As stated above, this universal substance
(in a broader meaning of the word) with its main
features (in personal and impersonal, subjective
and objective forms) can be termed with the
words of broader synonymic semantics such as
Transsubstance, Theosubstance or God according
to its main feature being Its supreme perfection
and a human’s aspiration to It. In comparison
with such concepts as “Transcendent (universal
objective) reality” and “Transcendental (deep
subjective) reality” the concept “Transsubstance”
is broader in its meaning as it simultaneously covers
transcendent and transcendental (immanent)
worlds, the universal and the subjective-andpersonal, the religious, the mystical, the nonreligious, the esoteric, etc.
It should be emphasized that understanding
the word “God” as Transsubstance, we regard it
in its general meaning denoting various forms
of its awareness by a human: both the personal
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God, personified in poly- and monotheistic forms
of religion and the impersonal, non-personified
Father-God, the Absolute, Brahman, Absolute
Idea, etc.
In this case theosophy, the term for general
philosophic understanding of God which was
quite widely used in Russian philosophy at the
turn of XIX-XX centuries, turns out to be quite
correct (Mitrokhin, 1993; Filosofy Rossii XIXXX stoletii. Biogrfii, idei, trudy, 2003). Theosophy
here is a supreme wisdom of cognition, possible
(for a certain person, society, etc. at a definite
stage of their development) interpretation of
In order not to mix religious and nonreligious meanings put into one and the same
term and knowledge area the mentioned above
Transsubstance term should be used. What might
be supposed in connection with it is the possibility
of its philosophic understanding in a specific area
of general philosophy which could be termed as
Proceeding from this terminology and its
specific status, we’ll try to discuss Transsubstance
from a theosophical point of view. This discussion,
as we consider it, can’t be regarded as “the
universal truth” as there is no unique judgment on
this issue. But a proper reasoning characteristic to
the subject of cognition is possible and necessary
in a philosophic research. That’s why we’ll set
forth some results of our reasoning.
Apparently, in various forms of a human’s
reflection of Transsubstance there can be singled
out its main variants with various transitional
zones between them. These are:
transsubstance being energy substances of
the World and the Human that determine the
existence of the latter. It is regarded here at a
general philosophic level.
This substance can be further regarded
at such levels as: А) theistic (religious-and-
philosophic and religious) and B) non-theistic
(including science-and-philosophic, scientific,
and esoteric).
Let’s refer to the level that is of a greater
interest for us. It is a more ancient theistic level
which can have either a broader understanding
(religious and mystical philosophy) or a less broad
understanding (religion, religious mysticism).
А. The “Theosubstance” concept is quite
applicable, to our mind, at the theistic concept
level, especially in its religious-and-philosophic
variant in the course of a comparative research. It
can manifest itself here in two different forms:
1. Cosmomorphic
Theosubstance is an impersonal God in “nonpersonified” forms of religion. It corresponds to
an impersonal variant of a human’s reflection of
the out-of-limit substance in either a transcendent
or a transcendental form mentioned above (I, Iа,
2. Anthropomorphic
Theosubstance is a personal God in “nonpersonified” (poly- or monotheistic) forms of
religion (for example, Shiva, Krishna and other
gods in Hinduism, the pantheon of Ancient Greek
gods, the pantheon of Slavic gods, Jesus Christ
as God-man). This corresponds to a personal
variant of a human’s reflection of the out-of-limit
substance in a transcendent or transcendental
form (II, IIа, IIb).
(It should be emphasized once again that we
regard the terms “Theosubstance” and “God” in
a broader, general philosophic meaning of the
Absolute Universe). Pursuant to the way a human
reflected Theosubstance in his religious faith in it
there appeared “non-theistic” and “theistic” forms
of religion in which either a non-personified or a
personified God kept the main place.
For further reasoning the term “religion”
should be given a more detailed definition. The
meaning of this term, in which we regard it,
determines our reasoning and its result which can
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differ greatly. The emphasis on the meaning of the
term “religion” is ambiguous. Several different
aspects can be singled out, and namely:
– religion as a process of cognition of
something superior like Knowledge of God,
Reflection of God (epistemological aspect);
– religion as a movement to a higher
perfection, God-co-authorship, creation of oneself
on the way to God and the forms of interaction
with God (mysticism-and-praxiological aspect,
at-divine being as a “near to God”-state;
– religion as practice, life in compliance
with religious doctrines and norms – obedience
to God (praxiological, theurgy aspect in faith and
– religion as a specific form of authority and
supreme power – authority of God (theocratic
– atheistic Theomachism (as a resultant
denial of God in the states of extreme egoism,
infinite arrogance, utmost rationalism).
Religion can have various forms in cognition
of God and reflection of Theosubstance (these
forms are regarded as the most important in our
1) belief in supernatural forces (emphasis
on the supernatural as non-natural, mysterious,
2) belief in a divine being, gods or God
(emphasis on the Divine, usually personified, but
3) belief in supreme justice, love, truth,
harmony, beauty, etc. in the person of God or
Theosubstance (emphasis on supreme natural
harmony and world power manifesting themselves
in the world in a certain form, in a human in both
personified and non-personified forms).
In the first case the real world is categorized
into natural, real and unnatural, unreal. In the
second case the whole world is natural, real
but existing in supreme (Divine) and lower
(full of creatures, created) forms, both in a
perceptible (full of creatures) form and a specific
transcendent state, some physical contact with
which is possible to some extent only. This real
transcendent here is somewhere “behind” or
“above” a human. In the third case (variant) the
real (natural) transcendent in some form and
properties is contained in the world “as it is” and
a human “as he is”.
Apparently, many АМ practices, especially
in their higher forms, embrace epistemological
and mysticism-and-praxiological aspects, while in
Reflection of God they are mostly connected with
the third variant of Theosubstance understanding.
That’s why, proceeding with the description of
Theosubstance reflection by a human, we’ll base
upon these very positions of a superior reflection
of Theosubstance.
Thus, Theosubstance (in its form reflected
by a human) appears either cosmomorphically
or anthropomorphically. This depends on who
becomes similar to whom. Keeping on our
reasoning, it is worth while mentioning that
theosophical cosmomorphism (a human is equally
significant to the cosmic, universal Theosubstance,
or a superior subjective world becomes similar
to a superior objective world) and theosophical
anthropomorphism (Theosubstance becomes
similar to a human, or a superior objective world
becomes similar to a superior subjective world)
can be distinguished in theosophy.
It can be supposed that theosophical
cosmomorphism initially based upon the
cognition of the objective, universal out-of-limit
substance, or the transcendent, while theosophical
anthropomorphism initially departed from the
cognition of a subjective out-of-limit substance
in a human himself, from transcendental. But
further on, the objectively reflected entered the
subjective (a Human) in cosmomorphism, while
the subjectively reflected came into the objective
(the World) in anthropomorphism. In other words,
two initial centres of cognition and two main
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ways of dissemination of the knowledge gained
are subject to denotation.
Theosophical cosmomorphism regards the
centre to be the objective World, the way is pathed
from the World to a Human (his subjective world)
and into a Human. That’s why Theosubstance
is described here with the help of the main
characteristics of the objective world.
Theosophical anthropomorphism regards
the centre to be a Human (his subjective world),
the way is pathed from a Human to the World.
That’s why Theosubstance is described with the
help of the main characteristics of the subjective
1. Cosmomorphic way: God in the World,
from the World to a Human and into a Human.
Theosubstance with “supreme universal
(objective) properties” and characteristics.
2. Anthropomorphic way: God in a
Human, from a Human to the World and into the
World. Theosubstance with “supreme human’s
(subjective) properties” and characteristics.
These are two ways of theoepistemology
and two main methods of theomethodology per
se. They are opposite to each other (like analysis
and synthesis, induction and deduction, etc.). But
as we know from epistemology and methodology,
opposite substances turn out to be incomparable
and destruct each other only in extreme variants
of the simplest alternative-and-double-valued
logic: “either this … or the other”. However, there
are always cross-transitions between opposite
substances in more complex forms of dialectics,
logic of cycles and self-movement, logic of life.
The same is true for theoepistemology and
Thus, there are various transitions between
opposite substances both in non-personified
and personified religions. But the following
transition is mainly reflected in the following
forms: a Human (as he is) – a human with
God (the personified Theosubstance) – God
(Theosubstance) – the World with God (the nonpersonified Theosubstance).
It’s very hard for an ordinary human with
naïve cognition to understand and admit the
supreme Theosubstance in its abstract nonpersonified form. That’s why it is embodied in
a transitional, easy for understanding anthropic
form – Gods in Hinduism, Buddha in Buddhism,
Brahman in Brahmanism, Dao and wise men in
Daoism, etc.
On the other hand, it’s well known that
God is represented in a personality form in
personified religions (for example, Jesus Christ in
Christianity). However, even in supreme forms of
mystical insight God is also non-personified and
there exist several transitions in theosubstance
understanding. For example, it’s triplicity of
Theosubstance in Christianity: Jesus Christ as
the Son of God, God-man; God as Holy Spirit;
Father God leading to the statement that God is
Relying on the works of such theologians,
mystics, scientists, philosophers as St. Maxim,
St. Gregory Palamas, St. Isaac the Syrian,
St. John Cassian the Roman, St. Symeon the
New Theologian, Sophronius, Plato, Plotinus,
Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein), L.P. Krasavin,
V.N. Lossky, and others, S.S. Khoruzhiy in his
fundamental “Analytical Dictionary of Hesychast
Anthropology” made a significant research
of the “mysticism of the light” problem as
“deification of an adherent”, a process and result
of a subjective-and-personality dialogue with
God, communion with God (Sinergiia. Problemy
asketiki I mistiki v pravoslavii, 1995; Khoruzhii,
1991). The author writes: “Divine Light doctrine
is characteristic to the orthodox thought: as for
its composition and type, it’s not exactly “the
learning”, theological doctrine, but “mysticism
of light” when mysticism is not a speculative
practice but a spiritual one which causes chiefly
“practical” texts, evidences of experience and
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sometimes, because of outward necessity and for
the sake of defense from attacks and perversion
it turns to analysis and introspection, working
out of theoretical formulae” (Sinergiia. Problemy
asketiki I mistiki v pravoslavii, 1995: 133).
Relying on St. Gregory Palamas’ quotations,
S.S. Khoruzhiy thinks of several main propositions
about Divine light (Sinergiia. Problemy asketiki I
mistiki v pravoslavii, 1995: 134-135):
1. The Light of Jesus Christ’s Transfiguration,
the Tabor Light is neither physically percepted
nor intellectual (knowledge, gnosis). It is a
different type of light. It is special as it is divine
and belongs to this world. It is without the
starting point, infinite, running through every
creature. It’s a special non-visible light which
can be contemplated differently and up to the
highest stages of vision at which a contemplating
being “turns to being the light himself”. It can be
differently described, and namely infinite, devoid
of shape and form; resembling a cloud; spherical,
calm and divine light, etc.
2. Divine light is unique. It is one and the only
Divine light, limited by neither time nor space. It
appears in all the phenomena of light, mentioned
in Holy Writ, and other light phenomena to be
seen by Christian righteous men and saints.
3. Divine light isn’t God’s main point but the
energy inherent to (existing with) God which is
consequently divine. The light possesses all the
features of Divine energies. It is common for
everyone. God is contemplated not in his supreme
nature but in his energy.
4. Divine energy circulating in the world is
bliss. Yet bliss, though in its numerous forms, can
be revealed in non-light manifestations.
Reasoning further on, it is worth while
mentioning that the terms “theistic” and “nontheistic religions”, widely used in philosophy
of religion and religious studies, seem to be
inappropriate. If “theos” to be understood as
“God”, then these terms can be interpreted as
“religions of God” and “godless religions”. Thus,
firstly, the main point of religion being convictions
and belief in supreme Divine substance loses its
meaning (because according to the mentioned
above semantics religion turns out to be both that of
“God” and “godless” = atheistic!?). Consequently,
we face the logic violation of the determined and
the determiner. Secondly, the initial guideline,
aim of this terminological antithesis is to show
the form of the reflection of God by a human and
by the definite religion – a personality one or an
impersonality one. As a matter of fact, as per the
result we have come to and the meaning, one of
the terms (according to its meaning) denies God
(non-theistic religion). So, we face the violation of
a logical procedure here.
However, as these categories are often basic
in the ideas of philosophy of religion they cause
a chain of further violations of logic, nonsense
meanings. That’s why, as it is mentioned above,
we tend to use other terms for the same aims.
These are “personified” and “non-personified”
(as per the form of the reflection of God as a
universal attribute) religions. Both religions are
theistic as they would lose their main axiological
meaning without God (in his universal
understanding), the meaning being belief in God.
In this case the suggested terms can be specified
as “theo-personified” and “theo-non-personified
cosmomorphism a human diverts away from
what is inherent in him and becomes similar to
Theosubstance as the universal transcendence.
Cosmomorphic theosophy with the non-personified
God and “non-theistic” (that means the absence of
the personality God), or, to be more exact, theonon-personified religion (Buddhism, for example)
is formed. At that in the process of Reflection of
God and God-co-authorship a human turns away
from subjective “human proper” characteristics
in accordance with a primary cosmomorphic
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idea, if necessary. His feelings and thoughts are
“renouncing” and getting calmer. His nature,
spiritual substance, spirit start “leaving his
human capsule” for the eternal Divine universe
of Theosubstance (in eastern AMRP there is the
‘travel of consciousness” expression and that is not
without reason). A human leaves himself for God,
Theosubstance. This form of theoepistemology
shows that God is pre-energy, śūnyatā, nirvanaeternity (and other similar terms) – “emptiness” –
but not universal, almighty, giving birth to
everything, constantly creating everything (Dalai
Lama, Bohm, D., Weber, R., 1989; Grigorieva,
1992; Kastrubin, 1995; Maliavin, 1997; Sinergiia.
Problemy asketiki I mistiki v pravoslavii, 1995;
Tainy sziznennoi energii, 1997; et al.).
Describing Mahāmudrā’s Tibetan yoga
everyday practice in their “The Dawn of Tantra”
book, H. Guenther and Ch. Trungpa mention
that its main point and aim are transition from
habitual perception of the world to primary
inner vision and understanding things as they
are, without prejudices and subjective-andpsychological layers. As a result of such prevision a meditator’s consciousness sort of mingles
with all the processes in the world and the initial
creation’s energy-emptiness opens to him. At that
all substances and events, including phenomena
of consciousness, unveil as fluctuations of this
initial creation’s energy-emptiness, pre-energy.
In H. Guenther and Ch. Trungpa’s point of view,
śūnyatā can be interpreted not as “emptiness” but
an immutable originative “bosom-field” giving
birth to and serving the background of a variety
of material and psychic processes. At page 30
of their book the authors state: “Speaking about
śūnyatā, we speak about openness of objective
reality” (citation from (Ivanov, 1999: 100)).
A.V. Ivanov in his comparative research of
the state of consciousness and psychics in the
process of a meditational cognition of the world
in various АМ yoga practices and analysis of
their understanding in the works of contemporary
researchers and adherents – D. Brown, D.T.
Suzuki, W. Evans-Wents, lama Govinda Anagarik,
and others – came to the following conclusions.
Firstly, the aim of yoga practice (Mahamudra,
one of the most ancient forms of Indian yoga,
described as long ago as in the 1st century B.C.)
“is in an adherent’s getting the knowledge of a
unique energy reality being the base of existence
of all the substances and his own consciousness”
(Ivanov, 1999: 99). Secondly, “śūnyatā can be
interpreted as some rationally indefinable presubstance of the world – its creative but immutable
energy basis. In yoga texts it is unalterably stated
that when a human cognizes śūnyatā he feels
his inseparable ties with Cosmos” (Ibid., p.100101). Thirdly, the author shows the relationship
between ancient intuitive knowledge with modern
physical knowledge of cosmic energies: “It’s not
inconceivable that it is the attempts of working
out of a single physical theory of the field … that
will give the key to a scientific understanding of
this single pre-energy basis of objective reality”
” (Ibid., p. 101). Fourthly, in an adherent’s AM
practice “the stages of concentration-and-plunge
in pre-structures of psychics are reverse to those
informational processes which are gradually
getting more complex in the course of ontogenesis
of consciousness” (Ibid., p.102).
Thus, we can say that cognition of
Theosubstance in numerous meditative AM
practices of the East represents a spiritual
substance’s “going out” of its “usual” rational and
sensible-and-emotional boundaries. As a result,
a specific interaction or even mergence with the
energy pre-basis of Cosmos takes place. At that
Theosubstance’s characteristics reflected in the
Knowledge of God are represented in a general
non-personified form.
At the general philosophic level of a unique
Transsubstance analysis in modern terms the
most adequate concepts are Universal Energy,
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Universal Power, Universal Movement, Universal
Cycles, Universal Unity, Entirety, Universal
In theosophical anthropomorphism, on
the contrary, Theosubstance appears like a
human with his main features. There appears
anthropomorphic theosophy, the personified God
and “theistic” religion, or theopersonified religion
which is a more precise term. Anthropomorphic
assimilation of partially cognizable and reflected
God (Theosubstance) to a Human’s feelings
and thoughts takes place. That’s why in this
Description of God there is a full spectrum
of supreme and perfect human feelings and
moral qualities (Good Will, Kindness, Love,
Beauty, Justice, Equality, Fraternity, Fellowship,
Collegiality, Truth, etc.). The understanding here
is that it is Theosubstance itself, the Personality
God that penetrates into a Human, or in other
words a Human is given the grace of God. It
burns up in him in a specific inner light. God is
Modern synthesis of knowledge and
doctrines of Divine light carried out by S.S.
Khoruzhiy shows a fundamental position of
patristics according to which communication
with God, communion with God neither
belittles nor destroys humaneness, a human’s
personality quality. On the contrary, it enriches
them (Sinergiia. Problemy asketiki I mistiki v
pravoslavii, 1995: 128). The author singles out
three main points.
1. The fathers constantly emphasize that
coupling together with God preserves identity
of a human’s personality, his self-consciousness.
A human doesn’t remain the same but remains
himself. At that every human’s personality
manifests itself, but does it individually, in his
own way.
2. Coupling together with God preserves
a human’s integrity, both his many-sided
psychophysical nature and corporality: “The body
and soul couple together with God” (Gregory
3. Coupling together with God results
from the synergy, a concordant cooperation of a
human’s freedom and God’s grace. This means
that personalities are not involved in some
physical and unconscious process of coupling
together with God which abolishes freedom and
personalities but, on the contrary, spiritualizes
and develops them (Ibid., p. 128-129).
The phenomenon of Divine light, discussed
with Seraphim of Sarov, a Russian saint of
XIX century, is described by N.A. Motovilov
(Chelovek. Mysliteli proshlogo i nastoiashchego
o ego zhizni, smerti i bessmertii. XX v., 1995:
367-386). When asked to define the grace of
God, monastic elder Seraphim said: “The grace
of Holy Spirit is light enlightening a human…”
(Ibid., p. 379). He also said: “Actually, many
eyewitnesses were shown by God how Holy
Spirit’s grace affected those humans whom He
sanctified and enlightened with His inspirations.
Think of Moses after his conversation with God
on the Mount Sinai. People couldn’t look at him –
the light around his face was unbearably striking.
He even had to appear in front of the people only
under the mantling” (Ibid., p. 380).
When N.A. Motovilov wanted to make sure
in Holy Spirit’s descent with his own “eyes of
a human” the monastic elder said: “Why aren’t
you, my dear fellow, looking in my eyes? Look
straight and without fear – God is with us!” And
the pleader saw the mysterious: “After these
words I looked in his face and was seized by a
most awesome fear. Just imagine a face of a
human talking to you which is in the centre of
the sun in the brightest light of its midday beams.
You see the movement of his lips and changing
expression of his eyes, hear his voice, feel
somebody holding your shoulders with his hands
but see neither these hands nor yourself even nor
his figure. What you see is only light which is
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dazzling, stretching far (several sazhens around)
and illuminating everything (the mantle of snow
covering the glade and snowy sleet showering on
me and the monastic elder from above) with its
bright glitter. Is it possible to imagine my feelings
– What are you feeling now? – the father
Seraphim asked me.
– Incredibly fine! – I replied”. (Ibid., p. 381).
Thus, the reflection of Theosubstance in
cosmomorphic and anthropomorphic theosophy
is different and carried out differently but it
eventually means the Entire substance.
As for anthropomorphic theosophical
cognition, it will be subject to a brief but deeper
research which shows that various ways of
evolution of the Reflection of God, Obedience to
God, Power of God, etc. actually take place here.
It turns out that this evolution can evolve in quite
opposite directions. In fact, two lines of reflection
are formed. These are constructive (a god-like,
god-man one) and destructive (a theomachist like,
“superhuman”, “post-human” one). On the one
hand, the supreme harmony of feelings and mind,
soul and spirit of anthropomorphic theosophy
gives birth to the ideal of God-man and highly
spiritual humans’ real aspiration for him (that is
reflected in the works by religious philosophers
at the turn of XIX-XX centuries, for example)
(Filosofskii slovar’ Vladimira Solovieva, 1997;
Filosofy Rossii XIX-XX stoletii. Biogrfii, idei,
trudy, 2003; Florensky, 2001; Khomutsov, 2009;
et al.). This line of the reflection of God evolution
is constructive.
However, there is a different way which is
clearly seen at a more intent dialectic consideration
of the ways of cognition in anthropomorphic
theosophy (a destructive line). As it is shown,
cognition of God starts in it from a human and his
higher spiritual characteristics and values. And
then the whole Theosubstance of the Universe
is subject to anthropomorphic interpretation in
common with a human’s higher subjective world.
That is to say that the way of Theosubstance
understanding is the following one: a human’s
higher subjectivity is a centre of cognition. The
subjective world then leads to the transcendence
of the objective world. Very significant
transformations of the cognition of God (right
up to the transformation to its opposition) can
happen further on. They are concealed first of all
in the main initial level of cognition which is a
centre of a human’s subjectivity and then spreads
to the whole way of cognition and getting the
sought-for knowledge.
The main point of this process is in the
following. A human himself, his subjective world
logically change in the course of social evolution.
The differentiation of society into different social
layers, classes, etc. leads to a greater difference in
social conditions of the humans’ lives. On the one
hand, the most part of the society is constituted by
working people to whom the most numerous part
of the population belongs. They live rather poor
but mainly in compliance with their conscience;
they are guided by main virtues, the law of God.
On the other hand, there are layers and classes
limited in number but represented by the richest
and most powerful members of society who really
seize all power. Collectivism which is vitally
necessary for the people to survive in difficult
conditions predominates in working classes.
Moreover, they believe in social equity and better
life. The basis of their life is predominantly
spiritual and moral. They are guided by religious
and cultural-and-historical moral norms and forms
of moral behavior. All this harmonizes a human’s
spiritual world even in difficult circumstances of
life, determines religious and social belief in the
best, higher ideals, fills life with a positive aim,
directed forward and high.
On the contrary, super-rich and superpowerful people concentrate in higher ruling
circles. They secure their grip not only on all
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social riches but on almost all the power in
society. However, as it is known appetite comes
with eating. That’s why all creature comforts
and power do not satisfy them already. So,
the super-rich and super-powerful are getting
eager for appropriation of the power of God.
As a result a higher form of arrogance, egoism,
extreme individualism is growing. The soul of
many “mighty people of the world” which is
oriented towards material welfare and power
only as well as towards satisfaction of the body’s
demands becomes more and more deformed.
It gets disharmonious due to growing hardheartedness, immorality, dissoluteness, injustice,
insidiousness, malice, jealousy, passion for
bodily pleasures, lies, hypocrisy against other
layers of society, people, etc.
As for anthropomorphic theosophy,
deformations of a human’s personality cause
logical shifts and deformations of the centre of a
subjective cognition of God. Egoistic aspirations
aimed at getting the power and becoming rich
as well as a growing arrogance but not divine
virtues become higher subjective values. An
extreme deformed form of anthropomorphic
state leads to the assimilation of Theosubstance
with subjective characteristics of a soul. The
assimilation concerns not a harmonious human
but just subjective perverted characteristics
of egoistic personalities from ruling social
Super-rich and super-powerful people start
calling themselves gods, as they naively suppose
that they rise higher than God in their arrogance.
Thus, a disharmonious human is growing further
and further. He hypertrophies to the extent when
God is not needed to him anymore; God is even
dangerous and harmful. Firstly, God is the higher
Harmony of the Universe and a super-man is the
greatest disharmony of a human. Secondly, God
and people’s belief in real God prevent a superman from wielding power over people.
As a result real God himself turns out to
be a super-person’s rival, competitor. A superperson becomes similar to an insatiable old
woman from a fairy-tale about a fisherman and
a fish. This is the reason why “a super-person”
rejects God. Nietzsche exclaimed: “God has
died!” and not without reason. This is a superperson’s “dreamboat”. Thus, a disharmonious
form of theoanthropocentrism turns into
theoindividualism (a disharmonious human
starts calling himself god) and then in a-theism
and theomachism of “super-humans” who do
not tolerate those who are equal to them among
people, on Earth, the whole Universe and those
who are higher than they, even God.
A disharmonious human starts denying God
and fighting with Theosubstance that is with the
forces of Universal Harmony. The fight with the
church is fierce and goes in various ways. This
is how a human conflict of a degenerative soul
logically pushes harmony and disharmony away,
cooperation with God turns into theomachism,
a believing Human becomes an unbelieving
one and then an atheist, atheistic super-human,
theomachist who can turn into a post-human,
devoid of higher human qualities, in modern life
(Frolov, 1999; Kagirov, 2006, Book 2; Nietzsche,
Thus, it can be concluded that religion
in its main feature is neither belief in
something especially fantastic which is unreal
(supernatural) nor belief in God (as a special
real substance) only. More exactly, religion
is belief in natural but special transcendent,
higher Divine substance of the universe,
in Theosubstance which can manifest
itself in various forms of its understanding
anthropomorphic – personified).
One more issue – that of new, unconventional
approaches to the problem of substantiation of
God and Theosubstance in philosophic cognition
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of God – should be considered in the conclusion
part of the article.
We have undertaken such an attempt (in the
focus of unconventional approaches). For this we
based upon modern systemic-synthetic modeling
of a general picture of the world.
It should be emphasized once again that the
concept of “God” is understood not in a specialreligious (confessional, etc.), but a general, metaconfessional, religious-and-philosophic and
axiological meaning. At that “God” is considered
a universal “Theosubstance”, “Divine substance”
(in its various manifestations, ways of reflection
and representation – personified and nonpersonified, in various forms of its understanding
by the subjects of cognition). In a broader,
general philosophic meaning it is regarded as
Theosubstance. This issue was dwelt upon in the
previous part of the article. On account of this it
won’t be subject to a special analysis here.
The peculiarity of our philosophic research
of this fundamental philosophic-and-theological
problem is in distinguishing and a further more
detailed analysis of different approaches to the
understanding of God, and namely a substantive
approach and a determinantal one. It’s worth
while pointing out that we suggest only one of
possible variants of a general philosophic solution
of the problem which can be either reasonably
rejected or supported, or critically supplemented,
creatively modified. We do realize that this is an
extremely complicated topic in which absolute
truth is hardly possible. “God “in Himself” as an
Object of cognition can be cognized by Himself
only. His Absolute truth as well as the Absolute
truth of the Universe is accessible to Him only.
It’s clear that any particular truth, nevertheless
how minor an object of cognition could be, is
accessible to us in its relative variant only. Such
agnosticism, however, mustn’t be understood
as indisputable… So, strictly speaking, all our
truths are only approximations to truths” (Oldak,
1994: 23). Getting nearer to the Universal Truth
can be carried out in various ways. However, “he
who makes no mistakes makes nothing”. As for a
cognoscitive mind, it puts questions and tries to
find possible answers to them by no means.
The research has made it possible to suggest
that there, probably, can be two approaches to
God, divine substance understanding. They
are historically and logically determined but
different in their essence. For convenience they
can be designated as I – substantive and II –
determinantal (causal), the latter manifesting
itself in two different variants.
Both approaches have something in
common. They admit the Unity and universality
of the Divine reality, God. Their difference lies
in different forms of the Divine understanding
by different people and at different social-andhistoric time. It’s well known that a Human’s and
the Humanity’s intrinsic feature is development.
One and the same natural, social and universal
laws were differently defined at different stages
of the society’s social-historical development (for
example, thunder and lightning were differently
construed in pagan, religious-and-mythological
and scientific interpretation).
In the course of a human’s and society’s
development the cognition of one and the same
universal law led to a gradual transition from
phenomena to substances, from substances
of the first rank to deeper ones. This explains
different versions, interpretations and special
forms of Macrocosm understanding. Culturaland-historical, national-and-historical specificity
of Macrocosm understanding were naturally
formed. As for the disputes about different
interpretations of understanding the Divine,
they often grew into fierce personality and social
conflicts. Similarly, one and the same human can
regard the problem through various focuses when
the main point of Macrocosm unveils to a greater
extent. It is determined by different stages of his
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individual development, different age periods,
personal experience gained in the course of life.
That’s why different approaches to
understanding God are natural. At that historical
and logical forms of a gradual, deeper penetration
into the main point of Macrocosm can be singled
out (the main types of arguments for the existence
of God are mentioned in the previous part of the
article). Apparently, the possibility of a more
humane consolidation of people and humanity
without conflicts and on the basis of God’s
Common Universal laws is an outer indicator of a
correctly chosen way of understanding the Divine.
A broad social-and-historical transformation of a
religious understanding took the direction from
a vindictive God to a loving God (i.e. uniting in
Harmony – in Love, Truth, Kindness and Beauty)
not without reason. Thus, they are dynamics and
variability of the subjects’ cognitive possibilities
that make it possible to consider 1) substantive and
2) determinantal approaches to understanding of
Firstly, substantive understanding has the
following logic. It was originally thought that
body and soul coexist in a human; the corporal
and the spiritual (immaterial) coexist in the
Universe. At that an active, creative origin, God
related to the soul and later to the Spirit. Thus, the
concept of God was first and foremost connected
with substantial characteristics of the Universe,
its spiritual or, in other words, immaterial,
incorporeal, energy substance. In this case God
turns out to be only in one part of the Universe.
He is connected with a specific form of substance.
Search for this substance and finding it mean the
phenomenon of God. Numerous different views
on whether God is in everybody’s soul or in
the souls of individuals (subjects), in the other
world (in the object), in the sky, in outer space
are being formed. Questions arise naturally due
to, for example, the fact that cosmonauts were in
space but saw God neither in the sky nor in space,
etc. In the whole, this substantive understanding
of God is partial. It connects his presence with
definite forms of immaterial unflashy substance
and logically directs towards the search for
this divine (pervasive – synergy) substance
and their merging. Impossibility to find such a
definite substance in a number of cases means
disappointment in the search for God and refusal
from it. This approach can be designated as God’s
partial presence.
The second, determinantal understanding of
God has the following logical line. The focus here
is directed not towards substantive, but power,
causal (determinantal), original characteristics of
God. God gives life, invigorates, has a vivifying
(generating, harmonizing) power. God is
Universal Force and Universal Cause of the whole
substance, of everything real – the Universe as
a System in all its forms and representations
(material and unfleshy in perpetual changes).
Moreover, the second approach also
presupposes two variants of determination: II.1 –
final (partial) and II.2 – endless (universal both
regarding cause and content).
In the first, partial variant God acted as
a primary cause and a primary impulse that
initiated the Universe. Hence, there is the
problem of creation by God regarded as the
beginning of the Universe. Consequently, all
the ideas of the universal are divided into two
parts: before the creation and after it. There was
nothing before the creation. Spatial and temporal
characteristics were zero. Only pure divine
Nothing (immaterial Absolute) existed which then
created the Universe as a System. The moment
of creation meant the appearance of space, time
and substance, the appearance of the Universe
of creatures. “After the creation” starts from
this moment. From these positions, God’s being
itself includes three different phases. “Before
the creation” is the period of rest. “The moment
of creation” is the culmination of activity, the
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main universal mission. “After the creation” is
the pause of activity (“God had a rest”). That is
why within the period of “after the creation” God
can both manifest himself as well as not to. In
connection with this the conceptions of religious
materialism are formed in science. They include
the first divine impulse but then study natural
forces which are far from being divine (from
these positions) and interactions – mechanical,
chemical, etc. In the variant mentioned God’s
Activity is different at different stages. In the
whole it is inherent in the second stage – Creation.
The first stage is Inactivity or Partial Activity (in
other forms). The third stage manifests itself as
either inactivity (“rest”) or partial Activity. In the
whole it can be stated that a final (partial) variant
of determination represents neither universal nor
everlasting, but partial Divine Activity.
The second, universal variant of determination
is connected with the idea that Activity is
eternally characteristic of endless Universe in the
whole. Consequently, God as a general Activity
of the Universe is inherently present and acts in
both any definite thing (material or unfleshy) and
whole areas of the World and the whole Universe.
He acts endlessly in space and eternally in time.
He manifests himself in infinitely varied definite
types of forces and interactions as well as in chief
fundamental interactions and forces, revealed by
science and other human knowledge areas.
Operation of this Divine Activity, as it is
mentioned, is endless in space. It is also eternal in
time. No matter how deeply in time the knowledge
(history, archeology, paleontology, astronomy,
etc.) penetrated, never-ending changes and
transformations were revealed everywhere. This
means that active forces are Divine Activity. This
variant of divine determination is general. So far
as forces, activities are characteristic of any area,
any spot of the World, so far forth God is universal
substantively – in material and immaterial World
(God is in everything, endless in space).
So far as modern knowledge displays
everlasting changes, transformations in all
the objects and events of the past, present
and foreseeable future, so far forth the Force
of the World, Interaction acts and causes the
World movement. Consequently, God is always
everlasting in time. God is a Harmonious Force
of the World in every concrete thing if it is with
relations, system, harmony, development, positive
meaning, kindness, love, beauty, creative force,
goodwill, etc. He is also in a universal substance
(material and unfleshy, material and energy one).
He is pervasive – Active and Vivifying – in the
whole world.
In the whole it can be stated that the second
variant of the second approach is about the
following: understanding of God as General
determination of the World-System means not
a partial (substantive or determinantal) but
universal substantial (substantive-procedural)
and determinantal understanding of Divine
substance as indestructible, everlasting in time
and endless in space.
But no matter how paradoxical it may seem
at the first glance, such understanding of God
harmoniously matches the conclusions of modern
science about the ideas of the World-System with
its determination due to the Universal Interaction
as the Universal Interaction per se is a category,
synonymic to Divine Activity or God being the
result of the humanity’s enlightened knowledge
in the sphere of religion, religious philosophy
and specific religious-and-mystical and asceticand-mystical religious practices existing in these
or those forms of great insights since ancient
times. In other words, theology and scientific
epistemology (as well as truth understanding
in ethics, aesthetics, anthropology, etc.) do not
contradict each other at higher stages of the World
cognition. They are mutually complementary,
integrating and synthesizing sides of the
Macrocosm in the World. This entire knowledge
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moves to the same point – the Utmost active
energy-and-informational reality and substance
of the World.
Proceeding with the analysis in modern
scientific-and-philosophic focus, we’ll base
upon the modern life fact that from the second
half of XX century and especially from its end
the society entered the period of its development
which is called informational society (Abdeev,
1994; Abramov, 1988). The name speaks for itself.
It registers the meaningfulness of energy-andinformational constituent part not only for the
World understanding in the whole but the society in
its present and future states of existence. Whether
we like it or not, but we move from predominant
corporality (with a certain extent of spirituality)
to growing energy of being. Information becomes
the world’s fourth power. And the future of the
humanity greatly depends on how the power is
executed. Unfortunately, a human’s world has
varied manifestation but it manifests itself not
only in optimal but in non-optimal states and
acts as well. In the course of humans’ activity
spirituality may develop its similar and antipodal
forms (Khomuttsov, 2009). This is reflected in
various vectors of social activity of both optimal
and non-optimal character.
That’s why informational civilization
can also develop in different ways – conflict
like and optimum like. One way – conflict
like – presupposes seizure of information and
power, extreme concentration of wealth in a
global “nucleus” of the humanity (at the cost of
super-developed direct centripetal processes)
with subsequent collapse of interaction and
uncontrollable social outburst similar to a general
type of chain nuclear reactions of a disastrous
scale (according to the synergetic theory of
On the contrary, the other, optimum like,
way should be controllable, with the balance
of direct and indirect relations, preservation
of informational and substantial-and-material
(natural and social) wealth of the regions, on the
basis of a balanced management in a poly-cultural
world. This way of informational civilization
development takes into account the specific
character and demands of the regions, paramount
rank of energy-and-informational component
part in managing the regions, substantiality of
the aim to preserve the regions’ natural potential
as a natural and necessary basis of the people’s
life, formation of a high educational level of the
population capable to implement the greatest
large-scale tasks of the civil progress. This type
of social development is designated as ecologicaland-informational society which should be
provided with necessary technological attributes.
Such a safe and stable development of
ecological-and-informational society considers
the importance of ideal substances coordination
in the life of the humanity. It presents itself as
synchronization of processes of structuring
and functioning of natural, social (ecologicaland-informational environment) and spiritual,
environment) subsystems of ecological-andinformational system. All this in aggregate
ensures an optimal mode of ecological-andinformational society development by means
of self-organization and adaptive management
mechanisms, i.e. the mechanisms described by
synergy and homeostatics accordingly.
The analysis of ecological-and-informational
civilization (Abramov, 1988; Abramov, Kuibar’,
(Kastrubin, 1995) in this focus leads to the
necessity of a deeper consideration of not only
applied social-and-natural problems, but of deep
theoretical, philosophic fundamental problems.
In a conceptual focus the issue of understanding
the main point and specific character of
“informational-and-virtual reality” existence that
nowadays has presented itself to the humanity as
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both a specific form of social reality and a universal
form of objective reality’s existence (Abramov,
Kuibar’, 2010; 2011). The research of this reality
in its universal manifestation makes us refer to
eternal ontological problems of philosophy – to
the World’s fundamental principles.
At the end of XX century those doctrines
that couldn’t develop within the frame of a
stiff dialectic materialism doctrine about the
basic nature of the matter (the material) and the
secondary nature of mind (the ideal) started to be
revived in Russian philosophy. But the practice of
a deepening scientific-and philosophic cognition
of the world and integration of knowledge from
different spheres of the humanity’s culture
necessarily lead us to new, more integral and
optimal setting of the main problems of objective
reality (existence) and their solutions.
Surely, if the matter (objective reality) were
understood as an atomic-and-molecular material
world only (that corresponds to the level of
the scientific knowledge of the New time), all
energy-and-informational reality would turn out
to be “overboard” the materialistic philosophic
consideration. But if the objective reality were
considered from the positions of contemporary
knowledge, it would be in principle impossible
not to include objectively existing and cognizable
energy-and-informational world of Cosmos, the
planet and people in it. At that the concept of the
substance as an objective reality broadens and
includes two worlds – atomic-and-molecular
(material) and energy-and-informational (energy
one). Thus, a conflict like approach to materialistic
and idealistic views is withdrawn; the World
presents itself as a harmonious integrity of its
equally significant and equally valuable parts.
Similar approaches have been developed in a set
of works by Russian philosophers since the end of
XX century. Different authors single out such an
integrated reality of the world, and correspondent
schools call it differently – spiritual materialism,
dialectical materialism, synthetic dualism, etc.
The main point here is that in contrast to partialand-conflict-like approaches to the explanation
of the world’s fundamentals on the basis of
the knowledge of XVII-XVIII centuries these
approaches are invariant and, to our mind, the
most prospective regarding the study of the
world’s fundamentals.
Regarded from the ontological focus,
informational-and-virtual reality in the meaning
mentioned reflects the same utmost reality which
ancient mystics, wise men, visionaries interacted
with but at the same time it makes it possible
to consider this subtle world from modern
scientific-and-philosophic view. According to
epistemological aspect this category enables to
attract the newest arsenal of scientific, philosophic
and culturological cognition for understanding
the world’s energy substances. This also makes
it possible to put the question about the possible
change of a categorial structure of the main
philosophic issue conception and introduce a new
epistemological doctrine – a dialectical realism
as an instrument of rational understanding of any
reality – into the methodology of cognition.
As a result it is worth while emphasizing
that our conclusion about the possibility of a
noncontradictory interaction between religion
and science in the issues of understanding and
interpretation of utmost energy bases of the
Universe wasn’t at all unambiguous in the history
of different cultures of humanity. It is not solved
even at present. But it is the peculiarity of humans’
points of view on the interaction of science
and religion in modern world, understanding
and a more complete description of substantial
foundations of the world that determine the
practice of interpersonal, cross-cultural and
intergovernmental relations. This explains not
only philosophic and religious but also evident
social practical value of the issue dwelt upon in
this article.
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Chelovek. Mysliteli proshlogo i nastoiashchego o ego zhizni, smerti i bessmertii. XX v. [The Man.
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Heart. Spiritual Awakening in the Chinese Tradition]. Moscow, 1997. 367 p.
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22. Oldak, P. G. Teognoseologiia: miropostizhenie v ramkakh edineniia nauki I very
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Mysticism in Orthodoxy]. Moscow, 1995. 366 p.
24. Tainy zhiznennoi energii [The Secrets of Vital Energy]. Minsk, 1997. 608 p.
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Предельная реальность в философии,
мистицизме и информологии:
знаниеведческий подход
Ю.Ф. Абрамова,
П.В. Ушаковб, С.В. Хомутцов в
Иркутский государственный университет,
Россия 664003, Иркутск, ул. Карла Маркса, 1
Алтайская академия экономики и права,
Россия 656038, Барнаул, пр. Комсомольский, 86
Алтайская государственная педагогическая академия,
Россия 656031, Барнаул, ул. Молодежная, 55
Статья посвящена исследованию весьма сложной и мало изученной проблемы –
существования и сущности энергийной субстанции бытия (в современных терминах –
энергоинформационной субстанции, информационно-виртуальной реальности и
т.п.), которая с древнейших времен признавалась как главная реальность мира,
сотериологическая цель существования адептов многих религиозно-мистических
учений и часто обозначавшаяся ими как Предельная реальность: бытия и цели жизни
человека. В настоящее время появляется возможность на новой культурфилософской,
религиоведческой и научно-философской основе исследовать этот удивительной мировой
Ключевые слова: религия, мистика, философия, наука, Предельная реальность, Бог,
теосубстанция, транссубстанция, энергоинформационная реальность, информационновиртуальная реальность.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 394-398
УДК 750.1|715|
Renaissance and European Classical Painting
as Two Types of Artistic Creativity
Elena V. Orela* and Maria V. Semenovab
Ural Federal University named after B.N. Yeltsin
51 Lenina, Ekaterinburg, 620083 Russia
Russian State Professional Pedagogical University,
19 Mira, Ekaterinburg, 620002 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
This paper presents some points for the study of painting as an activity (artistic creativity) such
as: concept of the artists community what the “absolute art” is; the technology of training creative
skills; an algorithm of creative drawing; subordination of figurative and poetic components of artistic
drawing; practices, bordering with art, that are “a priori” of the artistic process. These points are
used for the analysis and comparison of the Renaissance and European classical arts. It is justified
that these types of art are produced by two heterogeneous forms of artistic activity. The Renaissance
type is defined as an ontological one, where nature is a model of art, where creative elements performs
figurative tasks, which uses magic and some elements of a classical creativity to create the effect
of artistic painting. The Classical type of artistic creativity is characterized as a cultural-artistic
one, where artistic figurative masterpieces are the model of art; the figurative element is subjected to
creative tasks. The enlightened taste and national artistic tradition plays a role of an “a priori” of this
type of creativity.
Keywords: Renaissance art; European classical art; artistic creativity.
Renaissance painting and Modern European
classics in terms of results – the specific works –
despite all their differences agree on one thing:
this painting belongs to the same artistic tradition
and the same type of art, which originated
in Antiquity. But is this true? Does formal
resemblance always shows real relationship?
Is it not the case that sometimes children of the
same parents are not similar in appearance, and
a stranger is somebody’s similar? This simple
example made us doubt in the objectiveness of the
common judgments and start a comparison of the
Renaissance painting and the European classics
of painting, in terms of cause which produces this
painting – artistic creativity.
This research tries to find the answer to the
question whether the Renaissance art of painting
and the modern European classics belong to the
same type of artistic creativity or these are two
different types and has the following tasks: (1)
to identify the parameters of artistic creativity
using which one could study its type, (2) to study
the Renaissance art and the European classics
in accordance with these parameters, and (3) to
characterize each type of artistic creativity.
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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The results of the study are important
because of the following reasons: firstly, they can
either confirm validity of the existing opinions
or dispose the myths from the history of art;
secondly, if the study is successful, its principles
can be applied to test other obviousness: for
example, that the ancient and medieval art belong
to different types; and thirdly, when applied to
the contemporary art, its principles will help to
identify the type of art.
The interest in art is great. The mere listing
of the names of the authors involved in its study
would take a dozen pages. However, most of
these authors support the idea of the timeless
nature of artistic creativity. Only few studies
raise the question of the existence of different
types of art. One of them is the monograph by
the Russian musicologist and cultural studies
expert Tatyana Vasilievna Cherednichenko
“Music in the Cultural History”. The Russian
art historian Svetlana Petrovna Batrakova in
the monograph “An Artists of the XX Century
and the Language of Painting From Cezanne to
Picasso” admits the existence of different types
of painting. These studies, anyway, confirm the
guess of the American philosopher and aesthetics
Susan Catherine Langer, that art in a form that
we understand it is an exclusively new European
phenomenon [see 3, chapter 9]. Except the studies
of the aforenamed authors the theoretical legacy
of Leonardo da Vinci; the works by Giorgio
Vasari and Giovanni Pietro Bellori; the studies
of the modern theorists and art historians: Max
Dvorjak, Erwin Panofsky, Sergei Mikhailovich
Daniel, Olga Borisovna Dubova; the studies of
the cultural experts: Leonid Mikhailovich Batkin,
Vladimir Solomonovich Bibler; and philosophers:
Immanuel Kant, Edmund Husserl, etc. were used
in this research.
The first question which we should answer in
this research – what are the “external” factors of
artistic creativity that determine its specific type?
It was assumed, that these factors are: firstly, the
concept of the “absolute” art that exist in artistic
community, and secondly, the technologies of
“appropriation” of the “absolute” art as a type of
The second question of this research – what
“internal” components of artistic creativity
determine its type? It was assumed, that such
factors of artistic creativity are its algorithms,
subordination and interrelation of descriptivemimetic and expressively-poetic components in
its “primary” product – in a picture.
The third question of this research – how to
identify the subject “a priori” of artistic creativity,
which determine characteristics of a subject of
creativity. It was assumed, that cultural practices,
bordering with art may be such an “a priori”.
There were three stages of the research.
The first two stages included the study of
artistic creativity of the Renaissance and the
European classics. The third stage was devoted
to the comparison of these types of creativity
and making conclusions about their artistic type.
(The research has limits – only the material
connected with the history and theory of painting
was used.)
The results we got in this research were the
1. In the period of European Renaissance
a universal prototype of art was nature, i.e. – the
world, which is perceived to the eye, given to a
man in his sensuous experience. Nature was not
an ordinary term, but significant cultural concept,
perceived pantheistically: the real incarnation
of the divine. Science, art and magic of the
Renaissance took part in the formation of this
The original form of development of the
techniques that are used by nature as a universal
artist is experience. The experience, first of all,
is a very thorough process, which includes a
set of procedures. The first, the initial and the
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observation. According to Leonardo da Vinci
“The mind of the painter, should be like a mirror,
which always takes the color of the object, which
it reflects, and is filled with the images of so
many objects, which are situated in front of it”
(Mastera Iskusstva, 1966, p.118). The second
procedure is measuring. As for nature, where
every event is very valuable, the measurement
was not a mathematical, but metaphysical task
of identifying the divine in nature. The third
procedure is to model the experience, which takes
two forms: images and inventions.
Modeling by images is the third procedure
of the experience and at the same time the fi rst
procedure of art. As a kind of art, modeling
required a combination of pure mathematical
calculation with a purity of perspective spatial
modeling, multiplied by the purity of the
highest skill of chiaroscuro. It was necessary
to synthesize all knowledge of perspectives,
theories of light and vision, to master all the
known methods of its practical application, in
order to get the necessary effect, when the image
was more correspondent with the idea of the
object than the object itself. The examples of such
image-models are the technical and anatomical
drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, which have all
the characteristics of technical perfection. We
called these images “pure empirical models.”
“Pure” – because they represent rather an idea
of an object than any object from the real life.
“Empirical” – because they are taken from the
experience, and are not imaginary symbols of
nature. In “pure empirical models” expressivepoetic component is subjected to figurativemimetic component and implemented as a
technical task.
Despite the technical perfection, “pure
empirical” models are not works of art. In order
to become works of art, the specific content of
the individual events should be returned to them.
Artistic “a priori” can help here, as it allows to
“adjust” an artist to the task he has. Such an “a
priori” was subjective magic that the Renaissance
artists actively practiced, improving visual
sensitivity (Yates, 2000, p.99). Magic allowed
an artist to see in a body an action performed by
the soul (“Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci).
The second artistic “a priori” in relation to the
Renaissance art was new, forming at that period
type of artistic creativity, which later became the
basis for the European classics. Hypersensitivity
to the new, implemented at the level of an artist’s
ability to break a bond with the current type of
artistic creativity and, “overrunning” time act
according to the rules of a new type, – Genius –
enables artists to create images of the Renaissance
Madonnas, which in their naturality compete
with a picture of the Girl with a Pearl Earring by
Johannes Vermeer. A good example is the Sistine
Madonna by Raphael.
The ancient art is the universal prototype for
the modern European classics, and the “absolute”
art is a number of masterpieces created in the
tradition of figurative painting that originated in
antiquity and was adapted by the Renaissance to
the conditions of the New Age.
The form of “appropriation” of the method
of the “absolute art” is its study: the theoretical
(contribute to understanding and meaningful
actions) and the practical. The first stage of the
practical study is copying of the “originals”: the
antiques, works of art of the Renaissance period
and the later works by the artists who followed the
Renaissance tradition (in fact – gesso and copies).
The second stage of the analysis is decomposition
of an image into individual elements and the
subsequent development of each element. The
perspective construction of the space, images of
the geometric shapes, elements of architectural
orbs, images of the human body were mastered in
this way. The third procedure is a synthesis of all
the skills obtained in the process of reconstruction
of objects on the canvas by the image.
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In case of the Renaissance art, the last
preparatory procedure becomes the fi rst
actually creative task recreating the object as
it is “by itself” beyond the boundaries of our
sensory experience. To solve this problem a
graduate of the Academy was to use all the
skills that he had acquired solving technical
problems, and all the history of art, which he
learned by copying the “originals.” The result
of this synthesis is an academic drawing – “a
pure object of art”: “pure” because in the mind
it represents the image, but not an object, “art”
because it is literally woven from the fabric of
the art, “object” – because it has its own value,
independent of the significance of images. In an
academic drawing visual tasks are subordinated
to the artistic and creative tasks because
academic drawing is always “above” the nature,
always levitates above it, as a mental image of
nature, valuable by itself.
Academic drawing – is also art (meaning
“artistic skill”), but not a work of art. In order
to become a work of art it should not be a selfsufficient image and become an image where
nature is given not only as a conceivable image,
i.e. objectively, but as an image perceived by
senses, i.e. subjectively, according to the new
aesthetic taste of the European audience. The
new artistic “a priori” helped to achieve this goal:
on the one hand, it was new artistic taste and the
system of aesthetic education, which formed a
new sensibility of the European person, and on
the other – the people’s artistic tradition, which
an artist received as a legacy from the generation
in the form of talent. There is no mystery in the
talent, except an artist’s ability to “deactivate”
temporary everything that an artist got through
learning, and act spontaneously, as any people’s
artist acts, i.e. according to the unique “artistic”
2. The Renaissance art of painting and the
New European Classics of painting are different
types of artistic creativity. The first type we
conditionally identified as an ontologicallyoriented, striving to fit into the rhythm of the
existential process, to “grasp” and to show
what belongs to existence. The second type was
identified as culturally and artistically oriented
which is striving to “grasp” and continue the line
of art. These two types of artistic creativity are
different (1) at the level of what is considered by
the artistic community as its model and how it is
“appropriated”; (2) at the level of the algorithm
of an action, and (3) the nature of its “primary
product” – a drawing; (4) at the level of social
practices which are used to achieve the final
result of artistic painting.
The results of the study made us to reconsider
some of our former opinions. For example,
we supported the statement of the famous art
critic Max Dvorak about the world of “artistic
concept”, which in the era of Renaissance,
according to his opinion, was attached to the
world of “the limited spiritual existence and
eternal spirituality” (Dvorak, 2001, p.149-150).
According to our research, it happened later: the
world which “followed its own laws, found its
mission, objectives and scope in itself” (Dvorak,
2001, p.148) is the New European Classics.
In the course of the study we collected
materials, confirming our hypothesis that
the paintings of the Renaissance and the
New European Classics, although belong to
the same tradition of the figural painting but
are fundamentally different types of artistic
creativity. We have also suggested a number of
new hypotheses and ideas. Firstly, some ideas of
the methodology we applied and the conclusion
regarding the possible existence of the different
types of artistic creativity (art of painting), made
us to assume the existence of a kind of “artistic
paradigms”, similar to the scientific paradigms.
Secondly, the intention to avoid psychologism in
determining the qualities of the subject of artistic
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creativity, led us to the idea of “the art habit”,
and this idea gives our research in a different
direction. However, these ideas are to be tested in
a separate study.
Dvorak, M. Istoriia Iskusstva Kak Istoria Duha [The History of Art as the History of Ideas]. Saint
Petersburg, Academic project, 2001. 331 p.
Yates, F. A. Dzhordano Bruno and Hermeticheskaia Traditsia [Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic
tradition]. Moscow, New Literary Review, 2000. 528 p.
Langer, S. Filosofia V Novom Kluche. Issledovania Simvoliki Razuma, Ritual I Iskusstvo
[Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art]. Moscow,
Ripublica, 2000. 287 p.
Mastera Iskusstva Ob Iskusstve: Izbrannye Otryvki Iz Pisem, Dnevnikov, Rechei I Traktatov V
Semi Tomah. T.2 [The Masters of Art About Art: Selections From Letters, Diaries, Speeches and
Tracts in Seven Volumes. V.2] Moscow, Art, 1966. 397 p.
Живопись Ренессанса и европейская классика
как типы художественной деятельности
Е.В. Орела, М.В. Семеноваб
Уральский федеральный университет им. Б.Н. Ельцина,
Россия 620083, Екатеринбург, пр. Ленина, 51
Российский государственный
профессионально-педагогический университет,
Россия 620012, Екатеринбург, ул. Машиностроителей, 11
В статье представлены результаты сравнительного исследования живописи Ренессанса и
европейской классики с точки зрения характера производящей ее художественной деятельности.
Определены параметры изучения художественной деятельности, к которым отнесены
разделяемое художественным сообществом представление об “абсолютном”искусстве и
технология “присвоения”данного искусства как деятельности; алгоритм деятельности
и субординация изобразительно-миметических и образно-поэтических компонентов в ее
“первичном продукте” – рисунке; пограничные с искусством практики, составляющие
субъектное “априори” творческого процесса. Обосновано различие художественной
деятельности ренессансного и классического типов. Ренессансный тип художественной
деятельности охарактеризован как онтологически-ориентированный, избирающий природу в
качестве образца, использующий творческие элементы для выполнения изобразительных задач,
привлекающий магию и приемы только формирующегося классического искусства в качестве
субъектного ”априори”. Классический тип художественной деятельности представлен как
культурно-художественно-ориентированный, признающий в качестве искусства череду
шедевров, исполненных в традиции предметной живописи; превращающий рисунок в искусство
и имеющий в качестве своего “априори”новый просвещенный вкус и народную художественную
Ключевые слова: искусство Возрождения;
художественная деятельность.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 399-405
УДК 2 (077) 24, 27, 28
Some Aspects of the Idea of God
in the World Religions:
an Attempt to Make a Comparative Analysis
Nadezhda K. Barsukova*
Irkutsk State University
1 Karl Marx Str., Irkutsk, 664003 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
This article discusses some aspects of the idea of God in the world religions – Christianity, Islam and
Buddhism. It is shown that in Christianity God is presented as it follows from the doctrine of the Holy
Trinity and is revealed to humans through the system of His attributes by which He exposes Himself
in the world. According to the religious doctrine of Islam, Allah is the one and indivisible, and it is
possible to approach His understanding, among other things, through the study of the whole range of
His attributes. The idea of God is presented in Buddhism – the third world religion – in a very special
way. The given paper shows a comparative analysis of the properties of God (from the orthodox
positions) and the attributes of Allah (from the position of classical Islam), and identifies a number of
parallels that we offer students-theologians to study.
Keywords: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, properties of God, attributes of Allah.
Two world religions – Christianity and
Islam are monotheistic religions (monotheism is
the recognition of one God), but the essence of
monotheism is revealed in different ways. From
the Orthodox Christian position, according to the
doctrine of the Holy Trinity: 1. God is triune, and
this trinity is that God is a perichoresis of three
persons or hypostases: the Father, the Son and
the Holy Spirit. 2. Each Person of the Trinity is
God, but He is not the essence of three Gods, but
a single divine essence, being. 3. All the Persons
of the Trinity are distinguished by personal
In respect of God Christianity takes the
view that He is not comprehensible for the
humans to a full degree. However, it is possible
to form a concept of God based on the study of
His properties by which He exposes Himself in
the world. Properties of God are those properties
that belong to God Himself, and distinguish Him
from all other creatures. These properties belong
to all integrated Persons of the Holy Trinity, so
they are called common properties, in contrast
to personal properties belonging individually to
each person of God, and distinguishing them.
Orthodox Christianity theologizes God
as the all-perfect being, free from defects and
limitations. His general properties are the
following: I. Boundless fullness of being and II.
Spirituality. Properties of God applying to the
perfection of His existence in general, are called
the ontological properties, and properties of God
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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as the all-perfect Spirit are spiritual. Ontological
properties of God are the following: 1. Uniqueness
2. Immutability 3. Eternity 4. Immensity and
On the basis of the New Testament, God is
presented as the purest and all-perfect Spirit: “God
is a spirit” (John 4:24). Orthodox Christianity
specifies the following spiritual attributes of
God: 1. Reason of God 2. Will of God 3. Senses
or feelings of God.
The properties of the reason of God: 1) the
omniscience of God, and 2) the wisdom of God.
Properties of the will of God: 1) highly free
2) all-holy 3) omnipotent 4) all-sainly. Properties
of the senses of God: 1) all-beatification of God,
and 2) the infinite goodness or love for all living
In addition to the general properties belonging
to all persons of the Holy Trinity, each of Them
has its own features that distinguish Them from
each other. These features are called personal
qualities of God. From the Orthodox position,
the distinctive properties of the Holy Trinity are
the following: Father is not born from anyone and
does not descend from any other origin – He is
absolutely without origin, but He is the origin
Himself of the fault for the personal existence of
the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Son – through
the birth of His own Being, the Spirit – through
the procession; the Son is always born from the
Father and the Holy Spirit is always proceeded
from the Father (Bible, 2006; Fakhrudin, 2011).
Now we will consider the interpretation
of monotheism in classical Islam. According to
Tawhid (the science of monotheism), the man
himself cannot fully understand the Almighty
Allah. It is believed that the awareness of the
fact that humans cannot understand God fully
and completely, is the beginning of knowing
Him. As it follows from the doctrine of Islam,
Allah is the Only One, “Allah – there is no God
but He...” (Quran, 2/255), and approaching to
His understanding is possible through the study,
including the whole range of His attributes that
are owned by Him .
Attributes of Allah are classified into five
categories: I. Personal attribute of existence
(al-Wujud) II. Attributes that describe God and
are necessarily inherented by Him are called
mandatory (As-Subuti) III. Attributes denying
the impossible that are extrinsic to the nature of
Allah, are called denying unworthy (As-Selbi)
IV. Attributes that describe the actions of Allah
that are not necessary for Allah, that is, He
can either have them or do not have, are called
possible or attributes of God’s deeds (Al-Dzhaizi)
V. Attributes that are present in the Quran or
Hadiths literally perception of which (based on
the external form of the words), can provoke the
delusion, for example, likening of Allah to the
created, attribution of the body to Him, etc. There
are informative attributes (Al-Khabar) (Gospel
story, 2007).
In our work, we performed a comparative
analysis of the properties of God in Orthodox
Christianity (Bible, 2006; Fakhrudin, 2011), and
attributes of Allah in classical Islam (Gospel
story, 2007; Kylavuz, 2010; Maksimov, 2005),
and have found a number of similarities. There
are the results of our study below.
1. In Christianity, the “uniqueness” property
of God means that God does not descent from
anything else, does not depend by His own
existence on any other being, He has the reason of
His existence and the conditions of His existence
only in Himself, and He is the first and only
single reason for all existing things. God Himself
defines His existence as the unique existence, “I
am who I am” (Exodus 3:14).
In Islam, the closest attribute to the Christian
property of “uniqueness” is the attribute of
“existence” (attribute of being), the meaning
of which is that Allah exists and His existence
is different from the others. The attribute of
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existence – the existence of Allah – is eternal
attribute without beginning describing His
essence. The attribute of being is the fundamental
and essence of all of the attributes of Allah. Being
is not the descriptive attribute, but own attribute
of Allah essence. “(All) faces shall be humbled
before (Him) --the Living, the Self-Subsisting,
Eternal...” (Qur’an, 20/111).
2. “Immutability” of God is His property
by which He is always constant in his powers,
perfections and definitions. This property is
inseparably combined in God with His uniqueness,
i.e. independence from any other factors. God
says about Himself: “For I am the Lord, I change
not” (Malachi 3:6). It is clearly seen that God is
always the same, or unchanged, whereas, on the
contrary, the sky and the earth, the creation of
His hands, are changeable, transient, temporary,
In Islam, the closest attribute to Christian
property of immutability can be called “life
essence” (“life”), which means that Allah is
eternally alive, that He has no beginning and
no end, He does not inherent youth or old age.
Time does not change Him, and time does not
change for Him. All the attributes of Allah, as He
Himself, have no beginning and no end.
3. Christianity calls the “omniscience” as
the property of reason of God, implying that
God knows all things in the best, most perfect
way. He knows everything external: the actual
and the possible, necessary and accidental, past,
present and future. God knows the order of the
physical world and the world of morality. God
knows the inner being and life of every person.
God knows the reasons unknown to human,
and therefore all the unexpected phenomena for
Him seems sudden, random just for Him, but in
reality there are not accidental, but appears on the
predestination of God. God foresees free human
actions and predicts them as known for Him,
because there is no time for God, and for Him the
future is the same as the present. “Neither is there
any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but
all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of
Him” (Hebrew 4:13).
Similar to Christian property of
“omniscience” in Islam is an attribute of Allah
“omniscience”, meaning that Allah is the One
who knows absolutely everything. He knows the
past and the future, the hidden and explicit. He
knows everything that is necessary, possible, and
even absurd. Knowledge of God does not change
and is not updated. It is constant and everlasting.
“With Him are the keys of the Unseen, the
treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth
whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not
a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge” (Qur’an,
4. Christianity says about the “will” of God
that it is: 1) highly free (relating to its essence),
2) all-holy (relating to its moral direction),
3) omnipotent (relating to the force or power),
4) all-sainly (relating to the freely reasonable
creatures – requiring from them holiness, and
therefore punishing evil and rewarding the good.)
“The truth of the will” of God is manifested in
two activities: the truth, providing the law of
holiness (legal truth), and the truth, rendering
moral beings – everyone gets his just deserts
(rewarding truth or justice).
Islamic doctrine also speaks about the
“will” of God, specifying two types of His
will: 1) creating will and 2) legislature will. The
creating will bears the relation to the good and
evil, obedience and disobedience. Legislature
will applies only to the good and obedience.
5. Christianity defines the “omnipotence” of
God’s will as a property by which God carries
out everything acceptable for Him, without any
difficulties and obstacles, so that any extraneous
force cannot hold or constrain His actions. In the
Old Testament we can find the following words:
“I am the Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1).
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“Omnipotence” is also one of the attributes
of Allah. He is not overtaken by any weaknesses
or difficulties, He does not inherent any weakness
in committing anything. He is the one and unique
in creation. He has created this world, humans
and their deeds and thoughts, predestined their
fates. “...for verily Allah has power over all
things” (Quran 24/44-45).
6. The meaning of “the highest free of will”
of God is that it is determined solely by the ideas
of the all-perfect reason of God. Here’s how this
idea is expressed by the Psalmist: “Our God is
on heaven [and earth], does whatever he wants”
(Psalms 113:11).
Allah has the attribute of “creation”. In the
Quran it is said: “Allah createth what He willeth”
(Qur’an, 3/47).
7. The property of God “ubiquity”
means that God is omnipresent, that is, He is
everywhere, always and entirely. There is no
place, no creature, and no condition or the
forces in all beings in the world, where God is
not present. “ Can any hide himself in secret
places that I shall not see him? said the LORD.
Do not I fi ll heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah
The closest attributes to Christian property
of “ubiquity” of God in the Islamic doctrine are
two attributes – “all-hearing” and “all-seeing” of
Allah. “(Allah) knows of (the tricks) that deceive
with the eyes, and all that the hearts (of men)
conceal… Verily it is Allah (alone) Who hears
and sees (all things).” (Quran 40/19-20).
8. “Eternity” is one of the properties of
God in Christianity. Since God is immutable,
so He is not dependent on time. For God there
is no beginning and no end, no past, no future.
The thought of God’s eternity expresses the
words of the Psalmist addressed to God: “Before
the mountains were born, and you created the
earth and the world, even from everlasting to
everlasting, thou you are God” (Psalms 89:3).
Similar attributes of Allah are “eternity
without beginning” and “eternity without end”.
Eternal existence of the Almighty means that
Allah is the One who has no beginning. He is
eternal. The meaning of the attribute “eternity
without end” is that for God there is no death,
disappearance, He remains forever, for Him there
is no end. “He is the First and the Last, the Evident
and the Immanent...” (Qur’an, 57/3), “All that is
on earth will perish... But will abide (forever) the
Face of thy Lord”(Quran 55/26-27).
9. “Wisdom” of God means such His
property, which shows that God has the knowledge
of the most perfect goals and the best means of
achievement of these goals. God’s wisdom is
also reflected in the ability to use the necessary
means to the set goals in the most perfect way,
and is found in the works of creation and support.
Actions of God’s wisdom are manifested in
time. The Psalmist David, looking at the wise
arrangement of the world, has said, “How many
are your works, O Lord! All wisdom hast thou
made “(Psalms 103:24).
In Islam, one of the essential attributes of
Allah is an attribute of “creation”, which implies
that He is the only one Creator. There is nothing
in the world that has not been created by Him.
Having this attribute, God creates, shapes, gives
food, mercy and goods, gives and takes life,
sends suffering. – “He is Allah, the creator, the
Evolver...” (Qur’an, 59/24).
In addition to the attributes mentioned
above, the classical Islam endows Allah with
other attributes, and Orthodox Christianity
points to the other properties of God that we
present separately, without comparison with
each other.
Islam. “Speech” of Allah does not have
the start, it does not look like the speech of
His creations. It is believed that all the sacred
Scriptures – Gospel (Injil), Torah (Tavrat), Psalms
(Zabur), the Quran, and others are the speech
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of Allah. They are eternal. In other words, the
speech of the Almighty is uncreated and eternal.
The attribute of Allah “incomparability”
means that God does not resemble any of His
creatures, and nothing of the things created by
Him do not resemble Him. Likening of Allah to
anything is disbelief.
Islam understands “self-sufficiency” as the
situation when the Almighty Allah is self-reliant,
independent. It means that everybody needs Him,
while He does not need anybody and anything.
And finally, one more attribute is “unicity”.
It means that Allah is the one and indivisible and
has no associates. – “He is Allah. the One and
Only. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute. He begetteth
not, nor is He begotten”(Quran, 112/1-4”) “No
son did Allah begat, nor is there any god along
with Him...”(Qur’an, 23/91).
As for Christianity, in addition to those
properties that have been mentioned before,
God is enjoined several more special, spiritual
properties. “Holiness of will” of God is that in
Revelation God appears to us as the all-holy
being. He says about Himself: “Ye shall be holy:
for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus
19:2), “because it is written, “You shall be holy;
for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16).
“All-beatitude” of God means love for His
own good and the feeling of beatitude felt because
of the possession of this good that do not match
in humans, but in God. The fact that this property
is inherent by God, follows from the Holy
Scriptures, God is called the blessed (1 Timothy
1:11, 6:15), “... the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11),
“blessed ... the Lord “(1 Timothy 6:15), etc.
“Infinite goodness” or “God’s love for all
living beings” means that being the all-blessed
Being, i.e. loving supreme good and possessing
it, God reveals Himself as the all-loving and allmerciful Being, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), “ God
is love, and he who remains in love remains in
God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4:16). But
the most supreme manifestation and evidence
of the infinite goodness of God to human is
presented in the Scriptures by our redemption of
the only begotten Son of God: “ For God so loved
the world, that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish,
but have eternal life.”(John 3:16). This fact is
explained by the apostle John as follows: “ In this
is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for
our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
Now we will consider the idea of God in the
third world religion, Buddhism. First, it should be
noted that Buddhism is historically represented
as various trends and directions that are very
different from each other. Nevertheless, their
rallying point is a set of provisions that, anyway,
are presented in all branches of Buddhism. These
are the following: the Four Noble Truths, the
doctrine of cause and dependent origination and
karma, the doctrine anatmavada (“not soul”)
and kshanikavada (doctrine of momentariness),
and Buddhist cosmology. All Buddhists hold the
opinion that these ideas have been proclaimed by
Buddha himself.
Unlike Christianity and Islam, scientists do
not have the common opinion about the essence
of Buddhism: is it the religion, philosophical
system or ethical teaching built on psychophysical
practices. The complexity of Buddhism correlation
to religion is that Buddhism in general has no
idea of the Uncreated Divinity. However, at the
same time, because of its tolerance, Buddhism
easily fit into their teaching of various deities
from the territories where it has been penetrated.
Due to its flexibility and ability to adapt to cults
and customs of the local population, it processed
teachings inherent in a particular region
according to its core provisions and declared
local gods as incarnations or manifestations of
the Buddhas forces. The unique feature of such
deities’ fate is their susceptibility to the cause-
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effect cycling, so they have to be born and die,
like other living things. As for the reverence
of Buddha, this phenomenon can be called as
an exceptionally religious reverence, because
Buddha is considered, above all, as a teacher who
showed a way out of suffering.
The idea of God in Buddhism is rather
speculative idea of the Supreme Being who
created the external world that includes humans
who are the subject of Buddhism adept experience.
Buddhists say that they cannot say with precision
what is beyond their perception. For Buddhists,
God, who is outside of their being, is not the
subject of their experience (Quran, 1986).
In conclusion, we will summarize our
research relating to the interpretation of the idea
of God in world religions. Monotheism is the
guiding principle of the monotheistic religions of
Christianity and Islam. We have found, firstly, that
these religions do not only qualitatively proclaim
the idea of monotheism, but reveal it in different
ways. In Christianity, we can tell about God, relying
on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity that is based on
the statement that God is the one in His essence
and ternary in Persons. According to Islamic
teachings, Allah is the One, He has no similarity
and no associate, He is indivisible. Secondly, each
of these religions endows God (Christianity) and
Allah (in Islam) as a unique being, with a complex
of special properties (attributes). Taking the
example of Orthodox Christianity and classical
Islam, we have compared them, and identified a
number of parallels. As for Buddhism, it occupies
a special place among the world’s religions, as
having its own attitude to the idea of God. In order
to gain nirvana that is the key goal of the Buddhist
program, the existence of God is not of decisive
Bible. Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, canonical: in Russian translation with the
parallel passages and attachments. Moscow, Russian Bible Society, 2006. 1328 p.
Fakhrudin Muhammad (2011), Available at:
doljni_znat_o_vsevishnem (accessed 13 September 2012). Chto my obiazany znat’ o Vsevyshnem
(What we should know about the Almighty). Available at:
chto_mi_doljni_znat_o_vsevishnem (accessed 13 September 2012).
Gospel story. Moscow, “Sibirskaya blagozvonnitsa” LLC, “Yaroslavl Polygraph” OJSC, 2007.
1160 p.
Kylavuz Ahmed Saim. Islam doctrine. Translated from Turkish. Moscow, “Publishing Group
“SAD” LLC, 2010. 224 p.
Maksimov Yu., Smoliar K. (2005). Orthodox Religious Study: Islam, Buddhism, Judaism. Moscow,
Publishing House of the temple of the prophet Daniel on Kantemirovskaya, 2005. 304 p.
Quran. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Institute of Oriental Studies, commentator I.Yu.
Krachkovsky, editor V.I. Belyaev. 2nd ed. Moscow, Nauka, 1986. 727 p.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Nadezhda K. Barsukova. Some Aspects of the Idea of God in the World Religions…
Некоторые аспекты идеи Бога
в мировых религиях:
попытка сравнительного анализа
Н.К. Барсукова
Иркутский государственный университет
Россия 664003, Иркутск, ул. К. Маркса, 1
В статье рассматриваются некоторые аспекты идеи Бога в мировых религиях. Показано,
что Единобожие является ведущим принципом христианства и ислама, которые хоть
и провозглашают идею монотеизма, но при этом раскрывают ее по-разному. Кроме того,
каждая из них наделяет Бога (в христианстве) и Аллаха (в исламе), как уникального существа,
комплексом особых свойств (атрибутов). В третьей мировой религии - буддизме существование
Бога не имеет решающего значения. В работе сделан сравнительный анализ свойств Бога (с
православных позиций) и атрибутов Аллаха (с позиций классического ислама) и выявлен ряд
соответствий, которые мы предлагаем для изучения студентам-религиоведам.
Ключевые слова: христианство, ислам, буддизм, свойства Бога, атрибуты Аллаха.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 406-414
УДК 94(47) “1917-1991”
Workers in Forests: Social Identity
and Labour Motivation in Timber Industry
of Karelia in 1917-1928
Oleg I. Kulagin*
Petrozavodsk State University
33 Lenina, Petrozavodsk, 185910 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
Nowadays Russian historical science tries to find new methods and research fields in the process of
overcoming problems of the Soviet-Marxist historical heritage. One of these attempts is concerned
with elaborating some alternative research approaches for changing stereotypes of Soviet Marxism
in the field of working class history. One of such changes consists in the attempt to use socio-cultural
reconstruction of Soviet social being. This article is dedicated to studying labor relations during the
first decade of the Soviet period (1917-1928) on the example of timber industry of Northwestern Russia
and Karelia. The main problem for researching is: what was a real social image and labour motivation
among first Soviet timber workers? The article was created mainly based on the archive documents
from the National Archive of Republic of Karelia.
Keywords: timber industry in Karelia, working class history, social self-identification, labour
The research is done as a part of the grant of the Russian State Humanitarian Fund “The nation
divided by the boundary” No. 10-01-00631 a/F.
This article has been published within the framework of fulfilling the Programme of Strategic
Development for 2012-2016 “The Petrozavodsk State University Complex in the Research and
Education Space of the European North: the Strategy of Innovative Development”.
The social-economic and political processes
occurred during the last decades in Russia
effected the process of studying working class
history. And one of the most important problems
of the research is the question about the social
nature of workers in the Soviet State and disputes
about its nature after revolution, about the place
of working class in a social structure of the soviet
society. One of the total debate progresses was
the understanding of complexity and diversity of
the object.
And nowadays historians in Russia have
some expectations for using socio-cultural
“reconstruction” of a social being by means
of cultural practices. And the main problem
here for researchers also abroad is to show how
subjective presentations, thoughts, abilities,
intentions of individuals are realized in the
space of the possibilities, which is limited by
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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the objective conditions (Brained E., 2010). It is
especially important to understand it while one
tries to interpret the achievements in the field
of working history, which now includes many
unexpected aspects of labor activity and positions
of workers.
At the same time probably the most
important problem among these aspects is
the labour morality of society that has a great
importance for economic progress increasing
to capacity of the labour and well-being of the
population. Some economists believe that labour
morality is a fourth factor of production after the
known three – land, labour and capital. In modern
foreign historiography this aspect is also one of
the most popular subjects for dispute (Bessen J.,
2012). The regulations of labour morality usually
include motives and satisfaction of a worker in a
labour process.
Materials and Methods
The motivation for a labour consists of two
basic components: a level of labour discipline and
some element of creativity in the working process.
The attitude to the labour, as any complex notion,
includes many different aspects. The empirical
signs allowing to give it operational interpretation
could be: absences, coming late to work, breaches
of the labour agreement and rules of the internal
routine, faulty work, drunkenness and larceny
during working process.
U. Chase has defined the labour discipline
as “a broad variety of production peculiarities
and relations to the working process such as:
well-timed receipts on a work, honest execution
of work, valid attitude to equipment, materials
and products of the labour; accurate execution
of controlling personnel’s instructions; the
minimum absence on the work”. One should
also remember that it is not so easy to shift any
clear boundary between free and unfree labour in
the context of Soviet reality of the 1920-1930-s
(Brown C., 2010). And a female aspect of such
kind of labour could be a separate subject for
research (Weinstein B., 2006) but in this paper it
was only chalked out.
The European North of Russia was always
one of the largest regions of the country with
timber resources. For the local population who
lived in the stern natural and climatic conditions
timber very often was the main source of the
existence: place for living, the source of building
materials, firewood and food. Although some
modern authors abroad think that history of
relations between people and woods could be
interpreted more complicated (Kirby K., 2012).
According to the traditional way of life local
rural population the European North of Russia
for a long time had here some necessary skills
for logging and floating. Before the revolution in
1917 lumbering was realized seasonally and by
recruiting of workers occurred by conclusions
of contracts between logging organizations
and businessman from one side and artels of
woodsman from the other.
The chronological frames chosen for the
current project cover the period of the first Soviet
decade and include such historical events as
the advent to power of Bolshevik Party, Civil
war, New Economic Policy. With beginning of
realization of the first five-year plan in the period
of Industrialization also began the formation of
the Soviet logging enterprises in 1929. Since
that time, equally with attraction of the seasonal
workers in the timber industry constant personnel
of workers was created and one could name this
period like a Soviet proto-industrialization though
this term is still polemized (Marfany U., 2010). It
means that a new type of a Soviet worker appeared
with new solely “Soviet” motivation to the labour.
The most specific feature of this period was that
in 1917-1928 the main labour force in the process
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of logging was a local peasantr, that had their
own “rural” relation to the forests having little
common with presentations of Soviet authorities
about the rates and directions of the development
of timber resources in the region.
The first economic actions of the Soviet
authorities were connected with the Decree-law
“On the land”, in which was proclaimed that “all
resources of the earth: ore, oil, coal…, as well as
wood and water are national property and could
be used only for exclusive use state”. According
to this Decree the private property for forests was
annulled and also was declared that forestry must
be realized “in the interests of the commonwealth”
(Decree-laws of Soviet authorities, 1957, P. 1720). Actually for new authorities at this moment
the exploitation of forests was the problem of
economic survival, because they need to solve
the problem fuel crisis in the situation of Civil
war. Though for Russian peasant understood
that the definition of “commonwealth” itself was
connected with a notion of “communal interest”
implied the natural right of peasants for forests
that were used by them for economic survival
during long times. As a result the annulling of
private property for forests was perceived by
peasantry as a possibility for uncontrolled logging
wood for selling. Thereby at this period the labour
motivation was concerned with communal needs
of Karelian peasantry in wood.
However these labour motives of peasantry
for felling wood were not acceptable for new
authorities. In January 17-28, 1918 in Petrograd
the All-Russian congress of land committees was
held and it debated the Main law about socialization
of land. This law stipulated equalizing using
of land among peasants, including woods. The
5th article of Soviet Decree “On socialization of
land” (February 19, 1918) runs: “The disposal
of subsoil, woods, waters and natural forces are
given, according to their ranks, to district, regional
and federal Soviet authorities under control of
the latter…” (NARK. F. R-249. Inv. 1. F. 1/22.
L. 15). In March of 1918 the Land Committee
of Olonetskaja provine (Gubzemelkom) began
to realize these decisions and pointed that all
private woods must be taken under guard to
prevent self-willed chopping of peasants. All
the moneys previously earned by peasants in the
process of logging wood also must be given to
These resolutions met protests among
peasantry of Olonetskaja province. During the
period of March-April 1918 they decided to
defeat the nationalization of peasant’s plots of
wood lands, which was, actually, imposed upon
by new authorities. Peasants demanded money
brought for logging wood and also marked that
they could not agree with the Law on abolition
of private property for peasantry woods, because
these woods were the only treasure for them.
Moreover, when in Autumn in 1918 the labour
conscription for wood harvesting was started,
peasants of Avdeevskaja volost decided not to
recognize Soviet rule and declared the following:
“…Soviet rule, as treat us against our will and as
leading us to death, we could not recognize and
also will not obey all its directions that are not
good for our interests…” (NARK. F. R-249. Inv. 1.
F. 1/7). Thus, during this period in conditions of
general famine and devastation the main labour
motive for Karelian peasantry was material
incentive (reception of “timber’ money) as the
only one clear labour motivation for local rural
population who for a long time lived and survived
due to wood trade.
Following realizing the labour conscription
for wood harvesting among local population
did not give any positive result, because people,
actually, were not concerned with forced labour
without economic interest. The problem was
not solved even when in 1918-1919 the Interim
rules for distribution of wood for local needs
were realized, which simplified getting timber
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raw materials for locals their own terms and
mitigated punishments for logging timber without
Moreover, in the conditions of devastation
fuel wood crisis worsen relations between
townspeople and rural population. Peasants
who had supplies of firewood refused to sell it
to town dwellers. According to the opinion of
the head of the Pudozhskiy wood committee in
December 1919 this situation was deplorable,
because firewood were stocked mainly by welloff peasantry who did not want anything from
the town that could be exchanged for firewood,
but working-class from towns had to sell the last
cloth just to buy firewood. At that time the only
one motive for successful labour was providing
with foodstuffs. From the report of a woodward
of Kenozerskoe forestry in May 24, 1919 follows
that in Kenozerskoe and Pochezerskoe forestry
abject poverty and need of bread resulted in
starvation of local population when people had to
eat only straw.
Then after the conclusion of the Civil war
Soviet authorities began to pay more attention
to timber concession. However, this form of
economic measures was not so effective, because
foreign businessmen and Soviet authorities could
not very often come to an agreement. At the same
time the interference of foreign concessionaires
in the sphere of the economic relations between
Soviet power and workers of timber industry
created the field for competition between a
traditional model of Soviet labour “motivationenforcement” and a model of material incentive.
These apprehensions somewhat were justified and
about them in its report “About timber concession
on the north of the European Russia” spoke
V. I. Lenin: “We were spoken that concessionaries
will create exclusive conditions for their own
workers. They will bring for them best cloth,
best footwear and best provision. This will be
their propaganda amongst our workers that must
endure a lot of deprivations and will endure it for
a long time” (The Soviet timber economy, 2005,
P. 42). At the same time Lenin considered the
policy of concessions as a policy of continuation
of a war between socialist and capitalist camps.
In this war Soviet rule continued traditionally
to resort to the forced types of labour motivation.
One of such kinds of methods of labour “stipulation
was “penalized timber squads” that began to form
in February 1921 according to the regulation of
the Olonetskiy executive committee. Under the
regulation nationals who did not fulfill the State
plan of stocking wood must be assigned to the
Committee of labour deserters. That is extremely
significant that for the purpose of convoy and
supervision of these “deserts” the Committee
assigned 20 Red Army soldiers. So, one could
see that on this stage of economic development
of Soviet State an inefficiency of militarization of
labour in the timber industry became obvious.
In 1920-1921 the main problem of social,
economic and political life in Karelia was
fulfillment of plans of food and timber allocations.
The attempts of resolving these problems by
means of punishments and intimidation only
worsened the situation. Since the beginning of
1921 in a connection with a provision crisis in
Soviet Russia transportation of food to Karelia
actually ceased. Local population, who did not
earn anything in lumbering, left this work.
Important changes in stipulating labour
motivation of timber workers must be realized
in the result of resolutions of the 10th Congress
of Russian Communist Party that considered
abnormality of a form of relationships between
town and country existed in that period when
peasantry (the main labour force in lumbering)
was in unprofitable conditions of life and working
in comparing with town workers. In the Soviet
history this was the beginning of, so called, New
Economic Policy (NEP), which implicated some
elements of capitalism in Soviet economic policy
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and of course should have produced new forms of
labour stipulation.
However, practically the main incentive
for intensification of production sphere in
timber industry was remained compulsion and
frightening, which hardly could be called as an
effective method of labour motivation. According
to the sentence of Olonetskiy revolutionary
tribunal in December 22, 1921: nationals of
Povenetskiy uyezd shirked working in State
lumbering during Winter of 1921 must be taken
to work in Povenetskiy regional timber enterprise.
In a case of evasion from this work they must be
sent to compulsory working to the railway station
Segezha (Murmanskaja railway) at the disposal
of the Timber department of Povenetskiy regional
Committee for the period of three months. Such
kind of measures, various mobilizations and
assessment of peasants and workers of Karelia
with special labour tax revolted population.
Slender income forced peasants to leave work in
The following development of new economical
relations effected forming of new self-perception
of timber workers of Karelia and construction of
new elements of their labour motivation. From
the information report of Karelian regional
department of SPA (State Political Agency – in
1922-1923 Soviet intelligence service) in July 23,
1923 about the situation in timber industry: “…
The attitude of workers to the Soviet rule and
RKP(b) (Communist party) is benevolent, to the
policy of NEP – is strained and to merchants –
is hostile, because of rise of market prices…”
(NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 266. L. 7-9). From
this report one could learned that workers were
displeased with scanty earnings and its belated
delivery. As a result workers tried to leave work.
It is obvious that in this period workers in timber
industry began to realize themselves as a separate
social force with specific interests and means of
its realization.
The system of material stipulation that was
formed in lumbering at that time along with
positive moments more and more emphasized
social antagonism between proletariat and
peasantry who worked in timber industry. In
sawmills delivery of wages for workers was
timely and in terms of money. At the same time
in lumbering peasants in maximum could earn
only 30-35 pounds of flour. As a result peasantry
got payment with delay (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1.
F. 494. L. 57-60). These circumstances affected
labour motivation and general political feeling of
peasants. From reports of SPA about anti-Soviet
attitudes among workers of the timber industry
one could learn that Soviet intelligence service
stressed that such kind of attitude was typical
not for “the main proletariat of Karelia”, but for
seasonal workers and peasants (NARK. F. P-3.
Inv. 2. F. 178. L. 18-19).
Unequal social and economical conditions
between workers and peasants working in one
industry repeatedly underlined on nonpartisan
peasant conferences held during that period.
Particularly, peasants very often complained
about better housing conditions, social security
(social insurance, eight-hour working day) and
material welfare of workers. From their point of
view, peasants had nothing of it: “…If a peasant
went to lumbering and then got ill, he would never
be provided with anything, if he was killed or
disabled by a tree, he would also get nothing…”
(NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 630. L. 5).
Duality of social image of timber workers
at that period was determined also by different
vision of labour motivation for proletarians and
peasants. On peasantry conferences well-off
peasants stressed that the Soviet rule is a rule
only for proletarians, because peasants were
oppressed during all the period of Soviet rule:
“…a proletarian do not pay duties, but a peasant
pays it on penalty of arm. The State creates
timber trusts only to press peasants and to give
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them low salaries, etc…” (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1.
F. 630. L. 5). Karelian peasants also pointed that
before the Revolution it was easier to negotiate
with separated manufacturers and contractors
than with new authorities. They traditionally
complained about administration of timber
enterprises that had higher salaries and consisted
of contractors of the old regime who were “skilled”
in red tape. Peasants also lamented low salaries
in lumbering, which was delivered belated and
therewith was paid in kind (expensive, inferior
and useless goods for peasants).
Proletarians’ salaries in sawing production
were paid although more stably, but in general
figures were rather low. In 1924-1925 an
average earning in sawing production in
Karelia was: in January, 1924 – 31 rubles, in
February – respectively 36, in March – 40, in
April – 33, in May – 33, in June – 38, in July –
38 (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 489. L. 15). It is
remarkable, that comparing with other industries
(mining, food industries), with Onezhskiy plant
etc. an average earning in timber industry was
lower. It may sound ironic, but the number of
timber workers was much bigger than in other
industries and the importance of timber industry
was essential for the economical development of
the region.
We should also remember that scantiness
of salaries in lumbering was aggravated by the
growth of prices for foodstuffs. For example,
in 1925 in lumbering of the State steamship
company in Kemskiy uyezd bucking of 1 sazhen
(measure of length = 2.34 metres) of firewood
cost 60 kopecks and in the pre-revolutionary
period it cost 60-70 kopecks. As a result, with a
glance of eight-hour working day, two workers
had time to buck only 2 sazhens of firewood. So,
the earnings of a worker was equal to the same
in pre-revolutionary period, but prices for food
were increased in Soviet time for 200 per cent in
comparing to the previous period. It is especially
deplorable fact if we will take in the account
that this scanty earnings were given to women
and youngster girls who were mainly engaged in
bucking wood, because men worked in shipment,
where they had higher earnings (NARK. F. P-3.
Inv. 1. F. 632. L. 62-63).
Low earnings and obvious disinterestedness
of timber workers in the results of their labour
resulted in the increase of worker’s absences.
The administration of timber enterprises tried
to struggle against it with rigorous measures
(penalties, removals from plants etc.), but it
did not give any positive effect. Moreover,
workers considered it as “punitive measures” of
administration that consisted of “the old-regime
Low salaries and hard living conditions
led not only to absences, but also to systematic
drunkenness among workers. For example, in
April, 1925 at timber enterprises Nb. 37 and 38
workers’ celebration of Easter resulted in carousal
that ended in knifing and severe wound of one of
the workers (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 632. L. 8).
Such kinds of incidents occurred at other timber
enterprises as well. Worker’s disinterest in the
results of their labour also resulted in sloppy
work, in overly attitude to subjects of labour and
even in cases of stealing.
Social contradictions were exhibited not only
between peasants who were previously worked
in lumbering and proletarians who worked in
sawmills in relatively better conditions. Conflict
situations in labour relations were also observed
between workers and administration of timber
enterprises. For the social self-perception of
timber workers at that period it was typical to be in
opposition to administration of enterprises, which
was taken as antagonistic class for proletarians.
Therewith, difference in material stipulation of
workers and office employees became the main
reason of a social conflict. In Informational
summary of SPA and governing body of Karelia
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about the situation in timber industry February
15, 1924 pointed to low salaries of workers who
were paid with a delay, had bad living conditions
and rude administration’s treatment. The hardest
financial position was for workers in lumbering
who had scanty salary and it incited them to
advancement of categorical demands: to rise
salaries for 50-60 % under the threat of strike
(NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 494. L. 42-44).
This problem was repeatedly discussed at
conferences of Communist Party. In materials
of the Third Karelian Party conference it was
marked that, for example, from 150 employees
of Kemskiy branch of Severoles it was hard
to find 5 proletarians. It was also marked that
among employees one could find big bureaucrats
and former (old regime) policemen. It was also
mentioned that so called “specialists” could
not be considered as so, because “they could
not distinguish deal board from firry board.
Meanwhile, conflicts between administration
and workers could be eliminated with supreme
effort (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 211. L. 11). The
situation was complicated by following: workers
had no trust in “old” specialists, because of their
“classism” and also did not believe in “new”
specialists for the reason of their theoretical
and practical incompetence. At the same time
specialist’s salary was significantly bigger
than workers had and delivered without delays.
Employees of timber enterprises had also some
benefits workers did not have. This conflict
situation became sharper especially when the
administration turned out those who worked at
enterprises for a long period and then became
invalid (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 675. L. 25).
It is interesting that such kind of contradictions
between workers and administration were
explained in documents of SPA. In memorandum
of Karelian SPA about the situation in timber
industry in Autumn, 1927 pointed, that during
1927 totally 96 cases of worker’s resentment
were fixed and 76 of them (79.2%) were referred
exactly to complains to the administration. The
main reason for such a situation, form SPA’s
point of view “…was concealed in the fact that
social composition of administration was mainly
qualified (specialists) who officially contact with
workers and in overwhelming majority are alien
element for proletarians…” (NARK. F. P-3. Inv.
2. F. 178. L. 18-19).
However, timber worker’s attitude to
their labour environment was basically not
“proletarian”, but “peasant” because in majority
they were rural people. For example, according
to the documents, in January, 1925 there
was discontent among workers of all timber
enterprises for the reason of accordance of some
advantages to kulaks (wealthy peasants) in a
situation of distribution of plots woods. The
same peasant consciousness became apparent
also in labour motivation of timber workers
in Olonetskiy uyezd. They expressed their
resentment about low salary and delays in its
pay-out and said the following: “…We work
only because authorities demand taxes and seed
loan, but considering absence of other earnings
and in case of appearance of other jons we will
leave this work and move to another place…”
(NARK. F. П-3. Inv. 1. F. 675. L. 25).
That is extremely significant that the
interpretation of the social image of timber workers
from local authorities’ point of view was also
contradictory. For example, in survey of political,
economical and social situation in Pogotskaja
volost in May, 1925 particularly pointed: “…
population considers themselves as peasantry,
but solely lives on lumbering and a peasantry
farm depend on earnings from lumbering and
floating. As a result this population could not be
considered as peasants in complete sense of this
notion…” (NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 632. L. 14).
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The peasant nature of timber industry
of Karelia in the middle of the 1920s was also
reflected in seasonality of worker’s occupation
on timber enterprises. The report of Karelian
regional Committee of Communist Party in MayJune, 1924 marked the lack of labour force on
wood floating works resulted in 60 percent of local
timber floaters and 40 per cent of those arrived
from Onezhskiy uyezd of Archangelsk province.
At the same time importation of floating workers
from Karelia was necessary, because during the
period of haymaking the local peasantry did not
worked in wood floating.
However, at this period the process of
forming constantly working personnel of timber
industry enterprises began, but this process was
realized rather slowly.
So, during the period of New Economical
Policy the social image and labour motivation
of timber workers started to change, but this
historical experiment was interrupted by Stalin’s
industrialization when the economical motivation
for efficient labour was replaced in a definitive
way by the system of social emulations and State
Bessen J. More Machines, Better Machines…or Better Workers? (2012) The Journal of Economic
History, 72(1), pp. 44-74. doi: 10.1017/S0022050711002439
Brained E. Reassessing the Standard of Living in the Soviet Union: An Analysis Using Archival
and Anthropometric Data (2010) The Journal of Economic History, 70(1). pp. 83-117. doi:
Brown C. Shifting Boundaries between Free and Unfree Labor (2010) International labor and
working-class history, 1(78), pp. 4-11. doi: 10.1017/S0147547910000086
Dekrety Sovetskoi vlasti. Tom. 1. 25 oktiabria 1917g. – 16 marta 1918 g. [Decree-laws of Soviet
authorities. Vol. 1. October 25 1917 – March 16 1918], Moscow, State Publishing House of
Political Literature, 1957. pp. 17-20.
Kirby K. Woods and people: putting forests on the map – By David Foot (2012) The economic
history review, (65), pp. 389-390. doi: 10.1111/j.1468 0289.2011.00622_11.x
Marfany U. Is it still helpful to talk about proto-industrialization? Some suggestions from a
Catalan case study (2010) The economic history review, (63), pp. 942-973. doi: 10.1111/j.14680289.2008.00466.x
Natsional’nyi arhiv Respuliki Karelia [National Archive of Republic of Karelia – then
NARK]. Fund (then – F.). P-3. Inventory (then – Inv.). 1. File (then – F.). 211. List (then –
L.). 11.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 266.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 489.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 494.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 630.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 632.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 1. F. 675.
NARK. F. P-3. Inv. 2. F. 178.
NARK. F. R-249. Inv. 1. F. 1/22.
NARK. F. R-249. Inv. 1. F. 1/7.
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Oleg I. Kulagin. Workers in Forests: Social Identity and Labour Motivation in Timber Industry of Karelia in 1917-1928
17. Sovetskaja lesnaia ekonomika: Moskva-Sever, 1917-1941 gg. [The Soviet timber economy:
Moscow-North, 1917-1941, collection of documents], Petrozavodsk, Karelian science centre of
Russian Academy of science, 2005. 442 p.
18. Weinstein B. “They don’t even look like women workers”: Femininity and Class in TwentiethCentury Latin America (2006) International labor and working-class history, 1(69), pp. 161176. doi: 10.1017/S0147547906000093
Рабочие в лесах:
социальная самоидентификация
и трудовая мотивация
в лесной промышленности Карелии
в 1917-1928 годах
О. И. Кулагин
Петрозаводский государственный университет
Россия 185910, Петрозаводск, пр. Ленина, 33
Сегодня российская историческая наука находится в поиске новых методов и
исследовательских полей, преодолевая проблемы исторического наследия советского
исторического наследия. В частности, выработка неких альтернативных исследовательских
подоходов для преодоления стереотипов советского марксизма в области истории рабочего
класса. Одно из таковых изменений заключается в попытке использования социальнокультурной реконструкции советского общественного бытия. Данная статья посвящена
изучению трудовых отношений на протяжении первого десятилетия советской власти
(1917-1928) на примере лесной промышленности Карелии. Основная исследовательская
проблема заключается в следующем: какова была реальная самоидентификация и трудовая
мотивация среди советских лесных рабочих? Статья создана преимущественно на базе
архивных документов Национального архива Республики Карелия.
Ключевые слова: лесная промышленность Карелии, история рабочего класса, социальная
самоидентификация, трудовая мотивация.
Данное исследование было подготовлено при поддержке гранта РГНФ№ 10-01-00631 a/F
«Народ, разделенный границей».
«Статья опубликована в рамках реализации Программы стратегического развития на 20122016 годы «Университетский комплекс ПетрГУ в научно-образовательном пространстве
Европейского Севера: стратегия инновационного развития»».
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 415-437
УДК 124
A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler
as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects
and an Example of Purposiveness in Physics
Alexei V. Nesteruk*
University of Portsmouth,
Lion Gate Building, PORTSMOUTH, PO1 3HF, UK
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
This paper continues to investigate the role of human subjectivity and its delimiters in articulating
the universe in physics and cosmology. As a case study, we reflect upon the complex of ideas of the
so called Participatory universe by later J. A. Wheeler. The objective of the paper is to explicate the
role of the human agency as a centre of disclosure and manifestation of the universe as well the as
teleology of scientific representation of the world implied by the intrinsic purposiveness of human
Keywords: universe, participation, subject, observer, existence, purposiveness.
A metaphysical interpretation and understanding of the world is neither
scientifically attainable nor scientifically excluded. It is another mode of
cognitive approach to the world, a transition from the (as much as possible)
neutral observation of the world to a personal relationship with the world. It
is a product of the freedom of humankind, and therefore interpretation and
understanding define its entire stance towards the world, its mode of use of
the world.
Scientific observation does not simply affirm the reality of the cosmos;
it constitutes it as an existential fact…, then every reality is recapitulated in
the relationship of humanity with an active reason (logos) as an invitationto-relationship, which is directed towards humanity alone.
Christos Yannaras, Postmodern Metaphysics, pp. 114, 118, 137
In a recent paper (Nesteruk, 2012 [2]) the
issue of delimiters in cosmological research
which originate in the structure of the human
knower was addressed, in particular, how the
purposiveness of human actions cascades towards
the purposiveness of cosmological research
(Nesteruk, 2012[3]). The latter paper dealt with
a “formal” purposiveness in cosmology related to
the explicability of the universe. This explicability
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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Alexei V. Nesteruk. A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects…
is linked to the human intentional search for the
sense of its own existence in the universe, so
that the purpose of explanation in cosmology is
related to the explication of the human condition.
It was argued, in particular, that the theoretical
representations of the “universe as a whole”
and “the Big Bang” (as the encapsulated origin
of the universe) act as the telos of cosmological
explanation and, hence, as well, as the telos of
anthropological explanation related to the origin
of individual persons at birth (Nesteruk 2012[1]).
In this paper we would like to discuss, as a case
study, an interesting example of how scientific
development in the 20th century led a famous
physicist John Archibald Wheeler to extend the
naturalistic methodology together with classical
ideal of rationality (where subject and object are
entirely separated and the world is supposed to
pre-exist independently of human insight and its
activity) towards that which can be described as
a phenomenological stance portraying man as
the centre of disclosure and manifestation of the
world. It is of interest that this extension has some
teleological connotations, bringing teleology
into the heart of scientific explicability of the
Wheeler, after a long intellectual evolution
working in physics, attempted to approach physical
reality not as something “out there”, which is
passively described by observers, but to see it as
a genesis through conscious dialogue between
observers-participants and physical reality, so
that the universe emerges as a special articulation
of the relationship between human intelligence
and physical reality (Wheeler 1994 [1], p. 128).
This approach, challenging the natural scientific
attitude, was not appreciated by physicists who
found Wheeler’s ideas “unpalatable in view of its
rather mystical overtones” (Carr 1998, p. 158), and
hence has not received any further attention and
development. A sceptical reaction of physicists
to Wheeler’s ideas can be understood because
his ideas represent a metaphysical extension of
physics which physicists do not consider as a
part of their vocation and duty. However, seen
historically and in particular in conjunction with
philosophical developments in the 20th century,
this was not an entirely arbitrary attempt for
it manifested a certain inevitability of sliding
towards a transcendental or phenomenological
appropriation of physics if the latter were to be
to tackle the issue of its own foundation and its
very facticity. A simple question which must
be posed by any physicist who is interested to
know the truth would be this: why is physics
possible at all? And here the question is not only
about the intelligibility of the world, but rather
of the very basic existential premises of physics
related to humanity as its agent. Physics, as a
science and social activity, is a product and a
certain accomplishment of human beings who
are themselves a part of the physical world.
In this sense the facticity of physics is related
to a particular position of human beings in
the world, such that this world allows them to
produce its own explication and description. On
purely philosophical grounds, this explicability
and description has an absolutely contingent
character related, speaking in Heideggerian
terms, to that fragment of the unconcealed being
which is associated to a specific living presence,
that is human persons. Still, for physicists, prone
to reductionism, there remains a question as
to whether physics itself can explicate its own
existence, or, in a slightly different parlance,
can some simple initial rules of interaction
with the world (which, in fact, presuppose the
world’s explicability from the beginning) lead
with necessity to that picture of the world which
we have here and now. In this sense the case of
Wheeler’s thought (in spite of deviating from
the established stream of physics) represents
an example, in the history of scientific ideas,
of how a naturalistic epistemology in science
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Alexei V. Nesteruk. A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects…
in attempting to make a certain self-correction,
through the search for its own facticity, leads to
a transcendental problematic (remarkably with
teleological overtones), that is to the view that
the complete picture of physical reality must
include the conditions of its explicability and
Wheeler develops his own transcendental
argument basing himself in Einstein’s theory
of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics which,
according to him, changed the vision of the
human position in the universe by making
human beings co-creators of physical reality
in a very non trivial sense. He reformulates de
facto the famous paradox of human subjectivity
in the world1 which states, on the one hand, that
humanity communicates some palpability and
sense to the physical world, and, on the other
hand, the fact that human incarnate subjectivity
is a finite accomplishment of this world:
“The brain is small. The universe is large.
In what way, if any, is it, the observed, affected
by man, the observer? Is the universe deprived of
all meaningful existence in the absence of mind?
Is it governed in its structure by the requirement
that it gives birth to life and consciousness? Or
is man merely an unimportant speck of dust in a
remote corner of space? In brief, are life and mind
irrelevant to the structure of the universe – or are
they central to it?”(Wheeler 1975, p. 270).2
Let us comment on this passage from the
point of view of the already existing insights
which came before Wheeler in philosophy and
“The brain is small. The universe is large.”
Indeed the size of the physical organ, which is
responsible for mental articulation of the whole
universe, is incommensurable with the spatial
size of the visible universe. Still, and this is an
existential fact, it is from within this spatial scale
that the articulation of microscopic realities of
particles and fields, as well as huge astronomical
formations is possible by this organ. There is
something in this incommensurability, which is
not physical, or, at least is not based on physical
interactions. The very idea of a continuum of the
universe as a single and united whole, although
inaccessible to the empirical grasp, reflects a
non-local and non-physical property of the world
which is detected by consciousness through the
power of intuition.3
“In what way, if any, is it, the observed [the
universe], affected by man, the observer? Is the
universe deprived of all meaningful existence
in the absence of mind?” Physics teaches us
that, through our own spatial and temporal
insignificance in the whole grandeur of the
universe, we are just late newcomers into this
world who only recently started to interfere
with the physical environment on this planet.
Our ability to affect the cosmos at large is only
a matter of science fiction and some futuristic
prophecies.4 However the question of Wheeler
has another, much more serious dimension
related to epistemology: will the universe as
we observe it, that is see it in its particular
contingent appearance as intricately related to
our physiological and psychological constitution,
be unconcealed to us in a different way, related
to that measure, which man will be, in relation
to that which can be unconcealed. Responding
to the second half of a question formulated in
the beginning of this paragraph, the question of
the universe in absence of the human mind is
an ontic question: indeed one can build, so to
speak onto-cosmology (in analogy with ontotheology criticized by Heidegger), in which the
universe will be an impersonal being allegedly
existing independently of the human grasp, to
which one can attribute many intellectually
imposed properties. The question then is what
is the value of this universe for human beings.
Rephrasing Heidegger, “can one dance and sing
in front of such a universe”? (Heidegger 1969,
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p. 72). The answer has been given long before by
the proponents of theological insights, that the
universe without human beings is dumb and it is
humanity which is the “voice” (hypostasis) of the
universe (See, for example, (Torrance 2001, p. 4),
(Clément1976, p. 91)). The question of Wheeler is
exactly about this: can one predicate the universe
as existent without regarding humanity in measure
of interaction with which this universe comes to
its unconcelment? The development of physics in
the 20th century with its increasing understanding
that its results depend on the contexts which
are not strictly objective and detached from us,
but are set up by us through experiments and
measurements, led Wheeler to an intuition that
the mechanistically constructed representation
of the universe remains no more than an idea,
a mental accomplishment. Correspondingly
the “meaningful existence of the universe in
the absence of the mind” is a contradiction in
terms, for the very word meaning has strictly
human connotations (if we avoid any references
to theology, which can suggest that the meaning
of the universe originates in the creative and
willing activity of the divine agency, which or
who sustains this universe through creation out
of nothing). In view of this, Wheeler attempts to
address the issue of meaning: where the meaning
comes from and whether it can come from some
underlying physics, initially free from human
Wheeler’s enquiry into the foundations of
the historical contingent facticity of physics came
to its explicit manifestation in his train of thought
after a long period in his scientific activity when
he was following a scientific programme of
Einstein, who believed that it was possible to
unify different physical forces reducing them
to some geometrical effects. Wheeler spent a
considerable effort to advance the so called
“geometrodynamics” whose essence was also
to explain the genesis of macroscopic space and
time by appealing to some underlying structures
which follow the rules of quantum physics
(Wheeler 1968). Wheeler argued that space-time
is a classical concept, an approximation, which
is incompatible with the quantum principle
(Wheeler 1973, p. 227). This meant to Wheeler
that the basic ingredients of classical physical
theories, such as space and time, cannot survive
their extrapolation into the microscopic world
where quantum principle rules, so that space
and time are not basics and are subject to change
and further explication. Generalising this
observation Wheeler makes a much more radical
conclusion about the mutability of physics, which
implies that all classical physical concepts,
while they loose their sense in the limiting case
of microscopic scales, and, in particular, in a
context of gravitational collapse predicted by
general relativity, are subject to genesis from the
realm which has no obvious and visual physical
characteristics at all. In other words, physics
which is usually associated with some immutable
laws, constants of nature and harmonies in
the world ceases to function in extreme cases
such as gravitational collapse corresponding
to the origin of the universe, so that, according
to Wheeler, “there is no law except the law
that there is no law” or “ultimate mutability is
the central feature of physics” (Wheeler 1973,
p. 242). One must reflect upon this last assertion
with a grain of a philosophical scepticism, for the
ultimate mutability of physics cannot serve as its
transcendental delimiter: physics is impossible if
mutability reigns in the universe simply because
experience cannot then be ordered. Mutability
excludes any identity in time for, according to
Wheeler, there is no time, so that the mutability
implies an infinite degree of differentiation
in being, which cannot be stabilised even
hypothetically in any reflecting thought. Still this
mutability has a limit: the world of existences
with human observers must be produced from
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Alexei V. Nesteruk. A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects…
it and retrospectively constituted. Thus from the
beginning the mutability affirmed has its limits
originating in the counterfactual causality towards
this mutability following from the actuality of
the empirically present (and immutable to some
extent) physical world. This causality is linked to
the human agency which constitutes the world.
And this human agency enters Wheeler’s scheme
through the “quantum principle” by which he
means an epistemological, as well as ontological
claim originating in the extreme version of
the so called Copenhagen interpretation of
quantum mechanics that quantum phenomenon
is phenomenon as long as it is observed and
articulated by some intelligible agency. This
implies that what physics calls “nature” is not just
something “out there”, in itself, but that which is
constituted through the interaction of intelligible
beings (who are capable of asking questions and
receiving the responses) with that “something”
which is initially inarticulate and which is being
questioned. Wheeler writes: “Nothing is more
astonishing about quantum mechanics than
its allowing one to consider seriously the view
that the universe would be nothing without
observership as surely as a motor would be dead
without electricity” (Wheeler 1994, p. 39). Then
he comments on observership, referring to the
views of Bohr and Wigner who advocated that
observation and measurement are complete when
they enter consciousness of an observer and
then can be communicated to another observer
in a plain language; “.. an experiment is only
an experiment when the outcome is expressed
in the form of communicable knowledge,
knowledge which can be shared” (Wheeler
1994[1], p. 26). But “observership” is not a
simple term, it cannot be defined prior to the
act of observation and establishing its meaning:
“What is ‘observership’? It is too early to answer.
[..] The main point here is to have a word that is
not defined and never will be defined until that
day when one sees much more clearly [..] how
the observations of all the participators, past,
present and future, join together to define what
we call ‘reality’ ” (Wheeler 1994[1], p. 26). By
employing a phenomenological language, reality,
according to Wheeler, is defined as an intentional
correlate of cumulative acts of observation and as
a communal accomplishment along a particular,
historically contingent, but, perhaps, teleologically
driven ways. The meaning of reality can only be
established if there is a field of intersubjectivity
with some trans-empirical features, which
transcend physical past, present and future. It is
in the framework of this intersubjectivity through
its continuous embodiment through observershipparticipation that the truth and meaning of things
is established.
Being a physicist, Wheeler does not pretend
to provide any sophisticated theory of how to
derive the meaning of physical concepts such
as space, time, particles etc. from a deep level
of human subjectivity, that is the outline of their
constitution. This is the work of phenomenologists
who do not appeal to any vague physical analogies.
Instead of this Wheeler traces the logic which is
inherent in physical thought which makes the
genesis of these concepts plausible through their
consistency with each other. On the basis of this
he conjectures that we enter now a “third era of
physics”, which should explain the genesis of
such concepts: “we have to account for all the
structure that makes physics what it is” (Wheeler
1983, p. 404).5 Wheleer believes that the question
“What makes meaning?” applied to physics, is an
existential question, for it also addresses the issue
of the existence of human beings and the universe.
But unlike existential philosophers, who were
sceptical about science’s capacity to deal with this
issue6, he believes that physics itself can address
the issue of the facticity of existence: “Tomorrow,
will it not be existence itself that comes under the
purview of physics?” (Wheeler 1983, p. 404).
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Alexei V. Nesteruk. A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects…
The more radical, metaphysically oriented
conclusion of Wheeler is that the overall reality,
that is the totality of the world, is constituted
through the interaction between the inarticulate
“out there” with human intelligent agencies who
create the network of questions and answers
directed to and received from what they intend
to call “reality”. It is interesting that this trend of
Wheeler’s thought is similar to phenomenology
which asserts nature, as articulated worldly reality,
as having sense only in the context of the dialogue
between human consciousness and that which is
posited by consciousness. It is the dialogue with
the unarticulated otherness of consciousness that
ultimately reveals the meaning. J. Kockelmans, a
philosopher and commentator of Husserl, writes
with respect to this dialogue that the meaning of
the world arises in the encounter between man
and the world and “exists only in an interplay of
question and answer. We find the question in the
world but it is still implicit and vague. Through my
reply, which itself is a question, the first question
becomes sharper so that a more accurate answer
becomes possible. Meaning arises in a dialectic
relationship between man and the world, but it is
not possible to say which of the two first begins
the ‘interplay’ and which of the two first gives
meaning to the other” (Kockelmans 1966, p. 53).
This passage is strikingly similar to Wheeler’s
ideas that physical reality reveals itself as an
evolving complex of meanings in the course of the
interplay between questions and answers which
the human subject addresses to and receives from
that “out there” which is eventually constituted
by human observers as the physical reality and
nature. Wheeler writes: “Physics gives light and
pressure-tools to query and to communicate.
Physics also gives chemistry and biology and,
through them, observer-participators. They, by
way of the devices they employ, the questions they
ask, and the registrations they communicate…
develop all they know or ever can know about
the world” (Wheeler 1988, p. 5). Elsewhere
he develops a simple analogy with a game of
twenty questions which aims to recognise a word
preconceived and hidden by a person through
a simple process of interrogation of this person
subjected to a single rule that it must be consistent
with all previous questions and responses. In fact,
if this word was not preconceived in advance, it
will inevitably be constituted through the logic of
the game simply because there must be answers
“yes” or “no” which through a certain logic and
questions’ content, constitute the sought word
(Wheeler 1979). Similarly, he claims, in nature, by
asking questions we initiate the process of nature’s
response, which, in the course of enquiry leads
us to the constitution of that which we intuitively
aimed. Phenomenology described this process as
a mental accomplishment of what is understood
by nature: “nature”, which science aims at
through idealization and mathematisation, is not
something a-priori given to human observers and
thinkers, but something which is constructed and
evolved towards an indefinite telos. “Nature”,
thus constructed, becomes exteriorised as an
ideal (Gurwitsch 1974, p. 46) which is subject
to accomplishment in a historical movement of
scientific research because mathematics as human
science is far from being static and accomplished,7
and its advance creates more space for physicists
to invade the realm of the yet unknown (although,
perhaps, intelligible and invisible). In this sense,
in analogy with phenomenology which makes a
distinction between nature as it appears in primary
perceptual experience (the inarticulate out there
in Wheeler’s scheme) and nature-for-physicists
(that is “nature” as constituted through questions
and answers), which is a mental accomplishment,
as an ideal limit of convergent sequences of
“images of nature” which are constructed by
physicists in the course of history, one should
treat Wheeler’s genesis of meaning as an evergoing mental completion of the concept of nature.
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Alexei V. Nesteruk. A “Participatory Universe” of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects…
In the words of another phenomenologist, A.
Gurwitsch, “nature” appears to be a “hypostasis
of mental creations”8: this terminology resembles
an old philosophical and theological notion of the
so called en-hypostasization (personification, or
human articulation) of nature or the universe.9
Seen in this perspective, Wheeler’s treatment
of physical reality through quantum and
computational synthesis makes it clear that the
notion of physical reality, nature, or the universe
has sense only in the context of humanity, which
is in a position to relate it to the commonalities
of perceptual experience, that is to put it in the
context of incarnate existence-in-situation, as
well as recapitulate them through an intelligible
representation. It is in this sense that one can
suggest that all images of the mathematised nature
manifest the presence of the immutable dualistic
constitution of things in the world, namely a
fundamental differentiation (Gr.: diaphora)
between the empirical and intelligible.
When we have pointed out that the
construct of “physical nature” in Wheeler’s
scheme represents an ideal, which can only
be accomplished in the whole of the historical
process, we assumed this as a philosophical
hypothesis about hidden teleology in the scientific
advance. Correspondingly, the progress of
articulation of nature through its computational
synthesis has meaning only as one particular
tendency of the human spirit under which
scientific knowledge and technology advance.
The universe then is to be constructed along some
particular path of knowledge corresponding to
the human condition. Indeed Wheeler’s questions
and answers create a particular way forward
in bringing reality to unconcelament, the way
which in its historical concreteness is contingent
and non-generic. However, one must recognise
together with a phenomenological critique of the
mathematisation of nature10, that the universe
constructed along the lines of Wheeler’s scheme
represents characteristically the fragmentation of
the primary existential link between humanity
and the world, considered through a particular
discursive function of the human intellect which
is based on abstraction and idealisation. “Nature”
in the thus understood scientific sense, being a
particular human accomplishment, does not
exhaust the totality of reality. On the one hand the
constructed “nature” is exteriorised by human
subjectivity and is intended as being devoid of
its inward existence in the hypostasis of human
beings, on the other hand the same “nature”, as
being constructed, still entails some traces of its
hypostatic origin. In different words, “nature”
appears in a mode of intentional immanence
related to those aspects of the overall reality
which are not hypostatic in themselves, but enhypostasised by human obsrervers-participants.
By taking de facto a phenomenological stance,
Wheeler proclaims that the world is not a clocklike machine which has been pre-constructed
and then discovered by human observers; it is a
self-synthesized system, coming into existence
through the constitution of reality via questions
and answers processed by a collective of personsobservers who are capable of establishing the
meaning and interpretation of their observationparticipancy ultimately leading to an integral
view of nature.
Participatory universe
and human agency
As we mentioned above the main ambition
of Wheeler’s concept is to approach the issue
of genesis of “meaning” and hence “reality”
of the universe in strictly physical terms. He
attempts to explicate this genesis by employing
as its primary elements observations and
measurements as certain intentional acts of
consciousness with respect to the world. The
physical happenings which are assumed in a
naively realistic view as taking place contingently
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without being observed and measured, are
contraposed to those events which were brought
irreversibly into being by conscious intentions
expressed through observations, so that the
traces of presence of these intentions in being
cannot be erased (Wheeler 1987, p. 311). These
events can be called existential events because
they involve human presence and it is in these
events that the meaning of what is observed is
established. The most difficult philosophical
issue is exactly where and how this meaning
comes from. Here Wheeler needs to give more
precise defi nition of the human agency as that
centre of disclosure and manifestation which
provides this meaning.
The human agency is portrayed by Wheeler
as a network of observers, who by means of
communication establish the meaning of what is
called physical reality. Wheeler’s thought follows
a kind of a reductionist emergent philosophy, by
asserting that consciousness is a product of blind
physical forces and myriads of particles in the
universe. However, the reference to blind physical
forces and chance prior to the established human
articulation is made as a matter of rhetoric because
the universe as the “world of existences” did not
exist “prior” to human subjectivity: “observers
are necessary to bring the universe into being.”11
The universe thus is a participatory universe;
its existence is relational upon the existence of
intelligent observers whereas the existence of
observers is being relational upon the ingredients
of the universe. There is a certain reciprocity
between the universe and observers: one cannot
exist without the other (DeLaguna 1966, p. 82).
As to the origin of reflecting and articulating
consciousness in the universe, Wheeler sincerely
believes that science will be able to provide an
explanation of the origins of human intelligence
in the future (Wheeler 1994[1], p. 307). This
corresponds to his implicit desire to treat both
intelligence as well as the intelligible image of
the universe as emergent properties. The human
phenomenon , then, would be an inevitable result
grounded in purely natural factors, and the
“tangible reality of the universe” would be just
natural as well, although of a different, animated
or self-reflected order. In one of his famous
diagrams, illustrating the transition from the view
of the dead mechanical universe to the universe
as the world of existences, Wheeler represents
the universe as a self-excited circuit, that is as
developing through a cycle (closed loop) which
excludes reference to any preexistent foundation
outside this circuit (Wheeler 1994, p. 293) (see
a more sophisticated diagram in, for example,
(Wheeler 1988, p. 5)). In both diagrams the
self-awareness of the universe through human
intelligence, represented by Wheeler as the
network of observers- participants, completes
the “evolution” of the universe in Wheeler’s
sense as the movement along the closed circuit.
In fact, this so called “evolution” cannot be
seriously treated as related to the objective pole
in the universe, that is as physical or biological
evolution as if it were devoid of the human
insight. The “evolution” is itself a construction
in the course of observer-participancy, whose
completion is represented by the intelligent
agency explicated by means of the same
intelligence which is supposed to be a part of the
diagram. Correspondingly there is no way out
from this circuit, that is there is no foundation
of the circuit outside itself. From a philosophical
point of view this means that since the circuit is
closed, and the universe receives its explanation
from within it, no question on the purpose of the
universe and its end can be posed in the sense
of the material of the nexus finalis (that is, as
if they existed in objects independently of the
human intelligence): purpose and end are just
the emergent attributes of the world of existences
which pertain to the observer-participancy as
human activity. The world’s existence and its
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history according to humanity is explained from
within its particular formation and, in reflection,
results in a monistic view which does not require
any appeal to trans-worldly factors. Wheeler
argues that his model of a closed circuit escapes
the danger of an infi nite regress of causations
towards the ultimate substance similar to that
of the ancient Greek philosophy (Wheeler 1987,
p. 313; 1994[1], p. 300). 12
However it is not difficult to realise that the
notion of underlying physical substance to which
one can make an ultimate reference is replaced
by the network (community) of human observers
who “create” the physical world as constituted
In similarity with existential philosophy and
theology Wheeler gives priority to human persons
who produce meaning, rather than impersonal
substance which is an abstract and impersonal
notion. This entails a tacit anthropological
assumption about embodiment, which is present
in Wheeler’s theory of the universe, namely the
constitution of intelligent hypostatic observers as
unities of sensible bodies and soul which produce
the coherent view of the universe: there is no
explanation as to why this particular composite
was brought into being. The logic of explanation
is different, that is, the universe has a dual
structure: as an undifferentiated stuff with no
meaning (before observers developed) on the one
hand, and as sensible agencies and objects with
meaning on the other (or, in different words, as
the sensible and intelligible) after the network of
observers developed the intersubjective meaning
of what was observed. This is the reason why the
“observers are necessary to bring the universe
into being”, that is, to transform something
initially undifferentiated and non-articulated
to things which are sensible and intelligible.13
This implies, according to Wheeler’s logic
that the intelligibility of the universe is rooted
in the ability of human beings to establish its
structures and patterns through communication,
starting from some elementary observationsmeasurements which are described by quantum
theory. It is clear that the deposit of intelligibility
has been tacitly present in Wheeler’s scheme of
being from the very beginning. Human observers
who explain the universe and their own place in
it are already there even if the very scheme of
being does not introduce them at a given stage
yet. This also makes it clear that in spite of man’s
“central” position in Wheeler’s meaning circuit
it is not central enough, for the very existence
of this circuit is possible because mankind can
transcend its particular place in it and integrate
the whole circuit in a single consciousness.
This implies that while being a part of the
meaning circuit human beings transcend it in
the sense that they have an a-priori ability to
contemplate the universe as a whole and position
themselves in it before they consciously account
for their position through the abovementioned
diagram. In other words, there is an inherent
consubstantiality between human observers and
the universe which is not articulated at the initial
parts of Wheeler’s scheme, but which is tacitly
present through the very possibility of depicting
those parts of physical reality which have not yet
produced humanity. But this consubstantiality
has, so to speak, a transcendental character; for it
is detected by human consciousness through the
next order of reflection. In this humanity exhibits
itself as metaphysically infinite creatures, living
in the conditions of a physical finitude, the finitude
which is constituted by humanity itself from the
perspective of the infinite.
Here the analogy with transcendental
philosophy can be invoked. Indeed, if Wheeler
claims that the observers bring the universe into
being, including its space, time, etc. (Wheeler
1988), then one can reasonably ask: where do
human observers do this from, if there is no
preexistent space and time? This question is
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reminiscent of the famous Kantian affirmation
that human being is phenomenon and noumenon
at the same time. On the one hand human beings
as biological organisms are in space and time. On
the other hand, according to Kant, space and time
represent transcendental forms of sensibility as
the necessary conditions for human perception
of the physical bodies. This means that because
human beings constitute space and time from
the depths of their transcendental ego which
is eidetically “prior” to any particular form of
physical embodiment, one can conjecture that
they inhere in “something” which is beyond and
prior to space and time and which, at the same
time, contains in itself the potentiality of being
explicated in terms of space and time.
Wheeler attempts to claim that the
meaning of space and time, as well as all
other attributes of the universe, is constructed
through observership-participation in acts of
cognition resembling quantum measurements.
A philosopher, in the style of Kant, would object
to this by saying that the sense-data alone can
not constitute the notions of space and time and
that, vice versa, the ordering of the sense-data
can only be done in rubrics of space and time
which are a-priori forms of sensibility. Whereas
a phenomenological stance would be that space
is not pre-existent and objective “out there”,
originating from subject’s passive contemplation
of it, but in terms of subject’s comportment “in”
it. This, so called, attuned space becomes an
initial instant and a medium of disclosure of that
“objective” space through relation to which this
subject is constituted as a corporeal existent in
space. However, this relationship is manifest of
a paradox similar to that of the container and of
the contained put in an interrogative form: how
can one grasp the relationship of a particular
being (subject) as if ‘in’ space when this being
is essentially constituted by being ‘over against’,
and hence beyond space? (Ströker 1965, p. 15).
This once again brings us to the Kantian stance
on human being, as being simultaneously
phenomenon and noumenon: on the one hand
space is an a-priori form of sensibility which
allows a subject to order its experience; on the
other hand this form of sensibility is unfolded not
from within that space which is depicted by it,
that is it comes from beyond any possible spatial
presentation of experience.
What is obvious, however, is that the
constitution of space, first of all of the attuned
space, is intertwined and not detachable from the
fundamental aspect of human embodiment or
corporeity. Embodiment or corporeity manifests
itself not as a system of some biological processes
nor as simply a body animated by the soul, nor
even a simple unity of both of them. It is not also a
lived body (corps-sujet in a sense of G. Marcel); it
is a living being in relation to other beings and to
the world, in whom this relation is announced and
articulated by the way of its sense-reaction and
its comportment, or its action in situation. In this
sense the constitution of space in all its varieties
(from attuned space of immediate indwelling to
mathematical space of the universe) represents
the modes of explication of embodiment or
corporeity of humanity through which it interacts
with the world. Thus the lived body entails a
kind of lived space which bears the character
of self-givenness “in the flesh”. In other words,
the initial point of any discourse on corporeity
and associated spatiality implies knowledge as
presence “in person” or “in the flesh” as a mode
of givenness of an object in its standing in front
of the functioning corporeity.
The question of embodiment becomes
acutely important in Wheeler’s scheme of origin
of the universe as the world of existences.
Indeed, what is important is that the network
of observers is the community of embodied
creatures, and this embodiment per se reflects
the pre-existing physical conditions which are
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not subject to considerable change during the
span of the human civilisation. In other words,
one can assume together with Wheeler that
these conditions of embodiment as statements
of physics have not been always articulated,
but they have been implied, so that any physics
which follows from a cognitive acquisition of
the world is prone to contain the conditions of
embodiment as transcendental conditions for
the explicability of nature. It is in this sense that
the famous Weak Anthropic Principle (Weak
AP) can be taken into account: what we observe
may be restricted by the conditions necessary for
our embodied existence as observers. Then the
unfolding process of Wheeler’s articulation of
the world contains in itself the very possibility of
existence of those creatures who articulate this
world. In spite of a contingent path of articulation
of nature, which is related to the history of the
sciences, this contingency contains an element
of necessity: this articulation and constitution
takes place only in relation to that bulk of being
which is unconcelad through the conditions of
embodiment. The famous thesis of Protagoras
that man is the measure of all things, seen
through the eyes of Heidegger (Heidegger 1987,
p.91-95), gives strength to our assertion that the
constitution of reality according to Wheeler,
being an open-ended process, is still humancentred because the very explicability of the
world through the chain of questions and answers
is subjected to the condition of its origination in
embodiment. It is important to realise that neither
the Weak AP, nor the participatory genesis of
Wheeler make an explicit link of the limits of
embodiment expressed in physical terms to
the limits of cognitive methods of exploration
of reality (as was famously proposed by Kant
through reference to Euclidian Geometry and
Newtonian physics). In terms of exploration
of physical reality one can either gain access
to processes beyond the scales of embodiment
through technology, or even transport the very
conditions of embodiment on spaceships to
some hostile terrain in order to gain knowledge
of that which is beyond the Earthly horizon
of embodiment. In this sense the Weak AP or
the Participatory strategy of Wheeler state
nothing of the restrictions on the methodology
of research, or in different words, they avoid
any commitments to the limits of possible
knowledge in the sense of its methods. In this
sense they both are more flexible in comparison
with the Kantian dogmatic position. However
the Kantianism remains in both Weak AP and
Participatory AP in a hidden and more subtle way
through the implicit teleology which pertains to
the very way nature becomes unconcealed and
explicable in the conditions of embodiment.
In order to make the ambivalent position of
the human observer (noumenon/phenomenon)
more explicit, one might place our discussion
back in the Kantian frame of mind. Space and
time as being constituted by intelligible observers
in Wheeler’s scheme of things can be said as
being brought into being by transcendental
observers whose existential centre relates to the
physical world but is not exhausted by it. In this
sense the genesis of reality, or its constitution as
articulated in consciousness, appeals to the realm
of the intelligible. Space and time as articulated
notions, as well as the whole universe appear as
mental images of reality, as ideas which have a
precarious relation to physical reality. By learning
the lessons from Kant, it can then be anticipated
that any attempt to provide a coherent picture of
the ‘genesis’ of the concept of the universe, that
is to speculate about its ultimate grounds on the
physical level, will inevitably lead reason to an
antinomian difficulty. This consequently places
the notion of the community of observers which
gives meaning to the universe in an ambivalent
position of being in the world, and at the same
time not of the world.
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Indeed, one can conjecture that the thesis
of Wheeler’s Participatory AP, namely that
“observers are necessary in order to bring the
universe into being”, makes the notion of the
network of observers in Wheeler’s concept similar
to the idea of an absolutely necessary being that
appears in the fourth Kantian antinomy so that
Wheeler’s proposition can be reformulated as
a participatory anthropic antinomy (See also
(Nesteruk 1999, p. 83; 2003, p. 225)):
Thesis: The network of intelligent observers
understood in a transcendental sense as existing in
whatever relation to time and space is absolutely
necessary for the visible universe in space and
time to be brought into being.
Antithesis: The existence of the visible
universe with spatiotemporal attributes is not
contingent upon the existence of the network
of intelligent observers (understood in a
transcendental sense) as its cause either in the
visible universe or out of it.
This antinomy indicates the dichotomy in
the ontological status of the network of intelligent
observers as having a specific location of their
embodiment related to the physical conditions of
survival and, at the same time, as transcending
these specific places and establishing the
sense of space and time out of some originary
propensities that define the observers as
intelligible and consciously non-local beings.
This seeming paradox, which represents a
particular reincarnation of the paradox of human
subjectivity mentioned above, contributes to the
constitution of human observers as composites of
the corporeal and intelligible whose contingent
facticity cannot be accounted for, remaining thus
a primary metaphysical mystery. This cascades up
to the mystery of the universe as the constituted
World of Existences: since the origin of human
personhood can hardly to be reduced to the results
of impersonal chances and necessities in physical
factors and causality, its presence in the universe
can be treated as an event which can be called the
humankind-event (Nesteruk 2003, pp. 194-200).
This event is indeed formative for the universe to
exist, that is to be manifest and disclosed in human
personhood. Then the process of constitution of
the universe in Wheeler’s participatory scheme
reveals itself as the enhypostasization of the
universe within the humankind-event, that is
the universe itself becomes no more than an
event related to the history of humanity, a flash
of the universe’s self-consciousness depicted in
Wheeler’s writings by a diagram of the human
eye emerging in the bold letter U (symbolising
the universe) which itself is the formation of this
eye (Wheeler 1994, p. 293).
Some other philosophers formulated a
similar “eventiality” of the universe by referring
to a communal character of events of knowing.
In P. Heelan’s terms, “the phenomenon takes
‘flesh’ in the world differently because its ‘flesh’
is determined only as a consequence of decisions
taken by local and historical communities of
expert witnesses”(Heelan 1992, p. 58).14 It is
in this sense that the articulation of the past of
the universe is an event within the life-world
of a particular community loaded with a sense
of the community’s lived past and of decisions
to be made in the future. As Heelan points out,
“it is not the case that every historical event is
also an event of a scientific kind…, but when the
local community is one of expert witnesses, then
the scientific data produced by that community
are also historical events in relation to that
community” (Heelan 1992, p. 66). H. Margenau
argued in a similar way that “physical reality” is
best defined as the totality of all valid constructs.
In this approach the universe is defined not as a
static, but as a dynamic formation: “…the universe
grows as valid constructs are being discovered.
Physical entities do not exist in a stagnant and
immutable sense but are constantly coming into
being” (Margenau 1944, p. 278).15
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Wheeler, as well as the others, attempts to
make a point that the sense of physical reality
is not a pregiven compendium of laws and
facts and that it originates in the constitution
of this reality through formation of meaning
of the universe through communication in the
network of observers. Wheeler does not give any
specific model of how to deduce the meaning
from the forms of intersubjectivity, but his
“reconstruction” of logical steps involved in
making physical theories articulates the fact that
in spite of the idealisation and mathematization
with which modern physics operates, there is
still a level of understanding which itself cannot
be described through them. In other words,
physics cannot account for its own facticity only
through physics itself: one needs to appeal to
such an order of reality by reference to which
physics at least receives its interpretation. This
implicitly points out to the mundane fact that the
scientific advance, despite its complex language,
is ultimately rooted in the primary experience of
the world, in that which phenomenology calls the
life-world.16 This implies that the sphere of human
subjectivity as immediately given and irreducible
to any scientific analysis is assumed by Wheeler
to be present in order to develop from within it
the articulated picture of the world with a special
language and mathematics. Wheeler’s conjecture
that the whole edifice of modern physics can be
reduced to a simple quantum principle, “it is from
bit” (Wheeler 1994, p. 295), shows that there is
still a certain level of reality behind these “bits”,
which constitutes the meaning of any sequence
of those bits and this reality is the mystery of
embodied human consciousness which endows
reality with meaning. However, the observers
who possess the ability to articulate the external
world, are incapable of comprehending the very
possibility of acts of consciousness which are
responsible for the articulation of the world. Can
physics explain them in naturalistic terms? In
spite of a heroic attempt of Wheeler to propose
a scheme for elucidating this problem, his
intellectual construction of the participatory
universe demonstrated with a new force that the
main philosophical mystery of human intentional
consciousness and its engagement with the world
still remains (Cf. Marcel 1965, p. 24).
In spite of a philosophical scepticism
with respect to Wheeler’s attempts to give a
physicalistic model for the genesis of meaning
of the universe as a process of mutual interaction
between the network of observers and their
physical environment one should admit that
they contributed in a non-obvious way to the
rearticulation of the life-world as that primary
existential milieu which lies in the foundation
of scientific articulatiuons of reality. The search
for the foundations of the universe, as well as
the foundations of physics leads inevitably to
the recognition of the centrality of existential
“immediate here” and “immediate now” from
which the whole grandeur of the universe (as
the world of existences) comes into existence
by “contracting its existing” in life of human
observers (Cf. (Levinas 1978, pp. 82-85; 1987,
pp. 42-44). This confirms a general philosophical
conviction that science contributes to the
understanding of life and humanity, for “the
whole universe of science is built upon the
world as directly experienced, and if we want
to subject science itself to rigorous scrutiny and
arrive at a precise assessment of its meaning
and scope, we must begin by reawakening the
basic experience of the world of which science
is the second-order expression” (Merleau-Ponty
1962, p. ix (emphasis added)). That which was
formulated by M. Merleau-Ponty in the context
of existential philosophy has been renewed in
Wheeler’s metaphysical extension of physics:
namely to remind physicists that all their notions
are ultimately inherent in the very specific place
human beings occupy in the world which they
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attempt to articulate. However, the nature of
human subjectivity and intersubjectivity, for
obvious philosophical reasons17, did not enter as a
constitutive principle of physical explanation. The
mystery of human intelligence was recognised as
pivotal for developing an articulated picture of the
world, but, at the same time consciousness and
intelligence were treated in a reductionist sense
as products of physical and biological evolution.
If Wheeler’s model of the participatory universe
is assessed through the eyes of an existential
stance on the primacy of the sphere of human
subjectivity, expressed, for example, in the words
of Merleau-Ponty, quoted above, then obviously
the universe as a self-exited circuit must require
for its ontological assessment one crucial element:
the presence of conscious insight overlooking this
universe from above and beyond.
In order to make the latter thought clear, one
can suggest a graphical interpretation of three
typical cosmological diagrams which pretend
to catch the unity of physical reality at different
spatial scales and other physical parameters.
Indeed at the figure in the Appendix we have three
different representations of such a unity: in the
upper left corner there is an image of the so called
Uroboros, symbolising the interconnectedness
of physical entities at different spatial scales of
the universe (Primack 2006, p. 160). Humanity’s
consubstantiality with the universe is depicted at
the bottom centre of this diagram. In the second
diagram, below, there is a display of various
objects in the universe according to their sizes
and masses (Barrow 1999, p. 32). Once again
humanity is positioned as a mediocre physical
formation at the centre of this diagram. Both
these diagrams are presented as static formations
which do not reflect any processes or genesis
of these diagrams, that is their epistemological
constitution. Correspondingly, any attempt
to predicate on their basis that humanity is
physically insignificant in the universe will be
philosophically weak because both diagrams
are mental creations and humanity is present in
them not only through its insignificant position
but above and beyond all its elements as an
articulating consciousness. This is depicted
by positioning the human subject outside the
diagrams while retaining the traces of its physical
embodiment. If now one compares the Uroboros
and the size/mass diagram with Wheeler’s
graphical representations of the participatory
universe (the right-hand side of the same figure)
presented through a genesis of physical properties
of the world towards its intelligibility (Wheeler
1988, p. 5), then the difference is clearly seen:
the diagram attempts to encapsulate a temporal
aspect in formation of the overall picture of the
universe and make manifest that the universe
is an accomplishment because the human
phenomenon in it is itself an accomplishment.
However the presence of human beings as
forms of biological life does not entail with any
physical necessity the presence of intelligence.
Correspondingly the diagram of the closedcircuit universe is not just an accomplishment of
physics, it is a mental accomplishment which is
contingent upon intelligence, which is, through
embodiment, a part of the diagram and, at the
same time, something outside of it. In other
words Wheeler’s diagram presupposes for its
own existence the presence of intelligence which
creates this diagram: humanity appears in it as
the centre of disclosure and manifestation. The
physical genesis depicted in this diagram requires
a reflecting consciousness which has propensities
which do not simply follow from the chain of
physical causations. In this sense the genesis of
physical properties leading to the fulfilment of
the necessary conditions for observer’s existence
does not entail the fulfilment of the sufficient
conditions which justify intelligence and the
way this intelligence approaches reality through
the logic of questions and answers suggested by
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Wheeler. Once again, what is missing in Wheeler’s
diagram is the presence of the subject for whom
this diagram makes sense. And this subject is
above and beyond this diagram (depicted at the
centre), in that directly experienced world, given
to humanity in its embodied consubstantial
constitution so that the diagram itself, phrasing
this in the language of Merleau-Ponty, is the
second-order expression of this world.
From a philosophical point of view there
is a gap in Wheeler’s reasoning on the universe
as an emergent meaning circuit, for there is no
explanation as to why the intelligent observers,
who reveal the intelligibility of the entire
universe, are possible at all. In other words, why
the universe entails the transcendental conditions
of its own explicability. Here Wheeler invokes a
kind of a theological reference by affirming that
the whole situation in modern science completely
changed the problem of creation as the problem
of the relationship between man and God. If in
the traditional theology human observers were
treated as created by God in his image and thus
having an innate ability to articulate the whole
creation, in contemporary science these observers
are treated as a result of the natural development
of the world, so that the articulation of the world
is part of the ongoing process of development of
humankind. To accentuate this contrast Wheeler
in one of his texts refers to an old legend of the
dialogue between Abraham and God (which
manifested the relationship between man and
God) and says that “in our time the participants of
the dialogue changed. They are the universe and
man” (Wheeler 1994, p. 128). In the same passage
he imitates the dialogue between the universe
and man as an act of personifying the universe
through the sequence of questions and answers.
The universe acquires a sort of “intelligibility” as
its “natural artefact”.
In conclusion, the main interesting result
of Wheeler’s attempts to sketch the “physics of
meaning” was the rediscovery of the issues of
the life-world. Physics has sense as long as it
has meaning, which was assigned to it by human
beings. This means that physics is essentially
human, as well as the universe constructed
through physics, and represents an intentional
correlate of human intersubjectivity, so that it is
given to us in so far as it contains us. The world
of classical physics which was deprived of its
inward existence in subjectivity, receives back
its existential meaning through the metaphysical
extension of some propositions of quantum
physics. In spite of the fact that there is no direct
reference to the Divine as the ultimate source
of human intelligibility in the world, there is a
reference to the otherness of the world which is
implicitly made in Wheeler’s models through
posing a fundamental question of meaning: why
is the universe?
Implicit Purposiveness
in Wheeler’s Participatory Universe
Finally we want to discuss a teleological aspect
of Wheeler’s thought. For the universe to become
the World of Existence this same universe must
have conditions for the emergence of intelligent
life and thus its explicability. Correspondingly
if the World of Existences, as it seems from
Wheeler’s writings, is that high term in the overall
chain of transformations in the universe, so to
speak its “ontic” goal, then the presence of the
human intelligence in the universe is somehow
implanted into this goal. When the Participatory
AP asserts that observers are necessary for the
universe to come into being it effectively states
that the development of the universe must have a
necessary condition for the emergence of human
beings. Here one can ask a question as to whether
there is an implied teleology in Wheeler’s view
of the universe, where teleology is referred to
a definite material pole, that is to that physical
state of the universe when human life is possible.
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Probably one must give a negative answer to
this question because the necessary conditions
for emergence of biological life in the universe
do not automatically guarantee the emergence
of intelligence. The sufficient conditions for
the emergence of intelligence in the universe
are not subject to the physical description.
Correspondingly the seeming teleology of
Wheeler’s account for the genesis of the World
of Existences is not related to the material
goal of the universe’s development; it rather
relates to another teleology, associated with the
explicability of the universe by human agency.
In fact, in Wheeler’s case, this explicability
is closely connected with the constitution of
meaning of the universe: to constitute the
universe as the World of Existences one must
establish the meaning of things in this universe.
Thus the whole pattern of Wheeler’s reasoning
when he invokes an analogy with the quantum
questions and answers points not to the material
pole, or a result of its constitution (for it seems
to be an open-ended process) but rather to the
strategy or methodology of the scientific quest
for meaning of the universe, a particular way of
interrogation of nature and its outcome delimited
by this way (See (Nesteruk 2012 [3] ). The
objective of physics is to explain the universe;
the telos of this explanation is not something
which pre-exists this explanation, but that
remote epistemological ideal, a supposed mental
accomplishment, which would correspond to an
imagined convergence of different strategies of
explanation and correspondence rules. In spite of
a principal impossibility of stating even roughly
the possible ideal pole of such an explanation,
there is one teleological example which makes it
possible to elucidate the sense of what Wheeler
implied in his idea of the Participatory universe.
This example relates to the Big Bang, the
ultimate beginning and origin of all things in the
universe, including human intelligence itself.
The notion of the Big Bang was at the
centre of Wheeler’s discussions on the nature of
space and time as that epistemological boundary
beyond which physics cannot proceed. He also
drew the conclusion that since the notions of
space and time loose their physical meaning in
the singularity of the Big Bang, they must be
considered mutable ingredients of physics subject
to constitution. Correspondingly the Big Bang
itself is not an immutable material pole associated
with the origin and beginning of all things, but
a construction whose anomalous properties point
not so much to the limiting capacities of physicists
to deal with the questions of origin, but rather to a
specific way in the acquisition of reality (through
the logic of questions and answers) which leads
to the constitution of what is meant by the Big
Bang. It is remarkable, however, that the process
of constitution of the universe, as being directed
in the future of the historical time associated with
observers, encompasses all temporal aeons of the
universe, including its allegedly existing past. This
means that not only our actual present is subject
to constitution, but what is aimed to be the past
and future of the universe is constituted by the
human observers and thus their ontological status
becomes ambiguous. The Big Bang, for example,
appears to be also a mental construct dealing with
the alleged past of the universe, but only through
references to here and now, because its theory is
constructed upon observations made here and now
and progressing to the future. Correspondingly,
for Wheeler, the question of the physical existence
of the Big Bang has no sense if it is not placed in
the context of how it is constituted and articulated
by human observers here and now. He expresses
this conviction by posing a question: “Is the term
‘big bang’ merely a shorthand way to describe the
cumulative consequence of billions upon billions
of elementary acts of observer-participancy
reaching back into the past [..] ?” (Wheeler 1994[1],
p. 128; Cf. Wheeler 1985, p. 387). Elsewhere
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Wheeler generalises this thought applying it to
the constructed temporality of the past: “The
‘past’ is theory. The past has no existence except
as it is recorded in the present. By detecting what
questions our quantum registering equipment shall
put in the present, we have an undeniable choice
in what we have the right to say about the past”
(Wheeler 1985, p. 366; 1988, p. 13). 18 The acts of
observer-participancy intend to reach to the past
of the universe, whereas their conscious dynamics
is constantly directed to the future. Certainly,
according to Wheeler, there is no sense to enquire
into the “objective” sense of the universe before
or beyond the intelligence emerged; as expressed
in a philosophical context by Christos Yannaras,
“even the formation of the universe “before” the
appearance of its human cognition does not destroy
the character of being invited-to-relationship of
the universe’s referentiality. For the “before” and
“after” are by-products of the relationship between
humanity and the world, the only relationship that
constitutes an existential fact and whatever “pre”required evolutionary process is needed for its
realisation” (Yannaras 2004, p. 138) (Cf. (Wheeler
1975, p. 17)).
If the Big Bang is constituted in the ongoing
process of exploration of the universe, the whole
issue of the initial conditions of the universe as if
they were once and forever set from the “outside” of
the universe looses its objectivistic sense, because
the whole history of the universe is constructed
by humanity from its present state so that the past
of the universe is seen only in the perspective of
the ever moving present and the ultimate point in
the past, the origin of all, can then be grasped as a
limiting point of humanity’s knowledge not only
as a boundary of its present state of understanding
but as an ideal aspired for through the movement
of knowledge to the future, that is as it telos. In
this case the notion of the Big Bang functions
in human knowledge as a limiting point for any
historically given state of knowledge, but, at the
same time this limit as being extended through
the progress of science becomes the ground of
its motivation and aspiration explicating not only
the Big Bang as a remote physical pole, but also
explicating the evolving epistemology of the
enquiry in the foundation of the facticity of all,
including the very enquiring consciousness. Here
we inevitably come to an interesting and counterintuitive conclusion that the Big Bang, as an
allegedly physical pole in the origin of the visible
universe, turns out to be the telos of scientific
explanation, as its ultimate goal to see the origin
of the varied display in the universe in the unity
of “all in all”.19
In practically all papers related to the genesis
of the World of Existences Wheeler promotes
an idea of the cosmological singularity or the
Big Bang which has demonstrated to us that
all classical laws of physics as well as its basic
notions disappear at the singularity, so that the
“ultimate, underlying” reality cannot be described
in terms of physical laws and categories at all:
there is a law, that there is no law. Elsewhere the
situation with the impossibility to ascribing to the
Big Bang spatio-temporal attributes and at the
same time the fact that it is the Big-Bang which
supposed to give “beginning” to space and time
in their facticity, was qualified as that the Big
Bang notifies in theory the “existential” fact of
the uniqueness and concreteness of the universe
without entailing the materiality of its existence
(Yannaras 2004, p. 107). Indeed, if the Big Bang,
according to Wheeler is the construction, that is
constituted through the relationship between the
world and humanity, then what is the objectivistic
and material status of this construction: does the
phenomenality of the Big Bang falls into the
category of the physical “out there”? Yannaras
poses a question in an even more radical form: if
the Big Bang is the metaphysical concept which
presupposes an obligatory exit from succession
of before and after, and also from every
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dimensional location, does it entail the exist from
the presupposition of the existent? (Yannaras
2004, p. 105) Wheeler’s answer is that it does
not: the Big Bang can be attributed the status of
the existent but in a strictly constituted sense in
the same way that he advocates that the laws of
classical physics are constituted by us.
It is not difficult to conjecture that the only
“real” law which drives physics is the “law” that
the universe must be explicable. It is impossible
to deny this requirement for explicability even in
Wheeler’s thought, for, in fact, all his edifice of
dealing with the genesis of physics is to advocate
the explicability of the universe whatever
philosophical orientation taken. In this sense it
is this explicability which becomes the ultimate
telos of the whole complex of human observers –
the universe. The maxim of teleology, if one uses
Kant’s terminology, ordains in Wheeler’s scheme
of things the use of some established physical lawlike strategies for giving more precise details of the
genesis of physical objects.20 There is an implicit
purposiveness in the closed circuit established
between observers and physical reality which
ultimately proceeds from the nature of observers
as human intelligent beings endowed with the
purposiveness of any actions. This purposiveness,
in order to avoid any classical and unfashionable
teleology related to the physical development of
the universe, must presuppose an extra-physical
character. Seen theologically, the purposiveness
can proceed from the Divine image, set up exactly
for the purpose of bringing the universe to union
with God through an integrate knowledge of it
(Nesteruk 2003, p. 230). If this theological stance
seems to be unsatisfactory and one becomes
inclined towards a materialistic reductionism,
attributing the purposiveness of explanation
as being implanted in physical reality, then the
alleged purposiveness of the universe brings us to
the question of its subject: who is that intentional
agent for whom the universe has a purpose? It
is not difficult to see that the idea of the Divine
subjectivity enters the scheme of things at a
different level: the Participatory AP in this case
becomes similar to that version of the Strong AP
which postulates that the universe must have
human agencies as its product at a certain stage of
its development. If this is true, then the difference
between the Participatory AP and the Strong AP,
which was so emphatically advocated by Wheeler
become blurred. Our analysis thus unfolds the
most important and metaphysical point to be
made on Wheeler’s ideas, namely the mystery
and precarious status of human agents, observersparticipants in what concerns the origin of their
purposive actions which are in the foundation of
knowledge of the universe. It seems that Wheeler’s
hope that human intelligence and correspondingly
purposiveness as such will eventually become a
subject of explanation by physics remains in vain,
for the basic question of the facticity of the human
intelligent agency, in spite of all reductionist
hopes, remains unanswered. Purposiveness is a
human aspect of existence and one can hardly
believe that physics, being purposive activity,
can explain the emergence of this purposiveness
out of itself. What is important, however, is that
the existence of life and intelligence, being an
“experiential fact” and determining the lines
of scientific enquiry provides “the unlimited
informative value for the universe and its laws”
(Yannaras 2004, p. 117).
I would like to express my feelings of
gratitude to George Horton and Christopher
Dewdney for reading the manuscript and making
helpful suggestions. This publication was made
possible through the support of a grant from
the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions
expressed in this publication are those of the
author and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the John Templeton Foundation.
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Appendix 1: Humanity as the centre of disclosure and manifestation of the universe
This paradox is a perennial problem of philosophy and was anticipated by ancient Greek philosophers and Christian
thinkers. It was expressed differently by such philosophers as Kant (see, for example, Kant’s conclusion to his Critique
of Practical Reason.) Among phenomenological philosophers who dealt with this paradox one can mention E. Husserl,
M. Scheler, M. Merleau-Ponty, E. Fromm and others. The general discussion of this paradox can be found in (Carr, 1999).
The role of this paradox in discussions on science and theology can be found in (Nesteruk, 2008, pp. 173-75). Applied to
the study of the universe the paradox of human subjectivity can be formulated as follows: on the one hand human beings
in the facticity of their embodied condition form the centre of disclosure and manifestation of the universe as a whole,
modelling it as overall-space and time which exceeds the limits of the attuned space related to humanity’s comportment
on the planet earth (the home place). On the other hand the depicted universe as a vast continuum of space and time positions humanity in an insignificant place in the whole totality making its existence not only contingent (in physical terms)
but full of nonsense from the point of view of the actually infi nite universe. Said bluntly the actual infi nity of the universe
is attempted to be articulated from an infi nitely small part of its formation. One could express this differently: through
its insight humanity is co-present in all points of what it observes in the universe, or imagines, while physically being
restricted to an insignificant part of it.
Certainly such a questioning on the place of humanity in the universe is not novel in history of thought and philosophy.
It is enough to point to Pascal, who compared human being with the “thinking reed” whose position in the universe is
ambivalent because of the physical insignificance and epistemological centrality: “Man is a reed, the feeblest in nature;
but he is a thinking reed. The whole universe need not take up arms to crush him…But even if the universe should crush
him, man would still be more noble than that which kills him, since he knows he is mortal, and knows that the universe is
more powerful that he: but the universe itself knows nothing of it” (Pascal 1959, p. 78).
See in this respect (Weyl 1994).
One of such prophecies was promoted by F. Tipler in his book (Tipler 1995) where he develops an idea of such a large-scale
affection of the universe which will guarantee the possibility of an indefi nite information processing, which, according to
Tipler mimics the persistence of life in the universe.
Wheeler’s appeal is in a way similar to a phenomenological assertion that without taking into account the generating
power of human subjectivity, the efficacy of the sciences, either human or natural, remains obscured; see e.g. (Gurwitsch
1966, pp. 399-400).
Existentialists considered the fact of life as a primary data for any further philosophising, the fact which as such cannot be
placed in any allegedly wider and more general framework of the world’s necessities. The radical metaphysical mystery of
existence is expressed in human inability to “look” at this existence from outside.
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See on temporality and mathematics (Davis, Hersch, Descartes’s Dream, 1990, pp. 189-201).
This expression, used by (Gurwitsch 1974, p. 44) did not mean “hypostasis” in a theological sense. Elements of nature as
“mental creation” also appeared in the terminology of Einstein. See, for example, (Einstein 1973, p. 291).
See a careful explanation of the meaning of this term in (Nesteruk 2003, pp. 112-17; 2004).
It was his last book, The Crisis of European Sciences (Husserl 1970), where Husserl undertook a critique of the
mathematisation of nature whose inception was associated with the name of Galileo. The topic was later discussed and
developed in numerous papers. See, for example, (Gurwitsch 1967), (Kvasz 2002).
This is a short formulation of the Participatory Anthropic Principle. See (Barrow, Tipler, 1986, p. 22).
Wheeler argues that his approach to understanding the place and role of man in the universe contrasts to the selection
mechanism of the many worlds (MW) version of the Strong AP (which assumes pre-existence not only of the visible
universe, but also the multitude of other universes) in a sense, that the Participatory AP is “founded on construction”
(Wheeler 1987, p. 310). He articulates this contrast as an opposition in views on the place of man in the universe as mediocre versus central: “Life, mind, and meaning have only a peripheral and accidental place in the scheme of things in this
view [i.e. MW-Strong AP (A.N.)]. In the other view [that is, Participatory AP (A.N.)] they are central. Only by their agency
is it even possible to construct the universe or existence, or what we call reality. Those make-believe universes totally
devoid of life are (according to this view) totally devoid of physical sense not merely because they cannot be observed, but
because there is no way to make them” (Ibid.).
The place of observer is not to “create out of nothing” in a theological sense, but to act an ancient god-demiurge who orders
the universe from preexistent matter.
The metaphor of ‘flesh’ is borrowed from M. Merleau-Ponty.
Margenau anticipated that many scientists would disagree with such an attitude because they maintain a faith in the convergence of the system of the entire set of physical explanations which would deliver them an ideal of their aspirations, that
is a unique and ultimate set of constructs for which would reserve the name ‘reality’. However he points out that this belief
in convergence in question is problematic because it is not capable of scientific proof. ((Ibid). See also (Margenau 1977,
p. 76) The situation in modern cosmology, where the ever increasing set of theoretical constructs reveals the components
of the matter content of the universe which escape physical description points exactly to the danger of idealisation of the
scientific description of the universe: the more details we know the less we understand the entirety.
The concept of the life world was introduced in Husserl’s Crisis (Husserl 1974) and was a matter of vast discussion by
phenomenological philosophers. See for a recent review (Steinbock 1995).
The fundamental problematic character of any philosophical enquiry into the nature of human consciousness is expressed
in modern terms through a concept of the so called “negative certitude” meaning that the facticity of consciousness can
only be approached with certainty in negative terms, that it is certain that its mystery can only be predicated in terms of
that which is not this consciousness (see (Marion 2010, pp. 21-86)).
This thought must be placed into an even more general conviction that in the ultimate scheme of things there is no time or
temporality at all. Temporality is a human construction: “The word Time came, not from heaven, but from the mouth of man,
an early thinker, his name long lost. If problems attend the term, they are of our own making” (Wheeler 1994[2], p. 6).
This point was developed in (Nesteruk 2008, 2012 [1] ).
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«Соучаствующая вселенная» Дж. А. Уилера
как интенциональный коррелят
воплощенных субъектов и как экспликация
целесообразности в физике
А.В. Нестерук
Университет Портсмута
Лайон Гэйт Бюлдинг,
ПОРТСМУТ, РО1 3НF, Великобритания
В этой статье мы продолжаем исследовать роль субъекта и ограничений, связанных с его
познавательными способностями, в артикуляции вселенной в физике и космологии. В качестве
примера рассматривается комплекс идей о так называемой соучаствующей вселенной,
выдвинутых поздним Дж. А. Уилером. Целью статьи является экспликация роли человеческого
наблюдателя как центра, из которого paскрывается и манифестируется вселенная, а также
телеологии, присущей научному представлению о вселенной, проистекающей из внутренней
целесообразности человеческой деятельности.
Ключевые слова:
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 438-454
УДК 378.014.15
Forthcoming Plans
for Institutional Transformation
of Russian Higher Education
Alexandr G. Kislov* and Ol’ga V. Shmurygina
Institute of Sociology and Law,
Russian State Professional Pedagogical University
11 Mashinostroiteley Str., Ekaterinburg, 620012 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The article is devoted to the identification (and self-identification) crisis that has been suffered lately in
the sphere of higher education, and the prospects for overcoming it. In comparison with some developed
countries, in Russia the crisis is more distinctive due to the traditional administrative limitation of
higher education system autonomy, and of academic freedom of its employees and students. Firstly,
understanding the crisis lead to the necessity to get back to the basics, which is, the history of university
education. Secondly, it required to carry out comparative analysis of the philosophical reflection of
this situation. Thirdly, a compilation of the research of current state of higher education in various
countries and Russia in particular was necessary. As a result, the article demonstrates the exhaustion
of higher education institutional capacity, and its increasing non-conformance to the needs and trends
of modern society.
The obtained results can be applied in the research works dealing with the evolution and development
forecasts for higher education, its institutional perspectives, and in the practice of developing education
policies at various levels. They can be useful to those who are trying to find their own path in the world
of education.
Consequently, we may conclude that currently in the world and in Russia in particular, processes of
de-institutionalization of higher education are being launched; it is accompanied by the replacement
of existing organization forms by the network, interpersonal, mobile and flexible ones. The network
organisation of higher education is the power, which can lead it out of the crisis it has been facing.
Keywords: high school, university, social institution, social networks.
Introduction. The system of Russian higher
education has been formed under the influence of
European universities, and it is still trying to catch
up with them today, which is proved by its official
joining the Bologna process in the year 2003.
Since the one thousand years of its existence,
European higher education system, which is, first
of all, a university network, has become a special
social institution, the scope and impact of which
is enormous and can be compared to that of the
state, church, family, mass media etc. Numerous
multidiscipline researches have been devoted to it.
An important role in understanding the function
the higher education performs in the society
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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development is played by historical analysis of
universities’ origin and development, which has
been brilliantly carried out by J. Le Goff, J. Verger
and others. They are the authors who determined
the most essential features of a university: first
of all, its institutional autonomy and academic
freedom of the university corporation members,
its teachers and students. In these works, special
attention is paid to the interaction between
the universities, the state, municipal (town,
community) and religious authorities: the interinstitutional relations of the higher education
Together with the historical research, a
philosophic discussion concerning the mission
(idea, meaning) of a university has been gaining
momentum. It was defined by some authors as
conduction of scientific research (W. Von Humboldt,
K. Jaspers), and by others as reproduction of the
social elite (J. Newman, M. Weber), creation of
healthy society (E. Durkheim, N.I. Pirogov), or
creation and reproduction of culture (J. Ortega y
Gasset), entrepreneurial functions performance
(B. Clark), reproduction of the social structure of
the community (P. Bourdieu) etc.
Theoretical framework. Let us assume
that search for the mission (idea, meaning) and
further comparison of the higher education
realities with its (mission, idea, meaning)
various formulations (depends on which term
one prefers), is a methodological rudiment of
Platonism, which is more useful in conditional
theoretical classifications, not in practiceoriented research. We prefer the Anti-Platonism
position which is represented by numerous
thinkers (S. Kierkegaard, К. Маrx, F. Nietzsche,
L. Shestov, К.Popper, E. Levinas, G. Deleuze,
М. Foucault, J.-L. Nancy), who could be referred
back to the Medieval nominalism.
Based on the works of such authors as
R. Barnett, J. Derrida, B. Readings, J. Habermas,
the analytics and forecasts presented by Russian
researchers, and analysis of the process that is
going on in the higher education system at the
present moment, we come to conclusion that
the higher education system is going through
a crisis as an institute that does not have any
“super-historical” integral mission (idea or
meaning), which would be true everywhere and
every time. The search for such mission (idea,
meaning) itself is a symptom of identification
and self-identification crisis. And the way out of
the crisis is not about formulating the mission.
This is the reason why we are interested not
in the Platonic, not idealistic or essencialistic
approach, but a historical and relativistic one,
which claims that higher education is a flexible
historical phenomenon able to adjust for the
requirements of a certain epoch; consequently,
the declared (not determined by imaginary superhistorical eternity) mission (idea, meaning) of
the university or any other higher education
establishment varies depending on the current
demands of the society. Considering these
requirements along with constructing and reconstructing a functional answer of the higher
education to the arising questions appear to be a
more efficient direction of research than Platonist
meditations and speculations on the idea (mission,
meaning) of the higher education “itself”, in the
style of, for example, E. Husserl phenomenology,
which also tendentiously organizes the historical
All searches for the mission (idea, meaning)
of the university bring up one of the numerous
socially significant functions of the higher
education to the forefront. That is why the
theoretical and methodological framework of
the research is composed by a combination of
structural functional and institutional analysis
principle with the network paradigm of a social
structure, so the network paradigm is regarded
not only as a synchronic accomplishment to the
functional paradigm, but also as a dominant that
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replaces it in the diachronic dimension. The need
of turning to the network paradigm as to the
dominating one reflects the actual social process
but does not cancel the importance of structural
functional analysis, including that of the modern
social processes.
We find it significant that T. Veblen has
already made the emphasis on the backlog of the
higher education from the present requirements.
It is typical for every social institution, especially
in the context of increasing social dynamics.
Veblen came up with the ideal model for the higher
education system, the “academic aristocracy
corporation”, based on the idea of “extra-academic
organizations”, which means universities united
into one network of international organizations.
T. Veblen was one of the first people who spoke
of the necessity to find a new organizational
structure for the higher education which is already
falling outside the scope of a social institution
and, perhaps, is already forming an alternative to
the institutions; basically, he spoke of the network
interaction between universities, scientists,
teachers and students, that will probably form a
new social institution in the future.
This offer is logically accompanied by the
education revolution conception by T. Parson,
who claims that higher education will become
one of the most important social institutions
influencing the social development as a whole, but
for this it should, first of all, conform to the time
requirements. R. Merton enriched this picture,
having pointed out some latent functions of the
higher education, which are primarily aimed at
the preservation of the social status quo; this way
he gave us a hint on where the mechanisms of the
real, not just declared impact of the education on
the society, are hidden.
M. Foucault paid attention to the fact that all
social institutions are bound with various types
of interdependence and numerous relations of
power (different in the content, intensiveness,
the proportion of discountinuity-continuity and
other characteristics). M. Foucault put the largest
load on the “power-knowledge” concept, noticing
that these two terms, usually regarded separately,
should be studied together, as they form the
base for disciplinary institutions, and the higher
education is one of them (here it is much wider that
the “knowledge-power” concept” by B. Bacon).
A.I. Sosland, following the ideas by
M.Foucault, presented the power as something
totalitarian, incorporated into not only all social,
but also the existential locus, and suggested that
it is better use the “potestarity” term for this, as
it denotes the capacity of power objects to make
the opposite impact on its bearers. A.I. Sosland
applied this term in conceptual reflection
of psychotherapeutic practice; however, the
development of M. Foucault’s ideas produced by
him cannot be applied far beyond the borders of
The institutional characteristics of the
higher education’s influence on the social
reproduction were discovered and described by
P. Bourdieu and J.-C. Passeron; moreover, they
also operated the terms of symbolic power and
symbolic violence. After that, P. Bourdieu paid
attention to the extra-institutional mechanisms
of education influence made on social processes.
He was immediately close to the analysis of
the network interaction, which is currently
spreading around along with the institutional
ones, and are already dominating in many cases.
It is typical on the all-world level, too. In Russia
and in the countries with similar historical and
political fate it looks more complicated, as the
processes are less smooth and gradual, often
with harsh jerks; they flow under the conditions
of a forced slowdown that aggravate and
hypertrophy the outdated, and prolongs its life
in a sort of “laboratory conditions”. The only
thing the researchers can do is to take advantage
of it to see the connection between the social
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processes in various conditions, countries, and
their conceptual understanding.
The founders of the “Network society”
conception, J. Barnes and M. Castelles, paid a lot
of attention to the kinds of human interaction that
they described as “new”: the kind of interaction that
is carried out with the information technologies
(IT), due to the domination of information in the
society, as its main recourse. They deliberately did
not regard higher education as one of the possible
net nodes. However, R. Collins conducted a large
research of intellectual networks and proved that
they had existed since the times of Ancient Greek
and Chinese philosophers’ groups.
Statement of the problem. So, the
existence of the higher education institution
has been of special interest and even of some
concern, especially in the context of its enormous
popularization, that has already leaded to the
evident lowering the bar of academic standards
(“people from the street came to the university”),
harsh differentiating between elite and mass
education establishments, which, perhaps, is
only proving the ineradicable elitism of the
university, as long as this phenomenon exists.
But is its further existence guaranteed under
the conditions of total pragmatization and
commercialization? Does the higher education
possess the institutional capacity to neutralize the
negative consequences of ultimate popularization
and the fall of academic standards, caused by it?
Or is this capacity of extra-institutional origin? Or
there is no capacity at all? If so, what is the higher
education system going to transform into in the
nearest future? Can it preserve its succession with
the medieval university as a unique creation of
the European civilization? After all, why did the
higher education system appear at all? What was
it like, what will it be like, what was it supposed
to be, and why cannot it be another? Speaking
of Russian higher education, we cannot and we
must not isolate it from the all-European and
world history and from the other similar, though
not so acute problems of the higher education in
the countries with the best economic, political
and other indicators.
Methods. The methods of our research
are all connected to the interpretation and
comparative analysis of the works written
by those, who, in our opinion, succeeded in
“grasping the Zeitgeist” (term by G. Hegel),
express its intentions and trends, and also to the
attempt of summarizing them in such a way that it
would define the tendencies and prospects of the
higher education system development. Our own
evaluation plays not the last role in the process,
due to the participants and experts with officially
confirmed qualification who engaged themselves
in the research.
Discussion. As soon as its isolation within
the pattern of social labour division started
getting more and more distinct, the education
sphere manifested itself as a hierarchized system.
The separation of the higher education started
back in the ancient times, when only the chosen
representatives of the society (as a rule, the social
elite) were allowed to acquire the sacral wisdom.
This stage of education was the one reproducing
the elite of the society and the state, the presence
of such education endued – or it is even better
to say, confirmed – the high social status. The
sacral knowledge had its bearers, the keepers and
teachers, whose authority was as undeniable as
the sacral wisdom itself. But all this is quite far
from the phenomenon the modern humankind
called the higher education, and a university in
We can speak of its actual emergence after
the creation of the medieval universities that were
autonomous in the way that they were clearly
independent from the external social factors
that influenced many kinds of social relations,
including the authority relations. After the Middle
Ages the higher education got institutionalized
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and became one of the constituent parts of the
institution system that had been complete by
that time (consisting of the state, church, family,
commune-cities, professional workshops etc.),
integrated into it but did not dissolve in it. The
interaction between the institutions actualized
the need for legal regulation mechanisms, which
also covered the sphere on inter-institutional
Speaking of social institutions, we
traditionally mean the high organized
transpersonal unions of people, that are
characterized by stable structure, deep integration
of its elements, diversity, flexibility and dynamism
of its functions, the main purpose of which is to
satisfy the main needs of the society in this or
that sphere of its activity. This purpose is often
declared in a pompous way and formulated with
(frequently taken as sacral) rituals, symbols, and
Satisfaction of a series of social needs and
the performance of some socially significant
functions were the purpose for the first
universities to appear. Their emergence was
spontaneous, and only some time ago their
status was officially recognized. The base for
the special status of the university is the isolation
of intellectuals as a social group, so much
demanded by the European community: “If we
try to define a European kind of an intellectual, it
would be the following: “A person who is not just
engaged in mostly intellectual work, but also a
person who owes their special social status to this
kind of activity”. The society officially issued a
certificate confirming the person’s abilities and
rights for intellectual work that they can carry
out under the conditions of relative freedom.
The combination of these features determines
the European specificity of this kind of activity.
Moreover, the authority issuing the certificate (an
academic degree or a diploma) is a community of
equals, a corporation of equals (a corporation of
scientists) that works in an autonomous regime,
though under supervision and with the approval of
state authorities. This was the system that formed
itself during the Middle Ages, and it became the
university system: changeable, but at the same
time surprisingly stable” (P. IU. Uvarov, 2010).
The history of European universities at the
early stages of their formation and development
did not compose itself as a long-term project of
some declared eternal mission. The ideas that
were imagined to be in the base of the social
institutions and their missions are already a
projective result of historical retrospection. We
can try revealing the reasons for universities’
emergence, and finding the explanation of the
enormous interest shown to them by the state,
church and European society as a whole, and only
after that formulate the responsive influence of
the universities on everything or on those many
things that happen in the society.
The first universities appeared as
international corporations of teachers and
students that formed around some school centres
(Bologna, Paris, Montpellier, Oxford, Salamanca
etc.) as a result of spontaneous pilgrimage of
young people from the strata of city dwellers,
knights and the lowest clergy ranks. The
mentioned corporations became a special kind of
guild (similarly to other craft guilds of a medieval
town) which was different from the others with
its openness and absence of monopoly. The open
corporation of the university animated the life of
the city where teachers and students started to
gather; it raised the city’s significance by raising
the average level of education and, therefore,
attracted more foreigners, and increased the
available goods’ range, developed and stimulated
the market relations. That is why it did not
take long before the universities acquired their
official status. Attracting the attention of local
authorities, they started concluding agreements
on the price and amount of apartments for the
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university members, on meal prices, professor
salaries, rector jurisdiction etc.
Inside the corporation, a special university
lifestyle was developing; among its attributive
features, there were strive for knowledge and free
communication, which opened the students and
teachers’ community to other institutions and
personalities, and brought the general cultural
significance to the university. The ancient
acquisition of the sacral wisdom by the chosen
ones assumed only transmission of the wisdom,
blocking any free, unlimited interaction with
it. M.K. Petrov (1991) connected this fact to the
peculiarities of the historically formed European
sociality, which, back in antique times, had started
to “approve deviations from the norm, made such
terms as “talent”, “uniqueness”, “originality”,
“author”, “plagiarism” etc. socially significant
and transmissible”.
M.K. Petrov “extracted” the science and
the university institutionally devoted to it from
the atomic structure of the archaic European
society: the community is losing its totalitarian
power over the individuals. The communality
began to show the signs of strain, and from the
strain new individuals appeared, the creative
individuals capable of taking advantage of their
liberty… but it is not the sense! The European
community (society) eagerly replied the new
ideas of these creative upstarts!!! Appearing
here and there… Revenging, haunting,
destroying them… but still, it replied (because
it matched the new trend of social atomization,
individualization, overwhelming it), and we
can see how the creative upstart conquered
almost the whole world!!! Until this time our
society has been looking for legal limits and
mechanisms to harmonize its interests with the
interests of the unique ones, for the benefits of
the society itself!!! This is the main peculiarity
of our society, the roots of which go back to the
antiquity and the middle Ages.
R. Nisbet (1970) qualified the modern
university as a splinter of the Middle Ages
that has remained until today and that is still
working not because it managed to adjust itself
to the new rules of the total modern corruption
of Gesellschaft (the university is able to live
only according to the corporate norms and
the equality of Gemeinschaft), but because
the modern capitalistic society has nothing to
do but adjust itself, as it has not succeeded to
develop its own “transmutation transmission
interior” (term by M.K. Petrov); for having
no better alterative and no organic capacity to
invent anything else, it is forced to tolerate this
Medieval social institution. Under the attempts to
subdue the higher education to some speculative
models, driving the medieval university spirit
out of it, the proposal that was articulated at the
Conference of Social Responsibility of Scientists
in London back in 1970 does not sound that scary
as it first seemed: “It is time to think how to do
the dissociation, maybe even total dissociation
between the science and the governments of all
countries… Separation the science from the state
is similar to the process when the church was
separated from the state and gained its status of
an independent institution… It could have been
an efficient measure, and the governments would
take it under the threat of total termination of
research” (M.K. Petrov, 1991).
It is worth noticing that the medieval church
and university inherited the antique rhetoric
traditions developed by the polis democracy
originated from the common gatherings (like
“veche” for medieval Russia etc.). But, at such
common gatherings not only logic was taken
as the main argument; but the power of voice,
suggestiveness, and the mystified authority of the
speaker could be more relevant. Polis democracy,
on the opposite, accustomed the citizens to calm
judgement. Reasonable discussion following
the rules of logic, without regard to the power
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of voice, suggestiveness or even the speaker’s
authority was considered to be an important
method of cognition: and this must be the roots
of vitality (relevance) of free intellectuals and the
university as their union! Even though it all started
from monotonous recording of dictated antique
texts, the necessity to comment them emerged
quite soon. That is when the dissonance began!
Moreover, at different universities the same text
could be dictated from various re-writings of the
original… And the “original” itself could be not
the only one. They competed with each other just
like the “originals” of the “unique” sanctities
(numerous “heads of John the Baptist”, torn
relicts of this or that saint, that, if put together,
could form more than dozens or even hundreds of
normal human bodies, etc.). So, it required using
the intellect and polemic talents again! But the
thing needed the most, was the logic.
Even though in the Middle Ages authority
was the main criterion for the truth (first of all,
it was the authority of the Scripture and the Holy
Tradition, and later, the authority of Aristotle,
Plato, Roman lawyers and some others), the main
method used was not the incantation (repeating
after the authority), but the logical proof of the
conformity of your own thought to the thoughts
of the indisputable authority. The habit to provide
logical proofs was polished and engrained there.
After that the “only” thing left to do was to rain
it down the indisputability, which, as you may
know, inevitably happened.
Why did this habit appear? Why was it
necessary in Medieval Europe? – Probably, the
military powers of disputing polities and their
institutions were frequently equal (and there were
many polities at that time!), so it was necessary
to search for compromise as an alternative to
mutual exhaustion and elimination. Discussion
as a method of transferring a battle into the
world of words and speculation, and reaching a
practical compromise: it is not this or that party
who is the winner, but the proved fact (it is not
that important who proved it! – the truth is
gradually depersonalized, deified and inevitably
forced the God out, as an unnecessary alternate).
This mind-set is very close to tolerance and
freedom of speech, especially within a university
Despite the department differentiation, the
first universities bred a person who would be
more than just a professional, but an active bearer,
subject of culture, a person with certain social
objectives and a corresponding world outlook; a
person who is not dissolved in their clan, parish,
even the university corporation, but remaining
an independent intellectual. That is why they
naturally become education establishments “not
for everyone”, but for the elite, for the people who
in the future will take the highest governmental
or church positions, or will take active part in
the state administration in any other way. “The
knowledge embodied in the Universities very
soon transformed into the Strength, the Order
itself. It was the Wisdom that ascended equally
with Holiness and Power. The university members
were striving to define themselves as intellectual
aristocracy, possessing their own special ethics
and their very own system of values” (J. Le Goff,
But this institutionally independent and
free position of the universities, fi rst of all,
did not please the church, which was trying to
control the whole system of medieval education,
starting from the elementary monastery schools
and the municipal cathedral schools. It was
customary to think that only communion to
the church sacraments can educate and breed a
person. The church could not get along with the
competitor, and independent spiritual authority
that the universities fi nally became. For this
reason, the church started enforcing its impact
on the universities. But even in such situation
it was possible to fi nd a small share of mutual
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profit, as in case of frequent legal disputes
with the local authorities who usually turned
to the university for intellectual support, and
then, in its turn, provided the teachers with
material, psychological and administrative
assistance. Moreover, the church itself was
interested in having some educated people
within its hierarchy. The Popes were expecting
the universities to create an integrative rational
theological doctrine to help them fight against
heresy and enforce the Pope’s power against the
kings and the feudal lords.
The dilemma faced by the medieval
university teacher could be formulated as
follows: students’ fee or beneficium. The first
could make him comparatively free in relation
to various forms of secular or spiritual authority,
but at the same time extremely sensitive to the
demands of the surrounding urban environment.
To be demanded, the teacher had to be active
in the social life, understand the changeable
requirements and moods of the society. On the
contrary, the beneficium would relieve the teacher
from the necessity to make a living with work:
basically, he would live the life of a beneficiary.
In the XIII century the university teachers tended
to live for the student fees. But gradually the
situation started to change. Its reason was not
only the desire of the teachers to choose the most
reliable and stable income source. Choosing the
beneficium as a way to make a living is the urging
of the Catholic church, which required some free
education, as any knowledge is the Gift of God,
and, consequently, selling knowledge is the same
as selling sacred things, or a type of simony.
Therefore, the university could not avoid the
beneficium, the role of which was usually played
by the church itself. All in all, the result of the
religious patronage is that the only person who
can become a university professor is the one who
also agrees to be materially dependent on the
The further development of the university
can be described with the words by J. Le Goff
who spoke of it as of a long-lasting standstill
caused by gradual transformation of the university
corporation into a privileged cast living on the
expense of a beneficium (or the church, as a rule)
and taking less part in the city life. As a result, the
universities started losing their role of intellectual
centres. Many of them ceased to exist.
On the border of the middle ages
and the modern age, the universities went
through significant changes connected to
reinforcement of the national state authorities
and the Reformation. Universities did not appear
spontaneously any more, they were established
by kings and after that they would began their
work. The influence of the Catholic church was
dramatically decreasing. Licentia docendi was
eliminated along with praebenda, and the cleric
professoriate was gone.
But the state was cutting the autonomy of the
university corporation more and more by issuing
university and faculty statutes, interfering into
the teaching process; governmental commissars
strictly criticized and reviewed the curriculum,
controlling the behaviour of teachers and
students. Professor were turning into government
During the modern age, the idea of higher
education accountability to the state became
complete when, due to the industrial development
the society began to feel more and more urge for
workers of various professions and qualifications.
The education system became oriented at
creation and provision of human resources to the
professional structures, satisfying the needs of
various branches of production and industry. The
society and the labour market needed military
men, doctors, and technicians educated at the
corresponding higher education establishments.
The universities regained their status of privileged
education establishments accessible only to the
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chosen representatives of the society, whose
future profession is to rule the state.
This was the time when, in conformance
with the Zeitgeist, the idea that the education
contributed a rational element into the state
administration, first emerged. This rationality
was regarded in various ways. On one hand,
the state administration bodies structure and
control the education system. On the other hand,
the education system (and the higher education
in particular) breeds the people who deal with
state construction and management, develop
the principles, basics and ideologies of state
administration. That is how the interdependence
of the education system and the state bodies
The universities which were initially created
as relatively independent organizations were
expected to produce scientific knowledge for
bringing rationality into the state administration.
However, the state authority structures gradually
began to use the university in their own purposes,
including their current business interests.
Basically speaking, it was not the university
forming the state authority, but the authority
creating the “university” it needed to produce
the knowledge required by the state, on behalf of
which the officials, looking out for themselves,
usually like to speak. All this leaded to another
crisis that manifested itself in oblivion of
science, domination of practical knowledge and
affordability of the higher education to the people
who have no capacity to learn, but some financial
capacity and good relations in the society.
It was in the modern age, when, due to
the reflection on universality or practicality of
the knowledge provided by universities, on its
capacity and influence made on them by various
external (state, church and other) powers, the
first research works appeared that dealt with the
search or approval of the university idea, which is
still being disputed even during the present time,
considering that any ideas or missions are always
declarative and impossible to verify. The talks and
the disputes about them usually bear speculative
character but also have a socio-mobilizing
significance: idea is an objective, code, password
for the chosen ones, connected to a certain social
institution. But sometimes conditional things are
taken for unconditional.
In the beginning of the XX century higher
education system was a complete, complicated
social institution, the demand for which had
been proved, besides many other factors, by
considerable increase in the number of students,
and, therefore, of universities, too. And the
universities themselves began to transform from
compact establishments into large organisations
with numerous branches and representatives. It
seemed like higher education reached the peak
of its institutional success. However, the growth
of the system leaded to a series of organizational
difficulties, which made their impact on many
aspects of university life and other life spheres
as well.
Due to the growing popularity of the
higher education, the state began to involve
the money paid by the students (their parents,
guardians, target funds working on repayable
basis, potential employers etc.) into fi nancing
the university. This rapid commercialization
aggravated the popularization, and lead to the
situation of endless egalitarisation of the higher
education: the quality of students and colleges
could not help decreasing, and the decrease was
quite evident.
The victims of student quality decrease that
the universities were volens nolens adjusting
to, were the traditional academic standards
(values, norms, rituals), (A.G. Kislov, 2008) and
the impact was so big that they required strong
administrative assistance, like, for example, state
education standards (in Russia, for example). But
they did not prevent the frequent replacement
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of scientists with born accountants in the
administration of higher or any other sphere of
education (E.A. Yamburg, 2012): commercial
interests could not but gained the advantage of
the academic once, especially in the cases when
the state regularly did not carry out its financial
obligations, as it was, for example, in Russia
in the 1990s. It means that the academic level
of the administrators and the higher education
management also decreased. The number of
teaching personnel was inevitably growing
together with the number of students, was
dragging behind the required; they turned into
mere “class givers”, with a large share of copycat
researchers, which means that the academic level
of the teachers and teaching, the scientists (by
profession), and the researches carried out by the
“scientists” including the research results also
dropped. Human resources departments of the
universities also lowered the hiring bar; it could
not be prevented either by the administrative
measures or the certification and accreditation
requirements, though regularly toughened, but
still dramatically dragging behind the actual
situation and bringing nothing but useless
It is also proved by the research carried out
by the Siberian experts in the years 2010-2012:
“The attempts to “fight” all symptoms of crisis
in the higher education using only administrative
measures without the deep system modifications
(that would change the functions performed by
the higher education in the society, its connection
and interaction with the other institutions,
super-tasks of its activity, actual positions and
mind-sets of the students, teachers, researchers,
administrators) leaded only to the emergence of
an additional “layer”, the “layer” of falsification
and imitation. It is imitation of reforms and
development management: “administrators
pretend to be ruling the modernization,
research and education processes” (V.S. Efimov,
A.V. Lapteva, V.A. Dadasheva, A.V. Efimov,
The struggle of the Russian state, its education
authorities and university administrators for
the academic degree quality is also prominent:
the measures are numerous and diverse, the
procedures are complicated, up to video recording
of the Thesis Board work during the thesis defence
process, which was taken by the Board member
as a humiliation: turning public and regulated
instead of remaining autonomous and preserving
the academic freedom of the expert communities,
aggravated by the complains of the “fighters for
improvement” and of the dissertation research
level decrease.
You can also have a look at the story about
implementation of the professional and social
expertise (“management system”) of quality
management systems into the higher education
system. The fact that it was initiated by the
state (in such a way that the universities could
not decline it), not by the universities or by any
university organisations (voluntarily), contradicts
the meaning of the quality management system
itself, and speaks of distrust shown to the higher
education as an institution, unable to control its
activities on its own. The specialists have been
warning us: “The main peculiarity of implementing
ISO standards is inefficiency and inexperience of
implementing them by directive methods. The
base for them is the principle of voluntariness
and economic interest” (V.N. Spitsnadel’, 2000).
However, the resolution of the Federal Education
and Science Supervision Agency dated 30.09.2005
No.1938 “On Introduction of Activity Indicators
and Criteria for State Certification Determining
the Status of Russian Education Establishments
as a “Higher Education Establishment”, and
“1.2. Education Quality” Indicator Including
“Efficiency of the Inter-University Education
Quality Assurance System” in Particular”.
The presence of such system became almost
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obligatory for all the universities willing to be
certified by the state. Since the year 2007, even
those universities of Russia that did not hurry to
implement the innovation, created some structural
departments to do the work they had never done
before, as they used to follow those clauses on
the education quality that were included into the
federal and regional legislation, and the bylaws
resulting directly from them (like Education
Control and Supervision Rules, Clauses for the
Federal Education and Science Supervision
Agency etc.).
Higher education system has institutionally
included this strange, foreign control system
repeating the state quality management control
and supervision systems, which is, honestly
speaking, quite expensive for the universities,
and not only because it requires providing
salaries to the quality control department
employees. It is not that much. Payment for the
regular external expertise is much higher. As for
the additional time and effort required by the QC
departments from all the university workers, it is
better to describe the situation not with figures,
but with a quotation created by the people, and
speaking much more of the higher education
system problems: “School is gradually turning
into a place where students are preventing the
administration and the teachers from doing
their paperwork” (E. A. Iamburg, 2012). The
university situation is more transparent: a student
paying the education fee is interesting for the
university and its administration as a paying
customer, but the teachers have less and less
time and capacity for providing this customer
with high quality service! Because, first of all,
they have to do file and paper work that may be
reviewed by experts and inspectors. The review
reports will be used for making conclusion on
the quality of the service provided by the teacher
and the university as a whole. This conclusion
(in the form of State Certificate, ISO Certificate
or Quality Contest Winner Certificate) will be
accessible to the potential clients. Looking at
this, the future clients may or may not choose
the university. It can be only corrected with “the
word of mouth” and rumours, the only source
of the information on how the university works
with its direct customers (students). That is why
the universities also open PR Departments: the
social institution only reacts to other institutions
(the state as a customer and, first of all, as a
supervising authority, and to the families as their
main customers).
The question that arises is: who gets the
profit of such situation in the Russian higher
education system? Who needs the double control
and reports? For sure, it is not the students, as
the teachers sometimes do not have the time to
deal with them due to the necessity to write a
heap of reports. It is not the professors as well, as
according to their education and mission they are
teachers, not clerks (managers, administrators,
bureaucrats, writers of long self-audition reports,
corrective and preventive action plans, and other
“masterpieces”). Besides the reports, the modern
Russian university teachers have to produce
numerous texts of education programs, working
programs and their courseware, besides normal
pedagogical, methodological and research activity.
Multiply it by enforced search for additional work,
as the salary paid to the teachers does not let them
have any free time (which is the major condition
for creation, scientific and pedagogical research).
The word “quality” sounds like mockery in such
a situation.
However, the frequency of mentioning
“education quality” is stunning. This word
combination is being recited like a mantra in
numerous scientific articles, administrative
documents and mass media. We get the feeling
that the word itself, as a spell, can inspire the
educational space of the county with its magic
power, improving the universities, students,
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professors and even administrators. Considering
our traditions, it is possible that there are many
people who do believe that. But for the others this
abusing recitation looks like an euphemism that
is aimed at concealing the real words that truly
describe what is going on in the higher education
system: having imposed the QMC systems on
the universities, the state expressed its distrust
towards themselves, their customers and the
society as a whole.
While education is a trust-based service,
the main difference of which from the other
goods and services is that “it is impossible to
measure the quality of the service for them who
order, purchase, buy them; when it is possible to
measure it, it is usually too late… the consumers
of such goods can only trust the evaluations
provided by experts… So, the best expert for
the education is a person integrated into the
academic community (IA.I. Kuz’minov, 2007).
But the trust-based relations between the student,
university, applicants, academic community
experts united by a certification organization or
a quality supervision commission, is brazenly
interfered by the state: it cannot have enough
of the education standards, of the headstrong
accreditation requirements; it needs to implement
the quality management: as the university and
its customers have not matured for this, it is
condemned to remain nothing but a paper chase,
accompanied by replacing real reports with
Recently some changes concerning the
Russian state attitude towards the higher education
QMC were introduced: a clause obliging the
universities to have a Quality Management system
within their structure was removed from the
Resolution of the Russian Federation Ministry of
Education and Science dated 02.09.2011 No.2253
“On Approval of Higher Education, Secondary
Vocational and Elementary Vocational Education
Establishment Activity Criteria for Setting Their
Official Status”. Russian Education and Science
Supervision Agency issued Resolution dated
25.10.2011 No.2267 “On Setting the Criteria
for Defining the Type and Kind of a Higher
Professional and Secondary Vocational Education
Establishment”, which also did not mention the
quality management system. On February 20,
2012, the Resolution No.123 “On Introduction
of the Administrative Regulation for the State
Certification Service for the Educational
Establishment and Scientific Organizations
Provided by the Federal Education and Science
Supervision Agency” describes the procedure
of the state certification procedure for education
establishments and scientific organisations
carried out by the Russian Education and Science
Supervision Agency. Its Paragraph 12 h) goes as
follows: “The Organisation can attach some data
on the public (social and professional) certification
of the organization in Russian, foreign,
international educational, scientific, social and
other organisations to their application. The data
is reviewed during the certification expertise”.
So, the social and professional certification
of the university in Russian, foreign and
international educational, scientific, social and
other organisations, and, therefore, the interuniversity quality management system is not
obligatory anymore. The justice was finally
served, though it was quite late. But still, from
the Regulation we arrive at the conclusion that
public and professional certification, along with
the inter-university quality management system
are still advisable by the state. And any decision
on the methods and consideration of the public
and professional certification results is still up to
the Russian Education and Science Supervision
Agency (which is not regulated in any way), and
then, as the experience shows, any bureaucratic
surprises can be expected.
But the surprises made by the state are not
only bureaucratic. For example, the re-elected
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President V.V. Putin also did not neglect the
problem of the higher education quality. May 9,
2012, he issued the Resolution dated May 7, 2012,
No.599 “On the Measures on Implementation
of State Policy Concerning Education and
Science” which says: “in order to improve the
state policy concerning education, science and
preparing qualified specialists considering the
requirements of innovative economy, I decree: …
4. The Government of the Russian Federation in
cooperation with the all-Russian employer unions
and the leading universities, with the assistance
of the representatives of the Russian Academy of
Sciences and international experts, present their
suggestion concerning the public professional
accreditation of the higher professional education
programs, first of all, the programs for educating
specialists in the sphere of economy, law,
management and sociology”, which means, that
public professional certification of the higher
professional education is not among the priority
activities of the President. But it is not the
The paragraph 1 a) of the same Decree
delegates the Government of the Russian
Federation “till the end of December 2012, to
complete the monitoring of the state education
establishments in order to assess the efficiency
of their work, reorganize the inefficient state
education establishments and in such case provide
the students of such education establishments
with the opportunity to finish their studies at
another education facility”. Today the criteria for
the higher education system “comb-out” are ready
and its parameters have been determined: 20%
of the existing higher education establishments
and 30% of higher education establishments’
branches are to be eliminated. What is the reason
of setting such a share, no one knows.
However, a little earlier the state pointed
out several higher education establishments – the
best of the kind, according to the opinion of their
administration, – and granted them the status
of Federal Universities. The status of National
Research University is granted not forever, but
to the best. The best are promised to get the best
funding from the state.
All the mentioned governmental measures
taken by the Russian Federation indicate the
mistrust of the state to the higher education
institution, and the reasons of this are evident; it is
not just one more reflection of state arbitrariness.
It is better to say that the reaction of the state to the
existing reasons is arbitrary. And these reasons
are of institutional origin. They brought to the
loss of the face and decrease of the prestige of the
higher education system, including the university
symbols and even the graduation documents
(diplomas are sometimes rather “bought on
the hire-purchase system” than deserved by
hard work). In such a situation the neurasthenic
presentiments of soon “university collapse”,
expressed by especially sensitive personalities,
are quite understandable. However, we should
dot neglect the presentiments of the same kind
of “collapse” of the theatre, cinema, and starting
from the recent times, religion as well.
Moreover, the distinctive way the
information and computer technologies push
the impoverished elements of the university
education out aggravating the depersonalization
of university education, cannot be left without
attention. But due to this fact, a way out was
found; though it was not organized by anyone,
and administrative reaction was quite helpless,
ridiculous and inappropriate.
Higher education has always born a research
element in it. It is also unthinkable without active,
spontaneous and free communication between
its employees. That is why the researches of
all times, which means, long ago before the
computer technologies emerged, had been
bound by the phenomenon which is now called
“social network”. The information and computer
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technologies, especially those created on the
Internet base, are amazingly efficient in providing
network communication. Scientists, including the
university ones, began to use them actively, and
now everyone who is in any way related to the
higher education is involved into the network. So,
the future, when “the technologies of personalityoriented education… will be implemented
outside the higher education institution, in the
environmental forms of education” (V.S. Efimov,
A.V. Lapteva, V.A. Dadasheva, A.V. Efimov,
2012), which is in the place where the extrainstitutional, network interaction forms, is not
that far away.
“Network Society”, as M. Castells described
it, is a complex of interconnected nods, among
which M. Castells lists television channels and
studios that make programs and develop computer
graphics, journalist groups, transportable
technical apparatus etc. But he did not consider
such powerful network nods as higher education
establishments that, in the person of teachers
and students, also include representatives of
extremely diverse networks.
The functions of the social networks are
never limited to mere communication and
transfer of existing information. Communication
node here is a social subject that is able to
process, store, and create information, like a
computer inside a computer network; moreover,
this subject possesses the freedom of action
and will. It can be a network structure of a
group of individuals (including groups of
revolutionaries or terrorists), a network of
branches, organizations, and institutions. Every
mesh of a social network can both clone the
one it originated from and make its individual
element. Modern communication facilities
provide the opportunity to make networks both
of the similar and the different, to create both
clones and individuals able to perform both
linear and complex operations. These are not
only the networks that unite social subjects, but
also the subjects themselves entering various
networks, able to unite them. Modern networks
can expand and contract, open and close, form
exquisite geometry of coverage, quickly include
new members and get rid of them. All these mean
a new stage of the social structure that has little
in common with the “mechanistic solidarity” of
E. Durkheim (A.V. Nazarchuk, 2008).
The base for the network interaction is
information exchange harshly intensified due to
the information and computer technologies; its
intensiveness has become so strong that its main
element now is not reaching some certain aims
(even if they are reached, it is a by-product of the
main process), but the presence of some common,
interesting element that is significant for many
people and binds them together. Unlike hierarchy
structures, a network can easily bind both likeminded people and those who stick to opposite
opinions, but like to gather due to a common
interest in solving a problem, implementing a
project etc.
It may sound surprising, but one of the
brightest examples of this are the medieval
universities that were created as independent
unions of students and teachers, based,
primarily, on the interest to the antique heritage,
and secondarily on the other interests. The fi rst
universities were network associations, as they
did not possess any institutional features that
appeared later as a result of interaction with
other social institutions (city, state, church
It is worth noticing that the concepts of a
social institution also evolve in the way vividly
illustrated by, for example, so-called “new
institutional theory” by O. Williamson. He
considerably reduces the significance of the prerequisites of subject rationality, and, therefore,
confirms the impossibility to conclude complete
(considering all possible circumstances and
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consequences) contracts (including education
contracts). “Relational Contracts” are the category
which appears to be in the centre of attention;
such contracts set general rules for bargain
parties’ interaction to adjust the structure of their
relationship to the changing circumstances. The
inevitable gap between the contract clauses at
the stage of contract conclusion and at the stage
of its performance conditions the need to study
the process of contraction as an integral process
flowing within some time limits and continuously
going beyond the limits foreseen by any rules,
as a live process accompanied by some urgent
informal extra-institutional agreements, their
active dialogue.
Once, the ideologists of Pan-Clericalism
and Pan-Etatism hit the limits of institutional
capacities. Life has never confirmed this
institutional maximalism. Today we observe the
exhaustion of the institutional capacities of the
higher education.
Having lost touch with the more or less
autonomous institution of the higher education,
the academic freedom spirit moved to the extrainstitutional sphere of the social networks,
where there is no formal hierarchy, but, the most
important, there is a non-regulated and intriguing
one with new opportunities of intellectual selffulfilment for those, who are just the same as the
university creators and for whom the universities
were revived; an artistic model of this can be, for
example, Castalia from “Das Glasperlenspiel” by
von H. Hesse.
Today we observe the processes of
active, spontaneous and, for now, elemental
deinstitutionalization of the higher education,
especially the activity of those involved or,
literally speaking, attached researchers, whose
activity is mostly focused on the theory sphere.
As practice and experiment require more financial
support, which in a much more distinctive way
foresees institutionalized interaction, e.g. not
only the network one. Networks have the capacity
to relieve from various kinds of responsibility.
And only few enthusiast grantors can afford
risking their money. However, temporary
scientific and research groups have already
proved their competitive ability in comparison
with bureaucratized research institutes or
universities. It is remarkable that the universities
themselves strive for creating new network forms
of interaction (Anatoliy V. Bucharov, Vladimir
I. Kirko, Vladimir G. Zinov, 2008), including
interaction on the international level (Natalya
P. Koptseva, 2010).
But higher education includes not only
research, but also the teaching activity which is
often very restricted, in some universities and
even countries they keep strangling even the
smallest academic liberties. In such situation, the
alternative network form of interaction between the
students and teachers replaces, not accomplishes,
the traditional one, and it may also cover students
and teachers from other education establishments.
The role of the teachers, consultants, experts can
be also played by volunteers, on a remuneration
basis as well. Technologically, there is everything
for deinstitutionalization of the education process
itself, except for the stage of final examination,
granting a qualification, handing the graduation
documents. But even here some innovations can
be introduced.
The Siberian experts quoted above
declare: “In the higher education system, the
mass imitation and falsification of education
is taking place” (V.S. Efi mov, A.V. Lapteva,
V.A. Dadasheva, A.V. Efi mov, 2012). But it
is not because “the higher education crisis
in Russia is determined by the “jam up”
on the industrial development phase and
block of further movement to post-industrial
perspective” (Ibid.). Today a new, institutionalnetwork model of higher education organization
is developing in Russia; this system is radically
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widening the sphere of academic liberties,
tearing it off the institutional autonomy of the
university, violated by the state, eliminating
it as an obligatory condition. The models of
institutional, organizational and legal structure
of higher education system can be different,
while from the content and technological point of
view the prevalence of networks and horizontal
bonds is inevitable, which corresponds to the
dominating outlook context of the present time:
it does not need any absolute, any ultimate
perfection, a prevailing vertical, an authority
beyond exception, the only way, fi nal judgments
and full guarantees; the world appears dynamic,
pulsing, undetermined, unpredictable. In such a
world “higher” education is the same convention
as the “universality” of a university.
Conclusion / Results. In Russia and
in the world as a whole the processes of
deinstitutionalizing the higher education system
are being unwind, the existing organizational
forms are replaced by the network relations
which are more direct, interpersonal, mobile and
flexible; such networks forms of organization the
higher education life can lead it out the crisis it is
suffering now.
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Перспектива институциональной
российской высшей школы
А.Г. Кислов, О.В. Шмурыгина
Институт социологии и права,
Российский государственный
профессионально-педагогический университет
Россия 620012, Екатеринбург, Машиностроителей, 11
Статья посвящена идентификации (и самоидентификации) кризиса, который возник в
последнее время в сфере высшего образования, и перспективам его преодоления. По сравнению
с некоторыми развитыми странами в России кризис более значителен из-за традиционных
административных ограничений высшей автономии системы образования и академической
свободы сотрудников и студентов. Во-первых, понимание кризиса приводит к необходимости
вернуться к основам университетского образования. Во-вторых, следует провести
сравнительный анализ философской рефлексии этой ситуации. В-третьих, исследование
текущего состояния высшего образования в различных странах и России, в частности,
было необходимо. В результате статья демонстрирует истощение институционального
потенциала и увеличение его несоответствия потребностям и тенденциям современного
Полученные результаты могут быть использованы в исследовательских работах, связанных
с эволюцией и прогнозами развития высшего образования, его институциональной точкой
зрения, а также в практике разработки политики в области образования на различных
уровнях. Они могут быть полезны для тех, кто пытается найти собственный путь в мире
Следовательно, мы можем заключить, что в настоящее время в мире и в России, в частности,
процесс деинституционализации высшего образования запущен, он сопровождается заменой
существующих форм организацией в сети, межличностной, мобильной и гибкой. Сеть
организации высшего образования есть сила, которая может вывести его из кризиса.
Ключевые слова: высшая школа, университет, социальные институты, социальные сети.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 455-467
УДК 372.12
Professional Autonomy of a University Teacher
in the USA and Russia: Freedom from Control
or Freedom for Development?
Oksana A. Gavriliuk* and Anastasiya V. Lakhno
Krasnoyarsk State Medical University
named after Prof. V. F. Voino-Yasenetsky
1 Partisan Zheleznyak Str., Krasnoyarsk, 660022 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The present study aims to investigate the phenomenon of teacher autonomy, which has mostly been
explored in the U.S. and is now attracting attention of educational researchers in other countries
including Russia. Due to its complexity, the phenomenon of teacher autonomy is still not strictly defined
and remains accepted in a variety of forms. Meanwhile, the meaning attributed to the concept of
teacher autonomy has great significance in the context of both American and Russian systems of higher
education. Analysis of the educational context in both countries and study of research works on the
problem under investigation in the context of general concepts of humanistic and cognitive psychology,
democratization of education and life-long learning allowed us to define the concept of university
teacher professional autonomy as well as to determine special intrinsic and extrinsic conditions which
can insure development of professional autonomy skills in young university teachers.
Keywords: higher education, teacher professional autonomy, free choice, critical reflection,
pedagogical freedom, decision-making, professional self-development, independence, empowerment,
personal agency, responsibility.
Modern educational system, following the
world tendency for society democratization and
humanization, is aimed at introduction of the
ideas of changeable, multilevel, differentiated
education. Due to ongoing globalization and
subsequent growing interdependence of education
research across geographical boundaries
developing learner autonomy (which is generally
defined as “the ability to take charge of one’s own
learning” (Holec, 1981, p. 3) has become one of
the major educational goals in many countries.
This causes higher education institutions’
faculty to be involved in making various
important decisions that include devising course
syllabi; choosing teaching forms, methods and
materials; mastering new forms of learning
environment (e.g. virtual learning environment),
coming up with new classroom ideas for
educational documents state that one of the
primary goals of the higher education reform is
to introduce a new method of teaching focusing
on the students’ needs, interests and demands
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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Oksana A. Gavriliuk and Anastasiya V. Lakhno. Professional Autonomy of a University Teacher in the USA and Russia…
and considering their diversities. This can be
done if teachers take initiative in curriculum
Therefore, new responsibilities have been
assigned to university teachers. This forms
objective preconditions for the recognition of
a teacher’s leading role in providing quality
education. Indeed, “from the point of view
of acmeological science a professional can be
trained only by a professional, who is capable
of self-education, self-organization and selfcontrol” (Shurupova, 2009, p. 169). As TortMoloney, Little, McGrath and Smith have
claimed, teachers who are not autonomous
themselves may have a negative influence on
the development of their students’ autonomy
(Tort-Moloney, 1997; McGrath, 2000; Smith,
In relation to this, teacher autonomy has
been actively encouraged for more than ten
years in the United States and many European
countries and is becoming an issue in Russia,
especially in the field of foreign language
education (Allwright, 1990; Little, 1994, 1995,
2001; Voller, 1997; Benson, 2000; Smith, 2000;
Aoki 2002; Tambovkina, 2000; Koriakovtseva,
2001; Nosacheva, 2010; et al.).
There is a growing body of literature
demonstrating that the notion of teacher
autonomy is a necessary and complementary
part of the learner autonomy concept. Over
the last decade several foreign authors have
emphasized the fact that the promotion of
learner autonomy depends on the promotion
of teacher autonomy (Little, 1995, 2001;
Smith, 2000; Benson, 2000; Aoki, 2002). As
K. Castle states, “teacher autonomy will equip
teachers to be curriculum creators not just
curriculum enactors. Autonomous teachers
co-create curriculum with children. They help
children become more autonomous through
pursuing topics and questions of interest to
children themselves” (Castle, 2004, p. 7). It is
also suggested that more autonomous teachers
feel greater job satisfaction (Davis & Wilson,
2000; Pearson & Moomaw, 2006), experience
better outcomes in teaching (Little, 2001), and
are more likely to avoid stress, professional
demotivation and attrition or burnout (Pearson
& Moomaw, 2005). Autonomy has also been
identified as necessary for a teacher’s sense of
professionalism (Ingersoll & Alsalam, 1997;
Hanson, 2003; Pearson & Moomaw, 2006).
With all the efforts to investigate this
relatively new concept embracing both
professional and teaching components, there
is a teacher autonomy paradox: being widely
discussed, teacher autonomy still does not have
a strict defi nition. Today it remains accepted in
a variety of forms: from “right to freedom from
control” (Pearson & Hall, 1993) and “capacity to
engage in self-directed teaching” (Little, 1995) to
the “state of being when isolated teachers operate
a classroom in an independent, noncollaborative
manner” (Willner, 1990). Several attempts were
made to defi ne the concept (Little, 1994, 1995;
Tort-Moloney, 1997; McGrath, 2000; Smith,
2000; Benson, 2000; Aoki, 2002; Atsushi,
2009, et al.), but the questions of what particular
competences and conditions are required for
teachers to be autonomous and what influences
the level of autonomy felt by teachers remain
This problem compels us to focus on solving
several issues. Firstly, it is necessary to analyze
the existing conceptions of teacher autonomy and
establish the basis for the interpretation of the
phenomenon. Secondly, it is important to reveal
the specifics of educational contexts and personal
factors, which may influence the development
of university teacher autonomy in the USA and
Russia. Thirdly, our solution to the university
teacher autonomy problem in Russia has to be
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Conceptions of teacher autonomy
in American and Russian contexts
It should be pointed out that conceptions
of teacher autonomy employed by American
researchers were often limited to teachers’
control over their work practices. Based on this
conception are Kevin Carey’s views, according
to which “the real problem in public education
isn’t too little teacher autonomy – it’s too much”
(Carey, 2008). In his opinion, due to American
tradition of local educational control with
thousands of districts and tens of thousands of
schools, each deciding on their own what students
need to learn, teacher autonomy historically has
been misinterpreted as “not just how to teach but
what to teach and how to assess the results”. He
blames American teachers’ unions that became
influential in the 1960s and 1970s and considered
teachers’ rights and classroom autonomy as key
elements of elevating teaching into the realm of
respected, well-paid professions. According to
Kevin Carey, this resulted in several issues:
1. The autonomy ideal was extended to resist
any kind of meaningful teacher evaluation (in
2008 the United Federation of Teachers in New
York created a moratorium on basing tenure
decisions on “student performance data” of
any kind), which led to the fact that really good
teachers become harder to find.
2. American teachers had no common
expectations or accountability for how much a
student learned by the end of the year and this has
led to calls for the education reform, including
common standards for all students.
3. Instead of balancing policies focused on
increasing both teacher quality and quantity,
the focus has been on quantity alone (in 1965
the national student/teacher ratio was 25 to one,
today it’s 15 to one, the lowest in history). At the
same time training provided to novice teachers
prior to their entering a classroom is insufficient
as well as the mentoring they are given after
starting the job. Also, teachers are not held
accountable for learning results, which degrades
the accomplishments of the best among them. As
a result, the term “autonomy” very often conceals
the lack of support teachers receive in schools.
On this basis Kevin Carey argues for
relinquishing the existing kind of autonomy and
promoting a newer, better kind of autonomy based
on teachers’ collaboration and evaluation. He
further claims that teachers shouldn’t define what
success means, but they should have freedom to
achieve it and be recognized for doing so (Carey,
The difficulties in defining teacher
autonomy can be explained by the fact that
the term “autonomy” is used in a wide variety
of meanings and in numerous philosophical,
psychological and pedagogical settings. Let’s
refer to some of the most often used definitions of
personal autonomy and teacher autonomy, given
by foreign researchers.
G. Dworkin describes autonomy as a global
property referring to a person as a whole, not
to particular acts (Dworkin, 1988, p. 16). Thus,
personal autonomy is meant as a trait that
individuals can exhibit relative to any aspects
of their lives, not limited to questions of moral
obligation (Dworkin, 1988, p. 34). D. Allwright
defines autonomy as “…a constantly changing
but at any time optimal state of equilibrium
between maximal self-development and human
interdependence” (Allwright, 1990, p. 12).
As for teacher autonomy, R.G. Willner
regards it as teacher’s work in isolation (Willner,
1990). However, this viewpoint is disputed in
the more current research (Littlewood, 1999;
Smith, 2003 et al.). Teacher autonomy is also
viewed as a teacher’s capacity to engage in
self-directed teaching, including detachment,
critical reflection, decision-making and
independent action (Little, 1994) or the
extent to which a teacher makes independent
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educational decisions (Pearson & Hall, 1993).
W. Littlewood considers an autonomous person
as “one who has an independent capacity to
make and carry out choices which govern his
or her actions. This capacity depends on two
main components: ability and willingness…”
(Littlewood, 1997, p. 428). Some authors refer
to it as “the teacher’s ability and willingness
to help learners take responsibility for their
own learning” (Thavenius, 1999, p. 160).
Teacher autonomy is also defi ned as “control
of one’s own work environment” (Pearson &
Hall, 1993, p. 173), “freedom to make certain
decisions” (Short, 1994, p. 490-491), teachers’
capacity to engage in self-directed teaching
(Little, 1995, Tort-Moloney, 1997); the capacity,
freedom, and/or responsibility to make choices
concerning one’s own teaching (Aoki, 2000) or
teachers’ autonomy as learners (Smith, 2000,
Savage, 2001). Friedman’s paper suggests
that teacher autonomy involves “encouraging
and strengthening the power of teachers”
(Friedman, 1999, p. 60). J. Everitt in his paper,
presented at the annual meeting of the American
Sociological Association, measures autonomy
as a latent variable that combines teachers’
influence on the policies of their schools with
their control over classroom activities, thus
allowing to compare teachers who experience
different combinations of classroom control and
policy influence (Everitt, 2005).
Generally, a review of the professional
literature in American education reveals that,
firstly, teacher professional autonomy is not
strictly defined and may be presented in a variety
of forms, which can be arranged into two types:
“provided autonomy” and “possessed autonomy”
by analogy with “freedom from” and “freedom
for” defined by A.S. Arsen’ev (Arsen’ev, 1999).
Secondly, it should be pointed out that in the
American language teaching literature there
is a much greater emphasis on the relation
between teacher autonomy and learner autonomy
(Allwright, 1990; Little, 1995; Thavenius, 1999;
McGrath, 2000; Smith 2000; Martinez, 2001;
Aoki, 2002). Consequently, teacher autonomy
is often suggested to be defined by the analogy
with learner autonomy: “If learner autonomy is
the capacity, freedom, and/or responsibility to
make choices concerning one’s own learning …
teacher autonomy, by analogy, can be defined as
the capacity, freedom, and/or responsibility to
make choices concerning one’s own teaching”
(Aoki, 2002, p. 11). Thirdly, most of the existing
definitions point to one common aspect, which
stresses that teacher autonomy requires being
self-directed, self-governed and is based on
the recognition of greater power and freedom
to the teachers in their professional activities
and capacity for self-directed professional
In this research teacher autonomy is
defined in terms suggested by Kamii (Kamii
& Hooousman, 2000) who has referred to the
fact that autonomy is the ability, not the right
to be self-governing. It means that the case of
“provided autonomy” does not necessarily mean
that a person is autonomous.
Indeed, today it is obvious that provided
freedom doesn’t necessarily lead to professional
development and manifestation of professional
autonomy by university teachers. It can be
proved by the fact that despite active promotion
of autonomy in the USA, there is the deficit of
highly qualified teachers. This means that teacher
professional autonomy should be developed
Therefore, caused by the objective need
in special additional teacher training, a lot of
so-called “teaching and learning centers” have
been opened in the USA universities, where they
hold special seminars, devoted to methodology
of teaching and ways of working with students
(Kuz’minov, 2007).
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The problem of teachers’ professionalism is
not new for Russia as well, where it is probably
even more urgent. It is explained by a number of
factors, which include widely accepted practice
when universities hire their graduates to teach
there. This excludes specialists’ going through
external labor market and deprives them of
external quality evaluation and control.
Professional competition is one of the most
important factors which influence a teacher’s
motivation for professional development and
professional autonomy.
This is clearly demonstrated in the US
universities, where students have maximum
freedom in choosing courses within the
curriculum; programs at the first and second levels
of college education; a university to continue
education (after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree).
Besides, one of the significant features of the US
college education is universities’ competition for
the most promising students at the second level
of higher education, who would take part in
university research and classes organization, thus
serving as key factors of curricula development.
Russian educational system has been under
the influence of centralist tendencies throughout
the process of its historical development.
Consequently, Russian traditions of college
education are characterized by less freedom in
determining the contents of the curricula; group
education domination, scarcity of elective courses.
This does not encourage creation of competitive
environment for the teachers, who do not feel the
need to improve the courses (Kuz’minov, 2007).
Today, university autonomy and academic
freedom, which are closely connected with
university teacher autonomy, are emphasized
in many national education documents and
initiatives, such as National Doctrine of Education
in the Russian Federation 2000-2025, Federal Law
on Autonomous Institutions of 2006, Federal Law
on Education in the Russian Federation of 2012,
and even in the third generation State Educational
Due to such initiatives, modern Russian
researchers started investigating the concept of
autonomy which had been viewed in our country
for a long time as a negative thing associated with
Some up-to-date definitions of teacher
autonomy, however few in number, are based
on the foreign concept of learner autonomy
and autonomous/self-directed learning and
consider teacher autonomy to be a precondition
for autonomization of educational process. Such
aspects of professional autonomy as strategic
competence and pedagogical consulting
are studied in the works of E.A. Nosacheva
(Nosacheva, 2009, 2010).
L.N. Makarova believes autonomy to be a
teachers’ personality trait, which allows them “to
determine the frameworks for creating their own
character and style subject to their own domestic
rules and resisting to external destabilizing
pressure” (Makarova, 2000, p. 14).
N.Iu. Tambovkina explains teacher autonomy
as “the ability to think and act in one’s profession
independently from foreign will, circumstances,
one’s own fears; to make one’s own choice and
important decisions through creating one’s own
goals and working out individual strategies for
meeting these goals’ objectives” (Tambovkina,
2000, p. 63).
Responsibility and reflection are often
described by Russian researchers as key
elements of teacher autonomy (Nosacheva, 2009;
Tambovkina 2000, et al.).
It should be pointed out that most of
domestic works on teacher autonomy consider
the phenomenon in a larger context of
professional self-development. For example,
N.F. Koriakovtseva views teacher professional
autonomy as “a requirement for effective
personal development and self-actualization in
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a broad socio-cultural context” (Koriakovtseva,
2001, p. 12). G.P. Sharapkina considers autonomy
to be “the basis for professional socialization”
and states that “its development is one of the top
targets of teacher training process” (Sharapkina,
2004, p. 148). According to M.R. Kuznetsova,
“pedagogical freedom is an important part of
civil democratic development” (Kuznetsova,
2009, p. 109).
Based on the above mentioned, this study
defines teacher professional autonomy as
“freedom for” which implies social interaction,
personal development and self-actualization. This
approach allows us to broaden understanding
of teacher autonomy through considering it as
an important factor in prevention of teacher
A review of the professional literature
allowed us to propose the following defi nition
of teacher professional autonomy. Teacher
professional autonomy is based on the
responsibility and relative independence
from external factors. It involves teacher
capacity to intensify one’s own professional
making intellectual and moral decisions by
considering various perspectives, creating
one’s own professional goals, making free
choices of educational forms, means, methods
and content, and self-monitoring one’s own
professional experience.
Factors affecting
teacher autonomy development
Taking into account the abovementioned
arguments which prove the existing lack of
autonomy in modern university teachers in spite
of provided freedom, we believe that teacher
professional autonomy should be developed
intentionally. That is why it is essential that we
identify intrinsic and extrinsic factors able to
promote and impede this capacity.
Defining teacher autonomy as “a common
link that appears when examining teacher
motivation, job satisfaction, stress (burnout),
professionalism, and empowerment”, Pearson and
Moomaw state that its “intrinsic factors consist
of individual satisfaction such as desire to assist
students to accomplish goals, desire to make a
difference in society and sense of achievement
when students learn”, whereas extrinsic factors
are considered to be “comprised of external
elements including wage, nonmonetary fringe
benefits and recognition of performance”
(Pearson & Moomaw, 2005, p. 39).
In the context of teaching the complex of
the abovementioned teacher desires and sense
of achievement may be considered as teaching
achievement motivation.
Taking into consideration the data described
above, we suggest the readiness to engage in
lifelong autonomous learning (including the
capacity to become self-directed in improving
one’s own teaching and other professional skills
and to learn from colleagues at the University
and those outside the University) to be another
important intrinsic factor promoting teacher
autonomy. From this viewpoint, a foreign
language teacher can be regarded as autonomous
not only by being a professional teacher but also
by being a lifelong language learner. Otherwise,
job dissatisfaction including stress or pressure
results in negative outcomes for teacher
According to Little, Hawley, Henrich, and
Marsland (Little et al., 2002), the development
of teacher autonomy entails a process of
internalization or personal agency defined as
the sense of personal empowerment (or selfempowerment), which implies self-belief, trust,
and self-leadership and involves both knowing
one’s goals and having what it takes to achieve
them. Thus, being self- empowered, teachers
will know they have an active role in educational
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process. Self-empowerment/personal agency
is also considered one of the requisites for
personal growth and success.’s
21st Century Lexicon defines a self-empowered
person as a person deriving the strength to do
something through one’s own thoughts and based
on the belief that one knows what is best for
Analysis of psychological works on selfempowerment/personal agency allowed us
to argue that teachers can develop their selfempowerment/personal agency by trying to be
more open, questioning, actively looking for
solutions and developing their self-esteem (self
confidence and great trust in one’s own abilities).
The latter, however, doesn’t mean that a teacher
has to be always right. It means a teacher is
inwardly prepared to face whatever professional
context serves up.
Therefore, we believe that teachers can
cultivate their professional autonomy by
giving themselves a fertile and stable internal
environment, which translates to an attitude that
is highly motivated, open, confident, questioning
and actively looking for solutions, relatively
independent from external factors and based on
positive thinking.
As we can see, a variety of factors affect
the teacher autonomy development. The study
of these factors allowed us to elaborate the
pedagogical conditions and the technology of
teacher autonomy development in the course
of their professional activity. As Berezina has
considered, “it is important to create special
pedagogical conditions necessary for the
development of teacher autonomy which will
make a teacher capable of acting at his/her ease
for assuring students autonomy” (Berezina, 2001,
p. 3).
According to H. Martinez, becoming aware
of teachers’ interpretation of learner autonomy
and of their beliefs of language teaching is the
essence of nurturing teacher autonomy (Martinez,
Critical reflective inquiry, empowerment and
dialogue are often seen by American researchers
as three principles for teacher autonomy which
can allow teachers to develop institutional
knowledge and flexibility within their individual
teaching contexts (Barfield et al., 2002; Smith,
2003). Arguing for teacher autonomy, M. Jiménez
Raya correctly highlights that it is not about
working in isolation and defines both teacher
and learner autonomy as “the competence to
develop as a self determined, socially responsible
and critically aware participant in (and beyond)
educational environments, within a vision of
education as (inter)personal empowerment and
social transformation” (Jiménez Raya, 2007,
p. 33). This interpretation, linking to the social
dimension of autonomy which is, according to
the researcher, “about voice, respect for others,
negotiation, cooperation, and interdependence”
(Jiménez Raya, 2007, p. 33) conditioned our
attention towards interaction in a university
context as an important factor promoting teacher
autonomy. According to C.S. LaCoe, teacher
autonomy is directly related to decision-making
(LaCoe, 2008).
Analyzing the factors affecting the teacher
autonomy development as well as the processes
involved in autonomous activity allowed us to
determine special pedagogical conditions, which
are able to make university teachers develop their
professional autonomy. Among these conditions
we should point out intrinsic and extrinsic ones.
selfempowerment (or personal agency), readiness
to engage in lifelong autonomous learning,
achievement motivation (desire to assist
students in accomplishing goals, desire to make
a difference in society and sense of achievement
when students learn), as well as relative
independence from external factors.
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The revealed extrinsic conditions are:
• Providing information on characteristics
and components of autonomous activity
as well as on particular pedagogical
goals, content and strategies of teaching
a subject in accordance with general
educational and university context.
Together with teacher’s involvement in
observation and monitoring, based on
his/her critical standpoint, this condition
will ensure critical awareness.
• Providing opportunities to make
decisions within university educational
area (e.g. providing freedom of choice).
Based on teacher self-empowerment,
this condition will lead to teacher
empowerment (from teacher control
over classroom activities to teacher
influence on university policies) and
development of teacher professional
• Offering the teachers plenty of
opportunities to continuously develop
themselves as professionals (e.g. by
giving teachers more opportunities to
take courses or visit symposia where new
developments in the educational field are
being discussed).
• Providing monetary and nonmonetary
fringe benefits for pedagogical research
(involving teachers in action research, in
selecting their own goals from a range of
alternatives on offer, in modifying and
adapting the goals and content of the
subject’s program in accordance with
professional situational problems they are
to deal with).
• Providing professional challenges which
may take the form of exploration into new
educational areas, of teacher’s decisions
to undertake research, to transform his/
her role in the classroom, to improve his/
her educational practice, professional
knowledge or skills, etc.
• Stimulating teacher interaction in
pedagogical project activities which will
prevent teacher isolation, individualism
and self-sufficiency and create the
situation of cooperation, co-learning,
negotiation and sharing.
• Open evaluation and recognition of
performance which will make teachers
self-monitor their teaching in order to
observe and reflect upon the teaching
strategies they use and the nature of the
interactions they set up and participate
in. This condition involves teachers
into competition, pedagogical selfmonitoring and reflection. Provided that
there are no evaluation uncertainties this
condition will lead to job satisfaction.
The complex of the described conditions
will ensure the involvement of the three
critical principles of action in the development
of autonomy proposed by Barfield et al.
participants of the Shizuoka Conference in
2001: critical reflective inquiry, empowerment
and dialogue.
Recent Russian higher education reform
initiatives resulting from the world tendency
for higher education democratization and
humanization force us to study special teachers’
capacities, which allow them to promote learner
autonomy. Among these capacities teacher
autonomy plays a crucial role in providing a
new type of higher education through allowing
pedagogical research, teacher influence on
school policies, effective implementation of new
educational technology, teacher development and
self-actualization in a broad socio-cultural context
and retaining teachers in their jobs. Based on this,
we tried to study the concept of teacher autonomy
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a bit more closely in the context of American and
Russian higher education institutions.
The findings of this paper offer several
contributions to the pedagogical literature
on teacher autonomy. Continuing the efforts
to define and describe teacher autonomy as
an essential factor of teacher professionalism
and self-development, this study expands our
understanding of teacher autonomy in the context
of today’s transformation of Russian educational
system. It means that teacher autonomy should
be considered as a key variable when examining
higher education reform initiatives and granting
autonomy could be a way to begin solving
some of today’s problems of higher education
institutions (including lack of professionalism,
teaching stereotypes, professional demotivation
and attrition) by ensuring teachers personal
development and self-actualization in a broad
socio-cultural context.
At the conceptual level of our research it
means that a teacher him/herself, his/her desires,
his/her process for forming the desires and the
resulting actions are all the sorts of things that
could be regarded as autonomous.
The conditions for promoting teacher
autonomy identified in this paper certainly call for
increased attention to modern university policies
that may enhance or decrease teacher autonomy.
In the context of today’s transformation of
educational system, there are several practices
Russian universities should initiate. Firstly,
teachers should be involved more actively
when it comes to decision-making. Secondly,
more opportunities to teacher professional selfdevelopment should be offered. Thirdly, evaluation
and recognition of teacher performance should be
implemented alongside with provision of monetary
and nonmonetary fringe benefits for pedagogical
research. Developing management structures that
are able to provide conditions, identified in this
paper, and stimulate teacher autonomy, university
administrators can increase job satisfaction and
prevent professional demotivation and attrition
amongst university teachers.
Implications for future research are based on
the conclusion that teacher autonomy cannot be
understood without studying the characteristics
of a teacher’s workplace and teacher personality.
The revealed special intrinsic and extrinsic
conditions for teacher professional autonomy
development can become the foundation for
elaborating a special program, representing
a system of proceedings stimulating teacher
interaction in a university context and ensuring
the formation of a complex of qualities, mindsets
and skills for autonomous professional activity in
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Профессиональная автономность
преподавателя университета в США и России:
свобода от контроля или свобода для развития?
О.А. Гаврилюк, А.В. Лахно
Красноярский государственный медицинский
университет им. проф. В.Ф.Войно-Ясенецкого
Россия 660022, Красноярск, ул. П. Железняка, 1
Статья направлена на исследование профессиональной автономности преподавателя,
которая, в основном, изучалась в США и в настоящее время привлекает внимание
исследователей в области образования и в других странах, включая Россию.
В силу своей сложности феномен профессиональной автономности преподавателя до сих
пор не имеет четкого определения и рассматривается по-разному. Между тем, смысл,
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вкладываемый в понятие «автономность преподавателя», имеет большое значение в
контексте как американской, так и российской систем высшего образования. Анализ
образовательного контекста в этих странах и изучение научно-исследовательских работ по
рассматриваемой проблеме в контексте общей концепции гуманистической и когнитивной
психологии, демократизации образования и принципа обучения на протяжении всей жизни
позволили нам дать определение феномену профессиональной автономности преподавателя,
а также выявить специальные внутренние и внешние условия, которые способны
обеспечить развитие навыков профессиональной автономности у молодых преподавателей
Ключевые слова: высшее образование, профессиональная автономность преподавателя,
свободный выбор, критическая рефлексия, свобода преподавания, принятие решений,
профессиональное саморазвитие, независимость, расширение прав и возможностей, личная
вовлеченность, ответственность.
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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences 3 (2013 6) 468-476
УДК 372.881.1
Media Education in Foreign Languages Teaching –
Tribute to Fashion or Requirement of the Time?
Ludmila A. Ivanovaa* and Olga M. Verbitskayab
Irkutsk State Linguistic University
8 Lenin Str., Irkutsk, 664025 Russia
Eastern Siberian State Academy of Education
6 Nizhniaya Naberezhnaya Str., Irkutsk, 664011 Russia
Received 11.03.2013, received in revised form 18.03.2013, accepted 25.03.2013
The article deals with one of the most burning issues of modern liberal education – media competences
forming and development and in the sphere of foreign language teaching – co-development of
belonging to another language communicative competence and media competence at the lessons of
foreign language.
Keywords: media education, media competence, mediatized socializing, foreign language
communication, intercultural communication, linguistic personality, secondary linguistic
In the 60s of the 20 century the word
combination “media education” began to be
used in the leading countries of the world (Great
Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia, France,
Federal Republic of Germany and others). In
pedagogic science a specific direction has been
formed which originates from English media
education and Latin : media, called for helping
students adapt better in the media environment,
master mass media and communication language,
be able to analyze the information received by
means of media etc.
In this way a new term appeared and
subsequently was perceived by Russian scholars
in the field of pedagogics. In the Russian
official sources the term “media education”
was introduced later: by A.V. Sharikov at the
symposium on educational issues held in Ryazan
in 1986.
One may assume that the interest for
media education is rather connected with the
informational safety problem’s origin without the
solution of which a full-fledged development of
not only a personality, but of the society is not
A question arises; to what extent this
enthusiasm for media education is justified?
The very notion “media education” has a lot of
defi nitions. It means both a process of transmission
and assimilation of knowledge, abilities and
skills connected with mass communication, and
a direction in pedagogics supporting the idea
of learning mass communication mechanism
© Siberian Federal University. All rights reserved
Corresponding author E-mail address:
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by the schoolchildren etc. On the one hand,
the development of the society, of the human
and all his activity aspects has always been
connected with the appearance of different
sorts of discoveries in the sphere of mass
communication means. In various articles the
researchers point out that from 1621, since the
time of Michael’s ruling, the fi rst tsar from the
House of Romanovs, up to 1701 “The Chiming
Clock” – the Russian State’s newspaper –
had been published. As archival documents
witness, an interesting history of formation
and development has the fi rst Russian printed
newspaper which was founded by Peter I. On
January 13 (on the second of January, according
to the old calendar) in Moscow, by Peter the
Great’s order, the fi rst of surviving issues of
the fi rst printed Russian newspaper came out:
“Vedomosti about war matters and other issues
worth of knowledge and recollection, which came
about in Moscow State and other neighboring
countries”. Nevertheless, it should be noted, that
the fi rst issues of “Vedomosti” in the opinion of
historians were also hand-written. It may be said
by right that among a good deal of the deeds of
Peter the Great there was a creation of a printed
newspaper which could be noticeably replicated
and spread in many corners of Russia and abroad.
Leonardo da Vinci was familiar with a pinhole
camera, in Napoleon’s times magic lantern was
already anachronism. In 1839 Louis Jacques
Mandé Daguerre carried out the fi rst experience
of facsimile – daguerreotype. In 1893 Thomas
Alva Edison to whom mankind is obliged not
only due to the invention of telephone, but also
of a “peep-show”, brought the humanity to the
threshold of cinematography discovery. At this
problem worked the Americans – Latem and
Armat, the Russians – Timchenko, Samarski,
Akimov, a Polish scientist – Prushinski, an
Englishman – Pole. And the French photo
fabricators – the brothers Louis and Auguste
Lumière – became the inventors. One may
confi rm without any exaggeration that these
“prototypes” of modern mass communication
means formed social procurement, in particular,
in the field of education. Namely then, for
instance, many scientists became interested
in cinematography in educational context.
Advanced scientists and pedagogues of the
time considered cinematograph as a wonderful
alternative for traditional educational models,
broadening teaching possibilities.
In the Russian pedagogical literature the
question about “cinematography” use at school
was raised in 1897. Its unlimited possibilities
are being considered in the field of up-bringing,
education, cultural and historical inclusion.
So far unsophisticated experiments of screen
representation of well-known historical events
witness this.
In this very period of definition, educational
potential’s evaluation of cinematograph another
pedagogical problem emerges – the struggle
against the negative impact of the films which are
capable to lead the viewers away from culture and
real life, to immerse into dreamland, the world of
various entertainments, to blunt emotional and
mental abilities, even to suggest vicious ideas,
morbid inclinations, to push to immoral acts.
Thus, since the first years of cinematograph
existence in the pedagogical model of its use, a
cinematographic education problem has emerged,
the question about a mediator (no matter who it
is: a critic, a teacher or a film itself) capable to
control successively interests, needs, to bring up
the viewer effectively using the richest artistic
possibilities of an engendered art’s impact. That
is why the very notion “media education”, as
paradoxical as it may seem, is not innovative.
Though, on the other hand, such an intensified
interest to media education at all educational
hierarchical levels means, as it may be seen, a
particular demand today. It may be observed with
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all evidence in the sphere of foreign language
teaching as well. Let’s try to account for it.
Media Competence Development
In connection with globalization processes
in our world and information technologies’
development the problems of intercultural
communication are put in the focus of attention.
At present time education has to solve a very
complicated problem – to prepare the youth for
life in the conditions of cultures’ dialogue, i.e.
for intercultural communication. To achieve
this goal pedagogical process must be organized
with consideration of numerous foreign language
media texts and text formats. They circulate in
the global information space created by modern
mass communication means. The question of
a personality’s media competence forming is
becoming very acute. After comparing different
points of view on the definition of the notion
“media competence”, after generalizing and
analyzing the experience of Russian and foreign
media pedagogues, under media education goals
in the process of foreign language teaching we
understand proactively planned and formulated
joint-study result of foreign language and the
language of authentic mass communication
means, and to be more exact: media competence of
the secondary linguistic personality. Therefore, at
the modern stage of foreign language education’s
development one may separate a new perspective
direction, which hasn’t been exposed to research
up to now. Development of a competence-based
paradigm in the sphere of linguodidactics and
media educational goal-setting: the question is
about thorough consideration of already revealed
sub competences and about presentation of new
ones belonging to communicative/intercultural
competences as metanotions. Hopefully it will
allow to determine the goal and pithy aspects
of philological/linguistic education and media
education. We are particularly interested in
the question concerning aspects’ correlation
of a “linguistic personality” forming both as a
native-speaker, as well as a person learning a
foreign language, and along with it “alien” mass
communication means. A person’s information
space considerably broadens during the period
when he/she begins to study a foreign language and
“alien” mass communication means. It is known
that the media’s assimilation process is by far the
most contradictive and has its own peculiarities
in comparison with the mother tongue. It has been
known from time immemorial that “combining
in itself verbal-semantic, linguistic-cognitive and
motivational structures, language personality
performs as “totality of a man’s abilities and
characteristics, conditioning his creation and
perception of verbal works (texts) which differ by:
1) the degree of structural-linguistic complexity
2) the depth and exactness of reality’s reflection;
3) a certain target orientation” (Vorozhbitova,
1999, p.15). The same relates without any doubt
to media texts. The following fact is undisputable:
elaboration of the idea about the “media competent
secondary linguistic personality” inevitably
reaches the boundary between such disciplines as
linguodidactics, theory and methods of foreign
languages teaching.
Integration of Media Education
and Foreign Languages Teaching
There is a demand nowadays for the
following member of the society – a personality
capable of interacting with foreign language
media information’s streams in the global
informational space: to carry out the search, to
analyze, to critically evaluate and to create media
texts spread with the help of different mass media
and communication means, in all their variability.
These personality’s qualities are mainly formed in
the system of education by means of all subjects.
After all pedagogic aims are the consequence
of social ones and social essence of education.
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A foreign language cannot stand off from the
solution of this problem.
The new society’s requirements to the
level of a personality’s development and
accomplishments, new information life conditions
must change the substance, the means and the
methods of the pedagogical process. In this
situation a natural and rather urgent necessity of
new conceptions, methods and foreign language
teaching techniques emerges. For the time
being a new technology of media competence’s
forming of the secondary linguistic personality is
becoming a burning issue.
We believe that the potential of foreign
language mass communication means consists
not only in the development and correction of the
speech, not only in compensation of the absent
language environment with the help of visual
representation of the verbal situation and so on, but
to a considerable degree in media competence’s
forming of the secondary linguistic personality.
This very fact comprises a principally new
approach to mass communication means’ use at
foreign language lessons at the modern stage of
the society informatization.
Thereat, we proceed from the fact that media
education and “foreign language” have a common
genesis. We are going to explain that.
The two phenomena are based on the idea
of communication. Communication is a human
connection, socializing, semantic interaction
between people. An intelligent man – homo
sapiens – is, first of all, a communicating man –
homo communicans. Having analyzed the
essential informational-communicative problems,
we came to the conclusion that communication
is becoming an increasingly complex social
and cultural phenomenon which touches upon
different types of activity in all countries and is an
inseparable part of political, social, economical,
cultural, scientific, educational and technological
It is well-known that language is the most
important means of communication and is used
by people to interact between individuals and
individuals’ groups. Foreign language teaching
is educating how to use these means. Today the
subject “foreign language” has one of the leading
tasks: communication acquisition. Etymological
and semantic identity of the term “communication”
and “socializing” are persuasively proved by the
scientists. Mass communication possesses the
widest semiotic potential and delivers a mediated
character of socializing, offered by modern
technique of information’s transmission and
Since socializing may perform at the same
time as a process of interaction between people
and as an informational process on numerically
big, dispersed audiences, i.e. through mass
communication means, consequently, students
during foreign language acquisition may master
not only interpersonal communication, but
also mediatized socializing, what is especially
topical in the conditions of communicative
infrastructure’s strengthening. From the point
of view of media education, the property of
mediatized socializing implies the choice of
not only verbal code of communication, but
also of non-verbal one, with the use of artificial
and mixed communicative codes providing
interaction between a man and a machine. To our
mind, foreign language mediatized socializing
is an interaction of a person with belonging
to another language mass communication
means, the substance of which is apprehension
of comparative value of this media stuff, its
emotional-semantic relationship and hidden
constituent. Therefore, it is the development of
media competence of the secondary linguistic
personality that the modern pedagogical strategy
of foreign language teaching must foresee. And
to this very social requirement correspond both
media education and foreign language as well.
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We believe that the substance of these two
phenomena, on the one hand, media education
with its strongly pronounced social and cultural
character, setting goal of media competence’s
forming, on the other hand, foreign language
(foreign language lesson) are so intertwined and
interdependent that the only right way is their
This idea is not new. In the last decades it is
observed in authorial foreign languages teaching
conceptions (Verbitskaya, 2011; Zharkovskaya,
2010; Ivanova, 1999, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012;
Novikova, 2004; Ryzhykh, 2006; Khlyzova,
2008, 2010, 2011; Fraifeld, 2006; Chicherina,
2008 and others) and in pedagogical practices
which are being formed. Nevertheless the way
from innovative ideas in theory of teaching to their
realization in pedagogical practice turns out to be
long and thorny. However, it is an open secret that
educational establishments are the most delayedaction social institutions (A.Toffler). Moreover,
today one may confirm with a certain admission
that the phenomenon of media competence of the
secondary linguistic personality hasn’t been yet
properly interpreted at the scientific-theoretical
level, besides, there’s no wide and competent
implementation of its forming technology into the
practice of foreign languages teaching at schools
and universities, and even if it takes place, it
happens slowly and randomly.
Causes Preventing Implementation
of Media Competence’s Forming
Technology of the Secondary
Language Personality
One may assume that there are psychological
barriers some pedagogues have, namely: absence
of desire to change, technophobia etc. But the most
important thing as the interviewed respondents
point out is the fact that media education doesn’t
fit well into the educational system of foreign
language teaching, traditional interpretations
of mass communication means’ role in the
educative process and the misgivings that media
education’s introduction into the educative
process would lead to radical “breakage” of the
former conceptualizations of a pedagogue.
Probably one may agree with this to a
certain degree, especially, if we take into account
the fact that the attitude to media education
among teachers is extremely different. A certain
polarization of viewpoints is being observed:
from a well-defined optimistic to a diametrically
opposed, sceptical-negative attitude to media
education in the educative process. As a rule,
a considerable part of pedagogues show their
committal to traditional forms and methods
of training and feel suspicious and sometimes
even hostile about the idea of media education’s
implementation in the foreign language educative
During the questionnaire survey of
pedagogues we researched the problem of their
attitude to the inclusion of media education issues
into the foreign language educative process. The
results of this questioning (all in all 150 foreign
language teachers of the Irkutsk region have been
interrogated) are as follows: (Table 1)
The answers to this questionnaire reflect
quite objective pedagogues’ evaluation related
to media education. In such situation one may
hardly count on systematical and all-round
implementation of media education in the
foreign language educative process. Moreover,
another aspect of the problem must be taken into
consideration and namely: the attitude towards
the enthusiasts of media education on the part of
their colleagues and educational establishments’
heads. Unfortunately, as our research showed,
this attitude is sometimes so negative that some
pedagogues have to cease their media educational
activity or not to start it at all.
One more reason for putting obstacles in
the way of implementation of media education
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Table 1. Pedagogues’ Attitude to Media Education’ Implementation in the Foreign Language Educative Process
Questionnaire’ items
1. Media education: will it take place in the pedagogical
process of your educational establishment, do the learners need
mastering of media knowledge and skills?
2. Will the learners gain if media education is included into
pedagogical process?
3. If in your educational establishment a certain amount of
teaching periods are dedicated especially to the studying of
mass communication means for media educational purposes,
will you agree that such training is held within the subject
“Foreign Language”?
4. Do you share the opinion that the use of mass communication
means as a component of media education in the program of
teaching and up-bringing must be represented in a wider scale
in initial training and refresher course of a foreign language
5. a) Do you have a course of media education in your
educational establishment?
b) Do you have media education’s elements integrated into
training programs?
Yes %
No %
I don’t
know %
answer %
Table 2. Frequency of Using Mass Communication Means at the Lessons of Foreign Language
Mass communication means’ types/ Frequency
Audio recordings
Telecommunications network
DVD materials
Video materials
in the foreign language educative process
may be the absence of resources’ provision
and the latter implies not only availability of
technical basis, but a pedagogue’s training
for implementation of media education in
the foreign language educative process. The
interrogation carried out showed that media
stuff is used in their work on the average by
27.7 % of teachers. The frequency of using
mass communication means at the lessons is
shown in the table (in the Table 2 the results
are given in percents to the amount of the
Targeted questionnaire and observation
of teachers’ activity confirmed our supposition
that even in those (not numerous) educational
establishments which are rather well-equipped
with audio-visuals, and computer hardware, the
latter is seldom used in the foreign language
educative process. In most cases a tape-recorder is
used, though, in many educational establishments
it is also “kept on the shelves”.
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From our point of view, the cause of such
situation consists, first of all, in the fact that in
teachers’ training schools there was no targeted
educational guidance on media competence’s
forming of the future pedagogues, to say nothing
of education which was carried out in absolutely
different social and cultural situation connected
neither with practically free media stuff’s market,
nor with stormy mass communication means’
development and space virtualization.
To our mind, nowadays, in the first decade
of the 21st century, it seems justified to consider
media competence’s forming technology of the
secondary linguistic personality as a necessary
constituent in foreign language teaching. Sharing
the viewpoint by N.Y. Khlyzova who defines
media competence of the secondary linguistic
personality as an “integrative personality’s
characteristics which consists of totality of
special knowledge, skills, attitudes allowing the
personality to function in the world information
space, to carry out intercultural communication
both at the interpersonal, direct level, as well as at
the mediatized level, mediated by modern media
means” (Khlyzova, 2011, p.70).
We would like to focus our attention
on technology itself. The introduction of a
fundamentally new technology under which we
understand pedagogic process’s organization in
accordance with a specific theoretical paradigm
doesn’t break on the whole the logic of the foreign
language educative process. The component parts
of media education’s technology of the learners
at foreign language lessons are: a goal set; a
substance constituent (integrated course “Foreign
Language and Media Education”); a technological
component (organizational), (specific forms,
methods, ways, means of media competence’s
forming of the secondary linguistic personality);
an expert-evaluative component (diagnostics of
the level of formed media competence’s of the
secondary language personality) (see Fig. 1).
The aim of the media education’s technology
is a qualitative level increase of foreign language
communicative competence of the students,
and namely – forming of the media competent
secondary linguistic personality. We believe
Fig. 1. Technology of Teenagers’ Media Education by Video Means at the Lessons of the French Language
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Ludmila A. Ivanova and Olga M. Verbitskaya. Media Education in Foreign Languages Teaching…
that there are all grounds to consider the
scientific idea about forming of media competent
secondary linguistic personality and its methodic
embodiment as a necessary one, from the
perspective of nowadays requirements to foreign
language teaching and personal enhancement. To
sum it up, answering the question put in the title
of this article, we may confirm with all evidence:
media education in foreign languages teaching is
the requirement of the time.
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na osnove inojazychnyh mediatekstov [Conception of media competence’s forming of language
faculties students on the basis of foreign language media texts]. Saint-Petersburg, 2008, 470 р.
2. Fraifeld E.B. Hudozhestvennyj fil’m kak sredstvo professional’no-lichnostnogo razvitija studentov
pri izuchenii inostrannogo jazyka v vysshej shkole [Feature film as a means of professional and
personal development of the students in the process of foreign language learning in high school].
Nizhni Novgorod, 2006, 24 р.
3. Grigorieva I.V., Ivanova L.A., Khlyzova N.Y. (2012). Information literacy of the secondary
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2012». Volume 17. Pedagogiczne nauki. (Materials of the VIII-th International scientific-practical
conference “Scientific Space of Europe – 2012”. Volume 17. Pedagogical Sciences), Przemyśl.
Nauka i studia, 2012, pp. 61-62 (Przemysl. Science and Studies, 2012, pp. 61-62).
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sredstvami video (na materiale urokov francuzskogo jazyka) [Forming of media-communicative
competence of school-teenagers by video means (on the material of French language lessons)].
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lichnosti [Pedagogical conditions of media competence’s forming of secondary linguistic
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lessons of English]. Taganrog, 2004, 52 р.
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в обучении иностранным языкам –
дань моде или требование времени?
Л.А. Ивановаа, О.М. Вербицкаяб
Иркутский государственный
лингвистический университет
Россия 664025, Иркутск, ул. Ленина, 8
Восточно-Сибирская государственная академия образования
Россия 664011, Иркутск, ул. Нижняя Набережная, 6
В статье поднимается один из наиболее актуальных вопросов современного гуманитарного
образования – формирование и развитие медиакомпетентности, а в области иностранного
языка – соразвития иноязычной коммуникативной компетенции и медиакомпетентности на
занятиях по иностранному языку.
Ключевые слова: медиаобразование, медиакомпетентность, медиатизированное общение,
иноязычное общение, межкультурная коммуникация, языковая личность, вторичная языковая
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