Institute of Philosophy
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 4
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Philosophy Journal, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 4





Abdusalam Guseinov. What did bring about Leo Tolstoy’s spiritual conversion and what did it consist in?

The present article examines the new understanding of morality as developed by Leo Tolstoy after a long and agonizing journey in search of the meaning of life. Tolstoy is shown to be a spiritual reformer who sought to transform the three dimensions of human spirit: that of art, that of intellect and that of practical morality. As a thinker, Tolstoy proved to be immensely successful in all these endeavours: he demonstrated that it was possible to establish the close unity of all three realms on the ground of a practical and moral attitude toward the world as embodied in the ethics of non-violence. In late 1870s, at the height of universal fame and prosperity, Tolstoy suffered a spiritual crisis which brought about a radical change in his way of life and approach to the values. He regained the meaning of life, which reconciled him with its transience and gave him the strength to live on, in the idea of nonresistance to evil as the most adequate expression of the commandment of love. Not only did he provide the arguments for the ethics of non-violence, but he managed to put it to practice in his own life. There are three points in Tostoy's ethical thinking which are still of a major importance: morality is, for a human being, a personally responsible mode of existence in the world; the world can only become moral through the refusal of violence; the refusal of violence is not a one-time act, but a vast programme covering all vital activity, which must be defined and controlled at every given moment by man himself.

Keywords: ethics of non-violence, religion, morals, faith, a practical and moral attitude toward the world, the meaning of life, spiritual crisis, Tolstoy's work


Yulia Fedorova. Farid al-Din ‘Attar’s masnavi “Language of the Birds” (Mantiq al-tayr): a philosophical reading of a poetic text

The present article offers a philosophical analysis of one of the most important monuments of the Iranian poetic and philosophical tradition, the masnavi  “Language of the Birds” (Mantiq at-tayr), written by the Persian Sufi poet and thinker Farid al-Din ‘Attar Nishapuri (XII-XIII cc.). It is well known that, during the classical period of Iranian culture, the connection between philosophy and poetry was regarded as a natural fact: for the Iranians, poetry traditionally remained the favorite way of expressing any theoretical ideas. The author explores the logic followed by the poet in shaping both the text of the poem as a whole and the individual poetic constructs. The analysis of some basic poetic constructs (such as 'soul-bird', 'valley', 'Simurgh') allows her to identify their corresponding philosophical concepts ('seeking the Truth', 'the Sufi Way to God', 'God') and to show how they serve the poet's purpose of reflecting on such topics of Sufi philosophy as the problem of Self-knowledge and the Knowledge of God, the relationship between the God and the existence of the transient world of the multiple, and many more. The conclusion to be drawn is that the poem was conceived by ‘Attar as an embodiment of strict parallelism between the immediate poetic meaning of text and its hidden philosophical meaning. On the semantic level, therefore, the structure of the poem reflects the fundamental Truth of Sufi cosmos, that of the created world being a mirror reflection of the God.

Keywords: history of philosophy, Farid al-Din ‘Attar Nishapuri, masnavi “Language of the Birds” (Mant iq at-tayr), Sufi philosophical tradition, Persian poetry, poetic construct, the way to God, the soul-bird, the seven valleys, Simurgh


Ruben Apressyan. Dynamic change in the image of the Hero in Homer’s Iliad

The variable, dynamic nature of the image of a Homeric hero is examined here on the example of Achilles’ transition from rage to mercy. Such moral change is explicitly shown by the poet to happen only to a single one among the heroic characters of the poem, but the idea of inadmissibility of unrestrained rage, rage with arbitrariness, and that of the relevance of mercy, is a dominant motive in Homer; in the culminating episode of the Iliad, the encounter of Achilles with Priam, it only finds its most complete manifestation. Achilles exhibits sympathy for the king of the Trojans, which seems almost inappropriate given the framework and the inner logic of their situation and the plot in general. He acts both in conformity with the logic of customary practice and strictly against it, following above all his own choice and decisions. The decisions and actions of this sort, though fully described only once in this single passage of the Iliad, do find many repercussions in both poems. All such cases where we discern a momentary break with traditional values occurring in the mind of this or that character, confirm that we are dealing with some kind of a pattern representing certain behavioral tendencies in Homeric world. By expressing his benevolence to Priam, Achilles proposes a new standard of humanity, thus indicating a most profound moral alteration in the heroic ethos of Greek epic.

Keywords: Homer, Iliad, hero, Heroic ethos, morality, mercy, moral change





Eugenio Mazzarella. Future and evolution. Man who absolutely ought to remain

In this paper, printed here in Russian translation, Eugenio Mazzarella, a well-known Italian philosopher and Heidegger specialist, inquires into the various paradoxes of the human condition, exposing, in particular, the paradoxical nature of the very moment of man's entrance into the world and of his place in it. What separates man from animals is his inability to belong entirely to the present moment: he cannot throw off the burden of the past and therefore desperately needs a future. Such is the humanization of anthropogenesis, the very moment when man emerges on his pathway from the beast. It is also in this very moment that the newly fledged human becomes aware of his fundamental deficiency, which is the reason why he alone among the living beings has the intrinsic quality of fearing to vanish. Man has no means to overcome his ontological instability, he can only compensate for it by transforming himself from homo natura, human being as a natural phenomenon, into homo cultura, human being as a phenomenon of culture. Two kinds of compensation are at his disposal: the religious compensation which by resorting to supernatural power helps overcome the anxiety and promises that individual existence may have a continuation provided that certain rules are observed, and the technical compensation which is a deliberate strategy of adapting to the challenges of ambient environment, aimed at surmounting the gap between a person and the world by consciously endeavouring to construct one's future in present time. However, the paradox of a quasi-religious attitude towards science is that the adaptive mechanisms of science show a marked and inevitable tendency to degrade and become less and less efficient, which makes the task of bridging that gap by means of science an impossible one. Equally paradoxical prove to be both Darwinian evolutionism which is unable to explain the radical qualitative change occurring at the moment of anthropogenesis, and the saltationism invented as an alternative to Darwin's theory. The very processuality of all life-forms ensures that there is a past allotted to man as a place in the natural history of the species, while simultaneously denying him a future where other forms will come to replace him. This notwithstanding, it is still in culture that man can find his only defence against the inevitable scenario of his disappearing from the scene of life: this defence lies in culture's ability to say “no” to the evolution and thus to gain a suspension of execution. The man of culture becomes a girdle about the evolution restraining its course with regard to himself. A being endowed with resilience who desperately stands up for himself against the millstones of evolution: this is the essence of man.

Keywords: personal and impersonal, depersonalization, homo natura vs. homo cultura, present and future, kathêkon, evolutionism, saltationism vs. gradualism, technology, phenomenology of perception, Nietzsche, Darwin, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty


Dragan Kujundzic. Geopolitics and prosthetics

In 1942 Martin Heidegger held a seminar on Hölderlin’s poem The Ister (the Greek name of the river Danube), which served as inspiration for the homonymous film released in 2004. The present essay assesses the impact of this film, the philosophical effect Heidegger’s seminar exerted on the ontology of Europe and its topography, and takes a critical stance regarding its nationalist implications. In 2001, the author of this essay made his own film, Frozen Time, Liquid Memories, about the racija in Novi Sad in 1942, a pogrom of nearly 1.400 jews and serbs; it includes an interpretation and visual quotations from the film The Ister, while the present essay additionally reflects on the implications of both films for the topography of the Danube, for the ontology of Europe, for ethics and geopolitics. Following the ideas expressed in the work of Samuel Weber, the author takes a stance against the nationalist implications of Heidegger’s seminar (and of his newly published Black Notebooks), as well as against both old and recent nationalist appropriation and use of the Danube as a site of war crime ad genocide. The paper is ultimately concerned with the construction and invention of the national and European topography in the philosophy and literature written “after” the Holocaust.

Keywords: European geopolitics, the Holocaust, Hölderlin, Heidegger, film, video





Alexander Stoliarov. Gaius Musonius Rufus. An outline of the portrait of a Roman intellectual in the Claudian and Flavian era

Gaius Musonius Rufus was a Roman Stoic philosopher of the 1st century AD who, despite being a less-known figure, for his importance can be compared with Seneca, Hierocles, Epictetus (who was Musonius' disciple) and Marcus Aurelius. He first engaged in the study of philosophy in Rome during Nero's reign and, after being exiled in 65, came back to Rome after Galba's ascent to power; at some time in the 70s he had to go to exile again, to be back only after the death of Vespasian. Like many other representatives of the Late Stoa, Musonius paid little attention to the theoretical side of the Stoic doctrine, concentrating mostly on practical ethics, namely, the so-called paraenetic, or moralistic discourse, a discipline which eventually exerted great influence of European moral philosophy. Musonius advises on how one should behave in a given situation, parting from the positive assumption that a human being is born with a proclivity for virtuous life and a capacity of goodness. The present paper follows Musonius' life and teaching through the events of Roman history and public life; as a result, one gets a more complete understanding of his character and thinking (and also of the reasons why it became influential), as well as of the common background of Roman, in particular Stoic, philosophy of the 1st century. A paradigmatic Roman intellectual, Musonius contributed to shaping that idea of a dignified way of life which dominated European consciousness ever since; his own example gave proof of his adherence to the principles he believed to be true.

Keywords: Roman history, Stoic philosophy, Late Stoa, practical ethics, Seneca, Hierocles, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius


Oxana Koval, Ekaterina Kryukova. In the footsteps of Heidegger’s and Gadamer’s hermeneutics

The present article attempts to retrace the extent to which the so-called hermeneutics of factical life, first elaborated by Martin Heidegger in 1919-1923 and later explored from a somewhat different angle in his famous book Being and Time, receives further development in Hans-Georg Gadamer's project of a philosophical hermeneutics. Proceeding from Heidegger's idea of understanding as the mode of human existence, Gadamer shifts focus from explicating the existential structures to the view of language as a space where understanding takes place. Comparative analysis of both theories reveals that Heidegger's version of hermeneutics as an existential self-interpretation of Dasein actually attains its complete and definitive form not in his own studies of fundamental ontology, but rather in the thematization of the language character of the world as carried out by Gadamer. Hermeneutics of factical life contains a double paradox: on the one hand, it aspires to develop a theory of pre-theoretical understanding as equivalent to the actual realization of life while, on the other hand, making the Dasein face an a fortiori impossible task of achieving a self-referential understanding of its own being. By putting it in the forefront the idea of language as a specific space in which the sense is born and where a person discovers the world and wins him- or herself a place in this world, Gadamer effectively extends Heidegger's early hermeneutics into a universal model of understanding conceived as a language event. This view of human life as being conditioned by language emphasizes the value of the ontological dimension of understanding, discovered by Heidegger, and supplements the concept of hermeneutics of factical life, eliminating its contradictions by bringing together the theoretical and the practical planes of existence in the unity of language.

Keywords: hermeneutics of factical life, Dasein, Heidegger, philosophical hermeneutics, understanding, language, Gadamer


Alexander Haardt. The presence of the absent-one: towards the problem of the Other in the social phenomenology of Jean-Paul Sartre and Semyon Frank

This paper examines the phenomenon of the Other in the philosophical projects of Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Buber and Semyon Frank. Through an analysis of the opposing perspectives on the meaning of the Other such as implied in the subject-object scheme of Sartre's philosophy and in the dialogical way of thinking in Buber's oeuvre, the author accomplishes a reconstruction and a critique of the attempt to reconcile both these concepts of the Other undertaken by Semyon Frank. It is demonstrated that in the ontology of the Me-You-relationship as delineated in Frank's book, The Unfathomable, the Russian philosopher seeks to harmonize both the dialogical and the objectifying aspects of the personal encounter, either of which had been explored and developed in its own right by Buber and Sartre respectively. An harmonization of this kind is only achievable because Frank includes both the aspect of the seeing subject and that of being under the glare of the Other, as preferred by Sartre, and the relationship between the addressor and the addressee, central for Buber, under the category of self-revealing. The understanding of the very phenomenon of being under the glare of the Other is derived by Frank not form the subject-object problem, as suggested by Sartre, but rather from the realm of dialogical thought. It must be emphasized, however, that in doing so the Russian philosopher substitutes the inner perspective of interpersonal communication between two human individuals with that of absolute Unity, so that that the inner connection existing between 'I' and 'You' becomes one of the manifestations of universal Unity.

Keywords: Semyon Frank, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Buber, the Other, dialogical philosophy, 20th century philosophy





Anatoly Lazarevich. Philosophy in post-Soviet society and its functions as related to the process of social modernization

Within the post-Soviet space there remain three possible ways for the development of philosophy, i.e. conserving the national academic schools with their typical modes of reflection, transforming the philosophical process in order to adapt it to the specific tasks of social practice (not only to 'substantiate', 'understand', but above all to 'assess' and 'predict'), finally, promoting the practical utility of philosophical knowledge and even making it a commercially sound undertaking. In the present paper, the author gives the examples for the implementation of each of the aforementioned strategies in continental and Anglo-American philosophy and compares their situation with that in Belorussia. He then brings into consideration the functions of philosophy in relation to the processes of social modernization, which from a philosophical perspective appears to be a comprehensive programme of renovation of all structural elements of the society involving systematic, qualitative change in the politics of science and technology as well as that of culture and education, in industrial engineering and control systems, in public conscience and the way of life. What is further suggested is that contemporary philosophy and humanities in general are faced with an unconventional task tentatively labelled here as the project of a New Enlightenment. The aim of such a project would be to restore the enlightenment ideals of past centuries combined with a new understanding of humanism and creative personality, with the values of ecological conscience and synergetic view of the world.

Keywords: post-Soviet philosophy, national school of philosophy, national culture, social modernization, social-humanitarian technology, 'new enlightenment'


Konstantin Pavlov-Pinus. The life of philosophy as a cross-cultural phenomenon and its national character

The aim of this paper is to inquire into the problem of correlation between the national philosophical thought and the international standards of philosophical research. The criteria of success in this field are examined in the context of cross-cultural networks, European identity and the problems of translation. The author argues that the degree to which a given cultural phenomenon can be regarded as being of universal importance is determined much more by its potential to form on a national level the ability to perceive, recognize and understand all the diversity of cultural events occurring elsewhere, and to translate this ability to later generations, than by any effect it could possibly exert on other cultures. The theoretical foundation of this idea of universality is to be found in the fact that the notion of universality is culture-dependent, so that one is entitled to speak about the 'logic' of a (given) culture and to regard the efficiency of its philosophical and logical instruments as the measure of its universal importance. This point is well illustrated by Husserl's and Hegel's conclusions about the universal importance of European culture, according to which the European way of living and thinking, once duly interpreted, manifests itself as the logically unavoidable outcome of world history. This sort of deduction can only be based on a conceptual, and by no means a geographical, understanding of 'Europeanism'. From the philosophical and conceptual point of view, European identity must be understood as a meeting place and a particular form of coexistence of national cultures, and this essentially is what 'European culture' amounts to both historically and from the point of view of the contemporary condition of societies which participate in its formation.

Keywords: translation, European identity, cross-cultural networks, logic of culture  





Evgeniya Strizhak. From art history to Bildwissenschaft: German-language studies in visual arts theory

The author presents here an overview of some German-language studies in visual arts theory, with the aim to reveal how these may have been influenced by their language and cultural context. To illustrate the role of language for the theoretical framework of most of the German writings on visual arts, the author conducts an analysis of the concept Bild (image), from which there is derived the notion of image as a definitive form (Bildung), characteristic of the entire German tradition, as well as the broader understanding of the concept of image as implying both its mental and material constituents at once. The starting point for all subsequent development of Bildwissenschaft is provided in Aby Warburg's project of Kulturgeschichte which helped expand the boundaries of the old discipline of art history and turn the attention of the scholars from a given particular work of art to the problems of image as such. In the ensuing period the most important theoretical advances were made in the work of Klaus Zachs-Hombach, Gottfried Böhm and Hans Belting. The latest cornerstone theory to be examined here is the one proposed by Horst Bredecamp, looking back toward the traditional German view of art history as Bildwissenschaft. On the whole, it will be fair to conclude that, unlike contemporary Anglo-Saxon scholarship, most of which is rooted in the paradigm of cultural studies and shares common methodological approaches as well as a certain predilection for the issues of political background, German Bildwissenschft represents a sum of heterogeneous discourses, mostly apolitical, united around the concept of Bild and its implications.

Keywords: Bild, Bildwissenschaft, art history, Germany, picture, image, political iconology, anthropology of image, aesthetics