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of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  Philosophy Journal. 2019, Vol. 12, No. 2
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Philosophy Journal. 2019, Vol. 12, No. 2

Philosophy Journal. 2019, Vol. 12, No. 2





Andrey V. Prokofyev. Morality, probability, and risk

The paper explores the problem of discovering or creating a system of moral criteria that could regulate society’s reactions to probabilistic threats. The first part of the paper studies the capacity of the most popular normative programs of morality to provide a basis for such criteria. The author demonstrates that the ethics of absolute prohibitions, the ethics of human rights, and virtue ethics face insurmountable difficulties. Utilitarian ethics seems to be much better at integrating the probability factor into the logic of decision-making. However, despite its success, utilitarian ethics also needs a serious transformation as far as its structure and metrics are concerned. Following R. Ericson and A. Doyle, the author calls the product of such a transformation the ‘morality of responsibility and accountability’. In the second part of the paper some basic challenges to this model of morality are explored. The author argues that in order to deal with these challenges, the ‘morality of responsibility and accountability’ must 1) create a moral consciousness that would be adapted to the influence that judgments about probability of events have on the moral evaluation of actions; 2) find optimal methods to attribute the numerical probability to future events; 3) overcome psychological and cultural prejudices that affect our estimations of probability; 4) elaborate flexible formulae that discount the future, 5) form a proper reaction of society not only to risk, but also to uncertainty.

Keywords: morality, risk, probability, uncertainty, ethics of absolute prohibitions, ethics of human rights, ethics of virtue, utilitarianism, discounting the future, precautionary principle

Alexander V. Pavlov. Images of modernity in the 21st century: hypermodernism.

Within the socio-philosophical and cultural trend, usually referred to with the umbrella term "post-postmodernism", there exist several conceptions, which offer a language that describes the new epoch. The so-called “hypermodernism” turned out to be one of the most demanded versions of post-postmodernism. Using historical and philosophical methodology, critical analysis, contextualism, as well as the methodology of contemporary social theory and theory of culture, the author identifies the goal of the paper in determining whether the social theory of hypermodernism can be an adequate alternative to postmodernism. To accomplish this goal the author considers three versions of hypermodernism in the order of their chronological appearance, conducts a comparative analysis of each of them (since “hypermodernism” was understood in different ways at different times) and, finally, critically examines the most popular concept of hypermodernism. The first version of hypermodernism was proposed by two Canadian political theorists, Arthur Kroker and David Сook, who understood it as an alternative to postmodernism in the mid-1980’s. Under the influence of the ideas of Jean Baudrillard, they focused their attention on the transformations of aesthetics in the new era (hyper-aesthetics of "excrements" against anti-aesthetics of postmodern). Later Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker used the term “hypermodernism” in the context of "Theses on the Disappearing Body in the Hyper-Modern Condition". The second version proposed by a British media theorist John Armitage attempted to describe the "dromology" of the French social philosopher Paul Virilio as "hypermodernistic". However, neither the first nor the second concept of hypermodernism became popular. The third and most popular version of the "time of hypermodern" (hyperindividualism and hyperconsumerism) was the theory of the French social philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky. His understanding of hypermodernism is developed today by a number of sociologists in France and even in the English-speaking world. However, even this version of hypermodernims did not gain a wide enough influence. The author concludes that hypermodernism is a "weak alternative" to postmodernism.

Keywords: postmodern, postpostmodernism, hypermodernism, hyperreality, philosophy of culture, social philosophy, body, Gilles Lipovetsky

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-20-33 



Jerold J. Abrams. Emerson and the reconstruction of pragmatism.

Beginning in the nineteenth century with writings of Ch. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, pragmatism fell into eclipse during World War II with the influx of logical positivism. But W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars attacked logical positivism at its foundations in analyticity and the simply given, and then pointed contemporary philosophy back to classical pragmatism, and so began the revival. Following Quine and Sellars, Rorty in his brilliant Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature stamped pragmatism back into contemporary philosophy, reestablishing James and Dewey as central figures. Today the movement of pragmatism is once again in full-swing, with major pragmatist philosophers, like Richard Shusterman and Russell Goodman, engaging the tradition and reconstructing its background in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s transcendentalism, and the founders like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Keywords: Franklin, Emerson, Transcendentalism, Peirce, Pragmatism, Rorty, Shusterman

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-34-47

Tamara B. Dlugach. On several strange statements in The Critique of Pure Reason.

The author explores several insufficiently clarified places in Kant's first Critique. One such place is a passage that deals with the problem of synthesis. It is known that in order to obtain the object of knowledge, one must unite all sensations. Synthesis is responsible for this. However, on closer inspection, it turns out that synthesis is nothing more than a productive force of imagination. The author argues that the idea of this force represents Kant’s understanding of the thought experiment, which was formed in science in the middle of the 17th century. A further consideration shows that the productive imagination is essentially reduced to the mental construction of an object; this mental construction is the only reason why we understand the object. However, in order to build an object, one needs to know it, and in order to know it, one needs to build it. This logical circle was not resolved by Kant. Further, the impact of the productive imagination is seen in the construction of an object of pure sensory contemplation. The author argues that this object is nothing but the "universal object", that is, a model for all individual sensory samples. The mental construction of such an object is a scheme, i.e. a construction of an object along the most essential lines of its existence. The universal object reveals the essence of the mental object as an object of cognition. Finally, the relation between a priori and a particular sensation as an intense magnitude is argued to be associated with Kant's desire to present the object of cognition as an object within thought, which is not identified with the thought. However, for Kant only the opposite approach is acceptable, according to which the mental object appears only as an impression of a thing acting from the outside, that is, as a phenomenon. Yet Kant also outlines another solution proposed by a number of thinkers of his time. Kant does not develop it, because he is completely satisfied with his own idea, during which the mental space is completely filled with all mental elements - the pure sense object, concepts, and the categories. He merely identifies it. Kant, thus, provides a completely original approach to the process of cognition. The author shows that Kant's influence can also be seen in our time. In order to appreciate this influence one must clarify the notion of the mental object and identify the characteristics of the thing that acts from the outside.

Keywords: sensation, productive imagination, construction, the Intensive, the Extensive, a priori, schema, object of cognition

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-48-63

Rodion V. Savinov. The rise of the neo-scholastic and neo-Thomist epistemology (1840–1920).

The author analyzes the rise of the theory of knowledge in the Catholic intellectual culture of the period between 1840s and 1920s. This period can be divided into two stages of comparable significance: the stage of the Neo-Scholasticism (1840-1870) and the stage of a proper Neo-Thomism (1870-1920). It is further possible to distinguish three forms in the development of these stages, which are examined from an epistemological perspective. The first form of epistemology, characteristic of the 1840s-1870s, and associated with the names of G. Sanseverino, M. Liberatore, J. Balmes, J. Kleutgen, is characterized by a traditional scholastic model of understanding as unity of the three intellectual operations. However, this model is complicated by a differentiated analysis of individual functions and moments of understanding, associated with Wolffianism. The next form of epistemology was formed in 1880s-1910s and was characterized by an attempt to return «back to Aquinas», as well as by the formation of the Neo-Thomism, enshrined in the “24 Thomistic theses”. In the doctrine of cardinal D. Mercier, the realistic epistemology of Acquinas came into contact with modern philosophy and psychology. The third stage was associated with J. Marechal and his predecessors (1910-1920), who proposed a new understanding of the theory of knowledge. This new approach inherited the Kantian view of cognition but proposed a revision of the critical method itself (in the writings of J. Marechal’s). The critical method underwent a reconstruction on the basis of the doctrine of  the four causes of Aristotle and Aquinas.

Keywords: neo-scholasticism, neo-Thomism, epistemology, metaphysics, Aquinas, Aristotle, Modern

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-64-77




Vadim M. Rozin. Some features of historical knowledge and ontology.

The author argues that the whole of history, which allows us to comprehend it and establish its essence, is not just various interpretations of history, but also a historical way of life of a personality and a historical way of life of a culture that goes through several stages in its development. Building on this scheme, the author argues that the conceptualization of history in philosophy and in science gave rise to two different methodologies of historical research, which lead to two types of history: one based on a plot, and another one based on an interdisciplinary study. The latter is associated with a process of the conceptualization of history in philosophy and science and originates in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. However, it reaches its full development only in the Modern Age. This type of history is not only characterized by a philosophical and a scientific analysis of historical constructions and explanations, but also by the development of a new methodology of history and new practices in historical research. Now a plot is nothing more than an empirical framework. The main focus is on the creation of ideal objects that can solve a number of problems within the plot and on the philosophical explanations that shed light on the described events as well as on a broader range of relevant problems. Both types of history are characterized by an ontology of time and a categorical scheme “past-present-future”. The author provides a discussion of both of these characteristic properties of the historical discipline.

Keywords: history, reconstruction, plot, science, past, present, future, historical time, demarcation, facts

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-78-91

Sergei M. Levin. Illusion of choice and uncontrolled actions.

There is an opinion that modern science has established that free will is an illusion. The illusion of free will is the wrong feeling of control over one’s own actions: it seems that people can consciously choose how to act, however, all their actions are nothing more than the results of an unconscious neural activity. Followers of this theory are called willusionists. Neuroscientific experiments that examine causal relationships between conscious volitions and actions are the main evidence for willusionism. According to the willusionist interpretation of these experiments, consciousness does not initiate actions, but fixes that they have occurred, therefore, free will is illusory. Willusionist arguments aim to show why free actions are not free, but what will willusionists say about actions that are not considered as free? In this paper, the absurd consequences of consistent acceptance of willusionism are discussed. We analyze the willusionist approach not only to those actions that are considered free actions but also to actions that are wittingly unfree, for example, actions that are the results of a neurophysiological disorder. We consider an imaginary situation in which a person lacks control over one of her hands. She wants to cure this disorder and asks a famous neuroscientist who has complete knowledge of neurophysiology and the most advanced equipment at his disposal. Moreover, the neuroscientist is a willusionist. It is argued that the main obstacle to providing the patient with the treatment she asks for is the acceptance of willusionism by the neuroscientist, and not the lack of knowledge or any deficiency of the equipment.

Keywords: neuroscience, free will, compatibilism, willusionism

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-92-102




Sergey L. Fokin. Dangerous liaisons: René Descartes and learned women.

The main goal of this paper is to present a historical description of the attitude towards the reader that appeared in René Descartes’ “Discours de la méthode” (1637). In his famous writing, Descartes appealed to learned women together with the doctors of Sorbonne and other intellectuals. Following the method of the «history of ideas», which assumes a particular attention to the cultural context of the studied period, the author reveals the connections that existed between Descartes and a number of literary institutions of the first half of the 17th century – from the French Academy, whose duty was to regulate the «noble use» of the French language, to various literary salons, which established the canons of a «proper taste». We note that Descartes indulged the well-known weaknesses of the fair sex, namely a developed taste for fine arts and liberal arts, which became widespread in the so-called salon culture, préciosité literature and the gallant literary life of the 18th century France. The paper argues that the female orientation constitutes a pragmatic aspect of this writing of Descartes’ and echoes the doctrine of gallantry of the Great century, a sort of existential and aesthetic credo, which predetermined the poetry of the French classicism. It is the attention that the author of “Discours de la méthode” paid to the reading audience in general and to learned women in particular that places him among the arbiters of the literary canon of his age. This attention is also a confirmation that «to write to be liked» was one of the goals that Descartes, like many other authors of the 18th century, tried to achieve. In exploring Descartes’ circle of learned women, the author puts special emphasis on his correspondence, which presents a peculiar example of the epistolary genre, widespread during the era and characterized by the gallant language and the use of original linguistic tools to present his ideas more freely than he did in philosophical treatises created under religious and scholastic censorship. The author thus shows that the letters written by Descartes form a precious corpus of biographical and historical material, crucial for the interpretation of his main œuvres. These letters are presented as an essential literary tool that Descartes used in his philosophical thinking.

Keywords: XVIIth century French literature, gallant literature, préciosité culture, René Descartes, epistolary genre.

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-103-116

Artem A. Krotov. Napoleon and Royer-Collard.

The paper explores Napoleon’s attitude towards the philosophical controversies of his time and to the spiritualism that was taught at the Imperial University. Napoleon’s ideological evolution, and the extent to which he was acquainted with the philosophical ideas of his epoch is also discussed. In light of Napoleon’s praise of Royer-Collard’s philosophy, the author looks for the object of Napleon’s approval in the new system. The author suggests that it was the general orientation against «ideologists» (something Napoleon acknowledged in his communication with Talleyrand). Not only the orientation against “ideologists” was important for the emperor, but also the way in which it was established: flawless, inescapable, refined. It is argued that Napleon could approve of Royer-Collard’s arguments about the incompleteness of the knowledge of man that sensualists possessed, the limitations of their theory of the ideas, and their inability to justify virtue with their own principles. Among other possible reasons behind his approval are Royer-Collard’s attacks on the lack of clarity, the metaphorical and hypothetical character of many philosophical assumptions of the “ideologists”, his appeals for their expulsion from science, the demand to rely only on established facts. Finally, Royer-Collard’s ontological scheme – matter, soul, God – was not in opposition to the emperor’s worldview. It is remarkable that Royer-Collard, as any other university professor of his time, found it possible to derive the existence of God from the overall collection of the phenomena observed by the man. Napoleon proved to be right in his prediction of the fall of the school of «ideologists» and its replacement by the contemporary spiritualist ideas. However, his political ideas, which the emperor also thought to be important, never became an incentive either for Royer-Collard or for other philosophers, who valued his thinking and were inspired by it. Of course, the philosophy in its development is subject to the influence of social factors, but it can’t be completely reduced to a political calculation.

Keywords: Royer-Collard, French spiritualism, Napoleon, «ideologists», philosophy of Enlightenment, the intellectual culture of the first Empire in France

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-117-130

Konstantin D. Skripnik. On the epistolary heritage in philosophy: the phenomenon of Victoria, Lady Welby.

The aim of the present article is to draw attention to the phenomenon of correspondence as a discursive genre, a form of explication of ideas, a way of communication and mutual influence of scholars with each other. The correspondence of Victoria, Lady Welby with two famous philosophers, Charles Sanders Peirce and Charles Ogden, is an example of the phenomenon. The interest in the life and work of Lady Welby began to manifest itself in the middle of the last century; it related to her correspondence (she communicated with about 450 famous people of her time), as well as to the ideas proposed in her new science "significs". The author notes that the original papers of Victoria Welby were in the sphere of C.Peirce’s interests; this fact had a positive impact on the correspondence between them; moreover, Ch.Peirce wrote his letters in such a clear manner that they can be considered the best presentation of his ideas. The article emphasizes that Ch.Peirce saw significant similarities between his semiotic ideas and the ideas of significs. As for the correspondence between Lady Welby and C.Ogden, the author tries to point at an implicit impact of that correspondence, as well as the theory of significs, on the content of Ogden’s famous book written together with A.Richards. In her letters to Peirce, Lady Welby not only introduced Ogden to Peirce, but gave Ogden an opportunity to get acquainted with Peirce’s works and the ideas he described in his letters. The presentation of Peirce’s ideas in the book of Ogden and Richards was based on Peirce’s letters to Lady Welby. The author suggests a link between significs and early analytic philosophy. The latter could be influenced by the ideas of significs through F.Ramsey who knew some of Lady Welby’s work.

Keywords: philosophical correspondence, Victoria Welby, Ch.Peirce, C.Ogden, significs, theory of signs, meaning

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-131-143



Dmitry S. Kurdybaylo. On symbolism in Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus.

Many recent studies propose that symbolon and synthēma are synonymous in the writings of Proclus. However, his Commentary to Plato’s Timaeus contains statements that disprove this opinion. The goal of this paper is to establish the meaning of both terms using the contexts of their actual usage, a textual analysis and a historical and philosophical reconstruction. The author argues that in the writings of Proclus, it is possible to distinguish two types of symbols: the ontological and the exegetical. The ontological symbol (symbolon) is strongly connected to synthēma, which appears to be its semantic kernel and formative principle. Together, they establish the sympathetic relations bridging different levels of the ontological hierarchy. Each one of Proclean intelligible gods appears as a cause that produces a chain of consequences, i. e. a series of the god’s emanations. Each essence at a lower ontological level is such a consequence, and therefore it carries a synthēma as a trace of its first cause. A synthēma provides an essence with an ability to discover its own identity against the ontological hierarchy and then allows it to cognize its first cause. This cognition, in turn, becomes the initial point of the ascent (epistrophē) to the intelligible cause. A symbol, as opposed to synthēma, is able to receive energies, or ‘illumination’ of the corresponding gods, which thereafter elevate the subject to a higher ontological level. An exegetical symbol differs from an ontological one by not being related to synthēmata, causative chains and particular gods. It is suggested that the exegetic type of Proclean symbolism is related to an older commentary tradition, which goes back to Iamblichus.

Keywords: Proclus, the Timaeus, Neoplatonic commentary, symbol, synthēma, logos, image, theurgy, ontology, myth

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-144-159

Aleksandr I. Prokhorov. Translations of Husserl and the interpretations they beget. A case study of one concept.

The present study is carried out at the junction of phenomenology and a notably rare discipline — the history of the philosophical text. The main focus is on Husserl’s «Philosophy as a Rigorous Science» and its translation into Russian. A comparison of the original text and its translation into three languages (Russian, French, and English) is provided with special attention to a number of disputable positions. The advantages and disadvantages of each of the aforementioned translations are explored. Using several illustrative sentences, the author reveals a number of shortcomings in the translations that originate from principled limitations in the ability of a different language to convey not just Husserl’s intentional meanings, but also his intonation, which was an important part of his philosophical discourse. The history of the interaction of Synthesis and Synthese as two different lexicalizations of one and the same notion is explored on a corpus of German philosophical writings going back to the 18th century.  The choice of this particular notion is not accidental. It shown that this very notion disappears in the Russian translation. The author explores the results of this exclusion and argues that it affected Husserl’s original master plan. The ultimate goal of the paper is to reveal the interconnections that the notions “synthesis”, “intuition”, “thought” and “experience” have in Husserl’s philosophy and to explore the extent to which these interconnections are reflected in the translations. This investigation shows a way to asses the interpretation proposed by a given translator as justified or unjustified.

Keywords: Husserl, Hessen, Logos, phenomenology, Synthesis, Synthese, translation

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-160-173

Ilia I. Pavlov. Perestroika and the nineties in Vladimir Bibikhin’s hermeneutics.

The paper provides a reconstruction and a critical analysis of Vladimir Bibikhin’s philosophical hermeneutics of Perestroika and the collapse of the USSR as well as political and economic environment in Russia during the “wild nineties”. It is argued that the reasons why Bibikhin addressed this issue cannot be fully reduced either to the Russian philosophical tradition, or to Heidegger’s notion of the historical factuality of philosophical thinking. Both these intellectual strategies equally influenced Bibikhin’s approach towards current political events. Furthermore, various researchers provide opposite interpretations of Bibikhin’s reaction to the pressing issues of his time. While Artemy Magun argues that Bibikhin fully shared the political enthusiasm of Perestroika, Mikhail Bogatov discovers Bibikhin’s criticism of this enthusiasm. Dealing with a wider range of Bibikhin’s texts, one can find a single cause behind the variety of interpretations. This cause is Bibikhin’s own complex attitude to the matter. On the one hand, Bibikhin not only criticized the hype of Privatization, which emerged in the nineties, but also was skeptical about the change of the ideology. On the other hand, Bibikhin acknowledged the significance of the current events and urged intellectuals to think about them. Bibikhin believed philosophical work to be the only adequate answer to the unfolding freedom. Therefore, he emphasized the relevance of the Russian philosophical tradition to this task. This is why Bibikhin considered Perestroika and the “wild nineties” to be a new chance to establish Russian philosophy. However, his main goal was to find a non-ideological way of thinking.

Keywords: Bibikhin, Heidegger, Russian history, perestroika, hermeneutics, Russian philosophy, ideology, freedom, Platonism

DOI 10.21146/2072-0726-2019-12-2-174-187