Philosophical-Anthropological Approach to Historic-Cultural Research
Lioudmila Tchernaya, Institute for Cultural Research, Troitsk, Russia
There's not a secret that Russian Humanities are in a methodological crisis now. Our scientists look for new Methods and Approaches using the Conceptions of Western Science. Among them American Anthropology is the most popular in the last years throughout the World. Philosophers are interested in "Ecological Anthropology" which learns the adaptation of people to environment especially (see: Sahlin M. Evolution: specific and general// Theory in Anthropology. Manners R., Paplan D. (eds). Chicago.1968; Hatch E. The growth of economics, subsistence and ecological studies in American Anthropology// Journal of Anthropological Reseach. Vol.29.1973). Many American scientists prefer the neoevolution Method with the analyses of Race, Nation and others ethnic or social groups (see, for example: Lazlo E. Evolution: The Grans Syntethesis. Boston.1987). Among new approaches we can see some connected with Psychology. (See: Bock Ph.K. Rethinking Psychological Anthropology. N.Y. 1988; Berry J., Poortinga Y., Legall M., Dasen P. Cross-Cultural Psychology: Research and Applications. Cambridge, 1992; Cole M. Cultural Psychology. Cambridge, 1996; Coult A.D. Psychodelic Anthropology. Philadelphia, 1997 and others). The authors write about identification of Person, "socialization" and "culturalization" of children, about "ethological" method, which helps us to understand the interaction between Person and Society. Psychological Anthropology takes the first place in working out the theme "Culture and Personality" now, but it resolves this theme in the direction of Man adaptation to the modern Society.
There is, however, the Conception, in which the development of Culture seems to be depended on the solution of the Problem of Person-"new Philosophical Anthropology". My special interest is connected, first of all, with this Conception as a Theory of Culture. New Philosophic Anthropology is well developed in Western Science, but practically unknown in Russia. Our philosophers only begin to study the Conception of it's founder-Max Scheler (see: Max Scheler. Izbranniye proizvedeniya. M., 1994;). Max Scheler created the global Theory of the historical Process as a penetration of Man into his own substance, as a permanent search for "selfness", "independent being into itself". Philosophic Anthropology puts forward the Hipothesis that Man tells from animals not by intellect and ability of choice but some "Spirit" which is in opposition to Life ("Vitalism") as a whole. The centre of this Spirit is Person, Man only, but people had been looking for it in Mythology, Religion, etc. The forms of the "Absolute Centre" of Man may be different: Cosmos, God and others. Giving the definition of Man as a "creature surpassing himself and the World", Max Scheler affirms that "the conduction opened to the World" and "never stopped passion for penetration into the open World's space-Cosmos-had obliged Man for looking for how to implant his Absolute Centre outside of the World". The development of History goes as a difficult complicated Process of comprehending by Humanity the Relation to Man's Absolute Centre. This is the most fundamental Idea of Philosophical Anthropology.
The followers of Max Scheler selected different sides of the Haritage of famous philosopher and now work them out. H.Plesner suggested three fundamental laws of Philosophical Anthropology (Plesner H. Gesammelte Schriften. Bd.1.F./M.1980), M.Landmann put the development of World's Culture in the connection with this
Conception (Landmann M. Fundamental Anthropologie. Bonn. 1979). A.Deeken and others sociologists develop Scheler's Moral Philosophy. Deeken wrote, that the word "genius" would seem to be the most appropriate term to characterize Max Scheler. His philosophical insights have deeply influenced a great number of contemporary minds...
Amoung the men who came under Scheler's influence are Nicolai Hartmann, Ortega-y-Gasset, Merleau Dempf, Karl Mannheim, Jacques Maritain, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Martin Heidegger, Gabriel Marcel and others" (see: Deeken A.S.J. Process and permanence in ethics. Max Scheler's Moral Philosophy. N.Y. 1974. P.1). Many interesting works have been dedicated to Scheler's system of Value-Person-Types, his theory of "Kairos" as a Memand of the Present Hour, the Hierarchy of values and others. But my special interest is connected with the Research of Philosophical Anthropology as a Methodology of Culture.
The ideas of Max Scheler, H.Plesner, M.Landmann and other philosophers put the foundation-stone of my own Typology of Culture. New Philosophical Anthropology may be named "the Theory of relativity" in the Culturology of the XX-th Century: it postulates the Relation between Man and his Absolute Centre as a essence of World Historic- Cultural Process. On these grounds I went to philosophical-anthropological characteristics of Cultural Process:
(1) The principle of "relativity" and that one of "absolutness". As to his "Absolute Centre" Man can be either in the state of his essence or in the state of stability when the Problem of Man is considered to be solved and this solution is adopted as a final.
(2) "Anthropocentrism" and "Theocentrism". When the Society is looking for new Idea of Man, this one becomes the Centre of all connections. In other case Man seems to be so named "empty vessel", receiving traditional models of the behaviour.
(3) The principle of the "novelty" and that one of the "antiquity". Under the aegis of "novelty" is proceding the new system of values in Culture; when the self-consciousness of Culture acknowledges the existing Idea of Man as a final and an absolute "truth", the whole mechanism of cultural connections will be directed to the preservation of "antiquity".
(4) The "dynamism"and the "statism" of cultural Process. The cultural system acts either dynamically or statically, what depends on the state of the concrete Society in the concrete historical Period: if the Problem of Man seems to be solved, the Culture is in the phase of static, if, on the contrary, the intensive search for a new solution of this Problem is going on, the Culture enters in the phase of dynamics.
(5) "Open" Society and Man or "closed" Society and Man. I use this term -"open"-in specific meaning, connected with the solution of the Problem of Man: when the old System of values is broken and Man has lost the support in it, he becomes "defenceless", "open" to the different influences over him both positive and negative. In this time we can see the results of this phenomenon in increasing of the discoveries in all spheres of Life, the different contacts with the forces belonging to the other world; in creation of the new genres in Art, Literature, ect. It's to be noted, that "open" Man has high creative potential. At a time when the Problem of Man seems largely solved, people receive the formed System of Values and feel themselves defended.
(6) The development of the traditions or the dogmatisation of them: the "traditional culture" differs from the "tradition in the Culture", because in the first case the culture lives within the limits of the tradition as in it's own present norms, in the second case the culture comprehends the traditions as it's own Past, into which it's incorporated.
(7) The Historism and Dogmatism as all anterior characteristics aren't absolute, they are relative. But in the Period of search for Absolute Centre the sense of Historism begins to play the essential role in the Society's consciousness. Looking for new foundations of Man's Life the Society is obliged to revalue it's History and find there new points of stabilization. On the contrary when the Idea of Man culminates it would be turned in a Dogma inevitably.
(8) As I noted before the system of genres depends from the situation of "open" or "closed" Culture and Man. At the same time all others positions influence on it, especially the principle of "novelty". The last makes the process of creation of new genres in the Literature, Art, Music, etc. very intensive. Some of new genres after the Transition Period disappear forever, others begin to develope successfully. The conservation of old system of genres in Literature, Art, Music, etc. is the effect of the historical-cultural situation as a whole.
(9) Well-developed self-consciousness or undeveloped self-consciousness are connected first of all with the Author's self-consciousness. The epoch of "relativity", anthropocentrism", "dynamism", etc. makes the "Roal Road" to the "New Man" with well-developed consciousness of his value as a Person. His efforts for creation another Conception of Man incarnate in himself and in the Culture as a whole. The Type of Person is a historical definition, which Max Scheler and other philosophers considered the most important result of the Cultural Development.
(10) The characteristics suggested by Oswald Spengler-the principles of inequality and equality; quality and quantity-finish our List of characteristics, but they have a great significance. I have in mind that in the phase of arrest of development of the new Idea of Man, the indices of equality and quantity predominate in the Culture. I have named the main principle positions only. Starting from them we must regard the problem of cultural Typology. I can suggest the Typology of Culture on the ground of "Personal" or "Non-personal" types.
The proposed Typology may be included in the group of historical approaches to Culture. The World's Cultural Process looks as a periodical change of "personal" and "non-personal" types: every new Period begins with "personal" phase and ends with "non-personal". The most interesting epochs are the Transition periods in which the old and new Concepts of Man unite in a whole. There is a further point to be made there that the historical data of the Transition Period of Russian Culture from the Middle Ages to the New Time have confirmed our hypothesis, the theory of cultural tipes was fully established in it. These data were published in my book "The Transition Period of the Russian Culture from the Middle Ages to the New Time: philosophical-anhtropological approach" M.: "Yziki russkoi kulturi",1999. Few words concerning the Philosophical-Anthropological Periodization of the History of Culture. Certainly, it is connected with new solution of the Problem of Man: the Period of "Body", which corresponds to the Heathen period, when Man was estimated as a part of Common Cosmic "Body"; the Period of "Soul" (Medieval period, when the Soul was the dominant of the decision of the Problem of Man); the Period of "Mind" (New Time's Culture); the Period of "Existence" (the Culture of the XX-th Century). As it's clear, this Periodization is in the accordance with common historical Periodization, accepted in Modern World's Science, but, of cause, our Periodization will make alterations in it.
My research is in a state of active development now (See: Tchernaya L. The "New Philosophical Anthropology" by Max Scheler and the History of Culture// The Problems of Philosophy. M., 1999. 17). I am sure it is worth further investigation and hope my work in this sphere will help us to obtain a fuller understanding of the Phenomenon of Personality, on the one hand, and the development of Culture, on the other hand. Philosophical Anthropology gives us the unique chance to create the model of unified World Culture development instead of the many local Cultures (or Civilizations) Paradigma. I am afraid only (after N. A. Berdiaev) of simplification of such a Phenomenon as a Man.