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Human Rights

Humanism: Dangerous Illusion, Desperate Faith or Duty of Time?

V. Torosian
Rossinsky Institute of Humanities, Krasnodar, Russia

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Abstract: In antiquity, the idea of padeia organically joined learning and education. In today's world it remains the essence of culture. However, philosophy is now characterized by a spirit of pragmatism that correlates present-day needs with actual sociocultural trends. Humanism can seem today nothing more than an illusion, an unrealizable utopia. Nevertheless, philosophy in its educative role should shape a attitude to life that is not only deep and universal but humanistic as well.

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The present congress, developing the themes of the previous one ("The mankind at the turning-point"), concretizes them, marking a special role of philosophy in "education of humanity". In this aspect reference to the antique "paideia" notion, organically combining education and upbringing, is not casual. The motto of the last philosophical congress in this century grasps the tendencies and needs of culture which begun to show of late. That's what is the prerogative of philosophy as "a permanent watchman, guardian of culture".

He is so historically, socially and culturally determined that humanity greets a turn of centuries, the so much of millennia, jubilating and worrying at the same time. The situation so fraught with possibilities and dangers if not satisfied may lead to crush of the mankind that has proved bankrupt. We have found ourselves in the bifurcation process admitting as well "the end of history" in its most tragic sense.

Philosophy plays the most important part in formation, basing of new values, innoticing emerging trends, choice of arising variants.

Reflexing over culture as a whole philosophy allows to correlate the needs and potenties of the current moment with actual trends. Combining the prognostic and projective functions philosophy forms the sprouts of new world outlooks and conditions of "natural" refusal of obsolete, out of date ones. This role is not conspicuous: philosophical thought must be ready for the fact that penetrates public consciousness neither directly nor immediately, but implicitly, gradually, embracing the most diversified spheres of spiritual activity and only in long time achieving the status of the spiritual objectivized. So much more comprehensive, deep and prolonged its impact is. It has been correctly stated that these were Kant and Hegel who had the most influence over their contemporaries' minds (so few of them actually knew their works, at that). Well-known is Martin Luther King's role in stopping the Vietnam war, changing the whole mentality of the American nation, not so long ago allowing "witchhunt" and racism. The same is R. Tagor's and M. Ghandi's philosophy of non-violence. Looking for evidences of philosophical efficiency we'll get back to Aristotle and Socratus. A convincing upbringing part is played by the philosopher's way of life itself, which is by Plato "the very practice of philosophy". In a certain social-cultural condition the impact of philosophical ideas may be comprehensive. "There has never been such necessity in philosophical mind, and never has our mind (ordinary or political consciousness) been so far from being philosophically framed", - writes Bibler.

What can we expect of philosophy today, what is it called and obliged to explain? While in the Renaissance epoch the idea of humanism was connected with confidence in human cognitive and creative capabilities, nowadays we are in a greater need of pondering on their destructive results. Having declared the achievement of noosphere, we now change the accent - why are actions of "the sphere of mind" so mindless? Raising the question of sources and causes of this contradiction, we begin to differentiate (on the level of higher and even highest education) between the sometimes identified notions of culture and civilization: the former as "striving for developing our abilities, transformation of ourselves" and the latter as "striving for transformation of environment, supremacy over the world" - natural, public, human.

"Culture is the direction, which we give to the development of our potentions" - J. Ortega-i-Gasset wrote. How can philosophy orientates this direction for transition of the evolution onto "the level of culture"?

First of all, philosophy must and can explain that we live in the world where striving for supremacy, and the so much violence as inevitable means (over nature, people and states, over oneself) has become inadequate, that the only reasonable and justified way is that humanism in its comprehensive contents of this notion. To explain that humanism is not an offer or a tip (as one sometimes considers so easily declared democracy in the post-soviet world), but the way, gained through suffering, a duty of our time which is cruel and confused. Doesn't this statement seem a contradiction or a dangerous illusion? "The condition of refusal of illusions concerning one's situation is the statement of society in which there is no need in illusions" - both C. Marx and E. Fromm said equally actual with an interval of a century. Knowing how far we are from this social statement, a philosopher understands that it is difficult to convince of humanism as the only real way both the embittered people, who haven't got new ideals instead of the ones thrown down, and the younger generation demonstratively refusing any belief in anybody or anything, but wanting such belief most of all. How can it be explained to the prosperous and fed up, who prefer not to think over "futile" questions, especially if their welfare has been achieved by means of these cruel inhuman ways what is the most frequent thing in nowadays Russia? How can one convince of fruitfulness and prospects of humanism in the world torn by contradictions, in which the fight for supremacy moved from under the "colors of philosophical doctrines" to the national and regional ones.

No doubt this task can not be solved on the level of declarations and starry-eyed idealistic summons. To convince a philosopher must be convinced himself. To have desperate faith or understanding that "one can't live like that" is insufficient. Can a philosophical view perceive objective social cultural premises, actual trends of the turn to humanism in public mentality, economic, political, juridical thinking, modern public life?

The modern world has never been so much correlated in economic, political, cultural, scientific aspects, correlated with global problems of ecological, military, medical character. Philosophy has a special role in the developing dialogue of cultures, in the process of their mutual understanding and enrichment. Playing the part of vessels connecting different epochs in culture, philosophy has always been upbringing the trinity of respect to the past, understanding of the present and care of the future. In the modern contradictory world philosophical thinking confirms tolerance to another's opinion, another's world outlook, confidence without fear of losing positions and reputation. Hopeful results of philosophy of peace are available in the modern political thinking. Quite long ago the results of he Rome club and then A. Toffler's practopia made one conscious of responsibility for the future, of necessity of "solving problems" instead of "taking decisions". Scientific results of recent years (the anthropic principle), testifying to their being unique, commit to special responsibility for preserving life and mind.

We live in the world which hasn't yet become conscious of that even if there is a way to distract from the ethic point of view, strength can not solve any tasks (even on the level of "taking decisions"). The events of recent years and even months - Karabakh, Yugoslavia, Chechnya - convince of that. And what about the people in trenches, terrorism and blackmail? Of course, it is much more difficult for these people than for a philosopher to come to understanding, and there will be quite a few victims on the way from confrontation to consent. A philosopher knows best of all to what the society and the separate person condemn themselves if they stake on compulsion, ignoring personality, "humanistic nuances which are as valuable as life itself" (A. Camus). To counterbalance the destructive chose of everything that can be bought for money, of power, of even knowledge as commodity, of consumery attitude even to friends and relatives, to nature, humanistic ethics considers it natural and most productive to respect people as well as oneself, to love nature, life, thought and creative work. The humanistic value of "philosophical attitude to life" is not to strive after imposed values, not to poison life with malice or groundless illusions, but to have inner strength, inner god. The Bible says: "If there is no God in a soul, it is haunted by an evil spirit". Sociological, philosophical, psychological researches are the evidence of the fact that social conflicts are most frequently roused by people who are in discord with themselves, who failed to realize themselves in anything or to determine themselves in the system of life values. Speaking about evolution on the "level of culture", let us remember the definition of culture as such that is working, tilling, in accord with nature and oneself. Have we been bought up and do we bring up in a proper way? Wanting our child to become "somebody" we seldom care he should become himself, realize himself in the direction in which different components of welfare could at least not exclude one another. And, once again, understanding that we need quite a different society for that we recognize it as a most actual task to bring up in the new generation people not only deeply and comprehensively, but differently that is humanistically educated whose education would be organically combined with upbringing as in the antique "paideia".

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