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Paideia of "Nihil of Reliabilty of Existing"
and Paideia of "Nihil of Truth of Being"

Mark Vasilyevich Zhelnov
Moscow State University

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ABSTRACT: This paper traces the transformation of the idea of Paideia as an intellectual mode of existence and being in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern period to the idea of Paideia as an intellectual mode of the nihil that is oriented toward the future. It comments specifically on the ideas of Leibniz and Heidegger which have contributed to this development.

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Our understanding of Paideia is multiple-valued. One can think about it as about medicine, and as about goodness, and cultivation of justice in the state (governors, guards, citizens, women and children). Paideia practically includes all sides of culture. One can argue up the definition for a long time. Let consider classics.(1) Namely in Greek Platon's Paideia (IV ad.) classical problem of the possibility and borders of different attempts to improve life of the person was put forward. And this happened in conditions, when relations, traditionally seemed stable, between ideas of "Existence" and "Being", "Reliability" and "Truth" and finally of constantly breaking in our life unintelligible ("external" and at the same time "internal") forces, which opens themselves to us as "Nothing" or, in other interpretation, as "Nihil", are changing drastically. Lets try to consider specifics of an inconsistent condition of Paideia at present through a prism of concepts of the end a XX century people about "Nihil – Nothing". What does such a consideration give from the point of view of understanding of possibility somehow to influence on the objective processes of "educating training" and of "training education".(2) The complete name of this article should sound as: "Duality of Leibniz's understanding of "Nihil of Reliability of Existing" in comparison with duality of Heidegger's understanding of "Nihil of Truth of Being" in struggle of philosophical ideas when trying to understand a problem of inconsistency "con-crete" (total specific) "self-development – self-creativity – self-creation" of Paideia "in a whole" "now-and-here" "in this person" today". Understanding of "Nihil of Reliability of Existing" by Leibniz turns to be the representation of understanding "Nihil of Truth of Being" by Heidegger. Understanding of this "Nihil" by the last is only a special case of variety of representations of "Nothing – Nihil" in the deconstructed world of philosophical thought of our days.


About some preliminary theoretical (conceptual-terminological) remarks, that will allow to specify philosophical aspect of the analysis. It is supposed that the basic concepts are either rather well known, or their development can be found in other work of the author.(3) The main thing is consideration of "World" and "Human" under a certain point of view. Namely as "con-crete" (total specific) "self-development – self-creativity – self-creation" of the subjective and objective as a being "in a whole" "now - and – here" "in this person". "Philosophical physics" cannot to do without "Meta-physics", and "Philosophical Paideia" – without "Meta-physics of Paideia". "Metaphysical act of exit out of physics" is always inherent to the human, who cannot exist outside of such acts.

We will proceed only from "recent", or even "most recent" philosophers' thoughts. It is difficult to state absolute adequacy of our understanding of these philosophers' ideas. There always is a part "of a subjective point of consideration", "bringing up to date", and consequently, "guessing". It cannot be avoided, and it shouldn't be avoided. Sometimes the most accessible in this case "objectivity" only can be reached through such certain theoretical "subjectivity".

It is supposed, also, that the philosophical ideas of Leibniz(4) and Heidegger(5) are quite well known. The Greatness of their ideas is, that rationality of one is not alien to attempts to take into account positive moment of empirism, and the ideas of the other are too rational for non-rationalist. For this reason they favorable material for understanding of real process of "Paideia self creating" "as a whole" nowadays.

Basic ideas of Leibniz and Hedegger were often misunderstood, they where accused in haziness reasoning and ambiguity of conclusions. Sometimes they where even derided. This paradoxity (even inconsistency) of thinker inquest lifts his idea to the level of real philosophy. Leibniz openly opposes his thought to the Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Bayle and others. Heidegger in contra almost never names philosophical opponents. Moreover, he considered it "doubtful" to rely on opinion of some other author about paramount gravity of his ideas. He preferred to allocate and to concentrate that the last, even not noticing, left "muffled in silence".

The opportunities of influence of consciously produced ideals of Paideia on the mankind life are quite limited. The main thing is not to moralize. Pure philosophical understanding only reveals inconsistency of the "objective" process of "concrete" (total specific) "self-development – self-creativity – self-creation" in Paideia of subjective-objective and objective-subjective "in a whole" "now-and-here" "in this person". The substitution of various types of Paideia is displayed.

So we put forward the problem in the terms of philosophical thoughts of the last decade of XX century. One thesis: "Study the existing and only the existing and you get idea about the "Nihil of existing" as about nothing, "denying of existing", as about "something empty" (major idea of Cartesian tradition). It is opposite by another thesis: "Study Being as it is, from itself and you can understand both what the existing is and what the Nihil is, as a concept "connected" with Being". But it is possible to invert the problem. Only the geniuses of a philosophy can do it. What do "nihil" means for truly understanding of "existing from existing" and "Being as it is"? What is the meaning of "nihil" for understanding the "truth of being as it is" and truly understanding of "existing from existing"? Or in other words: "Nihil of Reliability of Existing" of Leibniz opposes the "Nihil of Truth of Being" of Heidegger.


About what is "Nihil of Reliability of Existing" as a "Nothing of rational thinking of science" of Leibniz as applied to a problem of "Paideia" today.

In according to Cartesian tradition, "rational reflection about existing" represents, just a reasoning about "a nature in the widest sense". The science only directs stricter these reflections and develops the most effective methods of such reasoning. From this point of view "the rational thinking about non-existing", "about nihil" as about "something beyond the bound of nature", bounds of "physics", became the "meta-physical" reflection and is poorly interesting for natural sciences. "Nihil" as "non-existing" appears to be not accessible for rational thinking. Since nothing can be told about it, except that it is not "something". "Nihil" became a "nothing" and it seems impossible to learn something about it. However, if start to think not as physicist do, but lift up to metaphysics, Leibniz explained, than it is necessary to use "a great principle...: nothing is done without the sufficient basis, i.e. ...there is nothing happens, for what it would be impossible in case of complete understanding of the things (underlined by me -M.Zh.) to specify the reason enough for determination of why it happens this way and not other… such last reason is referred to as God." Leibniz wrote, that it is impossible to reveal reason for the laws of motion, discovered at his time, taking into account only from active reasons or matter. "I have found, that here it is necessary to resort to the reasons final (target) and that these laws do not depend at all on a principle of necessity, as logical, arithmetical and geometrical conclusions, but from a principle of correspondence, i.e. from a choice, directed by a wisdom. It makes one of the strongest and the most convincing proofs of the being of the God… Our soul has creative abilities and in any actions opens truth, about how the God suited things (pondere, mensura, numero etc.)." Conclusions come from here.

First of all about "the law of the sufficient reason" formulated by Leibniz. Usually the stress is put on the requirement "to have the basis" (not to be "baseless"), and this basis to be "fundamental" from the point of view of "scientific rationality", to not cause doubts. And in this sense "to be sufficient". However Leibniz mean absolutely opposite, he stressed "sufficiency as the restrictive principle", that should put the limit to the "rationality of physicist" and start to attempt to understand the Universe on the base of "meta-physical rationality". To discuss why the God have choose this Universe and not other is meaningless. That "necessity", which the man experiences when attempts to live in conditions being available "of the completely arranged world" (mini-max), represents only "hypothetical necessity" (and in moral sphere, accordingly, "moral necessity"). It is necessary (since it cannot be bypassed) only for the man, whose freedom is limited by "sufficiency" of hypothetical necessity. This "sufficiency" was ensured by the God by choosing the most perfect variant from the possible worlds. For Him as unlimited in freedom such basis for a choice is enough, but it is not necessary, i.e. "can be bypassed". Could be differently, but what is, is the most perfect. Therefore for the man it is enough to lean on "hypothetical necessity", due to that the most perfect and rational variant is realized. Therefore "Nihil of Being", understood as "Nihil of Existing", turns in "nothing existing". It is essentially inaccessible for scientific-rational understanding, without the reference to the God and can be revealed in the best case as a "infinitely small extent of something". Therefore as a "neglectable Nothing" and in this sense as a "neglectable Nihil". The highest knowledge about "nihil-nothing" can be rationally understood only through analysis of infinitely small values. Rational thinking of physicist about existing is tend to eliminate "nothing-nihil" from the sphere of its interest, as something not important. Therefore whole Locke's problematic of arising of rational knowledge from sensual one, something real from something non-real, from "nothing", from nihil is eliminated.

Other conclusion. If everything that is created by the God is "superperfect", then "nothing" (and of cause "nihil") cannot be created again. Everything is already created. "Creative evolution" is just an illusion. One can develop itself, or evolve only from that, what was established from the very beginning, i.e. evolve from. And nothing more. This process is compensated by the process of convolving, "convolving of envolving". It turns out to be a variant of preformistic "genetics". Leibniz' theory of "evolution-convolution" does not leave the frameworks of concept of some "self-change" of the "units of existing", their ability to activity and action, but deprived of creativity.

Further. A sole way of overcoming of the limits put by attempts of understanding of "existing only from existing" is "meta-physics". In a basis of his "monadology" Leibniz put the idea of "contingentia of the world" (contingentia mundi), that consists from the set of "independently working "windowless" units" - "monades". It appears, that a historical merit of Leibniz was that he gave to subjectivity look of objectivity, and to objectivity – characteristic features of subjective. Leibniz made all existing to be "subject-like", i.e. representatively-eager in self and by that "effective". Leibniz, as it is necessary for classics, always declared frankly, that his refusal to "nihil-nothing" of existing is possible only with recognition of creation of "hypothetical necessity" in this world by a God and serves the best evidence of the God being. The representatives of "a rational science" want to take the first sentence and "to remove" the second. And since it is impossible, then despite of atheistic declaration, idea of Divine "preseted harmony" have to be taken "from a back entrance".

Finally, the latter. The philosophical concept of Leibniz is deeply internally inconsistent and ambivalent. Moderate rational optimism of Leibniz with repose on a God, is "little light" and does not allow both ends to meets. However, the global problem is put forward. Nothing realibility can be said about "Nihil of existing". One can understand what the "nihil" is only if everything has disappeared. But it is impossible, as it would testify about unperfectness of the God.

All this is interesting. But someone should put a problem not about "occurrence of nihil from process of study of existing", but about how nihil "determines existing". Presents in it not as something "extraneous", but as essential, "objective - pithy" and even "beingable".


Now we are ready to conceive the question what is "nihil of truth of being" as a "non-present disclosive event of being" and "the non-temporary truth of being" of Heidegger with reference to a problem of Paideia nowadays.

In contradiction with Leibniz "nihil as nothing", Heidegger's "Nihil" cannot be thougth about as something simply negative, as "neglectible nothing", and should be positive and content-richness. And it is in spite of the fact that Heidegger's "Nihil" is not only "non-existing" but also "non-being", i.e. "non-present presence". From a problem of "existing and being" opposition, the problem of "being and nihil" (as "non-existing" – "non-being") opposition should arise. As a result Heidegger's "Nihil" is not only at least "equal" to "Being", but in some sence "even overcomes the Being". This conclusion is unexpected, but evidently quite consistent.

First of all about Heidegger's ideas of the period of "Being and time" (1927), and partially of "Basic concepts of metaphysics" (1929/30). At this period Heidegger "defines being and nihil from time". He felt lack of objectivity. Quite another thing are the philosophical ideas of Heidegger "after the turn", and especially after period of "Time and Being" (1962-1968). In outlined above "a circle of inquest" (from Da-sein to Being and from Being again to Da-sein), to attach more objectivity to this inquest, he takes "other member of chain" for a basis, namely "Being". But in "the special kind". Asking about "being as it is" (and accordingly, and "nihil as it is"), Heidegger involves in reasoning two other major limiting concepts – time and man – as inherent of them to Being, that gives unity to all three of them, as "a disclosive event" ("Er-eignis"). Here "the time is already defined from being". The "disclosive Event" is presence ("pre-essence") of "this being", "this nihil" in man (and in the world) as existing, alongside with it, "right here". Both "have a place here". Nihil takes place in existing but it is not existing. Nihil "opens-hides" similar to being, and it is "hiding being" that is passing to Nihil. The man always "put forward" into Nihil. Only transition to asking, coming from "logic of essential thinking" can soften horror of death.

As about "very later" Heidegger, aspiring "to overcome" (Überwindung-Verwindung) the contradictions of his world perception, he turns to the sphere of substantionaly "spiritual-thing", namely to "language", ontologizing it in one or other form. By omitting many parts of Heidegger's logic constructions, on a problem of "Nihil of Truth of Being" it is possible to say the following. For "new thinking of a disclosive event", that deals with inquest about "Truth of Being" it is not speech that is important so much as "Ear", which could hear the fact, that otherwise imperceptibly in "hiding Being". For asking about Nihil the "silence as silence" is enough. The person aspires to present his "world-making activity" as some kind of "sketch" never completed, he wants to understand the world through speech. But what is most important for "new thinking of a disclosive event" is a basic refusal from excessive fulfillment and comprehension of the world in the "silence of Nihil". At the end of his life Heidegger has not refused from problems of "Nihil of Truth of Being" as a most important one. In the modern world "Residence of the man" (1970) depends not so much on him most and his being, but on Nihil. The man does not know a measure, and "... calculated and estimated in cosmic scales the Earth cannot give measures, and, moreover, carries us away in immeasurable... We still try hasty to pass by a though the secret of "not-" and nihil. We still insufficiently clearly comprehend, what is designated for us in abandonment, because we do not know the abandonment, refusal itself, we do not know poetic in non-poetic "

Finally, the last remark. Similar to Leibniz' understanding of "Nihil of reliability of existing" philosophical concept of Heidegger about "Nihil of truth of being" is internally inconsistent. Heidegger cannot break with asking about "existing and only existing", though he puts in a ground of his philosophy "presence and absence", being and nihil. He aspires "to overcome metaphysical philosophizing", but in turn creates a sort "metaphysical inquests" never finished and "sneaking in poetic". We live in the world of "con-crete" (total specific) self-creativity of subjective and objective "in a whole " "now-and-here" in "a disclosive Event of being-nihil".


In area of "subjective-objective" attempts to influence on the education of the people by means of consciously organized systems in the today's world of "system non-systematizing" "self-development – self-creativity" of "Paideia" reveals its ambiguity. The people of the end of XX century can really live only in the ambivalent world. The "objective-subjective" attempts are constantly undertaken to intentionally-unconsciously affect process of "self-creativity – self-creation" through training of "new scientific-mythological non-confessional religion" and "new non-conceptual thinking of a disclosive Evens of being". This invariable experience irreducibility of today's "total locality" and "sneaking of Being to Nihil". Manipulating by the ideals of Paideia turns to it contradiction. This is a common background.

Now to a problem of "Nihil" in metaphysics of the end of XX century. Actually it is a problem of opportunities of a "understanding of our limit involving in being, reaching the loss of all usual "bases of existence", up to "ungroundness". And in the interesting to us point of view up to "Paideia of Intellectual mood of new thinking of a disclosive Evens". While one talk about complete dependence of human being from "being of other", whether it being of other person, society, circumstances or even from some "world being as a whole", making mysterious basis of the each moment of our existence, but nevertheless determined somehow with the help of something – the thesis does not usually cause any special objection. However, classics of philosophy, as they have to, put a question in the extremes and pointed form: about dependence of human being from "nihil". And the mentality of average person of the end of XX century cannot accept at all, or "accepts" with greatest care and numerous clauses, and as a result the principality of a problem is frequently greased, and the subject-matter of reflection "is substituted" on more "limited". Tradition of metaphysical and ontological thinking (since "what is exit beyond physics"-"meta", the same is representation of "being"-"onto") at present are not broken but only transformed. If address to researches about actuality of metaphysics during last decade of XX century,(6) it appears represented, at least, in three basic forms: based on cognition (explanation), understanding (direct catching) and naming (symbolical designing).The first two kinds are the opposite to each other classical concepts of Leibniz and Heidegger. The third kind is some "mix".

The concept of new age "metaphysics" outgoing from cognition (from presence of knowledge) is the classical Leibniz's concept of rationality. Paideia outgoing from this concept is actually the Paideia of Intellectual Mood of Nihil of Reliability of Existing". The human cognition should start from the "existing and only existing". The problems of "going out of physics", problems of "meta-physics" are just a "emotionally-irrational feelings of non-complete knowledge about the world". Nihil is a infinitely small knowledge about the world and therefore "nothing", "neglectible nihil". Now "only atavisms" have remained. Leibniz frankly emphasized, that the whole our world – it is "hypothetical necessity" and " moral necessity", choosen for us by the God and we should belive only in them and one can only trust in them; the modern representatives of considered concepts of Paideia simply substitute concepts. Sometimes is conscious, and more often unconsciously they substitute the God by a Nature, which of "all the opportunities" chooses not " Nihil", but the best "being", study of which is "business" of the positive sciences. It assumes the negative attitude" to "meta-physicians". Such a "Paideia" always gives the certain basis if not for unlimited than at least for "slight optimism". Something "meta-physical " can be in education of Intellectual mood of reliability of existing and certainly is, but "Metaphysics" is not present.

In opposite the concept of modern "metaphysics" founding their sights on understanding (direct catching of being), on idea of possibility of phenomenological catching of the Whole at once, and only then studying of "caught" in its particulars versions. Paideia based on such concepts is than the Paideia of Intellectual Mood of Nihil of Truth of Being. Metaphysical and ontological problems appear to be most central and the most significant for "Paideia". The difference lays in the degree of acceptance "of an exit out","meta-"," trans-", etc. One emphasize basic opening and incompleteness of existence of the man in the world, accepting thus opportunity and even necessity of statement of a question about "being and nihil", about their equality to some extent, and in some sense even about supremacy of "nihil" on "being". Such Paideia should be guided by the fact that the Nihil in which the man is put forward (that "have place" alongside with Being) is recognized. Nihil is neither being nor existing. However, it "is", "takes place", determining together with being the essence of the man, his fate. Even if it leads to optimism, leads to significantly tragic optimism. In the best case to "dualism of being and nihil". For such Paideia Nihil is represented as "uncertain in more certain". The educational activity is oriented correspondingly. Other representatives of modern "metaphysical Paideia" in the process of education of Intellectual mood emphazes the inevitable fragmentarily of comprehension of the world by the man and fragmentarity of man's place in the world. But simultaneously inevitability and "of an exit to whole" in that or other way is shown. "Nihil" is appears as something "uncertain in certain fragments" of education.

Finally, about the concepts of modern "metaphysical Paideia" based on ideas of "naming" (symbolical designing). They concentrate the attention on opportunities "to leave the boundaries of physics" "not outside" but "inside" the person and symbolically designed by him "from his inside" ("self-being") world of the man. The representatives of such education of Intellectual mood connect "exit", "meta", "trans" first of all with the fact that man have to "give a Name" to everything in the world. And do it as for being of life, instead of as to a formal designation, that transforms a name "into the text". For the defenders of idea of such Paideia, "Nihil" can certainly be understood as a problem about possibility or inevitability of destruction "truly life of the name". Namely, in life of culture, morals, aesthetic and other spheres of symbolical-communicative actions of the people; first of all in true life of language. Such turn in understanding of Paideia of Intellectual mood considerably changes all ideas about education. So the problems put, in an equal degree can be a source of "mix" of optimism and pessimism in the most unexpected combinations.

Thus, the metaphysical in traditional sense problematic, and as a consequence, the ontological one is only not alien to "Paideia of Intellectual mood Nihil of truth of being" at the end of XX century, but still forms its core. All the objections come only from not sufficient understanding of the essentials. Nobody has not yet and will not be able to avoid problems of "Human being put forward in Nihil" The "meta-physical" acts are inherent to the man and occur hourly, every minute. From here eternal riddles for human understanding of the world, and in particular of "Paideia of Nihil" are arisen. "Nihil" is more than "nothing", and "nothing" is more than "Nihil". "Being" is more, than "existing", and "existing" is more, than "being". To what "poetic" heights of separate philosophical questions does not rose some singular "Philosophizing" of the specialists because their "love to wisdom of sages", the "philosophical prose", the "meta-physics" and "ontology" will always remain the ground of their thinking. Especially in a form of thoughts of classics of world philosophy about opposition of "Nihil of reliability of existing" of Leibniz and "Nihil of truth of being" of Heidegger. Up to which "of raised heights of ideas of education" did not rise lovers of "Paideia utopias", one should say the same about them. It is a pity only, that many people, who consider themselves to be the experts in area of "philosophical sciences" and "philosophical Paideia", will never learn that all their life they "spoke by prose".

In education of the person of end of XX century submission of process of "objective" self-development – self-creativity – self-creation of Paideia not to Existing (and Being behind it) but to Nihil (and Being behind it) will always bring in ambiguity. It strongly cools hopes of utopists. This way or other "Paideia of Existing-Being" of the Antiquity, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and New Age is left in past. This way or other the future is for "Paideia of Being – Nihil".

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(1) Jäger W. Paideia. Die Formung des griechischen Menschen. Bd. II, 19542 (19441); Or Jäger W. Paideia.The Ideals of Greek Culture. V. II. Oxf., 1947.

(2) Rawls J. A Theory of Justice - Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,1971

(3) Zhelnov Mark V. The metaphysics of creation of subjective and objective as a whole. //XIX World Congress of philosophie, Moscow, 22-28 August 1993, Book of Abstracts, V. 1., Section N 1; Zhelnov M.V. "Wille zum Willen" von M.Heidegger als Inhalt des "Willens zur Macht" von F.Nietsche heute.// Ibidem, V. 2. Sektion 17; Zhelnov M. V. Paideia of "Nihil of Reliabilty of Existing" and Paideia of "Nihil of Truth of Being" (ideas of G.W. Leibniz and M. Heidegger at the end of XX century). //Twentieth world congress of philosophy. Paideia: Philosophy Educating Humanity Boston, August 10 - 16, 1998. Section "The Metaphysics"; Желнов М.В. Гносеология современного неотомизма - М. Издательство Московского университета, 1971, 359p.; Желнов М.В Предмет философии в истории философии. Предыстория. - М. Издательство Московского университета, 1981, 720 p.

(4) Studio Leibnitiana (Wiesbaden), Leibniz-bibliographie.

(5) Heidegger M. Gesamtausgabe 3 Abt. Unveröffentliche Abhandlungen. B.68, Hegel S. Die Negativität. 2. Erlauterung der Einleitung zu Hegels "Phanomenologie des Geistes". Frankfurt a.M.,Klosterman, 1993; Haidegger M. Überwindung der Metaphysik (1936-1946) // Heidegger M. Vortrage und Aufsätze. Pfullingen: Neske, 1954.; Heidegger M. Vom Wesen der Wahrheit (1930), Freiburg a.M., 1961.; Heidegger ?. Gesamtausgabe.- Frankfurt a.M.,Klosterman, 1991-Abt.2. Vorlesungen, 1919-1944. Bd.49. Die Metaphysik des deutschen Idealigmus.Zur erneuten Auslegung von Schelling. Philos. Unters. über des Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (1809).; Heidegger ?. Jaspers ?. Briefwechsel ,1920-1963. München, 1992,

(6) Ollig Hans-Ludwig. Die Aktualität der Metaphysik. Perspektiven der deutschen Gegenwartsphilosophie. // "Theologie und Philosophie. Vierteljahresschrift". Herder Freiburg-Basel-Wien. 1993 (68 Jahrgang), Heft 1. p. 52 - 81

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