The present article attempts, from the standpoint of philosophical anthropology, a re- construction of Aby Warburg’s last project in which some of his followers were also involved. Legitimacy of such approach is warranted by the results of a close examination of certain works in the history of medicine produced by Warburg’s successors. These writings show the same interest in nding a strict correspondence between micro- and macrocosm as Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, which suggests that the actual centrepiece of the project has to deal with anthropology, though not narrowly understood as, e.g. in Warburg’s early study of the habits of Pueblo Indians, but rather in the widest sense of the term embracing the problem of the subject and its manifestations. To recreate this theoretical framework and the respective problems without transcending the limits War- burg set himself in his last project, the author recurs to the model of the subject of culture grounded in Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms. This latter model, in its turn, in order to match Warburg’s ideas needs a careful revision which is achieved with the help of Cassirer’s doctrine of symbolic concept based on the principle of mathematical function, or relational structure. To understand the problem of unity within Cassirer’s on- tology, one has to follow the reform of logic he undertakes. Only this way can his system be confronted with that implicitly present in Warburg. As a result, it becomes clear that what both systems have in common is that in either case the subject can only be de ned via certain mediating symbolic structures: symbolic form and symbolic image. It ensues that the subject only comes to be as an array of its own projections which, as regards their unity, are functionally conditioned. The main difference between Cassirer’s theory and the doctrine underlying Warburg’s re ections is that for the latter the most important constituent of an image is its affective nature, whereas the former maintains cognition to be the ‘purest’ form of symbolic activity.
This paper explores the theoretical difficulties arising from the treatment of the problem of the visibility of the subject by the philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The author attempts an interpretation of the glance of the other, described by Sartre in his Being and Nothingness, as a specific form of this kind of visibility, in order to demonstrate the ‘destructive’ potential of such description for Sartre’s own dualistic ontology. The analysis of the passages from Being and Nothingness where an encounter with the glance of the other is depicted brings into question at least two of the key oppositions in Sartre’s early works, imagination vs. perception and consciousness vs. object. As a result, the visibility of the subject, although given quite a persuasive account in Being and Nothingness, actually remains non-theorised (and, very likely, non-theorisable within the limits allowed by a dualist ontology). It would seem that it is Merleau-Ponty who should be able to solve the problem of theoretical justification of non-contradictory foundations of the visibility of the subject, since he is mainly interested in finding the common ground for various oppositions without nullifying the oppositions themselves. Merleau-Ponty’s critique of the opposition between imagination and perception in Sartre, however, being centered as it is on the notion of ‘ esh’ and, eventually, on the reversibility internal to vision, meets with dificulties once it is required to provide a solution to the second dichotomy, the one between consciousness and the object. Even though in Merleau-Ponty’s late work The Visible and the Invisible the visibility of the subject ceases to be problematic, his criticism of Sartre’s notion of ‘pre-reflexive consciousness’ still leads to his very definition of the position of the ‘subject’ (which already in early Sartre was equalized in status with the object) being ambiguous.
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 lm released in 2004. The present essay assesses the impact of this lm, 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 lm, 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 lm 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.
The main focus of the article is the double-meaning of the term “philosophy of history”. In the first sense it is understood as a formation of historiosophical explanatory schemes of historical processes, in the second one, it is understood as a philosophical and methodological analysis of historical knowledge and research processes of the historical science. The inability to separate of the two meanings leads to a misunderstanding and a strained relationship between historical studies and the philosophy of history. However, their sharp opposition does not result in any positive outcome. Historiosophy and analysis of historical knowledge serve as platforms for mutual critique. This critique is a necessary condition for finding a solution to one of the most important problems of the philosophy of history: the problem of participation in the formation of a historical consciousness of the contemporary culture.
This is a transcript of another installment of the Rejoinders in a dialogue series held in Dostoyevsky Library in Moscow, this time dedicated to discussing Vladimir Kantor’s recent book, The Collapsed Tree of Life, The Fate of Nikolai Chernyshevsky, in which for the first time an attempt is made to demythologize the life and ideas of one of Russia’s greatest thinkers and perhaps the most tragic figure of Russian culture. Russian authorities granted him 20 years of Siberian exile, far away not only from books and literary life but from any educated society. It was only through the workings of myth that reformer and gradualist, speculative thinker and archpriest’s son who reintroduced to Russia Christian values in the guise of contemporary positivism and brought to life, in the words of Mikhail Bakhtin, the ideological novel, – that such a man was made a revolutionary. His idea of rational egoism was mistaken for malicious utilitarianism, being nothing else than a paraphrase of Christ’s maxim: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. It is a striking story of a man who never degraded himself by asking for mercy, the story of a Russian Socrates, someone who possessed an unusually strong sense of human dignity, unscrupulously misrepresented by the authorities as a seditious character, contributing to the rise of the forces against which Chernyshevsky spoke. Radical activists took the place of a moral reformer. “In one truly remarkable biography we came to the Tree of Life,” wrote Vasily Rozanov, “but they took it and cut it down”. The author’s aim is to give the Russian thought back its essential and pan-European voice. It is men of the same caliber as Chernyshevsky who highlight the true scale of Russia.
The article is focused on the problem of drawing and re-drawing the boundaries of the aesthetic, which has become extremely actual in the last decades because of expansion of the topical and discursive field of aesthetics. According to one of the main theses of the article this expansion of “aesthetics beyond aesthetics” (Wolfgang Welsch) is embedded in the very logics of development of the initial project of aesthetic theory as well as aesthetic field itself.
This article examines a historical case brought to general attention by English theoretical physicist and historian of science Julian Barbour. The events took place at the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein, on his first steps towards the theory of General relativity, formulated what later was to become the famous Mach’s Principle, in the earnest conviction that he was giving expression to Ernst Mach’s ideas on the ‘relativity of inertia’. The irony is that whatever coincidence of opinion there may be between Einstein and Mach on this issue, it exists on the level of terminological expression alone; in other words, either of them, while speaking of ‘inertia’, had a different physical phenomenon in mind. One of the factors to provoke confusion was the semantic ambiguity of the notion of inertia in the language of science both at the time and even to this date. The implicit terminological contradiction between Einstein and Mach may seem superficial and accidental, though in fact, as this analysis shows, it is a manifestation of circumstances which had come into being much earlier but hitherto remained unnoticed. Such a delayed and unexpected event one may call a ‘late collision’, to borrow a term from network science. To address the problem of the possible origins of the semantic ambiguity of the notion ‘inertia’, the present author reassesses the history of its appearance in the work of Johannes Kepler, then gives a detailed account of the terms chosen by Isaac Newton for the definition of inertia and for the verbal expression of his first law of motion, after which he follows the same procedure for Descartes’s first law of nature. New insights, in particular, are offered on the possible meaning of the introductory words (“quantum in se est”) of Newton’s Principia, traditionally known as representing a serious difficulty for translators. Such investigations lead to the conclusion that the semantic ambiguity of the notion of inertia is very likely explained by the role it plays in Newton’s reduction of Descartes’s symbolic forms, which served to grasp knowledge as an event, to an operational language of knowledge.
The phenomenon of innovative complexity is under consideration in this article. The methodology for consideration is based on the modern theory of complex adaptive systems as well as on the conception of enactive cognition (enactivism) in cognitive science and in non-classical epistemology. From this methodological point of view, one can assert that properties of complex system and of a medium, in which it is built in and in which it functions, mutually determine each other. Complexity, emergence, activity, innovational potential of system and of its medium are reciprocal properties, which appear in their interaction. The system is determined by the medium and creates its own medium which, in its turn, influences backwards upon the system and constructs it. It is impossible to innovate a system, if one does not change its environment, and vice versa. In the language of interdisciplinary field of cognitive science, this phenomenon of their reciprocal coupling can be called the phenomenon of enactivism, of an active building of a system into its medium.
In the present article, Andrei Paramonov brings under a close examination the fragment of Francis Bacon's 1623 book De Augmentis Scientiarum (On the Advancement of Learning) where the philosopher explains his invention of the method of hiding a secret message by means of two specially devised cipher alphabets. It is argued that along with the principle of imperceptibility of the hidden message present in writing, a good illustration of which gives his famous method of biliteral cipher (an analysis of which one finds in Ivan Efishov's paper published in this volume), Bacon also adopts the opposite strategy where the very apparency of the hidden is the instrument of concealment. It is the latter principle that underlies the method of hiding the secret message by using the two alphabets. Unfortunately, the existing Russian translation of the chapter expounding this method, which is contained in two-volume academic edition of Bacon's works published in 1977, is so imprecise that no adequate understanding of Bacon's invention can be derived from it. Dr. Paramonov discusses the existing text and suggests a corrected translation of the relevant passages.
This paper examines the arguments put forward by Donald Davidson in defense of first person authority, the very possibility of which is being questioned different variants of modern anti-individualism. In particular, radical versions of externalism in the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and epistemology either ignore the problem of justifying direct knowledge of our mental states and the meanings of our words, or give unsatisfactory explanations for this phenomenon. In relation to such kind of knowledge, Davidson proposes a moderate version of externalism. In his famous article on that question he argues that one can reconcile the externalist approach to knowledge and meaning with the idea of irreducibility of mental states and first-person perspective to the vocabulary of natural sciences. The main point of his method is to consider causal factors that determine the meanings of words and mental states primarily from the perspective of а publicly accessible intersubjective world. In this case, not only anonymous determinants of social and perceptual orders are taken into account, but also the individual's own activity and his / her relationships with the immediate environment. As a result, such moderate externalist approach to first-person authority can be shown to be reconcilable with the idea of non-reducibility of mental states and our direct knowledge of these states to the vocabulary of natural sciences. This notwithstanding, for many philosophers the advantages of Davidson's position still remain unobvious, to the extent that some of his arguments have never been properly assessed or even have been declared unpertaining to the problem they profess to solve. The aim of the present author is, therefore, to clarify and explain Davidson's reasoning, making due account of the difference between proximal and distal causes of our beliefs, and to consider the problem of our immediate knowledge about ourselves from the perspective of distal theory of reference.
Lecture notes of the courses Merleau-Ponty delivered throughout 1950s at Sorbonne and Collège de France give evidence of the rst steps he was taking towards developing, in a polemic with Sartre, his own approach to the problem of imagination. These texts are brought under scrutiny in the present paper, with a special emphasis on the role of the experience of the Other which, in Merleau-Ponty’s analysis, undermines Sartre’s opposition between perception and imagination. The author seeks to demonstrate both the efficiency and the inconsistency of Merleau-Ponty’s early endeavours to criticize Sartre’s theory of the imaginary, tracing down the development of his own approach to imagination starting from the privileged position given to the experience of the Other (which in itself is quite uncharacteristic of Merleau-Ponty’s view of the problem of the Other) as dissolving the boundaries between perception and imagination, and up to the moment when, as a result of his study of Freud, he comes to deny the experience of the Other any privileged status in favour of subordinating its allegedly specific nature to the general principle of perception. The conclusions reached in the course of this inquiry allow to suggest a significant parallel between the privileged place of the Other in Merleau-Ponty’s early critique of Sartre’s doctrine and the motive of the ‘gaze of things’ in his later theory of image.
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 contempo - rary 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.
The present paper offers a survey of some contemporary media theories, undertaken from the standpoint of ‘technical a priori’. In most studies, their authors pay little attention to the conditions of mediality as such and, as a result, examine only one part of media capabilities (and by no means exhaust their potential ‘contents’), while in fact it may be worth analyzing such capabilities not only from the viewpoint of the user, but, in the words of Gilbert Simondon, from the side of ‘technical objects’ as well. While even in the recent years there have been scholars who still professed to continue the tradition originating in the work of Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, this article seeks to demonstrate that what McLuhan understood as media, today would normally be called genres with their capacity of being variably projected onto any ‘platform’. Futility of the attempts to achieve further theoretical development of McLuhan’s theses is well illustrated by the theory of remediation of Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin. One can propose to consider the materialist theory of Vilém Flusser as an alternative. Certain trends in media archaeology (Erkki Huhtamo, Wolfgang Ernst), despite their advertised potential, display a distinct similarity with earlier theories and in fact never cease to regard media as an entity that exists. To demonstrate the advantages of a materialist approach, it will be appropriate to bring into focus Jussi Parikka’s geology of media and Siegfried Zielinski’s variantology, supplemented by the examples of interaction with ‘technical objects’ which implement additional contents.