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Bergson’s philosophy

The irrationalism found a place for itself also in such scientific chapters of philosophy as ontology and epistemology. It singles out unavoidable moments of the irrational in them. In particular it concerns the intuitivism of the French philosopher Henry Bergson. Keywords of it are time, duration, vital gust (elan vital), instinct, intellect, intuition. According to Bergson the essence of world is contained in time, however in the usual time natural sciences tell of (time as a set of constantly changing each other moments) but in the time as a pure duration, i. e. directly lived up time. The latter is the natural time compounding the essence of every life. The time of natural sciences is opposite to the duration, it's only a mode of symbolizing the duration accomplished by scientific thinking that is expressed in replace of the time-duration with the enspaced time (i.e. time represented by analogy with space). The relativity theory depicting time as the forth dimension of space is very characteristic in this attitude. The true time or duration isn't to be measured but only to be lived up, it contains substance of the being in itself. The latter (the substance of the being) is the so-called vital gust (or flux). It's united for the whole universe, isolation of individual objects isn't absolute: human subjects, different bodies, matter, consciousness, outer world objects all this is united. The matter is only a set of images, the foundation of which is consciousness (or it would be better to say – super-consciousness aspects of which are particular human consciousnesses). The super-consciousness is an "indivisible continuity", a gust possessing a creative potentiality, a capacity to different relatively stable embodiments. It's some sort of rocket falling down as a matter; the consciousness as itself is also that remains from the rocket; cutting the remnants through it lights up them into organisms ─ wrote Bergson. The consciousness being only a manifestation of super-consciousness uses brain as a shelter or a form of its being. It enters it like a blade goes into a scabbard. Having flowed into the matter the super-consciousness gets divided into two main fluxes: instinct and intellect. Instinct is the direct knowledge of matter, some standard coordination of organism's activity with its environment; it's conditioned by the organism structure itself and requiring therefore no training (instruction). In the purest form instinct manifests itself among insects. A wasp, for example, needs not knowing of what species of caterpillar it should put its eggs in because the wasp and caterpillar a priori suit each other. Another flux or intellect is embodied most completely in human. Intellect's activity is based on disintegration and identification of a new with an old. Duration for intellect becomes mathematically disintegrated and prepared time deprived of continuity and any vitality. Science is the highest embodiment of intellect but its possibilities are limited. Intellect by means of analysis and identification tries to catch up the life as itself as well as development and becoming but can’t do it because it has only ability to prepare non-living and unmovable ─ all living which is the continuous flux slips away from it. E. g. to comprehend what life is it dissects a living organism cognizing how it's organized but the organism gets dead thereby. Intellect encounters the effect of medusa (jelly-fish) who turned all alive into a stone.

Neither instinct nor intellect are able to realize what life is and similar questions. For it intuition is necessary. The intuition according to Bergson is "the instinct having become disinterested and realizing itself". The way from intellect to intuition is impossible in the same way as impossible for a convinced atheist to see traces of the Divine Predestination in nature. Intellect also doesn't see freedom of the creativity process and tries to explain and organize all in compliance with causal laws. But philosophizing means turning into another side. The philosophy according to Bergson is nearer to art than to science. Art and philosophy join together in intuition which is their common ground. "I would say the philosophy is a genre kinds of which are different arts" ─ wrote Bergson. Only intuition (and philosophy based on it) is able to catch up an entity of the vital gust, duration, life etc.

The important part of Bergson's philosophy is also his teaching of evolution. The latter according to it is a process of super-consciousness manifestation in its duration, a process expressing in working out new forms (living as well as non-living). The evolution includes all in itself, the human creative and social life as well. The manifestations of super-consciousness in the latter are moral, its norms, religion and so on. Beyond external forms of them elaborated by intellect the organizing activity of super-consciousness providing the world evolution going can be seen [1, p. 204 – 205].



Control qestions and exercises

1. What are the mystics, the rational and the irrational?

2. Analyze the Kierkegaard's conception about three stages of the person development.

3. Compare Schopenhauer's views with the ones of Buddhism, Advaita-vedanta and A. Bergson.

4. Compare the Nietzsche's views with the ones of Buddhism and Zen­-Buddhism.

5. Analyze a role of instinct, intellect and intuition through the A. Bergson's conception of the vital impulse.



Chapter 8. Ukrainian philosophy


The emergence of philosophy in Ukraine is connected with the adopting of Christianity in 988 A. D. The pre-Christian outlook of the Ukrainian people was heathen and differed a little from the traditional outlook of other Indo-European peoples. There was known the idea of four elements: fire, water, earth and air. The fire was associated with the Sun, it was considered that the Sun should be met being out of bed on feet. It was also considered as a great sin to spit into a fire. The water was given sacrifices (domestic animals and birds, sometimes humans). The earth was considered Mother the Raw Earth who gives life to any living creature and can be a guarantee of keeping an oath. Taking an oath one ate earth. The air was associated with wind, which was the symbol of liberty (“free like a wind”).

The acceptance of Christianity didn’t destroy the pagan beliefs completely but led to merging of the Christian and pagan elements together into an alloy that did become the foundation of the future Ukrainian culture. The Christianity accepted by the Kyiv king Volodimir was the Orthodoxy, its characteristic feature is its more ritualistic and irrational character; the rationalistic reasoning wasn’t in great respect in the Orthodox Church. The greater Wisdom (‘Sophia’) was also treated irrationally with the help of myth of her three daughters Faith, Hope and Love (accordingly the Ukrainian names Vira, Nadiya, Lubov). The latter qualities are quite irrational and grasped not with reason but with heart. Whence the characteristic feature of the traditional Ukrainian outlook and future philosophy comes as cordocentrism (the outlook making the heart its basis). The elements of paganism molded themselves into the so-called antheism (the outlook relied on the natal land[23]).

The ancient Ukrainian state (the Kyiv Russia) had no the proper philosophy but only the pre-philosophy. Among its ‘pre-philosophers’ Illarion of Kyyiv, Kirilo of Turov, Pheodosius of Pechersk, Nestor the Chronicler may be named. So, e.g., Illarion in his “Word of the Law and Grace” pointed out two ages: the epoch of slavery and that of freedom. The first corresponds to the Bible’s Old Testament and knows neither grace nor freedom and is compelled to rest upon the law (of the Old Testament) based on the principle of retaliation ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’. The victim of Christ brought the grace into the world and thereby liberated human of the slavery to the law, abolishing its necessity. Other pre-philosophical works were engaged into the problem of the political unity against the feudal disunity (“Word of Igor’s Campaign”, “The Praying of Danilo the Hermit” etc.) [2, p. 5 – 62].

The proper philosophy in Ukraine appeared only in the epoch of Baroque (16 ─ 17th centuries). Its appearing was connected with the penetration of the European philosophy ideas from the Western Europe through Poland with which Ukraine of that time compounded one common state. The first known Ukrainian philosopher of the European level was Yuri Drogobych (1450─1494) the famous astronomer of his time and a rector of the Bologna University. Other known philosophers of the time were Paulo Rusyn, Stanislav Orihovsky-Roxolan and some others. The latter was the author of the famous in that time “Instructions to Sigismund August the King about the Turkish Threat” where he grounded the idea that a king must be a guard of his country against infidels. The 16 ─ 17th centuries in Ukraine were characterized by a persistent opposition between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. The latter widely used means of rationalistic discourse to prove its ideas against opponents and those who doubted. The Orthodox church usually scorned these means, asserting the priority of correct committing the ritual side of its teaching. In comparison with the Catholic church it inclined more to irrationalism than to the rational modes of convincing. The adherents of the Catholic church in Ukraine tried to set a union, founding the Uniat Church. In order to confront this, the adversaries of this idea were compelled to adopt many means of arguing accepted in the Catholic environment. In order to train the Orthodox church future defenders Constantine of Ostrog the grand duke (1528─1608) founded the Ostrog Academy that became a center of education and science for all the time in Ukraine and Byelorussia. There worked such enlighteners as Herasim Smotritsky, Christopher Philalet, Demian Nalivayko and others. During all the time of its existence this school was the center of struggle against the Catholicism spreading over the Orthodox territories. There were prepared to edition and printed the famous Ostrog Bible (in Slavic) there. Another famous polemist and defender of the Orthodoxy was Ivan Vyshensky an Orthodox monk who lived on Aphonus the mountain, whose voice became a mouthpiece of the Orthodoxy defenders in Ukraine of that time.

Thanks to the Ostrog Academy activity a line of the XVII century thinkers appeared in Ukraine. This is Kirilo Tranquilion-Stavrovetsky, Job Boretsky, Isaiah Kopynsky, Paulo Berynda, Kasian Sakovich, Meletiy Smotritsky etc., who brought the ideas of the European philosophizing into the Ukrainian thinking. Thus, Meletiy Smotritsky compared human society with an organism where the head is the spiritual and laic power, the body ─ the higher estates, the hands and feet ─ the lower ones. Kasian Sakovich brought in the idea of corresponding of different senses to the according elements; the vision to the fire, the smelling to the water, the taste to the ground, the hearing to the air. The soul is the form[24] of the body; it’s divided into the moving, feeling and reasonable components. The latter is from the God and therefore eternal [2, p. 63 – 104].

Probably the most interesting thinker among these philosophers was Kirilo Tranquilion-Stavrovetsky the author of “The Mirror of Theology” and “The Didactic Gospel”. He following Plato and Neoplatonists divided the reality into the visible and invisible worlds. The third is the human and the human is a microcosm. It means that the human by its structure is similar to the Universe as itself, that is a mirror reflection of the Universe and as well as the Universe it contains all the elements the Universe does. That is the different parts of the human body correspond to the according parts of the cosmos. So the upper part of the human body corresponds to the sky, the lower to the earth; the flesh is the ground, blood is the water, breath is the air, warmth is the fire (all the four elements are represented in the body). The upper part the head and the bloodless brain contained there are the embodiment of the invisible God’s shape and image. The lower part is dark, wet and fruitful; it’s also the shelter of various demons. It’s necessary to liberate intellect (that what is taught) and mind (the God’s direct shape and image) from the power of the lower part in order that the demons wouldn’t draw the soul down into the hell [2, p. 105 – 110].

In 1632 another high school the Kyivo-Mohilian Academy was founded in Ukraine. From its walls Innocentiy Gizel, Stephan Yavorsky, Theophan Prokopovich, Gregory Konissky the enlighteners of the 17 ─ 18th centuries Ukraine and Russia went out. The philosophy they developed and taught to their students was the time West European scholastics based mainly on Aristotle’s ideas which thanks to them penetrated in Ukraine and Russia. Newer ideas, however, almost didn’t touch upon their works.

No doubt that the most outstanding Ukrainian philosopher was Grigory Skovoroda (1722─1794). He studied in the Kyivo-Mohilian Academy, was a chorister of the court choir in Saint-Petersburg, taught in Pereyaslav and Kharkiv, worked as a home teacher. Since 1768 and till his death he led the life of a “traveling philosopher”, wrote philosophic dialogues and presented them to his friends.

The philosophy of Skovoroda is grounded on the Bible’s subjects but the biblical parables are only a starting point for Skovoroda. There he represents himself not a commentator but an original thinker. The key moment of his teaching is the idea of the dual nature of any existing that has, according to this idea, two sides: the first is visible, external, shadowy; the second is invisible, internal, light. The external visible nature is nothing, the dust, the perishable. The internal one is eternal, indestructible, divine; it’s a God. Reality consists of three worlds: macrocosm or the outer nature, the Universe, microcosm or the human and the world of symbols or the Bible. Every of these worlds has the external (perishable) and internal (eternal) sides. The external, visible side of the macrocosm is the nature world of perceptible things and events, the material. It is only an “empty visibility”, a “shadow” of the internal side or of the God. The outer world and material are eternal but their eternity is representation of its internal side’s, the God’s eternity. Skovoroda compared the outer and the inner worlds with an apple-tree and its shadow. At that just as it’s easier to grapple the apple-tree than its shadow, it’s easier to realize the external visibility than the inner eternal base of it. But the external, shadowy side is only a shadow of the God, it changes constantly its sight but cannot come apart from its prototype.

The human microcosm is also a unity of outer, corporal and inner, true components. The corporal component is nothing, a shadow of the inner one. The inner one in the human is God. “Because a true human and God are the same” said Skovoroda. The inner human is like a body, the outer like a garment; the outer human is a visibility, the inner one ─ a truth inside of it. Skovoroda calls to self-cognition, the latter is the cognition of God inside of self. Skovoroda put the case of Narcissus who had admired his reflection in the water. The human is a Narcissus as well. If he sees only his outer cover, his perish is within; if he sees the inner human inside, he sees the God inside of himself. The self-cognition is a way to God. The humans who prefer the outer, corporeal are similar to a dog who tried to catch up not only a piece of meat but its reflection in water as well and in result dropped the meat itself into the water. The self-cognition opens to man his true predestination in this world that he’s inclined to. The happiness may be attained only in committing the business the man is predestined and inclined to. If the man is engaged in something another, aspires to glory, honors, wealth, they will never give him a real satisfaction, there will be never peace and happiness in his soul.

The third world is the world of symbols, the concentrated expression of it is the Holy Bible. On the one hand it’s full of absurdities that give cause for mockery and disbelief. But, said Skovoroda, only a fool who sees only the outer, literal side of the described in the Bible mocks at. The Bible is beforehand a set of symbols, i.e. of the inner divine context hidden beyond the external, sometimes absurd and incomprehensible form. The inner meaning opens itself only to the wise who are used to look into the depth and see demonstrations of the inner truth or God beyond any outer representation. Those who can’t do it should better not read the Bible, for nothing but harm may be of this reading.

All the three worlds exist separately from each other in their outer representations but inseparably tied together with their inner side, for the inner side of all the three worlds is the same, God. This inner side should be realized not by the reason but by the heart; the latter, one may assume, means intuition and inner feeling [2, p. 127 – 136].

The philosophy of G. Skovoroda left a non-erasable imprint on all the Ukrainian culture and philosophy and through the philosophy of Yurkevich, another Ukrainian philosopher on the Russian philosophy as well.

Pamphil Yurkevich (1827─1874) is the second by the meaning among the Ukrainian Philosophers. According to him as well as to Skovoroda, reality is represented by three spheres:

n the “noumenal[25] world”, an ideal realm of the “eternal truth” (similar to the ideas’ realm of Plato);

n the real world or the realm of reasonable creatures;

n the phenomenal world of the ghost corporeal existence.

These three worlds interact actively with each other and their interaction compounds the harmony of the integrated being. The interaction doesn’t mean, however, their complete transcendence for each other. So the reason, for example, operates with abstract ideas but cannot penetrate into the sphere of the individual. The latter belongs to the competence of heart but not reason. The reason (the sphere of the noumenal) only brings to light the general in the human life, the heart (the sphere of the real) does compound the base of the human originality. Namely in the heart events and phenomena principally irreducible to the general regularities and laws are born. The reason plans and directs the heart begets. Namely the heart is the source of any motions and aspirations of the soul, joining the soul with eternity [2, p. 365 – 368].

The philosophy of P. Yurkevich made a great influence on such Russian philosophers as V. Solovyov and N. Berdyayev, the most outstanding representatives of the Russian spiritual philosophy.



Control questions and exercises

1. Analyze Skovoroda's conception of three worlds, compare it with the analogical ones of Neoplatonists, Stoisists, Spinoza, Schopenhauer.


Date: 2014-12-21; view: 1174

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