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Regular version of the site

Subject and Culture: The Foundations of Interdisciplinary Research on the Problem

Priority areas of development: law, humanitarian
Department: Laboratory for Philosophical Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

This project is being executed by the Philosophy Research Laboratory, Centre of Fundamental Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 2012.

  • A “multidimensional” (synthetic) model was proposed for interdisciplinary research on the self-identity of the subject. This model was determined to be "self-sustaining" through the addition of extra disciplinary “dimensions” and through the identification of conceptual connections between them. 
  • An historical and philosophical analysis was conducted on the model’s different exemplifications in which specific approaches to the processes of forming and developing the “subject”/“culture” relationship are presented (based on the cultural, philosophical, and epistemological studies of H. V. F. Hegel, A. Bergson, E. Husserl, E. Levinas, H. G. Gadamer, and M. Heidegger);  
  • Special features of the interdisciplinary study of “prevailing” topics in historiography were identified (biography and autobiography qua objects of multilateral comparison, psychological and culturological aspects of historical reconstructions, the perception of such reconstructions as a complex of psychological processes, in which appear “images”, “narratives”, and stereotypes of historical events, phenomena, and characters); the way was shown to “merge” historical and culturological descriptions, created according to models that are fixed by a philosophical conception of history; 
  • The role was defined concerning the concept of “author” in the representation of the connection between the subjective and cultural value characteristics of historical epochs; it was shown that “authorship” demonstrates the semantic complementarity of “subject” and “culture” as philosophical categories, their unity in diversity. In spite of post-modernist declarations of its “eradication” by the present, this concept is not an archaism. On the contrary, it is one of the starting points for constructing an interdisciplinary culturology;  
  • The well-known position of G. Shpet—that the word is a major principle of human knowledge—was justified. The word carries within its internal (virtual, ideal, transformed) form different images, actions, affects, substantive values and meanings. The word takes on this role in an “atmosphere of culture”, which helps the word acquire its “external” (linguistic) form. The correlation between “internal” and “external” forms is actualized in the form of social behavior, the action of a subject. This exposes new horizons for interdisciplinarity (philosophy, cultural and historical psychology, personality psychology, etc) in the study of such actualization;  
  • It was shown that the decisive condition for subject self-identity is the subject’s attitude towards himself/herself as an object, ie the presence of a pre-conscious basis for self-identity. This basis comes from a “sketch” made by the subject, which replaces the subject itself as an object of self-knowledge. The subject of the experience’s self-identity, which supposes that the subject can distinguish himself/herself from other subjects, is made possible by the unique relation of the subject to that “sketch”—the one that determines the possibility of this consciousness. A hypothesis on the cultural conditionality of the “sketch” was proposed;
  • In the specific example of the “philosophy of psychiatry”, possibilities for interdisciplinarity in research on psychological and psychiatric phenomena were shown. Philosophy’s participation in such research raises questions about the structure of an interdisciplinary approach. Philosophy offers new methods to the science of psychic phenomena, but it also raises the problem of rethinking, critiquing, and assessing these phenomena. One of the principal innovations, which philosophy brings into the interdisciplinary sphere of “philosophy of psychiatry”, is raising the problems of senses and values, which are common to studies into the sphere of human being, and problems concerning the boundaries of reason, interpretation, and distinction between these two disciplines. The role of philosophy as a member of the interaction between these two spheres is dual—on the one hand, philosophy proposes a methodology for following investigations, while, on the other hand, philosophy comprehends problems that appear during interdisciplinary interaction; 
  • A new interpretation was suggested on the applicability of the principle of causa sui to studies of the “‘I’ problem”. This interpretation proceeds from an assumption about the ontological status of the “feeling of the self-causality of ‘I’”. I am a synesthesia of all things as a special thing, which consists of myself (self-identity), in self, reveals self (personification in self), and serves self (self-value). Four successive forms were identified: the “I” of a human “generally”, originality, personality, and the “human in man”. Each of these forms is a causa sui (“small circle”), and together they form a causa sui (“large circle”). These statements were tested in psychological investigations carried out by V. A. Petrovskyi, who planned new experiments on the self-causality of “I”: the phenomenon of the indivisibility of “I” in reflection (identity with yourself), the phenomenon of spontaneous self-reflection, the phenomenon of dual presence, and the phenomenon of active non-adaptability; 
  • It was proved that indoctrination takes place during the process of individual and collective identities being formed and transformed. Indoctrination is an irrational persuasion, the condition of it is truth and the result is belief; a question was analyzed concerning the boundaries of indoctrination in a democratic system of education, which focuses on knowledge, criticality, and reflexivity, rather than on truth and belief. An answer was proposed for the “paradox of indoctrination” which consists of the fact that a non-rational procedure of a specific indoctrination is recognized as a condition for a formation that is rational, and, therefore, critical with respect to any indoctrination of the subject. This paradox can be resolved by converting to interactive and dynamic models of rationality (using an interdisciplinary instrument of logical pragmatics, game theory, and dynamic epistemic logic for modeling algorithms and rituals that constitute a “collective rationality”). It was shown that due to the incompleteness of any rule, it is not institutions—the rules of the game are known to all—that perform a coordinating function in the social software but their inter-subjective interpretations carried out by the participants in the game according to mutual expectations: indoctrination (agreement with the game’s rules), thus, turns out not to be a paradoxically non-rational premised condition of rationality but the dynamic component of a rational protocol of distributive social algorithms based on “common knowledge” (a term coined in 1976 by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, R. Aumann); 
  • It was ascertained that four positions are logically possible in the solution to the question about the correlation between free will and determinism: strong determinism (the world is determined; free will does not exist), strong indeterminism (the world is not determined; free will does exist), libertarianism (the world is undetermined; free will does exist), compatibilism (the world is determined; free will does exist); compatibilism is an intermediate metaphysical position between two extremes of eliminative materialism (which denies the concepts of "subject", "free will" as an unscientific pseudoconcept) and ontological dualism (which considers free will beyond the bounds of the causality of the physical). A number of moral intuitions about the structure of the subject, which were formulated in the language of dualistic ontologies, can be formulated in the categories of compatibilistic ontology, because free will is connected more with the complexity of a subject’s organization than the question about physical determinism. We can identify free will as a negative characteristic of second-order intentional system (personality). In such a negative approach, free will is not connected with determinism or physical indeterminism (which does not contradict the principle of ontological reducibility and an intentional standpoint). This lets us preserve important moral intuitions by reformulating them in coherent ontological terms.


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