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Culture. Dialogue of Cultures (A Definition Endeavor)

Источник: bibler.ru

Recently I happened to take part in the Soviet-French publication “Encyclopedia for two voices“ ('Progress'*, where parallel articles for each entry were planned to be written by Soviet and French authors. Mine were the entries “culture” and “dialogue of cultures”, which I - in compliance with my conception - merged. The attempt was a travail. Yet I have thought then the shortcomings of such a trial (inevitably rigid formulations, nearly complete throwing out of argumentation, involuntary relaxedness of the moments of doubt and cogitation) can be atoned for, to some extent, by new interesting possibilities (ability to have an integral detached look at my own understanding, the need to concentrate some visible image of culture, conscious playing between the image and the notion).

Therefore now, having somewhat developed the text and “relieved” the hardest joints of initial definitions, I propose the outcomes of my endeavor to the readers’ attention.

There exists the circle (totality) of phenomena, which corresponds to the concept of culture in the mass consciousness and in the academic consciousness as well. This is a kind of unity of works of art, philosophy, theory, moral deeds, and, in a sense, phenomena of religion. But in the 20th century we can observe an odd shift both in the real being and in the comprehension of this circle of phenomena. Moreover - the transformation.

Let me name some signs of such a shift that bother our minds.

1. In the 20th century, there happened a strange disconnection between the notion of culture (as unity) and those concepts or “intuitions”, which for a long time have matched the definitions of culture or “culturality”, listed with commas and construed as next to synonyms. A gap emerged between phenomena of culture and phenomena of education, enlightenment, civilization.

Our minds somehow began to feel need to discern this difference, insist on it, comprehend it. The notions of “educated man” or “enlightened man” keep getting more and more different from each other and moreover, from the notion of “cultural man”. Things go too different in the processes of education and in the processes of (we cannot say “acculturation”, but namely) culture.

2. Some phenomena of human communication “around” the works of culture, some proper intracultural forms of activity and thinking began to extend and deepen amazingly, occupying some new, central “places” and “connections” in the spiritual and social life, initially assigned to other phenomena. What we usually understood as “culture”, does not fit anymore in the sphere of so called “superstructure”, eludes its marginality and shifts to the very epicentre of the contemporary human existence. Of course, this shift enters our consciousness to different extent, with greater or lesser intensity, but if we give it a thought, this process is the same in all segments of the modern society: in Europe, in Asia, in America, and Africa. This unstoppable drive of the culture towards the epicentre of our life and, at the same time, that persistent, wild or civilized resistance to such odd “claims” of the culture - they bother our consciousness, both everyday and scholastic, maybe not less than upcoming nuclear or environmental world-wide blow-up.

3. In the 20th century, the typologically different “cultures” (i.e., integral crystals comprised of works of arts, religions, morals …) are getting involved in a united temporal and spiritual “space”, connecting with each other in an odd and painful way, in almost Bohr-style “complementing”, i.e. both precluding and presupposing each other. The cultures of Europe, Asia, and America are “crowding” one and the same consciousness, unable to be ranged “in the line of ascent” (higher – lower, better – worse). Concurrence of different cultures strikes both sight and mind, being the real phenomenon of the everyday life of a modern human. At the same time historical, ethnographic, archeological, artistic, and semiotic forms of understanding and definition of “what is culture” somehow strangely merge nowadays. However this means that in this respect too the understanding of culture as the focus of human spiritual activity, and as a plane section of human integral – probably, primarily material, substantial – activity merge in one and the same logical “place”.

The text continues In Russian (below) for it wasn't translated for lack of funds.

Не буду сейчас продолжать перечисление иных смещений и сдвигов в нашем осознании феномена культуры, в нашем реальном “бытии в культуре”. Сейчас существенно другое: в том понимании культуры, которое будет далее развито, определяющим является не набор неких “признаков”, но как раз тот сдвиг в действительном бытии и осознании культуры, что обнаруживает глубинные магматические процессы, клубящиеся в ее недрах. И это — тот самый сдвиг и то превращение, что предельно существенны в канун XXI века и поэтому позволяют наиболее глубоко проникнуть в действительный смысл и внутреннее борение различных “перестроек” и “трансформаций” нашего времени (независимо от прямых намерений их авторов).

Далее будет намечена не формальная дефиниция культуры, но ее “реальное определение” (в понимании Гегеля или Маркса). Напомню, что, по Гегелю, “реальное определение” — это процесс, в котором само явление определяет, определивает, преобразует самого себя. Предполагаю только, в отличие от Гегеля, что такое реальное определение есть преимущественно особая форма “causa sui” именно нашей человеческой разумной жизни.

Так вот, думается, что те феномены радикальных смещений и сдвигов в культуре XX века, которые я наметил выше, позволяют сегодня развить реально, исторически и логически осмысленное, всеобщее определение культуры.

Предметные области: Культура, Диалог культур