Greek Mystery Cults. Part I: The Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace and the Mysteries of the KabeiroiEugene Afonasin
In this article we first, using the example of Eleusis, briefly examine the question of the origin of ancient mystery practices, and we also touch upon the problem of the evolution of Greek religious beliefs from Archaic times to the Classical period. Often the presence or absence of an extraordinary experience is regarded as a criterion which allows to classify a specific ancient cult as a “mystery” cult. Another criterion, of course, is the closed, initiatory nature of these cults. We discuss this type of cults in the paper, beginning with the historically most ancient ones. The main part of the article is devoted to the detailed study of the Samothracian Mysteries and the sacred rites of Kabeiroi, first of all, in Thebes and on the island of Lemnos. The literary and epigraphic data in the article are considered in the light of archaeological findings. We see that the ancient cult of the Kabeiroi, as well as the ideas about the Great Gods of Samothrace, underwent significant changes over time, first of all, it seems, under the influence of Eleusis. Were the myths of the Samothrace and of the Kabeiroi of a ‘salvific’ nature, and not only in the sense of rescue at sea or from enemies by means of miraculous weapons or foreign magic? Obviously, since about the time of Plato, and perhaps somewhat earlier, the mystery cults, above all the Eleusinian and Orphic ones, are accompanied by certain eschatology and are conceptualized in a philosophical way. This does not mean, of course, that people stop turning to the gods with “ordinary” requests for help and, passing through initiation into the mysteries, necessarily aspire to acquire only a special “mystic” experience or secure for themselves a privileged place in the other world, the picture of which just at this time is significantly transformed. This is briefly the content of the first part of the work, published in this issue of the journal. In the second part of the study we will continue with an account of the “minor mysteries” of antiquity, such as the secret rituals of the Korybantes, the Andanian mysteries in Messenia, and the cult of Artemis in Ephesus, in order to move in the third part to late antique practices such as the mysteries of Isis and Mithras, which we hope will bring us closer to a theoretical synthesis that treats the nature and meaning of the ancient mystery cults.
In “Axial time,” the notion of order begins to be understood in the emerging forms of individual creativity - lyric poetry, philosophy and mystery. If the notions of order, truth and justice before that time were understood only in specific actual contexts, then along with the movement towards individual consciousness the nature of the referent is changing, and these concepts begin to interact independently of the context. As far back as the Indo-European unity, the ideas of order and struggle of the two beginnings (positive and negative), embodied in different forms, appeared. The idea of order is represented by the Vedic ṛta, the Iranian arta, and the Greek dike. It is interesting that certain ideas expressed by a number of words may end up being represented by a set of concepts in which these words sometimes are no longer included. If we turn to Greek, dike begins to correlate with themis, where the first word refers to inter-family and the second to family law. But in the “Axial Age,” themis is limited to the communal level, while dike reaches the cosmic level and turns out to be just world order. And, paradoxically, because of this, it is also placed in each individual soul. This truth is revealed in a state of frenzy to the mystics, to the prayers, and to the poets. The idea of metempsychosis plays a role here. A hitherto unknown state of individual responsibility arises. The article examines the situation according to which the formation of abstract concepts proceeds by the gradual formation of a semantic field, on which the meanings of words begin to be more and more definitely differentiated. The comprehension of the corresponding images and concepts at the individual level leads to the formation of the system of philosophical categories. The connection of the conceptual system and the orientation towards individual justice is determined, in particular, by the development of the mystery cults.
The article deals with the socio-historical conditions of the formation of criticism of religion in the philosophy of sophists. It is shown that there were two directions in the religious criticism of the sophists. The first direction was associated with religious agnosticism. Protagoras defended the idea of the incomprehensibility of the gods. The statements of Gorgias and Xeniades contributed to the strengthening of religious skepticism. The second direction was connected with the development of theories of the origin of religion. Prodicus and his idea of the deification of useful things by ancient people is one of the first attempts at a rational explanation of the origin of religion. Critias’ idea that the gods were invented in order to maintain public order challenged the entire religious consciousness of the Greeks. The theories of Prodicus and Critias contributed to the development of ancient atheism. It is established that the sophists adhered to an ambivalent position on the question of attitude to religion. On the one hand, the sophists did not seek to destroy religious institutions. They recognized the value of religion because they considered it one of the benefits of civilization. According to sophists, religion plays an important role in the life of society. It supports moral norms, laws and order. On the other hand, the views of the sophists posed a great danger to traditional religious beliefs. The views of the sophists contributed to the doubt of the existence of gods and the weakening of religious beliefs. It is established that the Peloponnesian War played an important role in the formation of the religious criticism of the sophists. The destructive nature of the Peloponnesian War led to the decline of moral and religious norms. The plague in Athens, the cases of genocide, the triumph of brute force and lawlessness contributed to the growth of distrust of public institutions and disillusionment with religion. All this created favorable conditions for the development of moral and ethical relativism and religious skepticism in the philosophy of sophists.
Elusive Hermes: The Problem of Identification of Hermes and Thoth and the Mystery Aspect of HermeticismAnastasia Zolotukhina
The article treats the history of the identification of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth, which eventually brought to existence the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, the founder of Hermeticism. The treatment of the complex genesis of this figure is connected with the solution of an important question for understanding the phenomenon of Hermeticism: what significance did Hermeticism grant to the mystery component? The problem stems from the structure of the Hermetic Corpus itself, which consists of philosophical texts of Greek origin and esoteric texts dating back to the Egyptian tradition. The history of Hermeticism is traced in the article as the history of the mutual influence of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Through the figure of Pythagoras I establish a connection between Pythagoreanism, Hermes and Egyptian mysteries. Plato, then, gives an original view of Hermes and Thoth; the next step is a transition to the Hellenistic Egypt, where the two deities were identified. The final step is the first evidence of Hermes Trismegistus and its origin. The article examines the reasons and possibilities for such an identification: the main functions of Hermes and Thoth, which at first glance are identical, present some discrepancies. First, the function of psychopompos: I draw attention to the concept of memory, power upon which is unique to the Greek Hermes; second, the power upon word, logos: while Hermes has the realm of the spoken word, Thoth is associated with the written text and thus magic (magical Egyptian practices are based on the power of the written word). The metamorphosis of Hermes from god to daimon and, finally, to man is also important (on the basis of the evidence of Plato and later hermetic mythology): this provided Hermes with the opportunity to become a central figure and conductor of mystical teachings, like Orpheus.
The practical methods of studying Zen, known as ‘pure zazen’ and the ‘koan method’ of the Buddhist schools of Rinzai and Soto are subjected to comparative analysis. This study focuses on the comprehension of Zen philosophy, and also analyzes the basic attitudes regarding the difference from the old Buddhist schools in Japan: practical activity, self-improvememt and indifference to death come first, as well as new aesthetic norms and ideals. Simplicity, the absence of any authority, the absence of rituals and anti-intellectualism corresponded to the spirit of the era when the once unshakable moral values were collapsing. Comparing the two Buddhist schools, the authors of the article note that the distinguishing feature of Soto, founded in Japan by Dogen, is absolute immersion in the meditative practice of ‘Silent illumination of Zen’ (黙想 mokuso), which outlines the path to enlightenment through sitting meditation. At the same time the emphasis is placed on the fact that this is a complex and not fast process of passing through certain stages in comprehending the teaching. Rinzai Zen in Japan is most associated with learning through koan work, and the origin of this practice dates back to master Linji from the time of the Song dynasty, namely Daie Soko, who collected and arranged all the major koans in a specific order for ease of use. But the very practice of comprehending the teaching is distinguished by its rather harsh and cruel methods, since the teachers considered it necessary to tear the student out of everyday life and the fastest way is to hit or to shout at a person. It was this philosophical practice of Rinzai Zen that was spread in Japan by Eisai.
As a result of the study, the authors came to the conclusion that the masters of the Rinzai school proclaim the importance of ‘sudden enlightenment’, and the masters of the Soto school teach to follow the path of ‘progressive enlightenment’, and thus Soto and Rinzai become Zen schools that use opposite methods to achieve insight.
In this article, an attempt was made to make a preliminary religious analysis of the phenomenon of foolishness from the perspective of the modern methodology of the Dutch researcher J. Waardenburg. It was noted that earlier in the Russian science of religion, this phenomenon practically did not become an independent object of study. The systematic concept of J. Waardenburg assumes a consistent consideration of religious facts from the perspective of four approaches of equal importance: historical, comparative, contextual and hermeneutic. The collection and primary analysis of empirical data is a necessary and preliminary condition for a full-fledged study of the phenomenon of foolishness. Foolishness arises in Byzantine society and is perceived ambiguously by the contemporaries. The article indicates the sources of the phenomenon of foolishness in the Byzantine tradition: ancient cynicism in the person of Diogenes Laertius, healed the demoniacs who spend a lot of time near temples, Old Testament prophets. This work also reflects the historical process of the gradual separation of foolishness as an independent rank of holiness. Its biblical justification is the multiple references on the pages of the Gospel to the madness of the world and the wisdom of the unwise. The fact that the foolishness was known to the culture of the Romans is evidenced by the fact of the spread of the phenomenon of false ugliness, which the official Church tried to fight. The reason for the appearance of foolishness in Byzantium can be called the extinction of spiritual life after its rise in the first centuries of the spread of Christianity. The tradition of honoring extraordinary ascetics, as well as the formation of iconography, was slow. Only at the end of the VIII century the process began to gain momentum, which was connected with the approval at the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the veneration of saints as a necessary element of Christian dogmatics. In the Byzantine Church, six holy fools were canonized. Despite their small number, the hagiographic literature of Christian ascetics of the first centuries often offers examples of episodic foolishness. The article concludes that the genesis of foolishness in the Byzantine tradition required a long time for its development. In Russian culture the phenomenon of foolishness has found its full-fledged development, becoming an integral part of Russian culture. The author assumes, that this phenomenon requires its further empirical study as an objective religious fact.
The article defines the features of understanding critical thinking and the features of its formation. The need for its formation is determined by the requirements of the labor market, the demand for a new type of ‘knowledge’ worker, as well as the criteria and goals of higher education. Successful formation of critical thinking involves specifying its understanding and highlighting its main characteristics.
The main lines of understanding critical thinking are defined: critical thinking in the broad and narrow senses; critical thinking in accordance with ‘frontier’ publications; critical thinking depending on the professional field of study and application. Based on a critical analysis of English-language literature, including review articles, the main approaches to understanding critical thinking are identified and systematized: philosophical, psychological, pedagogical, media. The features of each of the approaches are determined. The philosophical approach is focused on the dominance of the logical component of critical thinking. Within the framework of the philosophical approach, the ideal image of a critical thinker is considered. Accordingly, the specific circumstances of solving the problem, the essence of the problem, and the participants are not taken into account. The psychological approach concentrates on identifying specific operations of critical thinking. It takes into account circumstances, behavior, participants, motives, etc. The pedagogical approach is based on empirical data. It aims to address issues related to the definition of specific methods for teaching critical thinking and ways to check the results. In recent decades, the media approach to understanding and the development of critical thinking has been actively developing. It emphasizes such a component of critical thinking as working with information. It has been determined that the best option for understanding critical thinking is the so-called ‘compromise options’, including the ‘Delphi’ report. It integrates cognitive skills and dispositions. The former includes: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, conclusion, explanation, self-reflection and self-examination. The second: the desire for truth, openness of thinking, analytic, systematic thinking.
The digitalization of higher education is an objectively necessary process caused by the market needs for specialists with digital competencies and state support. Digitalization of higher education opens both new opportunities and creates new risks. Opportunities are associated with greater accessibility and flexibility of education, as well as its integration into the global educational space. The risks are associated with a market orientation to momentary market demands, a decrease in the content and fundamental nature of education, the fragmentation of knowledge and the replacement of full-fledged socialization with simple training of the workforce. Digitalization makes education more accessible, flexible and global. At the same time, education becomes more fragmented, opportunistic, reducing socialization to the formation of a labor force. The digital university, with its focus on individual educational trajectories and distance learning, implies project-thinking and individual work of the student, who builds his own curriculum to a large extent. An urgent task is to find and test a balanced educational model that combines a holistic approach to knowledge acquisition with a modular structure that allows a high degree of student autonomy in choosing courses, directions and specializations. In more concrete terms, this means connecting the hierarchical structure of knowledge acquisition with horizontal specialization - in other words, expanding the opportunities available to students should be accompanied by their integration into a unified concept of higher education. The article proposes the contours of such a model for building a university: expanding the list of courses available to students through distance learning, and not all courses offered may be limited to the current year of study; reconceptualization of the mission of the university; synergetic interaction of various universities for the implementation of joint educational programs. For Russia, where digitalization is proceeding at a fairly high pace, the search for an optimal strategy for the development of digital universities in different regions is a difficult task that requires not only financial injections, but, above all, managerial flexibility at different levels.
The article highlights the main trends and factors of transforming the dominant cultural space at the present stage of information technologies development, accompanied by a permanent crisis in all spheres of public life. The subject of research is considered in the context of object-oriented ontology from the perspective of understanding the phenomenon of information culture, that, implementing to the space of modern culture, stimulates globalization and heterogeneity, forming ‘cyberspace’ territory that determines heteropolar dynamics of cultural transformation vectors: those which are created by a person, and those which are socially dangerous. The authors interpret the problems of transformations and risks of the formation of the information society cultural space as a dilemma of technologies (regulations) and value meanings of creating culture as a reality of human existence. The article notes the position of object-oriented philosophy and speculative realism in the problem field of philosophical thought and in the theoretical understanding of the socio-cultural aspects of contemporary digital space. The paper also focuses on fixation and comprehension of real and sensory objects as simulacra, foundations and origins of simulation in digital and non-digital cultural space and applications of certain social practices. Cultural space in a rapidly developing information technology society is fundamentally changing its axiological, cognitive and regulative coordinates.
In conclusion, we systematize important factors of cultural transformations considered in the paper, and associated with the object-oriented comprehension of new variable possibilities of information and communication technologies in a digital society: interactivity of networks, virtualization of reality, ontologization and objectification of medial constructions of the image of the world, “cyber-performatization” of society, the dominance of digital mass culture, as well as challenges to man, new forms of alienations manifested in the location of the ‘interactive infosphere’ of cultural space.
The article deals with the philosophical problem of the formation of the moral environment of scientific management. The absolutization of the technocratic, bureaucratic approach to scientific management is criticized. The author introduces the concepts of ‘moral environment of scientific management’, ‘inspiratory management’. The moral environment of scientific management is studied on the basis of dialectical, synergetic methods. In the historical and philosophical context, ideas about higher values as the spiritual basis of scientific management are considered. Based on the concept of psychoenergetics by A. A. Bogdanov, the SMD methodology of G. P. Shchedrovitsky, the ideas of existential management by I. Nonaka, enlightened management by A. Maslow, the necessity of purposeful formation of the moral environment of scientific management in the process of communication in the system ‘man - society – organization’ is substantiated. The author notes that inspirational management as inspiration by higher meanings in the process of communication forms the moral environment of scientific management. The moral environment of scientific management is a metasystem that creates the conditions for the progressive development of society on the basis of the moral improvement of man, the development of his capabilities. The moral environment of scientific management orients a scientist towards the pursuit of truth, the labor meaning of life, professional development, civic activity, moral meanings. The author states that it is necessary to form a team of like-minded people, the collective subject of scientific management can be characterized as a learning organization. The development of applied technologies imbued with the pathos of moral feeling is carried out. The moral environment of scientific management contributes to the popularization of scientific knowledge.
The author comes to the conclusion that the basis of the moral environment of scientific management is a social idealized project, which includes rational and irrational elements of philosophy, science, religion, art, ideology. The modern social idealized project is based on the meritocratic project of the knowledge society, the moral ideal of a person - a professional and a citizen. The moral environment of scientific management, which includes symbolic media communications of knowledge, such as truth, the common good, knowledge, creates the basis for successful scientific management. In the absence of a unified moral environment for scientific management, the world community turns into an object of management by illegitimate structures of the global society. The moral environment of scientific management ensures the security of modern society.
The subject of the article is the numerical culture of China, the meaning of numbers in the traditional and modern Chinese culture. When investigating issues related to intercultural philosophy, we should remember about the bearers of a certain traditional philosophy - people who grew up in a specific cultural and historical environment, who absorbed certain cultural, philosophical and worldview attitudes, manifested in everyday household traditions and views. One of the most important elements of Chinese everyday traditions is numbers, which, except for the division into even-odd (yin/yang), each have their own symbolic meaning, reflected in customs, holidays, gifts, interiors, etc. The study of cultural and philosophical roots of these phenomena will allow us to form a wider angle of view on Chinese rationality. Materials related to the traditional understanding of numbers associated with the Lo Shu square were studied, in particular, the numeric expression of ideas about the universe.
Also, we considered some features of Chinese traditional architecture that reflect these representations, superstitions and some details of everyday life associated with numbers, folk holidays and important dates that arose in connection with the ordinary and traditional perception of numbers. An attempt has been made to trace intracultural worldview and linguistic connotations. It is shown that the traditional ‘numerical’ worldview is still manifested in areas related to aspects typical of Chinese culture - everyday life, arrangement of space (including feng shui), traditional medicine, etc. The belief of the Chinese in the magic of numbers is still quite strong. In some cases, the socialization of ancient texts has taken place, and we see how traditions cement the social space. It can be concluded that the modern everyday understanding of numbers among the Chinese, on which modern signs and customs are based, is closely connected with emotional perception, associative thinking, as a special kind of rationality, which can also be described as the rationality of everyday life.
The article is devoted to a specific ‘riddle’ - the authorship of the work published in 1587 in Madrid: “New Philosophy of Human Nature. Neither Known to nor Attained by the Great Ancient Philosophers, Which Will Improve Human Life and Health”. The author of the work - Oliva Sabuco - under this name it became known, and has been repeatedly reprinted. The innovative idea of the work consisted in the statement that a person, having understood his nature, will be able to find out the natural reasons why he lives and dies, or is ill and will be able to avoid an early or painful death and live happily until he reaches a natural, pain-free death from old age. Sabuko’s proposed physiological justification of the dependence of human health on feelings, emotions and passions correlates with the methodological direction of modern medicine focused on psychosomatics. In 1903 archival documents were found and made public, according to which the author is not Oliva Sabuco, but her father, Miguel Sabuco. For more than a hundred years the dispute about the authorship of this work has been going on. The semantic and content analysis of the text and its correlation with the reconstructed cultural and temporal reality allows us to solve the question in a new way not only about its creator, but also provides material for generalizations of a philosophical nature. The return to the historical-philosophical and historical-scientific circulation of the ideas and discoveries of many forgotten thinkers will help in debunking some ‘obvious’, familiar truths and facts that have turned into prejudices of scientific and mass consciousness.
The interview discusses a number of critical issues related to those social and technological transformations that are radically changing the way people think about their place within the state and amongst other people, and that have created the need for such a line of thought and action as bioethics. The discussion begins with the problem of just access to medical care, which turns out to be tied to the position that the individual occupied during the Soviet era, when in fact his physical body belonged to the State, when his subjectivity also belonged to the State, and his values and interests were represented by the doctor. The moral formula for the patient's actions was medical paternalism, represented by the doctrine of medical deontology. The task of the present time is the formation of autonomy of personality, the ability to realize oneself, where subjectivity is formed as a response to the demands imposed by various biomedical and bioethical practices. The core of this subjectivity is encapsulated in the concept of autonomy, and the rule of free and informed consent is its practical implementation. These questions are rooted in the problem of dignity, which, in turn, is deeply connected to the familiar model of the “other,” in which the doctor, when prescribing treatment, prescribes it not to this particular person, but to a generalized person. The task of philosophical criticism is discussed, which consists in diagnosing the zones of the most glaring discrepancy between our knowledge, skills, moral and legal norms, and philosophical understandings of the new reality. This diagnosis influences the formation of philosophical anthropology of B.G. Yudin, which interprets the borders of the human in human being’ consciousness as “zones of phase transitions”. The idea of transition from a dialogue to a conversation is discussed. Unlike dialogue, conversation is originally multipolar, intermittent and nonlinear, and problemocentric. Ultimately, this leads to the question of the meaningfulness of life in general, which, according to Aristotle, is the highest form of human existence.