Academic Science and Religion in Ethical and Pedagogical Context

The academic sciences in contemporary Russia are still prejudiced against religion and Christianity. The new European (Galileo’s) theory of “the Two Truths” (“Two Books”) 1 has never had its analogue on the domestic ground. The root of the problem lies in the cult of natural science rationalism, which is the direct consequence of the official atheistic policy.

Education in the natural science at Russian universities is established form outset as anti-religious, and our grade schools and high schools have imitated this educational paradigm. In such a situation it seems hard to expect any synthesis of scientific and religious educational paradigms, or even a minimally benevolent attitude to religion. At the same time the main problems confronted by modern science, such as the origin of the universe, human life, language and culture; and of religion and human morality, all find their explanation in religion, while this fact is ignored by modern natural science. All explanations which lie outside the frames of strict rationality are not recognized as valid.

Recently the official educational standards for theological education in Russia have been actively discussed and new standards were established as far back as in 1995. But during the past seven years has been no real change in the system of public education, expect that nowadays state universities in several regions of Russia have established theology departments. This is a first attempt to overcome stagnation in the sphere of public education. As it has turned out, it has become clear that the problems of contemporary natural science, the humanities and religion can be discussed together. But it has taken a long time for such discussions to become part of Russian education. It was actually Russia’s private higher schools that provided the driving force which led to change. Long before the official standard was introduced, they had already made the decisive step to overcome the barrier of misunderstanding between science and religion.

1. The Christian discovery of the human being: from metaphysics to pedagogy

The problem of understanding the history of Christianity in the contemporary situation is subject to some contradictory transformations 2. On the one hand the Christian idea remains a pivot around which the search for the meaning of existence takes place in the world, which is spiritually devastated, and which has lost the spiritual co-ordinates of moral being. On the other hand, the obvious conception that humanity in its history has not worked out orientations, which are more strict, definite and anthropocentric than religious values, has not been obvious for the last generations. Contemporary philosophical speculation often tends to attribute religious values to the so-called archaic, “dad’s philosophy”.

The end of the century clarifies and compresses many key points of Christian understanding of the human being. Anthropology “after Auschwitz and the GULAG” 3 has become the inevitable background for the religious search in the second half of the 20th century. This has happened not only because a metaphor became reality, but also because the mythology of the century showed how bloodthirsty it is. The crucial problem is: is the existence of human being in the contemporary world possible if traditional Christian values (in a broader sense — general religious values) are tested in such a terrible way. However, the reacquiring of these values (in moral and pedagogical senses) does not take place.

In history and culture topic of religious experience has always been subject to debates and dissension. There is nothing unusual about this. But when the same topic is discussed within the sphere of the contemporary pedagogical discourse, in which the necessity to return to unegoistic and unproud values has become obvious, the sphere becomes “uncomfortable”. There are a number of reasons for this.

Connections with Christianity as with a living religion were lost and have not been recovered. Christianity is not a bookish wisdom (a kind of philosophical abstraction). This becomes clear particularly when one deals with students, for whom these Scriptural truths, even if they become a revelation, remain a kind of knowledge “in general”.

Contemporary higher education in Russia is traditionally oriented towards “philosophy” (and materialism). This is explained not only by the heritage of the Marxist atheism but also by the fervent overestimation the technical knowledge in the contemporary education 4. In this light, philosophy, however paradoxical it may seem, is an obstacle to the Christian education, as it constantly opposing (openly or not) the religious and “irrational”.

Historical, cultural and philosophical disciplines have been substituted by science with an ambiguous title “culturology”. In practice, culturology can imply different field within the humanities. In this case religious education is left out of the teaching process, as not having the status of “scientific knowledge”. This is explained by such prosaic and technical reasons as the absence of adequately trained teaching staff and the tradition of rational and technocratic thinking in humanities, which is still pervasive in Russia.

When the Christian doctrine of human being is taught, both a lecturer and a student have to deal not only and not as much with the metaphorical status of the sacred, but with the spiritual co-ordinates within which a European experiences his presence in the world in a way which is unhumiliated, full-bodied and implies participation in the values of the spiritual life. The symbolism of “conquest of space and time”, which is characteristic of materialistic optimism, contradicts the purposes of Christian education.

We also have to admit that the anthropological problem in Russia at the turn of the millennium cannot be understood if we ignore the “post-modern” historical and cultural circumstances. This situation puts presents a number of important questions connected both with traditional opposition of cult and culture and with rethinking the concept of philosophical and anthropological knowledge, and also the foundations of teaching classical and “new” metaphysics. Today we can conclude that the problem of the Christian discovery of the human in the pedagogical aspect is one of the most relevant and calls for attention.

Looking at the contemporary cultural scene we need to admit that the autonomous process of the science industry has lost its connection with the expectation rooted deeply in the European tradition that the truth would make man happy and free. Seen from the point of view of the conception of theoria that corresponds to this expectation, the position which science occupies in the contemporary life-world, even in its function of securing the chance to live, is really an unexpected historical development.

“While we know more about the world than we ever did before, this “we” does not by any means mean “I”. The “we” of this statement confronts the “I” only in the form of institutions — of encyclopedias, academies, universities” 5. However, the “we” cannot be considered as the ultimate subject of happiness and freedom; societies and communities are “happy” and “free” only in a secondary or metaphorical sense. The bond between truth and happiness which served for the European tradition as a ground for justifying unrestricted theoretical interest (beginning with the primordial project of the all-embracing theoria in Greece) has been destroyed by the very fact that each particular human person, being the ultimate and authentic subject of happiness and freedom, cannot even hope to attain a substantial amount of general knowledge within the specialized contemporary scientific world. Even those who belong to the “epistemocracy” of this world cannot help being only members of dispersed and often disconnected narrow epistemic guilds.

Science becomes only a particular part of culture. Physical science, for instance, that occupied after Galileo the unchallenged position, as the pinnacle of Truth no longer does so. Environmentalists, governments, religious thinkers, humanists, and others challenge it, not just by historians and sociologists of science, but this “challenge” to science does not claim, of course, that what science says is untrue or, least of all, ineffective, but that it must heed the demands of public accountability like other knowledge sources, for its expenditures, procedures, ethical norms, privileged status as knowledge, and its publicly unexamined cultural agenda.

Modernity or the modern life — world was governed by the implicit assumption that natural science, its methods and criteria, constitutes the supreme model for all-trustworthy human inquiry and knowledge. The term postmodernity or the postmodern life — world describes (among other things) the situation where the position of a universal arbiter of knowledge is vacant 6.

In this postmodern situation, it is impossible to avoid purely ethical problems. If a contemporary scientist rejects the search for truth in extra-scientific components of culture, this is his personal, indispensable right. But if this rejection is accompanied by aggression and intellectual violence or even a representation of general truths to which it fundamentally cannot lay claim, then this scientist, or a scientific community as a whole, encounters an ethical choice. As a result, it is necessary either to place ones ‘self’ over and above the scope of moral judgments (to confess oneself as an amoralist), or to give the extra-scientific opponent the possibility to communicate with you, within an integral cultural space. Unfortunately, the decades of so-called ‘scientific atheism’ in Russia smeared the borderline between the moral and immoral. This is one of the essential features of the tragic history of Russia in the 20th century. In other words, the authority of modern science depends to a considerable degree on the fact and to what degree the attitude of scientists toward religion is thought through and well grounded.

It is obvious natural science itself does not elaborate ethical principles as a part of its subject matter. Science can only establish a kind of external relation with them. One of the main ideas is to analyze the ethical dimension science's interaction with its cultural and social context with the strong of the religious aspect of this interaction. Investigating the contemporary situation in Russia we intend to answer the question whether there are some moral reference points, this could make science and religious consciousness strategic partners in the development of the contemporary world.

This above discussion leads us to the educational part of this idea. In attempting to describe the current situation of Russia, the diagnosis was that the Russian scientific community suffers from a kind of ‘historical amnesia’. That is to say, the ideological bend of political, social and cultural history in 20th century Russia contaminated the fresh drinking water of the always-thirsty scientific mind, water that magically led to a loss of historical memory. In order to ‘heal’ this malady, we need to present an accurate, and as detailed as possible, picture, or rather, a dynamic mosaic, of the historical interaction between science and religion.

2. Religious anthropology in the postmodern situation

It is very important that questions related to religious faith have once again become an object of speculation in contemporary culture. What is meant here is not speculation in the ordinary sense of the word, a way of thinking which we are accustomed to equating with an unconscientious attitude toward someone else's opinion? The speculation of faith exists in the most “natural” intellectual sense, even according to the logic of which the sphere of human existence is measured exclusively by the narratives of a formally scientific approach. In other words, faith is understood as a sort of human quality that it wouldn't be a bad idea to verify by means of the algebra of rational discourse. Tertullian's ”I believe, because it is absurd” is subjected not simply to doubt, but to absolute denial. Our contemporaries often don't even suspect that religious faith exists, in a natural, primordial, moral and spiritual sense, and that even the most perfect intellectual apparatus cannot examine it.

Those works that speak of the decline of Christian civilization have become platitudes. So be it. Let us try to understand these prophets, their authors, since it is likely they have in mind the decline of the technological civilization generated by man. However, what values do they offer instead? Absolutely none. And this intellectual “idleness” passes itself off as a new kind of discourse, negating the decaying past of moralizing mankind. It is, in fact, at this boundary that postmodernism, as a polymorphous interdisciplinary construction, is born, negating, as well, any constructiveness, and discourse itself.

Before we correlate postmodernism and Christian thought in contemporary culture, let us recall some of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is obvious that after the “anthropological revolution” at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a phenomenon recognized by the majority of scholars today, human-oriented philosophical thought already was not able to develop in the old rational direction.

But why was such a revolution possible? At the turn of the centuries, mankind was dealing with the same problems that we encounter today. The crisis of the value system, the destruction of man's moral and spiritual world, the cult of technological power threatened to replace the humanitarian approach, the crisis of the Christian idea… The list goes on. It is most important, however, to admit the following: the present situation, often described using the emblem of postmodernism is not fundamentally new. The acceleration of technological progress and man's moral degeneration are, chronologically and topologically, taking the same course today that they were at the beginning of the 20th century. The only difference is that in the postmodern situation, the temporal interval has grown noticeably shorter and space has suffered even greater destruction. Everything that was introduced into the life of 20th-century man developed at the very beginning of the century, in the period of time the threshold of which coincides with the First World War. The Nietzschean ambiguity tending toward the “death of God” turned out to be prophetic in the direct, worldly sense according to which European civilization lost its spiritual reference points and felt the unbearable “lightness of being”. That “being” in which private and public freedom have no limits. Freedom, as the direct consequence of incorrectly understood postulates of enlightened humanism, played its own destructive role and demonstrated how, under the banner of love for humanity, the most savage crimes can be committed.

In twentieth-century European thought, there have been several interrelated attempts to define the parameters of human existence. First, clarifications have been introduced into classical anthropological subjects connected with the interpretation of “human measurement” of Gnostic and ontological problems (Neo-Kantianism, Neo-Hegelianism, and Phenomenology). Second, the singular “vital impulse ideology” was developed; at whose origin stand the names of Schopenghauer, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Third, under the aegis of psychoanalytical thought—in all the main versions of contemporary psychoanalysis—a whole spectrum of concepts has been developed, the main task of which has been to decipher and to understand the still-hidden meaning of human existence. Fourth, the existentialist-personalist tradition, with its significant forays into the realm of the hermeneutic-phenomenological and then post-structural analysis, has had an enormous significance. Fifth, the latest tendencies in the contemporary natural sciences and modern theology have made it necessary to widen the scope of anthropological problems to cosmic proportions and to clarify the “cosmic destiny” of man—not in the metaphorical sense, but in the fully real, normative sense of the expression. Sixth, under the powerful psychological influence of both classical and “Blankist” Marxism, the socio-economic basis of the anthropological problem has developed, leading to the birth of various schools of social philosophy—from Freudian Marxism to classical structuralism.

In the present situation, research in the genre of “marginal anthropology” has become especially relevant, since the 20th century has revealed the fallacy of certain obvious truths of classical philosophical discourse, in accordance with which strict rationalism and the orderliness of existence are absolute constants, on which all other human manifestations are based. The logic of the everyday, the non-classical, and the corporal sometimes overpowers the logic of the classical anthropological constants. The problems of marginalism, nomadology, crisis philosophy, lost self-identity and post-cultural being are vital in contemporary philosophical thought. In brief, practically all of the basic philosophical trends of the century, one way or another have been plunged into the depths of the “anthropological revolution”, injecting new tints, meanings and moods into the whirlpool of philosophical thought.

Undoubtedly, postmodern constructs have also exerted a substantial influence on Christianity. In the 20th century, the problem of the religious perception of man has become one of the decisive factors in the comprehension of the cultural situation. The view of Christian metaphysics and Christian anthropology, as negative and unable to meet the demands of truth in contemporary philosophy, does not stand up to any criticism and only subverts one of the fundamental anthropological points of reference of philosophical thought. The word “solace”, which unveils its true meaning in the nature of religious revelation, still cannot be replaced by any other word in human culture. Of course, any “cultural-philosophical game” ends in a general epilogue of death. Therefore, the question about the right to play such a game is relevant. As it is known, already by the time of Nietzsche, the thesis about the “death of God” had no apriori character. Nietzsche's struggle with God is determined not by the absolute negation of moral principles, but by the doubts already so characteristic of enlightened humanism: acknowledgment of moral infallibility as the basis of dogma is accompanied by, as a rule, the rejection of the real Church. Nietzsche's ideas always end up in the lair of Kant's antinomies: he has no desire to unmask his opponent in the spirit of Christian doctrine but, on the contrary, in the fully Kantian sense, he wishes him eternal life and wants to preserve him as an adversary, as an indispensable element of culture. In essence, Nietzsche's thought is determined by Christian impulses, although the content has been lost.

The approach to the problem of death from the point of view of postmodernism—the direct heir of the “cheerful science” of the death of God — has a deliberately paradoxical character. Self-depletion, as it is sensitively described in postmodernist writing, is a consequence of the attitude toward death, not simply as a loss, but as depletion, a final waste 7. The “death fashion” at the end of the 20th century is approximately the same as the postmodernist fashion. What is more, we see today an unquestionable ritualization of postmodernist language. On the one hand, postmodernist inquiry no longer hides behind the mask of scandalous pranks and self-irony, but has become completely serious. On the other hand, the metaphor of fashion has dissolved into a mediocrity of language. A dilemma unexpectedly arises: Which is better or more productive, to interpret and retell the classics or postmodernism? Indeed, the linguistic connotations, the exquisite language which forms the semantic field of postmodernist discourse, have become the password of truth. In this respect, the linguistic intentions of postmodernism resemble a hardened ideological lexicon.

The flowering of Russian postmodernism in the middle of the 1980s gave hope for a renewal of philosophical consciousness. The hope, however, has turned to disillusionment. One of the reasons for this, and at the same time a higher tactic of postmodernist inquiry, has been the read and retold ‘text.’ The attitude toward religion, as to something unreceptive to new ideas and textually fossilized, has been exploited with the help of symbols and stereotypes, which have become customary not only in kitschy cultural patterns but also in the tactics of post-Soviet political theater. Postmodernist gesticulation has almost turned into a lucrative business, the decoy of the “new Russians”.

Such a situation could have been able to withstand a degree of scandalous trickery if it had ended with a debasing of the postmodernist manner. But, in practice, there has been a displacement of cultural values without anything whatsoever to take their place. And this has been a fundamental position, which has turned out to be very convenient, since the classical cultural tradition has developed, as it were, out of nothing. Of course, what we are talking about here is not “classical” (if the word can be used here) models of the genre, but models of persistent imitation, which mask pedestrian thinking and the impossibility of seeing lost horizons.

The question of what it means to be beyond the bounds of postmodernism is relevant today. Using the pet phrases of postmodernism itself, we can answer this question as follows: postmodernism has to do with either the squandering of desire or its definitive loss, the depletion of the longing for life and culture. The economy of desire becomes the desire for economy, since there is no actual difference between the two: the boundaries are effaced and dissolve into the formula “desire of economy of desire of economy of desire…” A foolish unfitness of linguistic space results and an irretrievable deconstruction begins. Consequently, the feeling of being beyond the limits of postmodernism is the feeling of the tragic immortality of culture, man, the author. God—of all that space of meaning which the postmodern “as if” is all about.

The well-known Russian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili once said that the symbol of death would arise in culture when something appeared that was independent of culture's own content. In the case of postmodernism, it is apparently impossible to say that its discourse is independent of its content. But postmodernist experiments with death resemble the killing of death. In other words, we have here the classic incomplete formula about the absolute contempt for death, but without the Resurrection. The replacement of death by experiments on it only widens the “pause in culture” — a pause of suspended and definitive debility.

The conversion of culture to the text is the most significant event now happening in the postmodern situation. The ontological given of culture, including the culture of the physical, is replaced by the text and writing (including the so-called “automatic” type). The situation of the death of the author, the writer, the hero — like a forerunner of the death of man—arises out of the thesis that writing is that realm of uncertainty, heterogeneity, and evasiveness in which the boundaries of our subjectivity are lost and any sort of self-identity vanishes, first of all the corporal identity of the writer. The birth of the reader has to be paid for with the death of the author. (R. Bart) Despite the unity and even “dialecticalism” of the manner in which the question is put, the question of the death of the author, dissolving in his own work, we must recall that we are dealing with a definite (namely post-structuralism) vision of the world of the text, in which reality is replaced by mirror-like superficiality. (J.Lacan) Observance of a degree of seriousness and suspension are essential here.

It is possible that the crisis in postmodernist ideas is, in many respects, connected with the fact that contemporary culture inevitably tires of its own triviality. Outside of positive religious experience, it is becoming impossible to reveal either the pseudonyms or the genuine names of reality. The state of affairs, when, together with God, we are the recipients of despair and terror, resembles metaphysical “corporeality” collapsing under the weight of multiplying self-interpretations. The well-known logical situation of performative contradiction in culture arises: that which is assumed by the thesis as premise (the presence of the fact of thought, of God the thinker) is contradicted by the content of that thesis. The attitude toward Christian culture, as toward a variety of “patriarchal philosophy”, something prehistoric (or, in any case, pre-post-modern), becomes superfluous. On the whole, to paraphrase Tatiana Gorichev, the tyranny of private “corporeal” life, the gulf between deed and diversion not only “appeals to heaven” and threatens to bring on a schizophrenic breakdown, but also defines the measure of schizophrenia in the transmitter of the post-structural “literately logical word”. Along with the poeticizing and romanticizing of death (“Even so, I am falling in that, in that only Civil War”) comes the romanticizing and “discoursizing” of the talk about it. Fully abstract and romantic “commissars in dusty helmets” are, for some reason, less suitable than thugs and assassins. The universal civil war, happening in us, is passed off as discourse about death, and Russian painter Petrov-Vodkin's “Death of the Commissar” is consistently replaced by the slogan “death to the commissars”, not in the defense of truth but for just another proclamation of the totality of death and dying, for the pleasure of talking about a supposedly forbidden topic, which has long ago grown tired of itself.

These examples taken from the poetry of the Great Russian writer Bulat Okudjava are not accidental. Today's prevalent pose of negation (or even deliberate silence) with respect to the sixties generation of the 20th century goes along the same lines as the creation of a fundamentally new culture, a culture not having (nor wanting to have) an awareness of its own roots, since it has forgotten the genuine meaning of thinking about death. This tragedy of the cultural existence of post-modernity is becoming more and more obvious as the last representatives of the great sixties generation take their leave from us.

Talk of death today seems intentionally impassive and inconsequential. But then, is this not the basic tenet of postmodernist discourse, when confession turns into a fashionable “pronouncement” of an aestheticizing fellowship. Whether or not you talk about death with such a view, it doesn't change a thing: it does not exist because it exists. A thanatology which turns itself into a special kind of “merry science”, one that Nietzsche himself would welcome, is unlikely to have a future. And in this, undoubtedly, there is a certain bit of optimism. It is possible that immortality, and not the death of God, Man, Culture and the Author will become the reference point in the quest for new horizons in post-postmodernist writing.

The problem of the metaphysical and anthropological comprehension of the essence of Christianity in the postmodern situation is at present undergoing an extremely contradictory transformation. On the one hand, the Christian idea will not cease to be the core, around which will be carried out the search for meaning in a spiritually shattered world, which has lost its only moral compass. On the other hand, the obvious thought that, historically, man has produced no point of reference more rigorous, more definite, more anthropocentric than religious values has ceased to be obvious for whole generations of people. In other words, the essence of contemporary Christian metaphysics will most “squarely” manifest itself on the anthropological horizon.

It is not a question of a cultural-historical outlook, nor even of gradations of a “gentle” (or ironic) attitude toward Christianity. The crux of the matter consists of apriori non-recognition of Christian teachings as an equivalent (at least) prerequisite for moral consciousness. Modern man is not losing touch with the roots of Christian thought. He is, rather, squandering energy of an honest relationship with himself and the world on futile attempts to construct something like a model of a categorical imperative of the 21st century. But does this route hold out the possibility of a new paradigm? And so, this article ends with the same question with which it began the question of the values of human existence.

3. From philosophical to religious education. Is vise versa possible?

In the situation typical for Russia the problem of correlation between philosophy and religion in educational process has its specific meaning. Such is the specificity of humanitarian education in Russia. No other country of the world has ever paid that much attention to the philosophic part of education. And no other country of the world has ever received such contradictory and sometimes even destructive results. The commonness of the fate of philosophic and theological education is one of the signs of this. Actually both of them used to be banned.

In today’s Russia there is a common opinion that theology (as well as religious education as a whole) is incompatible not only with education in natural science, but with secular, official education as a whole. And we do not refer here to the law of separation of the church from the state (actual both in Russia and in the majority of countries). The uniting of general humanitarian and religious educational paradigms is deemed basically impossible. Religious education, as it has been repeated once and again, ruins the whole idea of secular education. The ideological grounds of such opinion are made, as a rule, of disclosures of the plans of world Protestantism and Catholicism regarding their destruction of Orthodoxy, of references to the sufficiency of study of Russian religious philosophy, and also to the experience of Marxism Philosophy. This is a real situation. But would we have real strategy?

Generations of people, who had been for years studying Marxism Philosophy as the only existing kind of philosophy, have forever acquired a strongly negative attitude to philosophy in general. It was understood as the analogue of the Communist Party history course compiled by Josef Stalin. This ruined the most enthusiastic speculation about the morality and essence of life. Such attitude had remained for many decades. It is non-random that 20 years ago some natural-science departments of St.Petersburg State University were rejecting Philosophy as an educational subject as a whole, though it was compulsory for students. Basics coordinates of philosophic education found themselves in Procrustean bed of system ideology. In this case we mean general situation rather than separate samples of creation of some talented philosophers and theologians. With the seeming freedom of philosophic education Philosophy was truly the example of the system’s prohibition of freethinking.

Unfortunately, the beliefs in reorganization of philosophic education have been little but justified for the recent 15 years. Freedom of presentation of philosophic material does not provide for quality reorganization of thinking.

As to theological education, being confined within the frames of educational process in theological seminaries and academies it was, unlike philosophy, under actual prohibition. If a searching mind looked for and found the variants of life philosophy he needed, in the sphere of religious education this scheme did not work. As a rule, scholars and students are skeptic towards Christianity. They see Christianity as a “museum exhibit” of culture rather than a real space for activity.

Religious education has always been a subject of disputes and discussions. And there is nothing unusual in this situation. However if transferred to the sphere of contemporary pedagogic thinking, when the necessity of returning to universal moral values becomes evident, this subject is becoming particularly important.

The latter is connected with a whole complex of objective reasons among which I will underline only three.

  1. The lost and yet not restored connections with Christianity as live religion rather than some abstract wisdom. It is mostly felt at communication with student youth, for whom the truths of the Gospel even if they become a revelation, are still somewhere at the level of culturological knowledge “in general”.
  2. The traditional technical and rational orientation of the contemporary educational process. Philosophy, if understood as strict logical system of knowledge, can act as an obstacle for Christian education, because it constantly — evidently or implicitly — opposes itself to the religious rudiments, i.e. justifies non-spiritual approach to education.
  3. At presenting the bases of Christian education both the teacher and the student have to deal with not so much with the metaphor of the holy things as with those spiritual coordinates within which a European senses his presence in the world as full-fledged. In other words, we are talking about the organization of specific space — time “continuum of communication”, in the frames of which the subject of the holy things becomes the subject of pedagogic discourse.

In the history of mankind the boundary of centuries often marked important cultural and historical milestones. And the matter is not of course the mystique of calendar numbers. The New century and Millennium are again marked with a crisis of the Christian Idea. The tragedies of the twentieth century incarnated the prophecy of Friedrich Nietzsche for the death of God. This prophecy has come to us from the cross of the 19 and 20 centuries. Cultural and historical expectations acquiring the impressive form of changing in the milestones of human self-determination are surprisingly combining the ontological inevitability of the existent with psychological predisposition to changes.

The uncovered gap between the religious and philosophic types of knowledge receives a new qualitative meaning in connection with the rapid development of the science of mankind. In the contemporary Russian reality the “philosopher’s view” has acquired particular meaning, for, despite all the difficulties of the world outlook formation, one of the basic coordinates determining the search at the contemporary culture still remains the orientation to philosophical ideas uncharged of the ideological bondage. Notwithstanding all the changes in the social life of recent time, craving for philosophical knowledge is expressly pronounced in a Russians. Philosophy is still a formal leader of humanitarian education, and this is quite adequate to the hundred’s anniversary of the “anthropological turn” in philosophy. At the same time, the view of Christianity as a “cultural initiative”, not solving the tasks of pedagogy, does not stand up to scientific criticism and just ruins one of the fundamental philosophic coordinates of the contemporary culture.

The problem of religious consciousness is again relevant in the context of contemporary philosophic issues 8. Today it has become one of the decisive factors of comprehension of anthropologic problem, and this is reflected in various trends of theological thought. The outlined new ways of the dialogue between Christian confessions are particularly reasoned by an undoubted prop of what is common in understanding a man’s problem, which brings together the orthodox, catholic and protestant kind of anthropology. And this is one more argument in favor of combining philosophic and religious view in dealing with the problems of contemporary education.

  • [1] See: Ian G. Barbour. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc., 1998. P. 3-19
  • [2] See: B.J. van der Walt. Being Human in a Christian Perspective, 1996 (without place of edition)
  • [3] See: Proceedings of the International Conference “Theology after Auschwitz and Gulag and the Relation to Jews and Judaism in the Orthodox Church in Communist”. St.Petersburg School of Religion and Philosophy, 1997; Proceedings of the Second International Conference “Theology after Auschwitz and its Correlation with Theology after the GULAG: Consequences and Conclusions”. St.Petersburg School of Religion and Philosophy, 1998.
  • [4] See: The Challenger of Marxist and Neo-Marxist Ideologies for Christian Scholarship / ed. by J.C. Vander Stelt. Dordt College Press, Sioux Center, Iowa, 1982; M. Uvarov. Russian Communism as Postmodernism. In: Alienation of Man in the Globalization Perspective. St. Petersburg State University, 2001. P.274-300 (in Russian).
  • [5] H. Blumenberg. The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, tr. R. M. Wallace, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1983. P. 238.
  • [6] Cf., P.A. Heelan. Why a hermeneutical philosophy of natural sciences? Man and World, vol. 30 (1997). P. 271 — 298.
  • [7] See: J. Baudrillard. L’Echange symbolique et mort. Gallimard, 1996.
  • [8] See: B.J. van der Walt. Heartbeat: Taking the pulse of our Christian theological and philosophical heritage. Potchefstroom, 1978.

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