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Summary


17 2013

ISSUE NO. 1 (52). 2013 - CRISIS OF RATIONALITY

EDITORIAL NOTE

Initially this issue, Crisis of Rationality, was supposed to exclusively feature religion, which is why religion occupies a substantial place in it. the demand for the supernatural does not dwindle, yet the oncoming process of rationalization of our world also keeps growing quite actively. Science is developing rapidly, even though there are quite a few who are parasitizing it: some are brainwashing those who are eager to lose weight, others are charging water, and still others are even trying to figure out how to green up the Moon. this issue of OZ is an attempt to answer the question about the place religion and science occupy in the present-day world, what the correlation is between the rational and the irrational in it and whether the one will prevail over the other or mankind is in for a never-ending struggle, both in Russia and all over the world.

 

diagnostics

Vitaly Kurennoi. The Irrational Side of the Rational

In the first part of the article, the present-day situation in Russia is examined in terms of a number of major criteria of modernization. The conclusion is drawn that the country is, on the whole, a society being modernized. The second part of the article focuses on main forms of anti-modernization reactions in modern society, with emphasis on their specifically Russian features. The main point substantiated in the article is that the modern and modernization do not boil down to rationalization but include a multitude of compensatory reactions to rationality understood in the sense of the classical ideals of the Enlightenment.

 

Boris Zhukov. Clouds of Creationism

The popularity of creationist views in modern society, including among intellectuals, cannot be explained by ignorance alone. Careful examination shows that ignorance only facilitates the spread of creationism. Mass creationism as a socio-cultural phenomenon is generated by a whole number of anthropological and cultural factors whose impact cannot be neutralized by the spread and popularization of scientific knowledge alone.

Dmitry Bayuk. The Scientific Counterrevolution of Our Days

The 17th-century scientific revolution can be regarded as a revolution in two senses — in a cognitive and social sense. In the former case, it was accompanied by transformation of the methodological arsenal of scientists studying nature and, as a consequence, a change in their view of nature itself. In the latter, it led to recognizing the methods of studying nature to be applicable for establishing the truth in social matters, and conclusions based on new scientific theories were taken into account in shaping the world views of people from the most diverse walks in life. These two aspects are interrelated and, in the course of subsequent evolution of science its conclusions and methods began to be largely ignored. There is its own inner logic in the situation that has evolved, where society accepts the fruits of development of science but ignores science itself.

 

Alexander Rubtsov. The Rise and Fall of the Crisis of Rationality

The crisis of rationality is a relative concept. The balance between the rational and the irrational depends on the type of personality or a whole culture and is changeable over the time of life and history. The postmodern situation affects the attitude towards ratio, including in current politics. However, the irrationality of the political in today's Russia goes beyond the limits, which makes the legitimacy of authority ever more doubtful, blocking the ways of its reproduction.

 

Konstantin Bannikov. An Archaic Syndrome

 Within the lifetime of a single generation of citizens of the Russian Federation, the country's society underwent a radical reorientation from "militant atheists" to "militant Orthodox Christians." In the early 1990s, right after the collapse of the USSR and the fiasco of the Soviet communist ideology, the empirically observed facts of archaization of public consciousness triggered a scientific discussion among Russian anthropologists regarding the phenomenon of "archaic syndrome." Today, 20 years later, the subject still appears to be relevant.

 

Charles Mathews. The Evolution of Religion

 In his review of the books on the history of religion by Nicholas Wade and Robert Bellah, Charles Mathews treats them, respectively, as a negative and positive example of an evolutionist approach to the emergence and development of religion. Whereas Wade regards religion as an un-historical theoretical phenomenon, Robert Bellah gives a spectacularly convincing survey of religious history from the Big Bang up to the end of the Axial age, paying due tribute to each and every detail of religious beliefs and practices throughout space and time. Hence, at the end of the review its author expresses hope that future contributions to the evolutionist theory of religion would follow Bellah's steps in developing his project of describing various stages of religious development.

 

Robert Bellah. The Gene of Faith

In his interview given to Hans Joas, one of the most prominent contemporary American sociologists and historians of religion, Robert Bellah, comments upon his recent book on Religion in Human Evolution and, moreover, on the role of religion in the modern world. He claims religion to be rather a practice than a pure belief, criticizes direct and mechanistic explanations of it from a biological point of view, and shows deep parallels and interconnections existing between different religious traditions of the world from the time of their birth. He ends with an example taken from modern China where Confucianism tends to become a new civic religion unifying society.

 

ZIGZAGS OF PROGRESS

A discussion on Faith in Religion and Science was held at the editorial office of the journal Otechestvennye Zapiski on November 28, 2012. Scholars Dmitry Bayuk, Simon Kordonsky and Alexei Muraviev are exchanging their views about the patterns of post-secularity, the place of science in the modern world, religiosity, and the crisis of meanings.

 

Mikhail Gelfand, Boris Zhukov. With Fear and Reproach

Biologist Mikhail Gelfand and journalist Boris Zhukov are discussing people's attitudes towards scientific knowledge and unscientific speculations clothing themselves in its mantle.

 

Dmitry Isayev. Demonized Homosexuality

In today's Russia, homosexuals, lesbians and transgender people have been selected for the role of ideal enemies—scapegoats who can be accused of the most varied sins and crimes. Actual normalization of homosexuality in the country is only possible on condition of society's mandatory recognition of and respect for the right of every person to individuality and "otherness." Both old and new myths about homosexuals, which are being spread in society, can only be dispelled by creating a competitive information environment based on the logic of scientific knowledge and providing reliable information.

 

Tatiana Chernigovskaya. It Is Not Me, It Is My Brain...

The article deals with the question of the freedom of the will, which is sharply discussed in science and society in connection with rapidly developing methods of neuroscience and genetics.

 

THE DECLINE OF SECULARITY

 Alexander Kyrlezhev. Secularism and Post-Secularism in Russia and the World

The article lays out the main features of secularism going back to the rationalism of the Enlightenment as a world view and ideology, and also the understanding of religion which has developed in the process of European secularization. The author believes that present-day religious and social processes, both in a global context and within Russia, display a crisis of secularism and lead to the shaping of a new post-secular configuration, above all, on account of deprivatization of religions and their emergence into the public sphere. At the same time, the specific contours of this new religious and social configuration cannot be predicted today.

 

Dmitry Uzlaner. Mapping the Post-Secular

 The article explains the meanings behind the concept of the post-secular, which is rather popular today. Three main dimensions are singled out: the post-secular as a new emerging reality of the present-day world; the post-secular as a new normative precept for democratic societies; and the post-secular as a new optics for apprehending both the religion and the secular enabling one to take a fresh look at the events of the past, the present, and probably even the future.

 

Alexei Apollonov. Post-Religious Russia

The article discusses the appropriateness of using the adjective "post-secular" in reference to present-day Russian society. While the author admits that certain "desecularization" processes have been underway in Russia since 1991, he points out that they by no means imply a "revival" or "comeback" of religion in the sense in which theoreticians of post-secular society speak about the revival of religion. Notwithstanding a certain formal similarity, this is not so much the comeback of religion as the emergence of a new "post-religious" situation characterized by society's indifference towards religious matters behind the fagade of outward well-being of the official religion.

 

Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov. We Are Living in an Age of Imitations

In his interview to Otechestvennye Zapiski, Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov, a professor at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, shares his views about why true religious faith is giving way to various ideologies in Russia. The clergyman complains that there is no communal life in most Russian Orthodox parishes, which, in his opinion, is evidence of a general unhealthy situation, and calls upon the Church to distance itself as much as possible from the State.

 

Alexander Panchenko. On the Benefit of Sacrilege or, Pussy Riot Seen through the Eyes of an Anthropologist

The article focuses on the question of the social role of sacrilege in the history of Russian religious culture. In grassroots religious practices, actual or imagined sacrilege appears to be an effective mechanism for "producing the sacral," shaping new cults and confirming the effectiveness of the old ones. Therefore, in this context it is not subject to moral assessment and, the more so, to human condemnation. More complex is the case with so-called "sacred parody," which formed an integral part of the medieval culture of mockery but which, apparently, was not regarded as blasphemy for quite a long time. Traditional notions of blasphemy were used in an absolutely different manner in the context of the "disciplinary" policy of the State at the time of Peter the Great's religious reforms and then in the period of Soviet atheist campaigns. However, the policy of "state-sponsored sacrilege," as a rule, led to rather unexpected results that were out of line with the ideals of social discipline.

 

Alexei Kuznetsov. Mikhail Magnitsky: Three Lost Stakes

Who was Mikhail Magnitsky — a man of principles, which kept changing in the changeable atmosphere of Alexander I's reign, or a gambler whose only ambition was to make his career as brilliant as possible by all means? The author analyzes his numerous rises and falls, his attempts to outpope the Pope, the part he played in counter-reforming Russia's university system, and arrives at the conclusion that Magnitsky's servile philosophy contradicted the period to which he belonged, and that was the main cause of his final loss.

 

Tatiana Chumakova. New Russian Dark Ages

 The article aims to examine the phenomenon of "New Dark Ages" in the life of today's Russia. Analyzing various practices of religious piety, the author arrives at the conclusion that, in addition to religious traditions, their development is determined by the interests of commercial and political entities promoting the emergence of a simulacrum of the Dark Ages.

 

Yulia Sinelina. Religiosity in Today's Russia

 Based on the findings of sociological surveys, the article traces changes in the level of people's religiosity in Russia over the last 20 years. The author draws a conclusion that Orthodoxy is one of the basics of Russians' self-identification. Paradoxically, a substantial number of "believers" in Russia have a very vague idea of what they believe in. That is why religious dogmata have little effect on people's aims and attitudes in life. In the author's opinion, the bulk of Orthodox Christians may be described as "cultural Orthodox" to whom religion is a kind of symbol rather than the basis of their world view.

 

Alexander Antonov. I Feel an Underground Rumble

In an interview to OZ, Alexander Antonov, Head of the Information and Publishing Department of the Moscow Metropolitanate of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church, editor-in-chief of the journal Tserkov (Church), speaks about the role of the Church in the modern world, about faith, magism and rites, about the psychology of Russian man, and about whether he can change.

 

RELIGION AND CHILDREN

"We Must Teach Children How to Make Choices..."

A Round Table Discussion with the Participation of Teachers from Moscow Schools

Teachers from Moscow schools are discussing the first results of teaching the course "Fundamentals of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics," in particular, what exactly they are teaching children, whether they are fulfilling the task of providing a spiritual and moral education or putting all their energies to explain the "incomprehensible," and also whether teachers succeed in speaking in class equally objectively about everything, without betraying their own leanings, and whether the teaching of a subject works to promote the rational or the irrational in the light of a growth in the amount of irrational information in the overall cultural field.

 

ISLAMIC PROSPECTS

 

Vladimir Malakhov. Is the Islamization of a Real Threat?

In the author's opinion, underlying the fear of the "Islamization" of Europe is incorrect handling of statistics and exaggeration of the political and cultural consolidation of immigrant Muslims. The current demographic dynamics gives no reasons to believe that in the future the number of Muslims will grow sufficient for changing the relations of cultural hegemony. In addition, people marked as "Muslims" do not display uniform cultural loyalty. What an outside observer sees as a single whole ("Muslim community") in fact consists of many competing communities whose unification is impossible because of profound differences in their identity.

 

G. Murphy Donovan. The End of Reason?

The author, a former intelligence analyst who was a Senior USAF Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, provides a critical overview of the history and activities of RAND since its inception in 1948 in carrying out national security research and analysis, as well as the activities of other think tanks working in this field. He notes that today there is more than a little evidence to suggest that a significant number of government, academic and think tank analysts are telling politicians what they want to hear instead of what they need to know. As a result of following the current trend of political correctness, the overall cast of RAND national security research is cautious and in many cases politically correct. Unfortunately, politically correct national security analysis undermines scientific method on the one hand and underwrites a plague of distortion on the other.

 

Alexei Malashenko. Religion Cannot Be Separated from Politics

Noted Russian historian Alexei Malashenko, an expert in Islam, speaks in an interview to OZ about the current state of Islam in Russia and the world and answers questions about whether the Islamic revival has come about, what the prospects are for coexistence of Orthodox Christianity and Islam, what "Russian Islam" is, and also whether Islamophobia actually exists and in what ways it finds expression.

 

BOOKSHELF

 

Alexei Muraviev. Old Believers' Gari As a Phenomenon

Review of the book: Ye.V. Romanova. Massoviye samosozhzheniya staroobryadtsev v Rossii v XVII— XIX vekakh [Old Believers' Mass Self-Immolation in Russia in the 17th.—19th Centuries]. European University in St. Petersburg. Studia ethnologica, Monographia. St. Petersburg, 2012, 288 p. The new book by Yelena Romanova, Massoviye samosozhzheniya staroobryadtsev v Rossii v XVII—XIX vekakh, deals with the phenomenon of Old Believers' gari (burnings). Based on historical documents and literary accounts of the events of the 17th-19th centuries, the book examines the culturology of acts of self-immolation by fire. Their motives and execution turn out to be much more interesting than ordinary self-destruction and are built into a broad cultural context set by the matrix of Orthodox Christianity. It may be said that the author uses the material about Old Believers' gari for approaching the specific character of Russian religious culture.

 

Vasily Kostyrko. On Two Books

The Sleep of Patriotic Reason

Review of the book: V.A. Shnirelman. Russkoe rodnoverie: Neoyazychestvo i natsionalizm v sovremennoi Rossii [Russian Rodnoverie: Neo-Paganism and Nationalism in Contemporary Russia]. Moscow, Biblical Theological Institute Publishing House, 2012, 302 p.

The book by Viktor Shnirelman, a noted historian, archaeologist and ethnologist, deals with the history and ideology of Russian Neo-Pagans (Rodnovers). As the author shows, the doctrine of Russian Neo-Paganism took shape in general terms back in the days of the USSR within the Soviet elite, which looked for an alternative to communism since the 1960s. The author views its popularity in post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s and 2000s as Russian society's painful reaction to the collapse of the USSR and transition to capitalism. Noting the small number of Neo-Pagans, the author warns that their ideology exerts an ever greater influence on the Russians' notions of the ancient history of their people.

Mid-Level Hobbits or, Regulated Escapism Review of the book: D.B. Pisarevskaya. Subkultura rolevykh igr v sovremennom obshchestve [The Role-Playing Game Subculture in Modern Society]

The monograph by D.B. Pisarevskaya, a young Russian anthropologist, centers on the history and present-day state of the Russian role-playing game subculture. The author describes the methods of thinking themselves into the world of a literary work or a historical event being reconstructed that are used by roleplayers and demonstrates that in Russia role-playing games are gradually evolving from a subculture phenomenon to a full-fledged social institution standardizing and regulating these escapist practices.

You will also read in this issue Alexei Semikhatov's review of the book The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.

 

THE LAND OF OZ

 

Anna Kimerling. Portrait of a Voter of the Late Stalin Period

The article tells about people who, during elections in the late Stalin period, spoke up and voted against the so-called "bloc of Communists and non-Party people." The ways of manifesting dissent were varied and included refusal to go to the polls, crossing out of the names of non-alternative candidates, carrying away of ballots, dropping of inappropriate items and letters in the ballot boxes or writing down one's opinion about the elections, the Communists and the situation in the country on the ballots. The reasons for refusing to vote were given extremely rarely. People were aware of the consequences of such actions, yet nonetheless this happened.

 

Alexandra Kateman. Our Daily Bread

OZ continues to publish essays by participants in the competition of historical research papers by senior high school students "Man in History: Russia, 20th Century," annually conducted by the International Society "Memorial." A school student from St. Petersburg shows in her essay through the description of some dishes how the history of the country is reflected in the history of every single family as if in a drop of water.