Axiological component of philosophical and historical knowledge

The problem of axiological assessment of primary sources used to restore the true historical picture. Characterization of the philosophical and semiotic analysis of historical narratives as one of the components of the study of the historical worldview.

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Axiological component of philosophical and historical knowledge

Larina O.V.

PhD, assistant professor of the chair of civil rights Kolomna branch of Moscow Polytechnic University


axiological philosophical historical narration

The article reveals the matter of axiological estimation of primary sources used for reconstruction of the true historical picture. Special attention is paid to philosophical and semiotic analysis of historical narrations as one of the components of studying historical worldview.

Key words: axiology; philosophical and historical perception; semiotics, ideologization; objectivity; subjectivism.

Due to the growing interest to the study of human history it is significant to do it paying special attention to the philosophical aspect. It is evident that philosophical and semiotic research of the historical sources is aimed at historical reconstruction and cognition. In this sense philosophy does not only use abstract notions about history and its study but also reveals true historical research as far as it is possible for fundamental humanitarian knowledge. This process is greatly supported by semiotics.

Being part of the language philosophy semiotics is an important component of modern conceptual worldview. Thus it is possible to speak about philosophical and semiotic analysis of the history. This notion deals with the research when all historical phenomena are considered to be communicational facts and separate events can be understood when using a certain code. The latter is a model resulting from a number of simplifications to provide possible reveal of some historical events. All the codes are based on the general code mostly used in texts.

On the one hand, such kind of analysis is built on the research of fact-based structures of the historical science. On the other hand, this process is defined by contemporary images, presentations, beliefs, ideas and concepts. Therefore the conceptual worldview is realized in the context of philosophical categories (individual consciousness, worldview, mentality, reflection, etc.) based on axiological estimations.

Nowadays it is quite evident that axiology as a science dealing with values is considered to be an inseparable component of the historical perception of social life. Consequently, historical principle is closely connected to the axiological approach but is not limited by it. On the contrary, it tends to overcome axiological estimation of any given historical events to achieve objectivism.

From the philosophical and semiotic point of view history can be determined as a number of texts and corresponding set of functions as well as a certain mechanism producing such texts. Being in its essence a recording of historical experience, historical science can act both as a program and as an instruction for the production of new texts reflecting definite historical events. Besides, while paying attention to the orientation of this science to the future experience, it is possible to find a relative point of view when future acts as past. For example, the course of historical development provides people with texts kept by future generations; people considering themselves to be “epoch leaders” tend to commit historically significant actions (determining lately as historically memorable ones), preserved afterwards in a linguistic aspect of cultural inheritance.

While studying contemporary history the problem concerns not the deficiency of the information preserved, but its richness. Moreover, in the last decades there appeared not only new approaches to the study of history (e.g. methods of mathematical statistics, measurement and modeling of historical phenomena), but also an idea of infinite interpretation of the past came into existence. [9] Irregularity of selection and interpretation of historical facts provides an existence of various descriptions of the past events. This fact is explained by heterogeneity of revealing of historical knowledge nature. As a rule such descriptions coincide with the semantic position but differ from the point of view of pragmatics as each researcher has his own values determined considerably by the state ideology and his own estimations, revealed through the philosophical analysis of historical sources.

When researching axiological component of philosophical and historical perception, one should pay attention to the difference between spontaneous and unspecified activities in attributing positive and negative meanings. [7] Spontaneous axiologisation of any given historical event connected to its evaluation on the binary scale “good - bad” is determined by the researcher's involvement in a certain social and cultural environment primarily through the language. A vivid example of such a phenomenon is a definition of “political correctness” serving to modify or completely reduce estimations in all spheres of social life starting from sexual relations and finishing by stating of peculiarities of any given period in a certain culture.

Spontaneous estimation of a certain historical event is closely connected to the definition of “ideolo- gization” having double nature. In a narrower sense ide- ologization means this or that state politics defined by its government. It is determined by intrusion of certain values in the culture of certain people. These values are considered to be useful by the state authorities. Moreover, such values have rather ambiguous meanings for different social classes. Modern globalizing world gives a lot of examples of such practices (for instance, the last events taking place in the Ukraine).

In a wider sense ideologization can be considered as a certain phenomenon provided with the researcher's own meanings such as “world framing” of the personal context of understanding or subjectivism. It is absolutely inhomogenous event which role is closely connected to the axiological component of philosophical and historical perception and its value-based potential. Each humanitarian research inevitably needs inclusion of the researcher's “personal world”. Being the result of his work, historically meaningful text with a definite social ideological viewpoint is easy to decode when knowing corresponding codes and senses. But sometimes it is rather difficult to determine the included ide- ologization. In this case a comparative analysis of various positions representing the researching epoch is used.

It should be mentioned that at present academic community admits the impossibility of creation of “an objective primary source” because the process of his author's mental activity is always subjective, i.e. specified by the direct dependence from time, location and community (“socio-cultural dominants”, “priorities of certain scientific schools” etc.). Any researcher can't but belong to his epoch, to his socio-cultural situation and to his scientific school. There is no ideal objective knowledge including a scientific one. The process of writing of scientific papers in general and historical ones in particular has to go through some stages: the choice of the theme and research object, the work with primary data, interpretation of the material worked and its combination in a complete image of a certain past event. A subjective character of such scientific creativity is revealed on every stage of “knowledge” creation. This “scientific process” considerably depends on a researcher's individual psychological characteristics [1]. For example, the character of a scientific research is defined by personal emotional characteristics: according to Francis Bacon “a science often watches the world through the eyes cloudy by all human passions” [7]. Besides, writing of scientific papers represents a close in- terwining of their doer's conscious and unconscious thinking processes tending to determine the realty of a thinking image which often doesn't coincide with the imaginary one. The way of thinking can't coincide with the reality or be equal to it. That is why in most cases with mental definition of a cognitive image and the object studied the researcher can't clearly define the reason of his actions and scientifically justify his conclusions made from certain historical facts when creating the worldview of a certain “real” segment.

Subjectivism of a historical interpretation is also determined by the fact that the historical process itself is stimulated by the historian's cognition interest. To

recreate and interpret definite past phenomena, according to R. Koselleck [13], such researcher works with texts where he is not interested in their clear evident meanings but he looks for their hidden facts. Stemming from available text a historian reconstructs “out-oftext” reality. He pays greater attention to “out-of-text” problems thus being different from other historical texts interpreters.

The reason of such historian's behavior is that in his interpretations he orients not to the definite facts but to his cognitive interests framed by necessary conditions of his contemporary epoch basing on his present cognitive special worldview. Accordingly he determines his research aims and set special research tasks. The later demands from the historian definite knowledge in the field where he sets his tasks. Thus I. Droisen considers that the very presentation of a historical matter includes the complex of all historian's present knowledge. Besides, historians' works are greatly influenced by the historical interest being as a “modern lever”. Historians are obliged to obey their epoch and follow its interests. Otherwise their works will not be demanded and they will quickly grow stale [15].

As a practical illustration of the above mentioned theoretical concepts two books (by Jim Bishop “The Day Kennedy Was Shot” [11] and by Н.Н. Платошкин “Убийство президента Кеннеди. Ли Харви Освальд - убийца или жертва заговора?” [5]/ N. N. Platoshkin “President Kennedy's Murder. Li Harvy Oswald - a Murderer or a Victim of Conspiration) are chosen. The books are of American and Russian origins. The choice of these historical narrations is not circumstantial. In American history the research was done basing on the book written by Jim Bishop. He is an American journalist, political writer and historian specializing in celebrities' biographies. Bishop became widely-known for the book “The Day Lincoln was Shot”, the material for which had been collected for 25 years and which gave him an honorary doctorate. This book provided him with easy access to the White House as each president from Eisenhower to Johnson wanted to have him as a biography writer. His next historical bestseller was “A Day in the Life of President Kennedy” finished 10 days before the death of the 35th American President. Bishop's book “The Day Kennedy was Shot” was published in 1968 and it has not been translated into Russian up to nowadays. The second writer Nikolay Platoshkin is a professional diplomat and historian. He has been working for 15 years in Russian diplomatic missions in America and Germany. At that time he was also doing an active research work. Platoshkin wrote a number of historical monographs and published about 20 historical and legal articles. To sum it up, it is possible to say that the choice of the books is proved by historical trustfulness of the described events as well as the competence of the authors' conclusions.

Taking into account the basic peculiarities of national linguistic worldviews [12] when carrying out philosophical and semiotic analysis the following conclusions were made:

- while estimating adequacy/ relevanceof the historical narrations, i.e. correspondence of the described events to the reality one can speak about trustfulness of both texts as due to philosophical and semiotic analysis no facts were found which were false from the historical point of view. According to the official

version the narrations are based on the fact that the 35th American president John Kennedy was murdered by the American citizen Lee Harvy Oswald for political reasons. Both Jim Bishop and Nikolay Platoshkin refer in their works to the authorized sources such as reports of Warren commission as well as declassified documents of supreme authority of national security - Federal Security Service, Central Intelligence Agency and Committee for State Security. The accuracy of the authors' ideas can be clearly seen in the example of immanent approach to the semiotic interpretation of these historical narrations;

- while studying differentiation, covering versatility, multidimensionality and historical depth of historical narractions a very interesting semiotic technique was revealed. It concerns the mixture of immanent narration with intertextual abstracts of various character. On the one hand, it is determined by J. Bishop and N. Platoshkin's wish to reach the most adequate informational transmission. But on the other hand, it speaks for differentiation of authors' techniques used for the most trustful reconstruction of historical event;

- while considering axiological(positive or negative) author's estimation of the historical events described it should be understood as the most subjective factor of the comparative semiotic analysis. Thus, Jim Bishop tries to avoid ambiguous facts in his narration. He seems to part from the analysis of information given in his book making the reader come to individual conclusions. Nevertheless, Bishop's text contains the examples of semiogonism concerning the description of the active president's guards, security measures taken for the president's protection as well as the climactic scene of the narration together revealing an evolution in development of the events described.

As for Nikolay Platoshkin while reading his historical narration one can not but mention his emotionality or axiological richness in informational description. It is proved by the word sand word combinations such as «даже если предположить, что», «явно, что», «но здесь, всё, увы, гораздо проще», «естественно, что», «кстати, о», «весьма странно, что» etc. foundinthetext.

When carrying out comparative analysis of both historical narrations it is possible to find a number of general moments and basic ideas explained by the philosophical and semiotic universality of basic concepts of worldview. However, despite this fact, there are some different explanations of significant events described in both narrations. Such differentiation is explained by differences in the national worldviews the basic concepts of which were revealed in the analyzed texts. The distinguished national linguistic peculiarities of the worldview greatly influence philosophical and semiotic interpretation of the certain event of the past. The reconstruction of historical sequence of these events with the emphasis on their cause-and-effect relations help find the real place of the researched event in the conceptual historical background and achieve the most objective and unbiased interpretation of the real events of the past.

It is evident that the right combination of separate historical narrations by means of their complete complex philosophical analysis justified by the semiotics allow creating general representation of a certain historical event within scientific and conceptual worldviews. The essence of the philosophical and semiotic interpretation of any historical event is finally resolved in truth finding. In this situation the author of any historical narration reveals his own logic of reasoning justifying it by personal guesses and axiological estimations and then making the general image of the event.

Summing it up it should be mentioned that science belongs to the system of rational cognitive level which is quite contrary to sense knowledge. The difference between “unconscious collective” and rational forms of social conscience is determined by the knowledge of history and comparison of epistemological experience preserved to information, stereotypes of its interpretation and the researcher's own intuition. Thus, it becomes evident that axiological component is not only included in the system of philosophical and historical perception but is also its inseparable part. It allows tending to objectivism in researches as a final stage of any researcher's subjectivism.


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