Values of Age of Pluralism

 Lyudmila Baeva - professor of philosophy


From the position of existential axiology values are considered as dominants of consciousness and existence, which creatively influence the internal development of a person and the surrounding world, filling them with significancy and sense. The main direction of development of axiosphere of contemporaneity is the transition from the classical values (the spirit, soul, mind, order, humanism, progress, enlightenment and others) to neoclassical values (material, hedonism, pluralism, tolerance, irrationalismand so on), connected with the processes of pragmatization, informatization, globalization of society.

From the position of existential axiology, suggested by the author, values are considered as dominants of consciousness and existence, which creatively influence the internal development of a person and the surrounding world, filling them with significancy and sense. Values are considered as Answers of a person to key existential question (of death, loneliness, absurdity, lack of freedom), attempts to make the life, that had no predetermined aim and sense, meaningful, to create (or change) yourself or the world in accordance with your own preferences. Axiological creativity is a representation of freedom of a person in relation to natural and social programme, an opportunity to “recode” your own Ego and the surrounding world towards a significant ideal, and consequently it is an important factor for development.

The main dynamic trend of axiosphere of the present time is transmission from classical values to neoclassical ones, connected with the epoch of consumption, informatization, globalization etc. Classical values, which had been developing since the antique classics to European classical tradition of the 19th century, suggest the priority of spirit, soul, sense, order, humanism, progress, enlightenment and so on. Global changes in person’s attitude towards the world, nature, power, property resulted in absolutely new orienting points, the essence of which consists in the turn to corporality, hedonism, pluralism, tolerance, irrationalism and so on. Neoclassical values suggest shifting of person’s attention and care from the spiritual (intellectual and moral) sphere to the material (corporal and external) one; replacing ethnic cultural dominants with globally unified ones; transforming the cult of knowledge and enlightenment into the cult of pleasure and naturality; leaving aesthetic and axiologic monism for “forced pluralism”; “liberation” from conation to the ideal and transcendent world in the favour of pragmatism and utilitarianism; substitution of creativity with consumption, life – with the game, real relations – with virtual ones, contents – with the form. All this changes the subject himself. The reasons for these changes are the following:

·        crisis of classical epoch principles monistic in their expression: evidence of Utopian character of developing a perfect person, an entirely constructive sense, “a fair-for-all society” etc.;

·        maintenance of liberty in the conditions of “mass culture” as an opportunity for not well educated majority to pronounce their values as primary ones;

·        globalization changes, which result in confusion and conflicts in ethnic and confessional sphere and realization of tolerance as the only form of potential relations between civilizations;

·        informatization processes that cause phenomena of virtual world and replace real processes with simulated subjects, which dissolve a person in the collective consciousness of the information network;

·        argumentation of ambiguity and chaos as a constructive principle, pluralism and multialternative approach as the principles of systems development;

·        cult of “glamour” life, comprising and glorifying platitude, luxury, artificiality, constant renovation, that is formed by the mass media of the “consumer society”;

·        vacuity of mass culture of chartbusters and simulacra; the esoteric is dissolved in the exoteric, the elite is diluted in mass, as a result the intellectual and moral searching for sense of life is replaced with emotionally-doped one, routine triumphs over loftiness, form – over the notional content;

·        unification of the lifestyle, forming stereotype consciousness and as a result political apathy, inactivity, constant “boredom”, “being tired” of life, searching for extreme entertainments, “escape from reality”, “existential vacuum”.

In the 20th century the world and the man faced the threat of destruction, so a number of values, which had been dominating the consciousness and creative activity of people, began to transform and corrupt. Classical heritage of the Renaissance epoch proclaimed Man, Sense, Progress, love for neighbors, duty to the motherland, altruism, freedom etc. as superior axiological priorities. For several centuries humanistic, progressive, patriotic approaches have been developed successively in European literature, art and historical studies. But the 20th century failed to answer the expectations. Two world wars, murderous revolutions, totalitarian regimes, economic and ecological crises showed that sense is not the universal tool to achieve the reign of justice, freedom and prosperity. As a response, the crisis of classical system of values comes: humanism is replaced with antihumanism, progressism - with pluralism, rationalism - with irrationalism. A. Schopenhauer and F. Nietzsche, whose works became enormously popular in the 20th century, were forerunners of the critics of classical values.

New postmodernistic principles avoid any categoricity and uniqueness by all means, main priorities include freedom, tolerance towards others, energy, innovations, creativity, knowledge, self-actualization etc. Turning from universal total values to individualistic egocentric ones caused the downfall of spiritual authorities that used to be inviolable. Crisis of monistic doctrines, totalitarian regimes, normative ethics, religious orthodoxy stipulated axiological personalism of the present, where the existence of a person became of the primary importance. Ignoring individuality, that had been lasting for a long period of civilization development, gave rise to ultra-individualism and narcissism, the excess of which is very dangerous. They evoke keen criticism on the part of supporters of classical culture, morality, science and politics. The paradox of our epoch is intensification of plurality, fragmentation, increasing role of the individual, personal against the background of the expanding integration of forms of life, globalization of information, economy and culture. Consolidation of cosmopolitan values accompanies the strengthening of nationalistic mood, technocratic worldview accompanies an outbreak of mysticism, mass culture accompanies egocentrism, liberal priorities accompany the violation cult. We should note that classical values outgrew to neoclassical, moreover they were “revolutionary” set aside and swept away by the new generation.

Such “re-estimations of values” also occurred before alongside with local social disturbances and change. Peculiarity of the present phenomenon of values transforming is in its universal character, which is caused by a certain stage of the mankind development – humanity passes through a number of limiting states that multiplied, synthesized certain crisis situations and tendencies. The humanity was united not only in the result of “axial time” and development of scientific revolutions all over the world, but also because of the merging of raw material, labor and financial markets, creation of the global information network, common environmental, demographic, military matters. But this unity is, however, only formal. Actually reunion of peoples is very irregular and painful. Main problems of the globalization epoch are connected with significant differences in the living standards of the countries, entering this process; with national values domination over the international ones; with monopolization (across the globe) in the sphere of economy, politics and culture; with consolidation of the cult of science and its practical interpretation; with commercialization of all spheres of life etc. The response to these problems was clashes between civilizations, ethnoses, confessions, conflicts of interior and foreign policy that resulted in a complete reconsideration of values of the previous epoch.

The most significant changes in personal and social values were caused by informatization (information revolution); liberalization (postmodernistic revolution); global migration and integration (globalization revolution); changes in scientific paradigms (synergistic scientific revolution).

A person of post-non-classical epoch is free from moral, social and political point of view, but is extremely dependent from economic and information spheres. He is motive first of all by conation to material pleasures, consumption and profit, that can never be satisfied. This prevents him from feeling happy, harmonious, satisfied with achievement of his goals. The person turns out to lose his principal bases: he has lost the values, God, community, another person, and on the one hand, a person becomes unimportant for the world, on the other hand, the constant rush for benefits deprived him of tight coupling and rooting in the world. Key conditions of our life are changes, uncertainty, forced innovations, virtuality of consciousness and relations. “Stream of consciousness” turned out to be more valuable than logically framed systems, the subject has turned his back on the object, and finally has lost himself. The person does not learn the world, but “breaks it open” and uses. The essence of the person is changing: today he is “using, consuming, entertaining”. As he is “moving in a moving medium”, a person is in the state of constant becoming, nonqualitative growing, he is just a bunch of freedom, that can’t be actually spent for anything, except of consumption of various amenities. The epoch of freedom turned out to be the freedom from ideology and morality, and today we should understand that these notions do not have immanent cohesion. The essence of morality consists not in external behavior regulation, but in self-control and self-development. Thus, in an attempt to fly from totality to freedom, it is important not to lose contacts with higher values, but to find them yourself, to firm up as a person not because of forced communication, ideologic treatment, zombiing, but due to personal growing from primitive vital needs to relevant social, spiritual and moral ones. The enlargement of the mind used to be prevented by some external reasons in the form of ideological paradigms, conventional behavioral stereotypes, but now the person is influenced by other factors: propaganda of egocentric lifestyle, cult of enjoyment, virtual dependence, loss of connection with tradition.

Representatives of the new generation (“Generation-X”) chooses independence of the community, they either plunge into the “virt” world, or join together into various groups like “underground”, or keep in the background, trying to hide, to get lost. Asociality and egocentrism become characteristic not only rebellious teen-agers, but also of infantile young people who have become the hostages of gorged consuming society. The mass, globalizing society is on the threshold of principal changes of the worldview: creation cosmopolitan value, synthesizing numerous cultural traditions of people, removal of the three key antinomies “the West- the East”, “a Person – Society”, “Society – Nature”. Removal of these antinomies is the main task of the new generation which lives in the state of freedom, pluralism and global unity.

What does a list of contemporary values which should be kept in conditions of pluralism and innovatory changes include? First of, moral values – disinterested kindness, honor, honesty, respect to life, nonviolence, cognitive values – truth, knowledge, science, social values- family, kids, love and friendship, Another world vital values – life, safety, health. These values belong to the category of those which loss can lead to a loss not only the cultural achievements of society, but also to the destruction of man himself. The difference of modern époque is that today not only the majority of citizens are losing spiritual priorities (as happened before), but in that elite, the subjects of high values are involved in a pragmatism and technocratism. Regarding the value of aesthetic, mystical, existential types, they are more associated with the uniqueness of individuals and their pluralism not inconsistent with the Life, Culture, Freedom of Another, but condition of conservation as a priority of those that were listed above – moral, social, etc.

Among the most destructive to the culture and human vices of our time, we could include moral pluralism as the admissibility and the justification of evil, violence, theft, (plagmatization, corruption), inspiritually as pragmatization, commercialization all aspects of life, the subordination of their cult of material success, achievable at any cost, aggressiveness as a starting point in relation to Another installation, which involves more intolerant of dissent the behavior of a position of strength.

Destructive tendencies today are gaining strength and resistance to them – a task primary of modern education and creative cultural elite.



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