Eschatological outlook: processes of understanding and reduction in the perception of human existence
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016
Author: Gusseva Nina, The “Kazakhstan Philosophy Congress” Association of Philosophers, D. Serikbayev East-Kazakhstan State Technical University, Kazakhstan
Philosophy, Chair of the East Division of Kazakhstan
Philosophical Congress Member of the Academy
Head of the
International Ce nter for Methodological Research and Innovation Programs,
Member of the Academy of Acmeology,
consciousness is characterized by a process of syncretization at a level
associated with a rational, systematic and scientific understanding of the
world. This manifests itself primarily in the fusion of secular and religious
perspectives and forms of understanding designed to express the actual
existence of the concern about the prospects of existing in the world and
existence of the world itself.
Global challenges that modern humanity faces and lack of rational
explanations of their origin, and possible solutions attract increased
attention to the problems of the doomsday as the end of all existence on the
Earth, as well as to understanding hopes and possibilities for further
existence of the Earth and all living organisms, including man and humankind.
Existential approach to the whole range of issues related to the end of
existence or the fate of the Universe, Man, Life and Death become the points of
"alignment", or more precisely, the points of fusion of religious,
philosophical and scientific world outlooks.
A range of eschatological questions often presents a voluminous and
very detailed (depending on a particular religious doctrine) religious outlook
of the world, various characteristics of which are associated with numerous
religious and mythological beliefs and doctrines. Still this range of
eschatological questions is open to attempts to comprehend it in a
"coordinate system", different from the major religious parameters.
Moreover, today's public
consciousness is characterized by an increasing tendency of both
irrationalization and rationalization in understanding the existing problems.
Trends of irrationalism increasingly imply the emphasis on the emotional and
sensual attitude to eschatological problems. It is associated with the denial
to refer to any evidentiary bases and with reference to the faith, intuitions,
etc. While, at the same time, rationalization trend implies consideration of
eschatological problems in terms of logic, the presence or absence of evidence
of certain conclusions and claims.
Alternativeness of these
trends is, in a sense, an expression of an alternative position of religion and
science in considering problems of life and death on a global scale. This
alternativeness may be regarded as evidence of expansion of eschatological
perspective beyond the purely religious worldview and religious ideology. In
addition to alternative religious and scientific position in relation to the
real meaning of the eschatological questions, there is another position,
associated with the implementation of philosophical inquiry. Philosophical
analysis makes it possible to change the orientation of a person in a huge
number of questions concerning being, allows a man to be stronger and
consciously solve problems. The eschatological perspective, expressed through
the eschatological worldview, also needs a philosophical reflection.
outlook reflects the interests of humanity to what is hidden beyond the limits
of existence. The completion of any process, including the process of life, may
give rise to the question: what is next? What will happen next? Eschatology as
a doctrine accumulates understanding of this experience and creates ways to
translate it from one culture to another. Each of the existing cultures creates
its own version of understanding eschatological problems. In this regard, they
develop their own version of how a man and humanity can exit the finiteness of
being. The satisfaction of this interest repositions eschatological problems to
the area of understanding these problems, which is always based on the
assumption of the existence of the world as a large-scale starting point.
Following this assumption awareness leads us to two options of postulates
concerning the existence of the world – infinite and finite. These postulates
may serve as starting points for developing certain attitude to eschatological
In the first case,
eschatological perspective is characterized as purely human, the origins of
which should be disclosed in order to be able to prevent mental abnormalities
of people on a mass scale. The assumption that there is a doomsday when the
world is believed to be infinite and eternal is a kind of a nonsense. At the
same time, acceptance of the idea of the infiniteness and eternity of the world
may provoke ambiguous variants of their conjugacy. Therefore, the comprehension
of the eschatological perspective is filled with different meanings. For
example, the problem of correlation of the world homogeneousness to its
finiteness differs from the problem of correlation of the world procedurality
and general finiteness of all processes.
In the second case, when
the world is perceived as finite, eschatological perspective becomes a par with
the urgent problems the solution of which determines ways and possibilities of
survival and development of a man and the humanity. Recognition of the
finiteness of the world requires preparation for this day, identification of
the conditions under which the time periods of the doomsday is moved for a
longer date, disclosure of the conditions under which one can be provided with
the longer existence, etc.
The contradictory thesis
of finiteness and infinity of the world allows searching for the ways to
resolve it or to separate contradictory parties. In the first case – in the
case of searching the way to resolve contradictions, the finiteness and
infinity of the world is determined by its unity. In the second case, we speak
about different grounds to consider the world as finite or as infinite, while
the infinity is discussed not only in terms of space, but also in terms of
time, hence, we can speak about eternity.
procedurality of all things provides the opportunity to consider them in terms
of different individual states, provisions, definitions, etc., which are also
characterized by certain procedurality. Certain conditions, provisions,
definitions, belonging to all things, exist in them, and are inherent in them.
In terms of consideration and differentiation of all things into individual
conditions, positions, motions, etc., it is possible in each case, to identify
the beginning of their procedurality and the termination of their existence.
This fully applies to the consideration of the human world, which is a part of
all things, through its division into countries, historical periods, nations,
states, personalities, etc. Social phenomena, being procedural, provide the
possibility of considering them in terms of the existence cycle in which we can
and must identify the beginning and the end.
Consideration of the
real-life processes (natural or social) is always associated with defining the
starting point, the point that determines the process of further consideration,
its progress and conclusions. Such consideration always has its beginning and
its end. Consideration matrix is located within the boundaries of the beginning
and the end.
Man’s understanding of
the world man is always determined by man’s experience and practical attitude
to the world. The practical attitude of a man to the orld is formed based on
his relationship with the surrounding environment through his activities of
different character. It is known that any activity may be of integrated and
dividual character. Integrated activity is the basis for understanding the
world and attitude toward the world of a man as a subject, that is not only
capable of having his own creative and personal position, but also of
implementing it. In philosophy, this position, as is known, is usually treated
from the positions of subjectivity. Dividual activity characterizes not only
the division of the human world, but also the natural world. It gives rise to
dominance of private interest, which was initially opposed by "the
interests of the world as a whole.
In this case, it is
supposed that there is presence or absence of compliance between the existence
of a human (and society) and the laws of nature. The lack of compliance is
generated by the dominance of a private interest as the main characteristic of
a relationship of man and society with the world. Understanding of this fact is
vicariously embodied in various forms, including eschatological teachings.
Reflection of a human being and reflection of the being of the society, as we
know, always has a historical character. Historicity of the reflection of a man
and a society is formed as a model of an existing understanding of the world
and attitude to this world. Procedurality of understanding human existence in
the world – existence of a human being and a society - thus always takes the
form of awareness models, each of them having its beginning and its end. It
concerns any acts or processes of lives of countries, individuals, states, etc.
outlook is present in the explicit and implicit forms. Thus, it can be
classified in accordance with the grounds under consideration. For example, if
rational forms are taken as a basis for understanding the world, which involves
interpretation, rationale, conclusions, etc., then the eschatological outlook
will be presented through outlining the points of view related to the
obligatoriness of the "end of the world" and appropriate
"evidence." Here we mean that any form of rationality as such are
finite thought-forms. Therefore, if they are taken as a basis for understanding
the world, in this case the question of the finiteness of the world will
definitely be "confirmed".
In the other case if in
the basis of the world outlook there is an array of emotions accompanying the
fear of death, non-existence, destruction or the like, then the eschatological
outlook will be represented by irrational beliefs, as well as emerging
conditions leading to mental pathologies. The philosophical outlook may be
considered the third option of eschatological outlook. In the case of
dialectical philosophical position the specificity of eschatological
understanding of the world and, accordingly, the attitudes toward the world,
will be defined in terms of consideration of the world as a self-perpetuating
whole. At that, the meaning of the eschatological teaching as such disappears;
it disappears in recognizing the transitory character of any existing form.
Therefore, the need to define and consider in absolute terms any of its moments
cease to exist.
understanding of the world is of no independent nature. Since the acceptance of
the finiteness is always "tied" to the thing whose finiteness is
considered. The fact that eschatological teaching got a status of an
independent teaching is a result of the separation of a corresponding
ideological element from a holistic understanding of the world, in which this
element has its own place, and being in the context of a holistic attitude
toward the world, does not have a possibility to be considered in absolute
terms. The philosophical idea of the end of the world can be considered this
eschatological element. Once it emerged, this view does not leave indifferent
all those who associate their understanding of the world with the emphasis of
death, termination of the existence.
This ideological element
is based on the prevalence of emotional aspect in the world outlook.
Hyper-emotionality, in its turn, emerges in the case when a human life is
realized in the deprivation of the current critical processes. Hyper -
emotionality in relation to the world is an indication of a man’s "not being
included” into human communication, which could become for a substantial
support and a guarantee of salvation from depression and hopeless attempts to
overcome the logic of the world procedurality.
doctrine arises as a response of the public awareness to the problem of human
existence expressed through a contradiction of the spiritual and the material
on a global scale and through methods of its manifestations. As a phenomenon of
social consciousness, eschatological doctrine acquires religious, ethical,
political, and philosophical and other characteristics, and is actively
transformed into a series of elements of the eschatological outlook and
attitudes toward the world .
In the religious
consciousness, as we noted above, the eschatological perspective is directly
linked with faiths and cults of different religions. Every religion creates its
own eschatological concept, which is designed to not only explain but also
specify the boundaries of the possible existence of a man. In addition, the
shaped systems of the cult actions are prescribed to the faithful as the way to
solve the problems of the end of the (individual or collective), despair,
death, etc. They act as guarantors that following them, a man gets the
opportunity to overcome the finiteness of his existence, to prolong life
indefinitely, although in different forms. The emphasis is made on the idea of
the possibility of an endless of life, while the change of its form is the
moment which people are willing to accept as a kind of concession-"another
forms of life is still not a complete oblivion!"
perspective is realized in the connection with the realization of the
possibility and responsibility of a man in case he does not part from this life
and in case his existence in life is temporary. This fully applies to the
understanding of the status of good and evil, justice and injustice, etc. The
problem of choosing a certain attitude to the world such is determined by
either the first or the second option. As an example, we can recall the
position and type of behavior of those who is here today and gone
tomorrow." Pointing the way to the everlasting life, the eschatological
doctrine externally helps to choose the attitude to the world based on the care
of the eternal values of human existence - conscience, good, avoiding evil,
In the field of
aesthetic consciousness eschatological doctrine and the corresponding position
of perception of the world is expressed by a transformation of a human
sensibility towards the "transcendence". Recognition of the
possibility of the end, its approach leads to the sublimation of all forms of
sensuality. First of all, it concerns the essential and content aspects of its
manifestation. Famous sayings like "Beauty will save the world!",
"See Paris and die!" and the like characterize the intensity of
feelings characteristic of the situation of sublimation, triggered by the
existence of border positions between the end and the salvation, between the immersion
in the state of acquisition and the end of ...
In the political
consciousness, eschatological attitude to the world also demonstrates its
direct or reverse impact. Thus, for example, questions of the power of people,
of public institutions, etc. are treated like transient phenomena that acquire
their highest status only when they are consecrated by higher powers. A
requirement for "transcendence" in politics is often used in the
interests of certain political forces. The sublimation of the political power
of people is used as an effective tool to achieve one’s own selfish goals. The
finiteness of political forms, on the one hand, makes real people's
wait-and-see position real, leads to the loss of activity and commitment. On
the other hand, it can also give rise to a concentration of forces of
supporters of certain events or actions, which will be a condition for the
preservation of everything that was supposed to leave, for example, as
something that outlived itself.
eschatological position usually manifests itself in the form of a series of
reductions. Thus, the problem of the relation between continuity and
discontinuity treats the existence of the end as ontologically determined and
epistemologically fixed phenomenon. The reduction here is in the fact that the
unity of continuity-discontinuity opposition is reduced only to the
discontinuity, or termination, which is the end (albeit temporary) of
everything that could be seen as continuous. "Elimination" of the
opposition and the unity of continuity and discontinuity causes a number of
philosophical, not only logical consequences, which are transformed also into
ways of world perception.
outlook contains not harmless reductions when there is
"idealogization" in consideration of certain problems, or the
approach in decision-making, or the position of individuals or social groups.
This occurs, for example, when a meaning of individual or group actions get
“finalized”. "Finalization" in this case is expressed by the
substitution of the true purposes of the committed acts with the objectives
attributed to individual doers or social groups. This attribution is
accompanied by a significant decrease in social status committed acts.
The procedure of
"finalization" means setting a limit to things that cannot have
limits by the definition. "Finalization" sets the limit to the
existing process. In this regard, it appears the universal way of reduction or
the way of universal reduction. This means that "finalization" serves
not only to stop certain processes but is a universal tool for deforming
meanings, essence and content of what people want and humanity can and must
learn in an adequate form. The only adequate form of cognition of the world
procedurality is a procedural approach. The approach that is based on
"finalization" of procedurality of what is being explored is
initially focused on deformation, on getting nongenuine results, on the error.
doctrine does not focus so much on the "finalization" procedure in
understanding the world, but rather on how a man or the humanity perceives the
possibility of the end of the world or life. Therefore, the deformation in the
understanding of the world on the basis of the eschatological doctrine turn out
to be in the shadow of a critical analysis. At the same time aspects of the
value of life the problems of survival, etc. come to the forefront. Axiological
aspects of human existence are important, but the eschatological emphasis built
on "finalization" of the processes under consideration gives rise to
the emotional distortions, deformations, pathologies, but does not contribute
to the formation of a reasonable relationship to the expected events of a
separate human life, and events of the end of the existence of a civilization.
All known forms of
awareness include a "toolbox" of confrontation to the destructive
influence of the problem and the threat of the end of human existence. These
include not only religious and esoteric doctrines, but also ethical, aesthetic,
political, and philosophical ones. Their influence and methods are different
and depend on their own specificity: in religions these are religious
activities, in politics - beliefs and participation in the political struggle,
in the moral sphere - education, behavioral patterns, in the aesthetic sphere –
perception of imperishable images of beauty, in the field of philosophy -
"connection" to thinking at the level of mind, not reason.
Differentiation of the
levels of understanding the world, which allows better navigation in the
prospects of strengthening the eschatological position while solving pressing
problems retains its value. Some of these levels of understanding the world
will provoke people's loosing strength in the face of objective processes,
others - on the contrary, will help to find necessary solutions and extend
dignified human existence. The former include ordinary level of thinking and
understanding the world.
It is known to be
characterized by situatedness, haphazardness and abstractedness. Together,
these properties can be described as properties of “finalization procedure”, of
the lack of way out and solutions associated with the transformation of
long-term problems into “here and now” problems. Such transformation can be
viewed as positive, but it has negative features, consists in the fact, that
global, serious problems are usually not solved by "improvised"
means, means that are available “here and now”. At this level, it is almost
impossible to find necessary decisions, but there are all grounds to get into
panic or depression.
Other levels include are
scientific and philosophical. Scientific level of thinking implies its own
differentiation at the empirical and theoretical levels. Empirical level of
thinking is based on performing a series of procedures concerning any problem.
The eschatological perspective may also be viewed at this level. In this regard
we shall speak, first, about collecting data concerning facts and factors
indicating the approach of the end. Second, collected data should be subjected
to processing by all available methods developed by the science, including the
systems of processing information using mathematical methods. Third, processed
data should be subjected to systematization and classification in accordance
with essential parameters.
Fourth, the obtained
data should be interpreted, systematized and classified in accordance with the
chosen parameters. Interpretation can become a ground for forecasting expected
phenomena associated with or leading to the end. The empirical level, however,
can only provide a rough estimate, a proposition, though accompanied by
references to the collected and processed material.
The theoretical level in
the field of scientific consciousness involves identifying essential,
significant, objective and repetitive relationships in the phenomenon under
investigation. Their detection means revealing the patterns. With regard to the
eschatological perspective, revealing consistent patterns may concern questions
of its origin, which in this case is to express the scope of the humanities and
some known ties to natural sciences. Here we speak, as noted above, about the
unity and the properties, such as discontinuity and continuity characteristic
of all natural processes.
Philosophical level is
the level of universality, which reflects the orientation to the method of
development the world as a whole. This level should remove the possibilities of
all the previous levels of awareness. In relation to the eschatological perspective,
the philosophical level involves identifying not only the availability of human
reflection, cyclical processes of a common world and unity of its continuity
and discontinuity, but, rather, “growing” of a human mind to understanding the
unity of a man and the world. There is a need to perceive as “one’s own”
everything that is characteristic of the laws of the existence of our world.
Recognition of the unity of the world in this respect would mean absence of the
necessity to search for external influences and ways to prevent everything,
which is characteristic of the world. Proceeding from oneself and from the
existing world as from oneself is, in a sense, a way of an adequate
understanding of the prospects for the survival and historical assurance of the
unity of the finite and the infinite.
The personal living
through the characteristics of the world, in which a man lives, is an important
feature of positive changes in the existing provisions in the nature and
society. Existing global problems indicate the presence of an unacceptable
degree of alienation of a man from the world in which he lives. This alienation
becomes fatal. The origins of human alienation, depriving him of the ability to
solve the problems of the world as one’s own and one’s own problems as the
problems of the world emerge from serious distortion of the ties of a man and
the world. These distortions, for the most part, are recorded in eschatological
perspective. Ties of a man with the world depend not only on the world but also
on a man, on forms and content of his activities, on the specificity of social
relations, etc. Therefore, overcoming alienation that destroys a man and the
world is associated with the need of a reasonable organization of the human
existence, human activity and human relations. Distortions and deformations in
this will always give rise to eschatological understanding of the world and
related to it depression, attempts to escape from solving urgent problems, to
find solutions in the sphere of illusions, from the state of helplessness and
despair, from hopelessness and meaninglessness of the existence.
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- "the end", "the last" + λόγος -
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016