Civilizational choice and culture in the modern period

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020

Author: Gusseva Nina, The “Kazakhstan Philosophy Congress” Association of Philosophers, D. Serikbayev East-Kazakhstan State Technical University, Kazakhstan

Separation of theoretical work

from practical research,

as it turned out, gives birth to either an idle,

unsubstantiated speculation,

or an incoherent mass of data [1].

The mobility and speed of modern world social processes makes any stay in a state of reassurance about the already completed research, an understanding of both the existing and the expected future, unacceptable. This means that it is vitally important to "move according to the logic" of the processes taking place in order to distinguish it from that logic, which could lead to more positive results than the existing one. It is vitally important not only for the development of science, but also for the development of society itself, in which science alone can exist and develop. In this regard, it is necessary, firstly, to distinguish the logic of the change of social processes in their civilizational definiteness, that is, as social processes, and, secondly, the logic of the change of social processes as cultural processes proper. The distinction between these variants of the logic of the processes taking place in society is based on the distinction between the essence of the civilization on the one hand and the essence of culture on the other hand.

On distinguishing between civilizational and cultural processes

Civilization as a way of organizing public life (and, consequently, civilization processes) and it has the processes of using what is created by culture and within culture as its leading processes.

Civilizational processes include the processes of consumption, replication, distribution, exchange, preservation, transmission, etc. Civilizational processes are not of a constructive but of a manipulative character. After all, any consumption, distribution, exchange, dissemination, preservation, etc. does not essentially provide for the creation of something new, unless we consider new some applied knowledge, in which the use turns out to be changed in comparison with the original or initial version.

Culture as a process is always a real, performed activity, constructive, creative, and socially significant. Social processes, built according to the logic of culture, according to the logic of integral activity, always include relationships of people, built according to the type of connections, and not external contacts, or interactions. Note that interactions are a type of relationship between two or more parties in which each of the parties doesn't undergo any qualitative change in the process and after the interaction. A connection, on the contrary, is such a relationship in which the parties entering into it acquire new qualities, that is, there is a mutual transition of the features of the parties entering into the connection. Connections, in contrast to interactions which are of an external nature, characterize deep processes leading to the unity of people and communities. Here it is appropriate to mention the difference between contacts and communication. Contacts express a model of interactions, while communication characterizes the logic of connections. In social processes which are characterized by the prevalence of the logic of connections, the logic of communication prevails, that is, personally interested participation in joint integral activity, there are quite real conditions for the preservation of the human potential of each individual, which does not allow the replacement of the human by the material, in which the person himself receives the status of an object subjected to use.

It is vitally important for the civilization that the culture continues to develop and deliver more and more new items to civilization processes for consumption, distribution or replication, preservation, spreading, transmission, etc.

A "unity" between the civilizational and the cultural proper can arise when, on the one hand, there is a civilizational process, and on the other hand, there is culture which appears as an outcome. Let us emphasize the need to distinguish culture as a process from culture as an outcome.

Culture as an outcome is always represented though the objects culture. The existing knowledge, a text, an artist's picture, a piece of music, a constructed building, a factory, a spaceship, a developed method or technique, etc. can be viewed as the objects of culture.

Objects of culture can expect two variants of "fate": it's either de-objectification, in which the process of their creation will be restored and reproduced with their meanings and logic, or lack of de-objectification, when they will simply be used as some "ready-made" samples, objects, matrices etc., as independent objects in which the very process of their creation has already faded away. Here, the use again means the aforementioned variants of a kind of manipulation: consumption, replication, distribution, exchange, etc. It is this second option that allows the possibility of the unity of the civilization process and culture in its representation as a result of performed activities.

Culture as a process cannot exist outside of the integral activity, that is, outside of a situation when the subject of activity is not formal, but real, that is, when he, as a subject, carries out activities, starting from setting a goal, choosing means to perform and obtain a result. In case the activity is carried out as divided activity, that is, when one individual sets the goal, the second individual determines the means, the third individual is engaged in its performing part, and the fourth one, acting through the first, obtains the result and becomes its owner, social relations will be "divided" accordingly, since each of the participants in a certain structural-functional block (a block of either setting a goal, or choosing the means, or performing, or obtaining the result) of activity will be a carrier of a different interest than those that are assigned to other structural-functional blocks of the activity. In this case, it will not be objectively possible to "build" a model of communication in the social process, rather than external contact, external interaction. Marx called this situation the domination of private interests, the domination of material dependencies [2, 3].

The dominance of material dependencies on the basis of divided activity and the atomization of individuals transform the relational process into a societal process, which is characterized by a global deformation of the meanings of human existence, human morality, and human activity-creative attitude. The meaning of human existence goes over into the meaning of being a consumer, user, and functionary. The meaning of human morality turns into the meaning of moral omnivorousness, where the boundaries of what is permitted and what is not permitted are blurred. The meaning of the activity-creative attitude is transformed into an understanding of the primacy of "privatization", the seizure of power, money, and wealth in any form and the transformation of human relations into formal manipulations from a position of strength against the background of everything captured.

Separation, independence, self-isolation, atomization (K. Marx) of individuals, as carriers of certain motives or interests, who are in the status of participants in a divided activity, leads to relations of opposition, competition and even antagonism between them and in epy society as a whole [2, 3]. Such a social context serves to deepen the orientation of people towards external, formal parameters of areas that are important for them, which significantly narrows the sphere of real interest in determining the line of their personal or social life, that is, here we are talking about a civilizational process. In the civilization process, the main determinant of the line of human or societal "destiny", decisions made, is a choice - a choice from what already exists, from what is real, objectively available in the society[1]. Civilization processes as manifestations of divided activity.

Each of the civilizational processes carried out by people, communities or institutions always represents certain systems of actions that are present at certain "here" and "now". Systems of actions as such cannot be identified with activities in which culture is realized as a process, that is, they cannot be identified with integral activity. As for the divided activity, it is represented by the systems of actions, which are only externally combined into something, viewed as a single one. Such an, allegedly, unity, that is, a supposed unity, but not really an existing one, which is built on formal merger of independent systems of actions that have different goals, an assessment of the correctness of the choice of means that do not coincide with the goals of actual implementation, execution, etc. - such "unity" breaks the activity process from the inside and gives rise to numerous manifestations of this gap.

An activity turns into a functional phenomenon, which in no way is the basis for the creation of cultural space-time. An individual in his context turns into a functionary, an executor of certain partial functions, that is, he is deprived of genuine subjectivity. As a functionary, a person turns out to be a being dependent on many circumstances external to his Self. These include arrays of characteristics, including the orientations of social institutions, organizations, firms, routines, accepted rules, norms, and so on. Dependence on such a multitude of external circumstances makes it necessary for the human Self to leave the space of actual social being for the "gray" zone, that is, to de-actualize one's aspirations, creative potential to the extent that they are not consistent with the systemic-effective nature of the organization of social life.

The possibility of implementing such systems of actions assumes that the objects themselves or objects of application, replication, transmission, exchange, distribution, etc. already have the status of completed, static formations, which get a certain "impulse" from the outside in the form of initiation of these (civilizational) processes. That is, the use of already existing objects, the replication of the already created things, the transfer of already existing things, exchange, distribution, etc. of already available. At the same time, we are not talking about the creation of these used or replicated, stored or exchanged items, or objects. Functionality and manipulativeness are paramount here.

The mentioned functional status of civilizational processes, their external conditioning (by people, communities, and institutions) also determines their variable nature. It depends on many factors, including political, institutional, properly economic and other motives and interests. The conditionality and dependence of "fate" not only of objects or items in relation to which civilizational systems of actions, such as choice, etc. will be performed, but also the nature of certain ways of application, replication, transmission, exchange, distribution, etc. determined from the outside, makes all this a representation of alleged arbitrariness and certain freedom. That is, it creates the semblance of freedom of choice, although from what already exists. People, communities, institutions existing in the field of such a supposedly arbitrary choice, that is, a choice from the existing options of application, replication, transmission, exchange, distribution within the framework of what is necessary for them, creates a situation every time instability, reliance on chance, on forces that are beyond their human or social capabilities, which are able to regulate any processes in favor of those who request this benefit or this outcome of everything that happens.

In the context of the global predominance of civilizational processes, the question of the possibilities for the development of culture is very acute. Situations of choice, even if they relate to the essential aspects of social life, do not characterize the grounds in the orientation towards which the manipulative nature of the procedures that have emerged in big quantities and deform the social process, turning it into a kind of opposite, an alternative to the unfolding of meaningful values and relations of creative, forming public good people.

In civilizational processes, the proven methods of making choices and decisions made on their basis cannot by themselves ensure the positive development of social processes and, thus, cannot ensure the progressive development of society. The prevalence of civilizational processes over the development of culture as a process, as well as the processes of its "fading", for one reason or another, mean that there are negative tendencies in the society leading not only to inhibition, but also to a serious decline in the social state and to the absence possible prospects.

Civilizational choice characterizes the determination and adoption of those types of processes that already exist and are recognized as leading for a particular situation or task, corresponding to certain groups of interests of communities, institutions, etc. Civilization choice in various cases turns out to be focused on certain options mentioned above (on the procedures of use, replication, preservation, exchange, or distribution, etc.) or on their combinations. Clarification of these options or their combinations is associated with consideration of the mechanisms of certain choices in decision-making, the influence on them of the institutional structures of society, political, economic and other interests of real social groups, forces of influence, etc.

The presence or possibility of the civilizational choice itself expresses and confirms the presence in society of the chaos of intertwining, opposing, mutually denying, etc. systems of actions that are incapable of ultimately making the social situation and the life situation of any individual person in any way predictable, logical, expressing a certain pattern of the social process. On the contrary, the dependence of people, communities, and institutions on the chaotic nature of their own systems of actions, which have an external character of "breakdown" according to motives and interests, is confirmed and continually increases. The external character of the motives and interests of the existing civilizational systems of actions is due to their belonging either to individuals, or to certain communities (for example, corporations, etc.), or to certain institutions.

Given the global and increasingly prevalent nature of the presence of civilizational processes, civilizational choice is increasingly becoming a form claiming universality and universal participation as a regulator of any processes in the society, both material and spiritual. The claim to universality in the noted sense on the part of the civilizational choice becomes a constantly operating "mechanism" for excluding everything which characterizes culture from social processes.

Here, we are speaking about "excluding" from the social process of the actual presence of the orientation of people to the implementation of constructive, creative, conscious, socially significant activity, which only characterizes the truly human real man-nature connection and man-man connection. Such an active connection is a representation of the essence of the social process, but under the conditions of the dictate of the logic of civilizational choice, it is gradually being lost and replaced by the "logic" of manipulative activity, which reduces a man to the status of a functionary (consumer, manager, exchanger, etc.), while the social process is being reduced to the status of technological, in which the presence of a man as a doer, as a creator is almost not found.

The absolute predominance of functional orientations, the actual oblivion of human principles, the rejection of a truly creative, human attitude (not to be confused with the understanding of creativity as the invention of new forms of application, replication, transmission, exchange, etc.), rejection of adequate understanding and real life in harmony, morality, beauty, honor, human dignity, freedom, brotherhood, etc. - all this on a global level leads to a significant degradation of the human, to its replacement by the material, robotic, matrix, schematic relationship of the man to the man, to replacing human value orientations with consumer, aggressive-aggressive, manipulative orientations [4].

Civilizational choice is one of the variants of manipulation, built on the directly manifested interests of intensifying further manipulation and seizures, which, according to Hegel, go into "bad infinity". The appeal to the meaning of the phenomenon of civilizational choice is not to emphasize what is usually meant by it, that is, not to indicate the need for the choice that each person makes in his everyday life. Consideration of the phenomenon of civilizational choice makes sense in the context of analyzing the prospects of the ongoing social processes, which is associated, as we mentioned above, with their transformation into social processes, in which not only the consolidation of already established forms of alienation occurs, but also their strengthening in ever new emerging versions [5]. The absolutization of the logic of the civilizational development and, along with it, the absolutization of the possibilities and prospects of civilizational choice, the logic of using everything and all in the human community, on which they are based, leads to the dehumanization of the man [6], to the collapse of not only culture as a process, but to the collapse of civilization itself [7.8].


1. Bidney, D. (1953). Theoretical Anthropology. N.Y., p.23-53.

2. Marx, K., Engels, F. (1988). Nemeckaya ideologiya. [German Ideology]. M.: Izd.polit. literatury.

3. Marx, K. Ekonomichesko-filosofskie rukopisi 1844 goda [Economic and philosophical literary works of 1844] in Marx, K., Engels, F. A collection of literary works. 2nd ed., V. 42.

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6. Gusseva, N.V. (2017). K voprosu o spetsifike myslitelnykh protsessov v kontekste kultury i tsivilizatsionnogo vybora (podkhody, tendentsii, programmy) [On the specifics of mental processes in the context of culture and civilizational choice (approaches, tendencies, programs)] in Gusseva, N.V. (Ed.) Sovremennye problemy razvitiya tsivilizacii i kultury: Sbornik nauchnyh statei [Modern problems of civilization and culture development: A collection of scientific works]. Ust-Kamenogorsk, pp. 38-57.

7. Kasse, E. (2013). Gryadushchee: Voskhozhdeniye ili bezdna? [The fufure: the summit or the abyss?] - SPb: Izd. "Vektor", 180 p.

8. Burovskiy, A. (2006). Oblik gryadushchego: Sistemnoe issledovanie budushchego [The image of the future: A systemic research of the future]. - M.: AST; Krasnoyarsk: ABU. - 234 p.

[1] The society in general characterizes the mass of main existing relations, and this society is rightfully given this name. It's a society of atomized individuals, dominance of alienation, private interests opposed to common interests

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020

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