Philosophy, attitude to the world and literary process

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №7 - 2015

Author: Gusseva Nina, D. Serikbayev East-Kazakhstan State Technical University, Kazakhstan

The author (Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Chair of the Eastern Division of Kazakhstan society of philosophers "Kazakhstan Philosophy Congress") presented a speech on this topic at the International symposium «Russian literature in the global context» dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Gogol (Kazakhstan, Ust-Kamenogorsk).

The meaningfulness of the literary process is always determined by the author’s attitude to the surrounding world. This phenomenon becomes the basic principle. In this regard, the attitude exhibits traits of the concept, or a mental shape, which reflects the essence of the phenomenon under consideration.

When considering the content of the literary process we always match up forms and methods of the dominant attitude to the world in a certain historic period described in the literary work with the attitude of the author. This correlation helps to reveal the real basis for the author’s attitude, which is reflected in the features of his literary work. Attitude as the major principle of understanding the literary work in certain cases can act as a model, which contain the most essential features of its meaning.

Among models operating in the literature process, we can mention the following models:

- Description,

- Immersion,

- Confrontation,

- Rejection

- Criticism

- Syncretic or ideological replication of reality,

- Reflexion,

- Sensuous reflection,

- etc.

Each of these models is characteristic of a certain attitude of the author of a literary work to the reality and the position he takes in relation to his work, his story and the characters. Thus, description as a model assumes detachment of the author of a literary work, his staying outside the reality of the literary work. In case this model is used in a literary work there are no questions about how it was created. Instead, the leading issue to be discussed is the issue of the specificity of reality, which happened to be in the field of view of the author and was described by him. Descriptive model reduces the role of the author to that of the registrar of the reality that refuses to directly express their attitude to what is happening and described in a literary work.

The immersion model assumes a situation in which the author acts a direct participant of the events that compose the content of the literary work. This model, considered in its "pure" form, deprives authors of the literary work of the possibility to assess the events since all possible evaluation criteria for are dissolved in the flow of the events. The existential contents then becomes predominant. The readers in this case are most perceptible to the described things and events that are consonant with their condition at the time of reading a literary work, and if the "flow" of their life events is similar to what is described in a literary work. Otherwise, the readers will be unable to perceive the literary work as it was intended by the author.

The confrontation model programs the need to introduce into the literary work some kind of plot alternative or the alternative of another type. The author in this case does not necessarily reveals his preference for any of the alternatives. On the contrary, the author deliberately confronts these alternatives, bringing them to the maximum inconsistency and contradiction. Then, according to this model, there should be some kind of a plot "explosion" or (again, as an alternative, or surprise) the alternatives that make up the core of the plot of the literary work suddenly disappear.

The rejection model provides for the unacceptable plot or semantic structures in a literary work. The author expresses his attitude towards them and treats the reader as his confessor, sharing with the reader his own state of rejection of things he writes about.

In this case, there are at least two different possible versions of the ending of a literary work. Firstly, the author removes with the help of the plot or otherwise everything that causes rejection. Another option is the absorption of the author’s attitude with the negativity of the plot. The reader in these two cases sees the pessimistic and the optimistic scenarios, both of which have something that may not be acceptable as a matter of principle. It is assumed that there should be a victory of good over evil, or vice versa. Impersonation of good or evil in a literary work can be highly variable. However, the model will remain in effect.

Criticism model can be realized not only in journalism or in critical literature. It is quite universal. In the artistic work of literature, it is always present so far and to the extent to which the author shows his attitude to what is happening to his characters, to the plot of his story, etc. In such case, his critical attitude can manifest itself not in an open and all-out criticism of what is happening in the literary work, but through the behavior of his characters, their side remarks and so on, which in the end nevertheless create an atmosphere that expresses a critical position of the author.

Criticism model has a significant educational potential, as it gradually creates a semantic field in which the acceptable is manifested in a positive way and the unacceptable is manifested as an area of negativity. The readers, who find themselves in this semantic field, follow the author's position. The strength of this model is in gradual development of this semantic field. It does not cause in the reader a critical attitude towards the author's position. That is why - we emphasize – the education potential of the criticism model is essential.

Syncretic and ideological replication of reality serving as a structural principle of a literary work is close to the descriptive model. It differs from description, firstly by using a smaller set of literary devices and secondly, by static reproduction of what is to be described in the literary work. Syncretic replicating assumes reproduction of an idea or a story in a literary work in which the author intentionally or wrongly does not differentiate between the main and secondary. The reader in this case is immersed in the flow of events, which demonstrate no certain sense. This model also assumes the cooperation of the author and the reader in the form of necessary reader’s invasion into the literary work. Reader's position may be different, and therefore the literary work, built according to the model of syncretic replication every time will have to satisfy different interests and mindsets. Most often the model of syncretic replication is used in the literary works of an abstract type.

Ideological replication model requires structuring a literary work in accordance with definite socially accepted attitude. This attitude determines the development of the storyline, characters’ preferences, author’s evaluative jugements, etc. Author's bias is readily apparent, and the reader is able to distance himself from author’s position.

Reflective model suggests the inclusion into a literary work of the author’s attitude in addition to the main story line. Author's attitude is not necessarily realized through the author's excursus. It can be realized through the characters of the literary work. This model is dialogical in its nature. It allows the author to guide the reader through the maze of his world view, his attitude to the world, giving an impression of presence of an intelligent companion.

Sensuous reflection model can reflect the attitude to the world, which is defined as a perception of the world rather that the attitude and is based on a set of emotions given us by the nature. This model allows constructing images of the world, in which civilizational standards are not present. "Natural" perception of the world, holdout of the characters from the options of social self-determination, etc. are the main features of the literary work, created in accordance with this model. This model leads to using forms that are largely free from social meanings and values.

"Depriving of social meaning" as a phenomenon of the literary work becomes recognizable when both the authors and the readers happen to be in a situation of social isolation for whatever reason, when their relationship with the social life becomes a phantom and unpromising. Reference to this model can be seen in Rozanov’s position and his individual, independent attitude to the world based on which he made a statement "private life is above anything else" (People of moonlight). In its pure form, the model, if implemented, could become the basis of the product completely asocial or, by contrast, extremely social.

A brief reference to various models of attitudes to the world, which may be present in a literary work shows that each of them has a certain activity basis. This is easily determined by the "verb" status of each of these models of attitude. For example, if we ask a question “what should we do?” the answer to the question is a "verb" form that characterizes the essence of a particular model of attitude to the world. For example, to describe, to criticize, to reject, to immerse, etc. In this respect, it is noteworthy that all world languages are built on the verb forms as their basis.

It is an evidence of the fact that the real life of people, reflected in the language, cannot but be an activity in which people communicate with the nature and with other people. A particular type of human attitudes toward the world is developed based on what people do, which determines the main patterns of how people perceive the world and how they present themselves to the world. Understanding the that what people do is the basis of a certain type of attitude requires taking into account differences between different types of activity and between how these activities are perceived.

The most important thing in treating people’s activities as the basis of theirs attitude to the world is the inadmissibility of its identification with a system of situational and end actions. Causes of inadmissibility are as follows. First, the purpose of the activity, understood as a system of actions, every time will be presented in the form of a separate "sub-targets", corresponding to each of the structural and functional elements. This means that in relation to the same case, there is no possibility to set the goal and chose the tools to realize this goal that would bring people together and accumulate their creative energy. Second, understanding the work as a system of action makes it a phenomenon consisting of independent elements of "here and now" nature. Prospective creative purposes of cultural and historical character do not "fit" in the situation "here and now". In work, "systems of actions are not independent. They are subordinated to the objectives, structure and social value of activities carried out.

If the systems of actions substitute work becoming an autonomous basis that forms a man's relation to the world, then this attitude to the world also becomes situational and final" [1]. Situational, the final attitude to the world is characterized by superficiality and sporadicity. It does not include responsibility for what is happening beyond the "here and now". In this sense, it does not coincide with the sphere of morality and reason. It, expresses personal interests of man "here and now" in a rational and limited manner. It is the basis of snobbery, narcissism, etc.

To identify the specifics of attitude to the world it is essential to distinguish between the activities of a holistic and partitioned nature, between creative and manipulative activity, between creative and conformist activity. The difference between them is reduced to one substantial alternative - the alternative of holistic and partitioned activity. It determines the difference between creative and manipulative activity, between creative and conformist activity. Holistic activity unlike partitioned activity is carried out in accordance with the model, in which each element includes a functional "component": goal - choice of means - performance - results. All these structural and functional elements in the context of holistic activity are carried out by the same doer (doers, collectively). In partitioned activity, each of these structural and functional elements is carried out by a different doer (doers). As a result, partitioned work really leads to a separation of individuals and groups of people in accordance with the partial, private interests, characteristic of the parts of the partitioned activity they were responsible for.

The fact that the doers perform tasks of the same directedness doesn’t change the situation. Separation of work leads to the fact that some people find themselves in the group of those who set goals for these activities, and others - in the group of performers. There are also groups of an intermediate position. We believe they can be attributed to structural and functional element of the ongoing work, which provides for "the choice of means".

Inability of a person to be involved in holistic activity for a certain reason make this person prone to social influence. His potential of a subject, a doer, a creator is not realized. If the main thing that forms a person’s attitude to the world is the activity presented in the form of systems, sets of actions, then the person (people) develops is a "mechanistic" manipulative, conformist attitude to the world.

Writers and readers mission in this case, is adjusted depending on the prevailing type of activity and the attitudes to the world formed in accordance with this activity. Writers express it through their preference in genres, plots, literary devices. Readers’ preferences can serve as material for the reconsideration and defining the main characteristics of his life and, thus, his potential and prospects.

In the modern literary process understanding the problems of the writer’s self-determination of the it is always relevant since this problem is a reflection of an existing projection of social consciousness of the era into the individual life of both the writer and the reader who consumes this literary "product".

Reader's interest in the literary work in itself testifies to the reader’s need to get a sense of life that exists outside of his own being. The desire to expand one’s own sense of life space, the space of self-determination through the literary work is always focused on the specific needs, which depend on the prevailing forms of person’s attitudes to the world formed in the previous periods of his life. The desire to read literary works that express, let’s say, manipulative attitude to reality attests to the poorly formed personal sphere or the desire to degrade oneself to the level of a biorobot absorbing repetitive plots and circumstances, take oneself out of the active immersion into reality, get away from this reality and resign the responsibility for what is happening.

Another option why the reader is interested in the literary work the reader is associated with the opposite attitudes toward the world the dominating feature of which is the acute involvement into what is happening in the society, the desire to change the existing state for the better, responsible attitude to life, etc. Such attitude is characteristic of a man who has completely formed position of a subject (doer). This attitude expresses his position.

Subject position of a person differs substantially manifestations of his subjectivity, which has an attributive character. Interest in the literary work of man, having a subjective attitude to the world, who is not dissolved in his subjectivity and is not subordinate to it, attests to his search for such an expansion of the space of his life in which the content is not in any way reduced essentially to the situation of "here and now". The search for extension of life space through the literary work for such reader is focused on immersion into the historically changing times, "living" through deep underlying processes that are essential for the present and future generations. If, in response to this need, the reader finds the "mosaic" of the storylines, each of which is something finite, situational unrelated to non-individual attitude to the world, then this literary "product" is a piece of the "noise" literature, reading which is a waste of time. For this kind of products includes the phenomenon of popular culture as a whole, literature being its part. Aldous Huxley in his work "Art and banality" rightly pointed this out, saying that the popular culture for the masses is a tragedy. The tragedy is that the popular culture, including popular literature does not help, and even interferes with overcoming the dead-end attitude to the world and sense of life and reality caused by it. It preserves and, increases the manipulative person's status of a person in the modern social world as its object rather than its subject of his own, does not create the possibility of understanding how to resolve the deadlock.

Other types of literature initially focuses on the motivation of the spiritual “I” have to self-determination in the world on the basis of subjectivity. This can be easily seen in the position of certain authors. Thus, Thomas Mann in his "The Artist and Society" says that literature supports the spirit, gives form to the life. Following Thomas Mann, we can say that the "projection" of the form of life in the literary work depends on its author’s attitude to the world. This projection, then, in a sense guides the life of the reader. The strength of the impact on the reader depends on many parameters.

The most important among them is the degree to which attitude to the world of the author keep tune with that of the reader. Consonance or dissonance are the opposite forms of this accord. These concepts are borrowed from the musical literature. However, they quite adequately define the situation in this context. Here, consonance can symbolize a situation when positions of the author and the reader coincide. Dissonance, on the contrary, characterizes differences, opposition, alternative positions of the author and the reader. At the same time, in either case, "the shaping of life" will take place, albeit with varying specificity.

Real attitude to the world becoming a model, which is then transferred into the sphere of emotional and meaningful reflection of reality, becomes at the same time a constructive beginning of a literary work. Attitude to the world as the original principle is a key to understanding reality as an explanatory image or a model.

Structuring the procedure of working with any object always assumes staged element-by-element reproduction, which is characterized not as a process, but as a series of discrete combinations. This means that the model of attitude to the world is always different from attitudes to the world as a process. It is important to keep in mind while analyzing a literary work in order to distinguish the true art of the writer or poet from the "made" by the model or in accordance with a certain order.

Detection of attitudinal models present in the literary work allows, as we noted above, reconstructing the author’s reality and designing the reader’s reality. In this regard, identification of attitudinal models is a basis of determining the status of the author - text - reader relationship. Considering the nature of the activity attitude of a man to the world, it should be noted that author-text-reader relation is of an abstract nature. The hermeneutic approach based on direct work with the text, does not take into consideration consequences of the fact that the text is taken as a given. The status of the text as a given means that in the relation "author-text-reader" attitudinal aspect is not considered as fundamental. Understanding the meaning of the text doesn’t happen through perceiving the text as a set of characters, which contain the meaning of the text. The text as a system of symbols is not the same linguistic reality. Linguistic reality reproduces a particular attitude to the world and at the same time cannot be reduced to their carriers – systems of symbols. Hermeneutic work with the texts has a positive meaning - identifying and clarifying the relationship of systems of symbols as a means of objectification of meanings and values.

However, the position of the text as a means to expresses a particular meaning of what is happening or not happening, does not provide for a possibility to understand what is "hidden in the text as its meaning. Understanding the meaning of the text thus requires reproduction of the attitude of its author and its reader.

The literary work as a result of the literary process in its essence and content is not the result of working with symbols and texts of its author. The literary work is always "an entrance into a different reality" in a different spatial and temporal being generated by and the resulting from the author’s attitude to the world. Nonidentity of the literary work to the text indicates that it belongs the sphere of spiritual reproduction and creation of a new reality as a project for the future existence or as a model requiring revision, improvement, destruction.

Speaking about a literary work as a project, which may have no practical results Arthur Lundquist noted that literary programs are often fruitless. The fruitfulness of the literary programs or projects may be agreed only in case if such programs or projects are based on the basic principles of human attitudes toward the world. Here, again, we are talking about the reality of the existing forms and ways of life of people who are responsible for deployment of a specific type of social relations and relations within which certain literary programs may be viable.

Literary process not only reproduces, but also captures the meaning of transformation of social relations. At that, reproduction and recording of attitudinal meanings of human existence in the literary process and literary work are always variable. The range of variation is very broad. It can affect all possible interests of people and all of their possible attitudes to themselves, to others, to the world. That is why the refinement of the basic variants of attitudinal models is a way to study the literary process and literary works, allowing better understanding of meanings and values not only of the literary process and the product, but also of the reality, that shapes certain attitudes to the world in different historic times.


1. Gusseva N.V. Methodology and humanitarian knowledge: problems of development // Vestnik KAFU, Issue 3. Social and legal problems of education and society. Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2006, p. 8-19.

2. Gusseva N.V. The Concept of the Language as a model of attitude to the world. Vestnik KAFU, Issue 2. General issues of philology. Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2007, p. 24-32.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №7 - 2015

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