Is there a universal human mind? The Western European philosophizing paradigm with well-developed methodological tools provides an affirmative answer to this question. It is generally accepted that rationality is the same, and scientific and technological progress that transformed the planet is the fruit of Western European culture. It would be very strange to talk about the “atlas of rationality,” or “the geography of rationality”, about European, Arab, Chinese, or African rationality within the framework of the Western European conceptual philosophizing system. However, with the entry into the socio-political and economic arena of non-Western civilizations, and, accordingly, worldviews and traditions of philosophizing, the question arose of alternative understandings of rationality. The eternal philosophical problem of the universal and the concrete-unique has received a new sound in the context of globalization and the growing complex interaction of cultures. A new planetary world order is being created along with a rethinking of the fundamental problem of nature and the possibilities of the human mind.
Is there a universal human mind in general?
The demands of life and the future world order brought to life the project of the Round Table “Geography of Rationality”, which is annually held at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Project Manager – Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician A.V. Smirnov. Moderators: Professor I.A. Gerasimova (Institute of Philosophy, RAS), Professor A.A. Krushinskiy (Institute of the Far East, RAS). You can get acquainted with the heated discussions through the videos of March 20, 2018, April 25 and June 13, 2019.
The meeting of East and West at the Round Table was an attempt to expand the dialogue to professional interdisciplinary cooperation. The discussion was attended, on the one hand, by experts with knowledge of oriental languages and philosophical teachings: Indologists, Arabists, Sinologists, Japanese historians, researchers of the Persian language and culture of Iran. The ancient Russian rational culture, as well as the first geopolitical situation that arose when Europeans appeared in the New World, were not forgotten. The “Westerners” were represented by epistemologists, methodologists of science, logicians, cognitive scientists, and synergetics. With each regular meeting, new specialists join the dialogue.
If at the first meeting the question of the “geography of rationality” arose in general terms, then in the subsequent meetings more specific problems were discussed. Each culture is unique, the system of thinking is directly linked to the realities of the language. There was and remains the problem of the adequacy of translation from one language to another language, and, accordingly, the problem of the transfer of meaning and understanding. At the same time, the exchange of knowledge and practices between cultures has always existed. Historically, people have found opportunities to understand the Other and learn from valuable experience. European philosophy in all its many directions and doctrines has developed a filigree language for discussing the diversity of the problems of cognition of nature, society and man. But the meeting of East and West showed that not everything is embraced by a positively directed philosophical thought. There can be disparate pictures of the world, different linguistic pictures of the world, diametrically opposite value orientations.
How to learn to understand each other? In western and domestic universities, philosophy courses are taught in the Western European paradigm and within the framework of the Western European conceptual system. The attitude to conceptual Eurocentrism is twofold: on the one hand, we understand something in our native language, which is constantly evolving, incorporating the concepts of a different system, and on the other hand, the orientation exclusively on conceptual Eurocentrism often simplifies and distorts real situations. Apparently, mutual understanding of cultures can only be achieved through joint efforts.
Turning to a specifically different one not only leads to a deeper understanding of one's own culture, but also conceals new possibilities of creativity, expanding the horizons of thought. For example, the problem of the procedural ontology of the Arabic language has exacerbated the question of ontologies of Indo-European languages and models of logic that are “supportive” for Western European rationality (Round table from June 13, 2019).
The fourth Round Table “Geography of Rationality” was held in the context of the coronovirus pandemic, but this did not become an obstacle for the project participants. The remote access discussion focused around A.A. Krushinskiy “Subject, space, time: how to read the ancient Chinese text” (Round table on March 31, 2020). If philosophical systems based on Indo-European languages can be considered on the principle of family similarity, then the situation with the Chinese language and mentality is more complicated. Translations of classical ancient texts from Chinese into Russian vary to such an extent that one can doubt the professional qualifications of specialists. But what then should the philosophical community do? How to avoid profanity when introducing eastern philosophies into the general philosophical space? The controversy between the Sinologists touched upon problems that went beyond exclusively historical and philosophical research: the relationship between historical and philosophical studies and philosophical methodologies (S.Yu. Rykov); polysemy of languages, including the Chinese language (M.V. Rubets), the problem of protosubject in the Chinese text (N.V. Pushkarskaya), the question of multilevel meaning generation and specific trajectories of cognitive evolution in the "atlas of rationality" (I.A. Gerasimova), about the values of old texts in the context of modern realities on the example of a pandemic (M.R. Burget Ayala). Through centuries, the dialogue on behalf of Kant, Hegel, and the Sufi sages was conducted in a dispute on the problem of time by two orientalists – R.V. Pskhu and A.V. Paribok whose preferences have diverged.
Philosophical discussions are traditionally famous for posing questions and unexpected coverage of problems. The participants in the discussions on the project “Geography of Rationality” hope for the fruitfulness of their undertakings. The concept of the journal “Ideas and Ideals” contains a call for the development of broad public philosophical discussions on pressing problems of modern life and the future world order. The participants in the discussions of the Round table “The Geography of Rationality” hope for mutual understanding and active participation of readers of the journal “Ideas and Ideals”. The unity of the cultural centers of Moscow and Novosibirsk can be regarded as a landmark event.