WE ARE TEN! RHS and ZDRAVYJ SMYSL JUBILEE YEAR
- “My warmest greetings…” Academician Vitaly Ginzburg, Nobel laureate, interviewed by the RHS President Valery Kuvakin. “…Ninety years from now, when Zdravy Smysl marks its centenary, it will have developed into a widely-accepted magazine. The church, on the contrary, will be issuing low-circulation periodicals targeting a very limited audience…”
- First Russian Humanist Congress to take place in 2007. An open letter by the RHS Executive Committee discussing the possibility to convene a nationwide Humanists congress next summer. The event is planned as a review of our forces, our moral, intellectual and human potential.
- What is RHS? “The Russian Humanist Society is a type of organization quite new to Russia. It is an ideological community of people sharing the key principles of a scientific worldview, the general moral values, the fundamental human rights and freedoms, the principles of secular state, freedom of reason and conscience”. A brief overview of RHS origin, activities, achievements and plans.
- Our Plans for 5 and 10 Years. Statement by the RHS President V. Kuvakin detailing RHS plans. “Frankly, I was writing this plan with quite a mixed feeling: on the one hand, as they say, ‘there is no harm in dreaming’; on the other, ‘one should aim high’. There are too many reasons for this split, given the psychological, organizational and financial difficulties faced by NGOs in Russia…”
HUMANISM AND CULTURE
- Vladimir Zhukotsky. Philosophy and Humanism – Consolidating Humanities Knowledge and Culture. An open letter to humanities scholars. “The key question of contemporary Russian philosophy, as an integral part of national culture, is to define its social and cultural mission and to have it recognized by the public and the authorities. Providing a realistic answer will take a lot of courage…”
WHAT IS HUMANISM?
- Fyodor Chiang Kai-shek, Lyudmila Andreeva. Humanism at the turn of the century. A record of the “Ontology and Anthropology of Humanism” symposium that took place on May 16–18, 2006 in Vladimir. The forum brought together philosophers from many Russian cities. “Chairman of the Organizing Committee … began his presentation with the question: ‘If Humanism is dead, and we are still alive, then who are we? Unhumans?’ ”
RELIGION AND SOCIETY
- How will the Russian Army be Saved? Through Spiritual Values, or by Priests? Rimma Polyak reporting from the web-based “Portal-Credo” Round Table forum. “Save Private Sychov. Will the discipline and combat capacity of the Russian army be strengthened with the introduction of chaplains?” No doubt religious affiliation as an additional divisive factor among servicemen will only trigger more conflict.
- Sergei Mozgovoi. Quod licet Jovi…? According to the officer and lawyer, military leaders outwardly defy the Russian law. The very existence of army clergy is in direct contradiction with the Constitution.
- Believers speaking against the introduction of military chaplains. Views from Old Believer Alexei Ryabtsev, officer at the RF Armed Forces’ General Staff, and rev. Nikolai Golovachov, a Russian Orthodox priest.
- Vladimir Svetov. Krasnaya Zvezda and Religion (Secular Person’s Opinion). Bringing chaplains into the Russian Army, while supposedly protecting the rights of believers, will in fact limit the rights of both non-believers and members of most of the other religious organizations in Russia.
- Meanwhile… (latest update)
- Valery Kuvakin on Astrology. The immediate and worst consequence of devotion to this pseudoscience is “voluntary or involuntary escape from oneself, rejection of healthy skepticism and criticism, refusal to take a realistic view of oneself and the world; rejection of reason as the principal and most effective instrument allowing the person, not just to survive, but to live a decent and successful life…”
- Addendum. Homework for the reader: Evaluating the results of Pavel Sviridov’s “temporal studies”. Another apocalyptic forecast proves to be a total failure…
- The Skewed Triangle of Education Reform. Member of the Russian Education Academy Volodar Kraevsky talks of the technocratic and utterly utilitarian nature of the recently adopted “Concept of the Federal Targeted Education Development Program for 2006–2010”. According to Kraevsky, education must not be subordinated to economics; if it is, the human being will never be treated as a supreme value.
- Back to Common Sense! (Humanist Element of Modern Physical Education). Natalya Krasilnikova, coach and head of a Russian university’s physical education chair, points to the growth of aggressive behavior among the youth which she attributes, in particular, to the progressive loss of humanism in modern physical education; this is expressed in the predominance of various martial arts and rude games.
- Ilarion (Alfeyev), the Bishop of Vienna and Austria, and head of the Russian Orthodox Church Representation to European Institutions, attended the recent 10th International Russian People's Assembly in Moscow. In answering questions posted to the Pravoslavie.ru Internet publication, Orthodoxy against “Planetary Humanism”, he in particular verbalizes the official ROC position that human values cannot have priority over religious ones.
- Alexander Kruglov. The Holy War Against Humanism. “…for the question is, what it is that can unite people without subjecting them to physical or moral coercion? And if we are waging a ‘flag’, it is rather the white flag of negotiation… Well, not in the least. It is ourselves that are enemies number one for Orthodox Christians…”
PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE
- Lev Shestov and Russian literature. In this article Vladimir Lashov focuses on an underexplored aspect of creative activity of Russia’s outstanding Existential philosopher of early 20th century – i.e., his views on the nature and mission of literary work, and the characteristics of Russian literature as such.
- Alexander Tolpegin. Freedom and Responsibility Are Inseparable. On September 1, 1997 the InterAction Council (a reputable international non-governmental organization of former presidents and prime-ministers from all five continents) proposed to the international community its draft Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities.
- Addendum: Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. (Proposed to the United Nations and international community by the InterAction Council). “We, the peoples of the world thus renew and reinforce commitments already proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: namely, the full acceptance of the dignity of all people; their inalienable freedom and equality, and their solidarity with one another. Awareness and acceptance of these responsibilities should be taught and promoted throughout the world …”
ANTHOLOGY OF FREE-THINKING
- Paul-Henri Thiry, baron d’Holbach. Pocket Theology. Excerpts from the book by 18th century French enlightener, materialist and atheist, member of the St. Petersburg Royal Academy of Science.
- Mark Twain On Religion (from Notebooks and Reflections on Religion). “If I were told to create God I would endow him with some traits and skills lacking in the present (biblical) God…”
- Richard Dawkins. Viruses of the Mind. In his brilliant essay the renowned British evolutionist compares the typical religious attitudes to computer viruses and shows them as consuming human mind. “Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously deny it…”
- “Primordial Man”. Natalya Ikonnikova’s review of The Basics of Socio-Philosophical Anthropology (Ì., 2002), a monograph by V. Barulin. The author looks into the interdependence of “primordial man” and society within the “individual-society” system. This approach views the human being not just as a biopsychosocial individual, but as a unique entity, thus allowing for the definition of “certain existential problems of human existence”. Barulin’s book is a notable contribution to the theory of Secular Humanism.
- Tatiana Akulova. What do Dress Designers Think of Humanism and Common Sense? Responses of prominent Russian and foreign designers and art critics vary from “Common sense is number one in fashion business” to “Fashion is collective lunacy…”
- Circumstances. Poetry by Vadim Agol.
- The Great Hunt Day. Russian scientist Lev Fontanin telling a Story of “a scientist’s routine life – with its quests and finds, joy and disappointment…”