- RHS Letter of Gratitude to Vitaly Ginzburg on the occasion of his 90th jubilee. “Your active involvement in RHS work adds particular moral and intellectual authority to the organization, winning support of those Russians who would not tolerate the deterioration of culture and education, the widespread charlatanism and mounting clerical pressure targeting government agencies and school…”
- Greetings from President of the International Academy of Humanism and CFI Director Paul Kurtz: “May I congratulate the Russian Humanist Society on the occasion of its 10th anniversary… The efforts of Valery Kuvakin and our dear Russian friends are deeply and profoundly appreciated and we wish them in decades to come when democratic humanism will prevail in Mother Russia as part of the planetary community.”
VITALY GINZGURG, GUEST AT ZDRAVY SMYSL
- Academician Vitaly Ginzburg, our guest at Zdravy Smysl. Nobel Laureate interviewed by Editor-in-Chief Valery Kuvakin – continued from previous issue. “Scientific worldview has an intrinsic system of values that include high valuation of reason and rationality, recognition of science’s progressive role, and the social and moral responsibility of scientists. Understanding this is especially important now that the church is trying to invade all spheres of social life…”
- Open Address to the President of Russia by Russian scientists. “The purely administrative reform pushed by the Ministry of Science and Education through the back door, without consultations with the academic community, will have some obvious disastrous effects, such as cutback on advanced fundamental research, loss of academic schools and a new wave of westward emigration of young talent…”
- Academicians Against Autonomy by Nina Vazhdaeva (published in Novye Izvestia, October 4, 2006). “Unfortunately, the worries of scientists cannot be dismissed as unjustified… The proposed amendments to the law ‘On Science and Technological Policy’ will deprive academies of their autonomy…”
- Garri Abelev. The Spirit of Science and Its Reform. “I’m following the media debate around the anticipated academic reform with great apprehension. It becomes all the more obvious that the issue has passed the phase of discussion and that science is on the verge of abyss. It is clear to me that science, with its self-governance, self-defined priorities and a value system of its own, is confronted by the bureaucrat …”
SCIENCE, PSEUDOSCIENCE, SOCIETY
- Yevgeny Alexandrov, Yury Yefremov, Eduard Kruglyakov, Is Russia Doomed to Be Run the Rasputin Style? “In pursuit of their selfish goals the ideologists of pseudoscience reject the ‘official science paradigm’ as outdated, hailing the era of new, ‘esoteric’ knowledge, with no room for ‘dogmatic science’. The all-out attack on true science is not waged by promoters of quackery alone. The enemies of science rely on a powerful ‘philosophical’ argument, deeply rooted in the anarchic concepts of postmodernism…”
SCIENCE AND RELIGION
- Vladimir Surdin. Birthday of the Universe (Natural Science, Orthodox Style). “In countries whose well-being is based on high technology, criticizing science as such went out of fashion centuries ago. But for Orthodox Christianity, itself a reflection of our society’s level of development, … the principle enemy is still the high school-level science education.”
OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
- Sergei Mozgovoi. Bible Classes Legalized. Discussion at RIA Novosti premises of experience with the teaching of Basics of Orthodox Culture proves that the clergy have instinctive fear of secular disciplines. The author is critical of the mandatory teaching of Orthodox disciplines to school students in certain regions of Russia. He exposes the position taken by the church lobby and other proponents of clericalization of secular schools as non-constructive.
- Statement from the Freedom of Conscience Institute with regard to the introduction of clerical ideology into the public education system. “Certainly placing the burden of religious (confessional) instruction on the public school will benefit neither the church, nor the society, nor the government.”
- Statement by the Committee of Action of the All-Russia Civil Congress “On Religious Instruction at Public School”. Prominent Russian human rights advocates call on the authorities and legislators to abide by key Constitutional principles.
- Our Briefing Note. Introduction of Basics of Orthodox Culture in courses of study, de facto and de jure.
- Yury Chernyshov. Thirty Years – No Old Age. Anniversary of the Moscow Helsinki Group. “It’s time to take a look at the human rights movement as it evolved over the 30 years – from monitoring implementation of the Helsinki declaration’s humanitarian clauses in a totalitarian state to arguing for action to counter Nazism in the supposedly democratic Russia. It’s a regrettably bad evolution…”
FROM THE HUMANIST PERSPECTIVE…
- Euthanasia: Possibility, Necessity, and Right. by Grigory Gumnitsky. “Human being is an end in itself, the ultimate purpose of any societal activity. This is why humans have the right to dispose of their lives. This right is of course limited by one’s obligations towards others, and the society in general. But when the person suffering a difficult health condition is unable to perform any duties whatsoever, he or she is certainly relieved of them…”
- Lyubov Vorobyova, student at the MSU Philosophy Department, reflects on the Ethics of Euthanasia: “One should avoid harsh judgment about euthanasia. Not every possible situation can be measured with our theoretical convictions… Nevertheless… we should keep looking for a decent solution, accepting compromises and avoiding extremities.”
- Eduard Finkelshtein, Emma Rautbart, How to Maintain Dignity in a Non-conducive Environment? “The whole system of education should be directed to make sure that all educational programs… offer questions like: ‘How do we know it?’, ‘How can we guess about it?’, ‘How to assess this statement?’… No strategy for efficient and democratic society can be formulated until everyone is allowed to independently analyze this type of questions.”
WHAT IS HUMANISM?
- Humanism and Ecologism in Oriental Cultures. Vladimir Kurguzov analyzes cultural and historical experiences of peoples inhabiting the neighboring countries of Eastern and Central Asia, where the relations between society and nature have been regulated through peculiar mechanisms, with the human acting as the primary link connecting the socio-cultural and natural environments.
LESSONS FOR TOMORROW
- Years that Were Left Out. Natalia Delone, a well-known Russian geneticist, remembers the Lysenkovshina period of forced stagnation in Soviet genetic science, the wide-spread repressions and thwarted academic careers of talented Russian geneticists.
- Vsevolod Lyashenko, What is Being Said of Health Reform Post Factum? Reform is warranted, but is executed by the Russian bureaucracy without consultation with professionals, which results in huge losses for the Russian health. “Let Democracy unveil its beautiful face, at least in the debate over the vital issues of public health...”
- The Imperative of Rational Morality, by Fatima Demelkhanova. “In my view, the ethical system that prevails in the Russian culture is different from the European model. It is dominated by social (communal) values, rather than the values of personality or the precedence of law…”
- Religious Factor Against Democratic Procedures. Sergei Mozgovoi reviews S. Buryanov’s book Election and Power. “The author describes the enormous impact of this factor on the electorate, by disclosing, not only the mechanics of this influence, but also the government’s deliberate religious (confessional) policy. The voter is not as much influenced by electoral block (party) rhetoric or personalities as by the portion of ‘sacral authority’ that the particular block managed to privatize.”
- Anna Kudishina reports on the Amherst International Summer School on Humanism (July 10 through August 12, 2006 at CFI) and its session in Novosibirsk (July 16 through 31, Novosibirsk State University, supported by the MSU Philosophy Department). “The international education program which promotes Humanism continues under a multilateral agreement between RHS, the Center for Inquiry–Transnational (CFI) and the Philosophy Department of the Moscow Lomonosov State University.”
- Mikhail Mamchich. Life Gets No Better, Just Funnier… Sayings and aphorisms. (Continued from previous issue)
- Konstantin Kushner. “Socratisms”
- Anatoly Tasminsky. Thought is a Sparkle of Life. Aphoristic definitions
THE ONES WE LOST
- Vsevolod Lyashenko, The stinging Grief (on the tragic death of Anna Politkovskaya, a popular Russian journalist and human rights activist). “Her assassination was a long-expected political event…”
- A Word About Eduard Borisovich. In memory of Eduard Finkelshtein, who founded and led Russia’s first Teachers’ Club, and was among ZS authors. “He managed to do a lot in his life; and there was much more that he realized and dreamt about, but unfortunately had no time to complete…”
- In memorial. Vladimir Dmitrievich Zhukotsky, one of the most energetic members of the Russian Humanist movement, died in an automobile accident. Vladimir Zhukotsky was professor of Philosophy and leader of the regional RHS branch in Nizhnevartovsk.