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   Course Title    Cultural Heritage: Logic and Poetics
Lecturer    Nikolai B. Ivanov
Institution    St. Petersburg State University
Country    Russia

The aim of the course is to endow the concept of cultural heritage with definite philosophical meaning. This task is to be accomplished within the following thematic tracks:

        critique of the perception of heritage as a nominal equivalent of the cultural and historical tradition;

        critique of the perception of logic as the only strategy that can guarantee intelligibility of cultural heritage;

        discovery and demonstration of the dialectics of impressive and expressive forms of cultural heritage's being within European tradition;

        culture and its heritage as logos and, at the same time, mythos of human being;

        logic and poetics of truth displayed in culture.


Within the overall degree curriculum, this course is designed to fill the gap between theoretical discourses on culture and the practices of its understanding, interpretation, and appropriation. It is designed for students of fourth and fifth years of study, who possess a solid knowledge of the leading theoretical strategies in cultural studies and who are familiar with basic problems of interpretation from their own experience.


Methodologically, the course is based on the analysis of both history of methodological studies and phenomena of culture itself. Considerable attention is to be paid to the analysis of the particular epochs and phenomena of European culture, especially in antiquity and Middle Ages, the most distant and initial eras.


The course is organized around four thematic blocks:


1. Logos and mythos: strategies of the interpretation of history and culture


First week. Hermeneutic foundations of humanities

Basic problem of the lecture and the initial problem of the course is: how are "synthetic judgements a priori" (Kant) possible and, how is cognition in general possible in the sphere where truth is being created, i.e. in the world which appears to be the universal object of the human sciences in so far as it is impossible to say anything about it a priori? This problem was first formulated in modern philosophy, namely in Neokantianism and philosophical hermeneutic. Self-consciousness of contemporary human sciences is still charmed by the discussion initiated on the threshold of the centuries around the dilemma of "explanation-understanding". However, the horizon of the problems, which was radically thought through by hermeneutics, can not be reduced to the mentioned dilemma and, for this very reason, is presently potent to determine the practices of both human and natural sciences.


Second week. Cultural practices and the problem of rationality

A basic belief of the European classics reads that logic is the foundation of thinking not only formally, but also speculatively. In the situation in which it was thinking that was considered as the essential human ability, such understanding endowed logic with the distinguished ontological status. If we take into account that the practice of thought could be directly reduced to the practice of the cognition of truth, we can easily understand why it was that instead of logic the reverse perspectives showed themselves in modernism (e.g. unconsciousness, historical a priori, discourse, etc.) and how important it is to keep seeking and discover what is concealed behind logic, which, thus, appears to be only a sham equivalent of rationality.


Third week. Verification and versification

Verification is usually understood as the basic way of the justification of human rational conclusions. As such, it was sufficiently described only in the 20th century (Popper, Lakatos). However, verification can be rightfully considered as a universal procedure that has been cultivated in Europe since Socrates and Democritus. However, at any times truth has had two faces. First, truth has been something barely accessible to the actual contemplation (and for this very reason requiring specific verification). Second, truth has been at any times something worthy of human contemplation, something that couldn't help being an object of admiration, glorification, and veneration – that is, of versification in its broadest sense. Philosophy appeared to be the mother of sciences in the measure in which it attempted to investigate the world's best aspect, i.e. its idea. Are the types of the versification of truth independent from the types of its being? The answer to this question determines the fate of contemporary humanities.


Fourth week. Basic strategies of interpretation in modern and postmodern thought

Interpretation as the basic practice of understanding has its obvious limits. What are the ways and the steps of its recognition? What turns hermeneutics into a discipline of thought? Is it possible to reconstruct hermeneutic contexts of post-structuralism in general and the idea of deconstruction in particular? If we succeed to understand and correctly pose these questions, the idea of contemporary humanities' self-consciousness will acquire its radical meaning.


2. Nature and creature: the problem of discrepancies between various types of rationality


Fifth week. Idea of nature and idea of creature in the history of the systems of thought

Conceptualization of nature and creature is the most evident and recognized manifestation of the withdrawal of thinking from the mythological stage. That is why the whole history of rationality up to the present day is being usually considered within the horizon of such conceptualization which had, of course, its steps (i.e. historical forms) but which, at the same time may appear the history of a new type of mythologization. Once we succeed to recognize this history as such, it will open a peculiar perspective for a new of nature and creature.


Sixth week. Nature as the metaphor of truth

Naturalistic philosophy is the initial form of philosophical contemplation not only historically, but also paradigmatically. We can either know the nature of being and, respectively, its truth or know nothing at all. This is what the universal maxim of common sense has been telling us for centuries. However, this very maxim will completely lose its universality and discover in the history of culture something more essential than the contents of nature itself if we recognize its cultural conditions.


Seventh week. Philosophical meaning of the thematization of creature

Homer's myth and the myth of the Bible: contexts of juxtaposing. In a certain sense, basic forms of modern intellectual history may well be reduced to the investigation of these contexts. At the same time, intellectual history attempts to consider the problem of interrelation between nature and creature as merely historical, as essentially belonging to the past whereas it is crucial to demonstrate such a view as the illusion worshipped not only by contemporary historiography. This is the illusion which, remaining unrecognized, creates the crisis of contemporary intellectuality.


Eighth week. Creation and contemplation

Contemplation of truth and creation of truth are traditionally considered to exist in two parallel worlds: the first resides in the sphere of theoretical reason while the second functions within that of the practical one. The illusory character of the opposition of these two worlds is the basic theme of the 20th century's philosophical hermeneutics. However, in the measure in which hermeneutic itself rests on the transcendental basis, it belongs to one of these worlds, namely to the world of theoretical reason. Our crucial question reads: is it possible to endow the act of the world constituting (Husserl) with the ontological meaning?


3. Phenomenology of creative work


Ninth week. Being ex nihilo: the experience of the unknown

The problem of the limits of human knowledge can in no way be reduced to the epistemological one. In effect, such a reduction can only be ascribed to a short period of the history of European thought, namely for the classical philosophy of 17th-19th centuries. The ontological turn in the treatment of this problem is usually connected to the names of Neo-Romanticists. This appears to be wrong in the measure in which we take into account the tradition of ancient and Christian philosophy. The crucial question is whether it is possible to provide a positive transcription for the prophetic theology.


Tenth week. The modes of creation

Creative work is only at first glance reducible to the production of novelty. In effect, to create means to decide on the fate of being – that is, to conduct a process the meaning of which first appears within its limits and may not be determined either by the quality of the result or at all by its presence. In this context, any forms of positing of human dignity in thought, word, and action must be recognized as the modes of creation whereas the figure of creator (artist) is to be described as the paradigmatic eidos of human being.


Eleventh week. The problem of the author

Philosophical meaning of the thematization of the author is determined, on the one hand, by the significance of the relation between the concepts of the author and creator and, on the other hand, by the impossibility to describe the practice of authorship (discourse) in terms of transcendental subject's experience. It is the problem of the author that serves as a probing stone of world picture in contemporary humanities. Nowadays, it is self-evident that the author as the subject of "regional ontology" (Husserl) and the author as the subject of "the materialism of the bodiless" (Foucault) constitute two parallel worlds. To which of these worlds, however, does this very evidence belong? Respectively, what are the limits of responsibility of postmodernism's principal position – that is, of the thesis of the author's death?


Twelfth week. Masterpiece: archaeology and eschatology

Archaeological and eschatological discourses most definitely discover the limits and conditional character of social self-consciousness. Masterpiece, understood as world, and world, understood as a masterpiece, have a peculiar place within both types of discourse. It is the place where the sources of possible "language games" (Wittgenstein) of culture are located. Does this mean that the limits of such localization can also be recognized on the basis of these sources?


Thirteenth week. Creativity as an epistemological problem

Thematizaion of creativity conducted within neo-kantian tradition turned out to form the whole spectrum of philosophical and humanitarian strategies in the 20th century. At first glance, these strategies (philosophy of life, existential phenomenology, philosophical hermeneutics, post-structuralism, cognitive science, etc.) have nothing in common. The impossibility of mutual understanding between these traditions is of essentially mythological character: it is determined by the egocentrism of their protagonists. In effect, the question does not consist in defining the possibility of their mutual understanding or common language. By contrast, the question is to decide whether the dialog between opposite traditions (and not principally between those of traditional philosophy) may be fruitful at all.


4. Poetics: history and logic of arts


Fourteenth week. Ontological horizon of aesthetics

Nowadays no one can doubt that ontology as “a doctrine of being as such” (Aristotle) has an aesthetic horizon. This is a historical fact, which the whole ancient philosophy can witness. In the later history of ontology this fact entailed certain consequences (that are well investigated) the validity of which may not also be doubted. However, the fact that aesthetics itself as a science of the beautiful dimension of being acquired ontological meaning in 19th-20th centuries also belongs to these consequences. One may consider this turnover as a historical incident. However, should there be a grain of logic in this event, this necessitates the revision of all the basic concepts of European metaphysics.


Fifteenth week. Art as a kind and the essence of human being

Dialectics of tradition and innovation that determines dynamics of cultural heritage is usually considered as a specifically aesthetic problem or, in the best case, as a problem of intellectual history. This is the problem of history in the measure in which contemporary contexts of this dialectics are sold to various kinds of culture and art critic. This has at least two consequences, namely mystification of the forms of functioning of cultural heritage and nominalization of the discourses about art (especially, critical discourses). Is there a rational opportunity to avoid these Scylla and Charybdis contemporary art self-consciousness?


Sixteenth week. The art of thinking and the problem of narration

Philosophy is an art of comprehension of the grounds of possible world outlooks, limits of its meaningfulness, rationality, and universality. The paradox is in the fact that philosophy always failed to recognize itself as an art. Moreover, the very problem of such an art has never been posed in philosophy. It is especially amazing in the situation in which the problem of reflection is completely substituted by the problem of narration.


Seventeenth week. The artist in history: the tragedy of self-consciousness

The artist is never recognized by his contemporaries. His self-recognition is also problematic. Only masterpieces of last epochs are always at our disposal. Are there any criteria to recognize a genius in a person sitting nearby?


Eighteenth week. Poetics as metaphysics

A sketch of a new project of metaphysics is to be given.





First week. Rickert H.. The Limits of the Construction of Concepts in Natural Sciences. Part 2. (any edition)

            Windelband W. Preludes. (any edition)

            Dilthey W. Descriptive Psychology. Chs. 5, 6, 7. (any edition)

            Nietzsche F. La Gaya Scienza. (any edition)

Second week. Schopenhauer A. Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Part 4. (any edition)

            Hegel G. W. F. Wissenschaft der Logik. (any edition)

            Kierkegaard S. The Illness to Death. Chs. 2, 3, 4. (any edition)

            Husserl E. Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft. (any edition)

Third week. Popper K. Logic of Scientific Cognition. (any edition)

            Lakatos I. History of Science and its Rational Reconstructions . Moscow, 1978 (in Russian)

            Bachelard G. The New Rationalism. Moscow, 1987 (in Russian)

            Feyerabend P. Against Method. Outline of an Analytical Theory of Knowledge. L., 1975.

Fourth week. Husserl E. Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Chs. 2, 6, 7, 9. (any edition)

            Heidegger M. Brief ueber den Humanismus. (any edition)

            Freud S. The Future of One Illusion. (any edition)

            Gadamer H.-G. Wahrheit und Methode. Teil 2. (any edition)

Fifth week. Auerbach E. Mimesis (any edition)

Averintsev S. Poetics of Early Byzantine Literature. M., 1997 (in Russian).

            Bakhtin M. The Works of Francois Rabelais. M., 1965 (in Russian).

            Heidegger M. Die Zeit des Weltbildes (any edition).

Sixth week. Diels H, Kranz W. Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (any edition).

            Aristotle Analytics (any edition).

            Plotinus Enneades 5, 8. (any edition)

            Descartes R. Discourse on Method (any edition).

Seventh week. Husserl E. Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Chs. 3, 5, 9. (any edition)

            Foucault M. The Order of Things. Part 3. (any edition)

            Popper K. Open Society and its Enemies (any edition).

Eighth week. Husserl E. Ideas to Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy. §§ 47-56. (any edition)

            St. Augustine De civitate Dei (any edition).

            Heidegger M. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Introduction. (any edition).

            Deleuze J., Guattary F. Anti-Oedipus. (any edition)

Ninth week. Pseudo-Dionisius Areopagita. Mystic Theology. (any edition)

            Schleiermacher F. Reden ueber Religion. (any edition)

            Nietzsche F. The Birth of Tragedy (any edition).

            Artaud A. The Theater and its Double (any edition).

Tenth week. Marx K. Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie. (any edition).

            Florensky P. Stolp i Utverzhdenie Istiny (any edition; only available in Russian)

            Bakhtin M. To a Philosophy of Action (any edition).

            Derrida J. Dissemination (any edition).

Eleventh week. Husserl E. Ideas to Pure Phenomenology (any edition).

            Scheler M. Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos. (any edition).

            Bakhtin M. The Problem of Author (any edition).

Twelfth week. Florensky P. Ikonostas (any edition; only available in Russian).

            Wittgenstein L. Philosophical Investigations (any edition).

            Levi-Strauss C. Structural Anthropology (any edition).

            Heidegger M. The Origin of the Work of Art (any edition).

            Derrida J. Truth in Painting  (any edition).

            Gadamer H.-G. Wahrheit und Methode. Teil 1. (any edition).

Thirteenth week. Kant I. Critique of Pure Reason §§ 24-25 (any edition).

            Heidegger M. Being and Time §§ 31-34, 62-63 (any edition).

            Foucault M. Archaeology of Knowledge (any edition).

Fourteenth week. Losev L. The History of Ancient Aesthetics. (any edition)

            Jaeger W. Paideia (any edition).

            Heidegger M. Nietzsche. Vol.1. (any edition).

Fifteenth week. Ricouer P. The Conflict of Interpretations. (any edition)

            Bulgakov S. Philosophy of Name. (any edition; only available in Russian)

            Saussure F. de.  Cours de Linguistique Générale. (any edition)

Sixteenth week. Schelling F. W. J. Philosophie der Kunst

            Yates F. The Art of Memory. London, 1966.

            Barthes R. Mythologies. (any edition).

Seventeenth week. Leonardo da Vinci. Selected Works (any edition)

            Dante A. Opera Minora (any Russian edition).

            Mamardashvili M. Psychological Topology of Thought. M., 1996. (only available in Russian)

Eighteenth week. Ivanov N. Creator and his Sacrifice. St. Petersburg, 1995 (only available in Russian).



Bloch R. Howard. Etymologies and Genealogies. A Literary Anthropology of the French Middle Ages. The University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Derrida J. Truth in Painting

Eco U. Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas

History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. Ed. by Iain Hampsher-Monk, Karin Tilmans and Frank van Vree. Amsterdam, 1998.

Foucault M. History of Sexuality, vols. 2 and 3

Gilson E. Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages

Huizinga J. Homo Ludens and other works

Le Goff J. Civilization of the Medieval West

            , Intellectuals of Middle Ages

            , Medieval Imagination

Manguel A. A History of Reading. Flamingo, 1997.

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