Sokolov Alexey: The Problem of Ownership in the Value Horizon of the Eurasian Civilization

Speaker: Sokolov Alexey, Institute of Philosophy of the St.-Petersburg State University, Russia, Doctor of Philosophy, Head of the Department of Social Philosophy and Philosophy of History

Topic: The Problem of Ownership in the Value Horizon of the Eurasian Civilization

Ownership is the first and basic philosophical question. It is the question and clarification of what is “self”. It menas asking about that which is one’s own, native, indispensable, the natural feature without which one’s own self is inconsistent. The question of ownership is the question of the soul.

It can be easily shown that the question of ownership, the own, the native and the absolute basis was the first to be raised by Plato in ”Alcibiades I”, by Augustin in his “Confessions”, Descartes in the “Discourse on the Method”, and Marx in his “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”. The same question was raised by Russian philosophy when P. Chaadayev agitated and thus sparked the Russian consciousness exclaiming in bewilderment “Who are we?”.

Two points are important in this question.

First. Chaadayev does not ask “who am I”?, but rather emotionally “who are we?”. And, in seach for an answer, he says, in a Socratic way, something that might seem to be negative judgements: “We are not this”, “we are not that”, “we are who knows what”. Second. In an endless chain of negative exclamations, Chaadayev, as though by chance, comes across something that is his own trait as a being, which makes him identify himself with his motherland.

“Had we not been extended from the Bering Strait to Oder, we wouldn't have been noticed”.

“Since we had the imprudence one day to set foot in such a severe climate, let’s do our best, at least now, to settle down in such a was as to forget its severity”.

He was the first genuinely Russian philosopher that captured in words an evident fact in the strictly negative, critical, and rather sophistical style. But it was his radical bewilderness that started the flow of our thinking towards the positive realisation of what is our own, our proper, indispensable, and native.

From the Oder to Alaska (which was Russian in Chaadayev’s time) – that is exactly “us”, Russia, with its expanse, vastness, impassability and misery. Although, “impassability” and “misery” are now quite disputable.

A vast land – wide, far, deep, high: That is what ”fell to our lot”. That became our business, our feature, our ownership.

The question of ownership is one about the owner, the inividual, the subject of the world. And the dominant idea of Chaadayev – not the “I” but the “We” – is not accidental.

The vastness (as a mathematical infinity) cannot have any parts, details or detachment. Detachment as a particularity, randomly taken as a principle in the presupposed countless exuberance, in reality ends up with a total standoff between detached and absolotely unimportant individuals (due to their principal generality) or with war of all against all.

Therefore, the subject and owner in the presupposed vast and exuberant land can only be the community of people, where the attitude of each one towards the neighbour defines his or her individual self.

The primacy of correlation with the neighbor (not with the other) cinfirms itself in the severe landscape-and-climate living conditions. The severity of the elements helps the selection of those who dare to live with the elements and who are capable to settle in. For ages, the severe Eurasian vastness has been selecting people worthy (having the merit) of not appropriating and not even developing something, but of transforming it.

Such a people are not private owners but masters, who independently, freely, and despite hurdles preoccupied themselves with a common cause – the transformation the vast Land into a perfection of the Russian Cosmos.