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                                                                                                   Benno Hübner

    My strangeness/malaise with culturologia

    reflections from another (western) point of view

    (український переклад за цим посиланням

    Despite my studies at three German universities (Freiburg. Bonn, München) of philosophy, law and sociology and despite that I delivered lectures, seminars and workshops at the universities of Stuttgart and Zaragoza (Spain) and, specially, since my retirement, in many different Spanish- and Russian-speaking countries from Chile, Ecuador to Russia, Belarus. Ukrania, culturologia is still a questionable concept, which I want to clear up with your help on the occasion of this congress.


    Well, one problem is that the subject culturologia doesn’t exist in western universities; at best in some universities and institutes there me be a subject called "sciences of culture”, generally combined with ethnology, and it will refer preponderantly to exotic cultures, exotic with regard to the geographical distance from us: Indian cultures; exotic also with regard to the temporal distance from us: Stone Age and Egyptian culture et cetera. Or there is the "landeskunde”, mostly connected with the adquisition of modern foreign languages, Russian, French "landeskunde” (geography). The concept of cultural studies, which in the USA means a concept of culture going beyond literature and referring also to other cultural products like theatre, film et cetera, I want only to mention marginally here. Also the concept of subcultures, in which a mere sound, for example, only fulfils the role of aesthetic identification (Igor Gafarov, Metal Community and Aesthetics of Identity).


    The wider a concept like culture, the more polysemantic, casual and arbitrary are the contents with which we can fill it. Or is there a higher – political – authority, court of appeal, which possesses the monopoly of definition? And if not? Is it the task, the function of congresses like this one, not only to contend for contents, but also to justify an apparently superfluous discipline like culturologia in face of the fact, that culturologia only exists in the ex-soviet-republics, but not in western universities?


    So it must be strange for somebody who comes from the western world – east or west, I think you feel yourselves more western – , that in all eastern universities, in all faculties culturologia is taught as an obligatory academic discipline. Has culturologia taken the place of marxism-leninism after its debacle, I mean institutionally, not in terms of the contents? Has the homo sovieticus been substituted for/by the homo culturologicus or homo democraticus as the target of academical formation of students, which overcomes the specialization and integrates the individuum in an Open Democratic Society? Have you converted an institutional-ideological-necessity/lack (abolition of Marxism-Leninism) into an academic virture by creating culturologia?


    But which culturologia? Referring to which culture? To a regional/national, specific, self-affirmative culture or to a general culture or cultures? In the context of the first, 4 years ago I delivered a lecture in the Academy of Sciences in Minsk with the title: МИР В ПОЛЕ НАПРЯЖЕНИЯ МЕЖДУ ТЕНДЕНЦИЕЙ ГЛОБАЛИЗАЦИИ РАЦИОНАЛЬНОЙ ЕВРО-АМЕРИКАНСКОЙ КУЛЬТУРЫ/ЦИВИЛИЗАЦИИ И СТРЕМЛЕНИЕМ К РЕГИОНАЛЬНОЙ КУЛЬТУРНОЙ ИДЕНТИЧНОСТИ . This lecture dealt with my experience of the endeavours of Latin-American, Indian cultures which even at the price of a loss of scientific-technological and democratical achievements wanted to be disengaged from the western culture – for the sake of their own parametaphysical cultural identity. We can find parallels in Europe, concretely in Spain, and include the Basque and to a lesser extent the Catalan culture. These offer an emphatic concept of culture, which excludes other cultures and of which the Basque philosopher Mikel Azurmendi said, the Bask culture, to be national, needs an enemy. I have before my eyes, in my memory, the German culture, which in its arrogant emphasis pretended – and really did – eliminate elements of foreign, strange cultures, specially the Jewish – I’ll return to this point – , and last century spread great mischief over the world.


    Marginally: When Schopenhauer says, that "every poor wretch/simpleton, who has nothing to be proud of, chooses the last instrument, the nation, to which he contingently belongs, to be proud of”, we have to think, if not weak personalities are those, who need most the identification with a regional culture.


    Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) was probably the first German, who employed a concept of culture that was nationally and religiously not limited and not emphatic. One of the posts he occupied was that of director of the Prussian System of Instruction and Education. In the face of the increasing disintegration of the universitas in an accumulation of specialitates which developed incoherently side by side, he demanded a general academic formation for the students, which integrated the specialitates in the universitas and thus converted the "autonomous individuum” (Kant) into a "citizen of the world” (Humboldt). This academic model and ideal of formation, nevertheless, found in the national-socialism its drastically-tragic perversion, where the "autonomous individuum” was substituted by the "Voksgenosse” and the place of the "citizenship of the world” occupied by the "German Volk”, defined by "Blut und Boden” (blood and land). This model found then its exemplary expression in Martin Heidegger’s "Rektoradsrede” of 1933 about the "Selfaffirmation of the German University”, in which Heidegger spoke about the triple service of the German university: the service of work, the service of defence, the service of science. You can imagine, to which science the German University had to contribute: to the breeding of the homo germanicus, with its parallel in the earlier Soviet-Union in the homo sovieticus. It stands to reason, that in this situation after the Second World War in the German universities a new model of formation, bound, in matters of contents, to the German culture, couldn’t rise. After the disaster of the Second World War even the most obdurate Germans began to sea clearly that „the world couldn’t get better by feeding on German Wesen (essence)" (Emanuel Geibel, 1815—1884, patriotic German poet). Culture as a concept overcoming specialities, remained extra muros. What dominated was scepticism, indifference. The fact, that in the 60/70ies a wave of Marxism swept through the German universities and that the homo sovieticus became in some way an object of interest for the German students, precisely when, at the same time, he was gradually dismantled  in the Soviet-Union, belongs to the irony of history and needs a special analysis. (B.H., Revolution of Aesthetics, Aesthetic of Revolution, S.P., 2009).


    As I have just mentioned, by substituting Marxism-Leninism for culturologia you have made a virtue of necessity. The question, that occurs to me, is whether we in the West can or shouldn’t learn from you, imitating this virtue and thus return to Humbolt’ ideal of academical formation. Years ago, the German philosopher Odo Marquard and president for several years of the "Deutsche Rektorenkonferenz” indirectly complained about the deficient academical „Inkompetenzkompensationskompetenz". By this word, by this German linguistic monster, he intended to say, in general terms, the following: With the increasing specialization in the universities students become only competent in very few subjects. It is necessary, in the face of the increasing ignorance in many subjects, to create, at least, a competence with the objet of compensating for the general incompetence. This could be culturologia.


    Culturologia in what sense, as I asked before? Not, as you may conclude from my words, in an emphatical, self affirmative, parametaphysical sense like the German culture (Emmanuel Geibel, Hitler, Göbbels, Heidegger, Carl Schmitt), but in a wide, dialogantist, plural, scientific sense (Humboldt, Marquard). So I should, graphically, distinguish between CULTURO-Logia in the first and Culturo-LOGIA in the second sense. This Culturo-LOGIA should not only overcome, surpass the specialitates in the universitas, giving us a general view, an orientation of the WHOLE („Inkompetenzkompensationskompetenz") after the debacle of the unilateral heteronomous metaphysical "Systems of SENSE”, but also inform us about other cultures in a world, in which different cultures draw closer and closer geographically.


    Democracy, based on the concept of the autonomous individuum, who is responsible indivually of the res publica, needs other values, other virtues than the authoritarian Systems, where a heteronomy will dictates to its subjects what they have to do. Democracy only works with democrats, and these don’t fall from heaven. We have to form them constantly – by information. We need more knowledge, less obedience. And this also means: more cultural work, less play station.


    (Translated from German into English by B.H., revised by Tim Bozman)


    Benno Hübner, Zaragoza, 15th September 2010
    Категорія: Конференції | Додав: San-Antonio (09.11.2010)
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