In his works, Sergey Demensky seeks productive approaches to investigation of the non-obvious, the mentality
A new book Metaphilosopic Copy-book by Russian thinker Sergey Demensky may be truly called the most outstanding literary and publicistic phenomenon of 2003. The book, a collection of philosophic articles, was published by the Krasnye Vorota (Red Gates) publishing house at the end of December.
The title of the book sounds to be familiar as it reminds of one of the basic works by Vladimir Lenin, the classic of Marxism-Leninism. However, the similarity of the names is the only thing in common between both works.
Sergey Demensky focuses first of all not upon the way of understanding the truth and the entirety of the world, but rather on grasping the attitude of a thinker and an average man toward the basic perception layer. The issue of the author's concern cannot be defined immediately. The author is trying to unveil an obscure, vague but rather strong layer of human consciousness that defines man's habits, everyday structures, mythologies, stereotypes, but also fundamentals of contemporary science that seem not to be connected with this layer.
In his works, Sergey Demensky seeks productive approaches to investigation of the non-obvious, the mentality. The category is not particularly respected in the history of philosophic and linguistic thoughts. What is more, this is not obvious that mentality is a category; this fact is to be proved to make the category and the problem itself ontological. This is what the author is doing by exploration of vivid modern phenomena, such as the historical and cultural transformation of the legend about the Romanian province governor known by the name of Dracula today.
Originally, the positive legends about the ruler of one of the South Romanian territories in the 15th century and the fighter for independence of the country have been turned by the new European culture into a myth that is important in the present-day culture. Appropriation, transformation and adaptation of the historical image and legendary personage to the Western European rational requirements reveal the essence and orientation of modern positivism in the European culture. They are also the result of configuring western mentality.
The author studies the mythological images of Dracula in cinematography of different countries of the world, the works by Roman Yakobson, the founder of Russia's structuralist school in linguistics, the post-modern practice of modeling the human body (plastic surgery particularly). The variety reflects the basic research strategy of the author who is searching for the point where different worlds, phenomena of the reality representing spiritual and corporeal, part and whole, ideal and material configure.
Sergey Demensky considers metaphor to be one of the most productive instruments of cultural synthesis. The author understands metaphor not as a figure of speech, but as a global category of consciousness and human existence. He says that not only a linguistic element may be a metaphor, but a human body can be called a metaphor as well. The physical form that became particularly important for a subject in the past century refutes the new European rational interpretation of a subject from the point of view of thinking only (the cogito ergo sum principle) and suggests an alternative of physical consciousness and physical individual.
This is where the physical practices of contemporary West originate from: fast food, comfortable cars, herbalife and viagra, bodybuilding, modern medicine, fitness and plastic surgery. Now the human body may indicate a social position, well-being, social status and may carry different signs. Tattoo and piercing have become the most painless methods to be an artistic canvas.
The refutation of the new European pure subject and making it more physical is in fact the sequel to Descartes' subdivision of the world into the world of ideas and world of mechanical elements. Descartes treated animal organisms as mechanisms (the human body also belongs here). A mechanism thus served the material for an idea to assume its material form. This is the reason why attitude to the human body loses its medieval sacral essence and transforms into attitude to a mechanism during formation of the bourgeois society. A mechanism can be altered and its structure can be changed.
Like any other mechanism, a human body may be implemented in any possible material. The philosopher confirms his ideas with the practice of corporal designing.
Metaphor is a corridor leading to the mentality corridor in Sergey Demensky's philosophy. Passing through the corridor is rather dangerous as linguistic games and semantic intersections may draw you in forever.
One may say that striving for freedom is the basic concept of Sergey Demensky; however, the critical attitude of the philosopher to the idea of freedom developed by existentialists does not allow to consider the concept as a basic one. Sergey Demensky reveals the limitation of "the breakthrough to existence", but at the same time he realizes that no alternative understanding of freedom has been developed yet. The book by Sergey Demensky may one day become the prologue to forming a new concept of freedom.
Candidate of Philosophic Sciences