Fedoroff's chudom and trudom Dec 4, 2013 2:50:38 GMT -5
Post by sydgrew on Dec 4, 2013 2:50:38 GMT -5
This week Professor Naiman has something he wishes to urge upon us: very few of Nikolai Fedorov's writings have survived on the Inter-network or indeed elsewhere, but he does at least have his page in the Wikipædia:
Fedorov formed deep attachments with some of the young intellectuals he found in provincial towns, the professor tells us. He (Fedorov) became a librarian, an ascetic celebrity, and a spiritual magnet. Indeed he it was who pioneered the practice of inter-library and inter-national borrowing.
But he is chiefly now remembered, if at all, for what after his expiry two lifelong acolytes in 1903 published as The Philosophy of the Common Task. This task was the physical resurrection of the expired. All mankind, he wrote, was under a moral obligation to identify and collect the dust of its ancestors. To this end the deserts would have to be made fertile and other planets would need to be made habitable (all this according to our professor).
Fedorov's "programme" was born of a deep dissatisfaction with both science and metaphor. He directed his anger against philosophy, which took things apart instead of gathering them back together. He envisioned an evolutionary process in which sexual attraction would be replaced by heightened consciousness, a transformation already signalled by the fact that higher animals, as opposed to plants, do not have sex organs on their heads. "If progress continues in this direction, then the time will come when consciousness and activity will replace birth," wrote Fedorov.
Dostoevsky was impressed by his ideas. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, retrospectively hailed as the father of the space "programme," was a disciple. Vladimir Solovyov, the philosopher largely responsible for settting the mystical and spiritual tone of Russian Symbolism, saw Fedorov as an interlocutor. According to Tolstoy, Nikolai Fyodorov was a saint, who believed in science and the unlimited capability of the human mind. Professor Naiman at this point interposes two questions: "What does it mean to believe in science?" and "What happens to science when it is so dependent upon belief?"
In praise of Pentecost, "a festival of linguistics," Fedorov wrote about the need for a second, scientific version of this religious festival: "What once occurred by miracle (chudom) now must be accomplished by labour (trudom)." Mr. Young, author of The Russian Cosmists: the esoteric futurism of Nikolai Fedorov, finds resonances with Fedorov in the work of some of the leading figures in Russian science: Tsiolkovsky; the geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, with his concept of the noosphere, a kind of ideal superstructure gradually superseding Earth's original base; the polymath Alexander Chizhevsky, with his theory of the influence of sun-spots on history; and the botanist Vasily Kuprevich, with his campaign to extend longevity to the point of immortality. Uniting many of the Cosmists is an insistence on universal connectivity, on the fluidity of the border between organic and inorganic matter, and confidence in the ability of man to shape his own evolution.
The Cosmists, according to Mr. Young, offer a model of benign totalitarianism that might be useful to us all in the coming time of crisis. "Unlikely as it may seem to-day, the liberal demos-cratic model for future world governments may become less attractive than it is to-day, and the matter of who should have total authority to govern an inevitable global union could become a pressing question in the future. If the future global village should decide that the common interest should override concerns for the individual or triumph over the desire to preserve diversity, the Russian Cosmists will have prepared the way."
Fedorov sought to replace "ologies" with "urgies," on the grounds that it was not enough to study the world; one had to change it.
Finally we may note that Miss Birgit Menzel, authoress of The New Age of Russia - occult and esoteric dimensions, suggests that "According to Marxist-Leninism, the humanities were defined as part of the sciences, and their borders were much less strictly defined than in the Western Worlds, so that - paradoxically - phenomena excluded from the Western scientific paradigm were studied and supported within the Russian academic system." We are inspired are we not to find out more about that Vladimir Solovyov, whose name does not appear in Dagobert Runes's otherwise quite reliable Dictionary of Philosophy!