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Relationalism and Transcivilizational Communication
It is my honor to write a review on the book of Zoja Morochojewa, who is the professor of the University of Warsaw and is one of the leading experts in Philosophy of Communication. She has been dealing with research in the area of transcivilizational communication for many years. The book under the analysis is the next stage of her research, where the author summarizes and reveals the results of her inquiries not only of the latest times, but also gives a detailed glimpse on the nature, the character and perspectives of interactions among cultures, nations and personalities as representatives of their civilizations. Zoja Morochojewa reflected her brilliant ideas in many publications including her monograph about the dialogue of West and East in 2013, her research is devoted to contexts of dialogism, university environment in difference, intercultural communication, and she writes about it in many other essays. Being an ethnic Buryat, born and grown up in one of Russian national republics, Zoja Morochojewa combines within herself the very essence of that transcivilizational communication. Not by chance she began reflecting on this type of interaction in a wide globalizing context, because it is the strong demand of contemporary society in the XXI century. Therefore, the theme of the book is more than relevant and challengeable in the changing world, the author’s voice is worth of listening for those who shares the great humanistic position as the world outlook. The main aim in the research is rethinking and establishing of notions and terms, methodological foundation for the relational perspective of transcivilizational communication. The author underlines that the essence of this transformation is transition from thinking about phenomena as objective static units to thinking them as processes, so for realization of this aim she presents various material, both empirical and theoretical. Z. Morochojewa’s book is organized by the elaborated topic, and she chose each chapter with a certain intention in mind that she subsequently takes apart and reassembles with new insight and information step by step adding more and more thoughts and concepts. In Part one under the title “I and the Image of the Other in the Сontext of the West-East Dichotomy” the author points out four authentic examples of East-West dialogue. The first chapter tells about R. Kipling’s novel “Kim”. Interactions of the Irish boy Kim and Lama illustrate the example of the transborder or frontier communication. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, West and East mixed in Kim’s mind, and Z. Morochojewa uses this literary hero as the appeal to the ideal model of relational type of communication, where everything is in process, irrational dominates over rational, and at last Middle Way is preferred by the central personage. The USA was and is a meeting place of different cultures, languages, and peoples as groups from around the world, including the indigenous peoples and the newcomers. The second chapter tells about the American Indians Hopi world outlook, language and traditions. The subject of analysis is B.Whorf’s scientific book, who compares the Hopi language with SAE in his research. However, Z. Morochojewa provides evidence of the exact opposition of substantialism to relationalism. B. Whorf argued that, unlike the static model of the world reflected in the SAE languages, the Hopi language conveys the process model of the world, and the general principle of their mind “I and Other” is under the influence of this model. Z. Morochojewa is obviously not only intelligent, but also very proficient and skillful in examining linguistic features, including lexicographical samples, grammar rules, stylistic peculiarities of the Indian Hopi’s language. No doubt, Z. Morochojewa is very well familiar with the theory of linguistic relativity of E. Sapir and B. Worf. The experience gives the author of the monograph the possibility to reveal the idea in what way the Hopi seek to maintain harmony and balance in the world, which is based on the concept of the cyclic time-space and a temporal picture of the world. This chapter provides the idea how to overcome the limitations of the substantial approach to colonial practices, to various contacts between civilizations on the American continent. The next chapter is devoted to time in the symbolic universe of the Nganasans from the Northern Asia. The author also describes the world picture of the tribe by use of the process of vital force circulation as the qualitative cyclical one, among which there is inception, growth, maturity and aging phases. Then, the notion of time is different from time as a measure of movement in the Western world model. Z. Morochojewa complicates the narrative of Nganasans by bringing into focus the principle of hierarchy in the natural environment and in their language, as well as in the language view of the world. The initial scientific resources are inquiries of Russian philologists. The final chapter in Part one is the chapter about the Buryats from East Siberian territory. The author methologically strips away the traditional scholar’s views and tries to show the complicated nature of the Buryats’ mentality. Considering the examples of Buddhist temporal perspective, everyone can see the concepts generated in the field of various aspects of relations, but never in the field of essence of things. Every process that manifests itself in relations has its basis in Shamanism, Buddhism and Russian Orthodox traditions. Z. Morochojewa gives a very interesting and heuristic interpretation of the Buryat culture and their ways of communication. Unlike stability in substantialism, a temporal picture of the Buryats’world is based on changeability. The Buryats describe all interactions in terms of temporality, a picture of their world based on the principle of interrelation, manifests itself in events of the past, present and future The traditional Buryat model of the world demonstrates the process of the life force circulation, the author emphasizes the Sγlde life force as the principle of organizing life in the universe, rituals of hospitality and yurt as the model of harmony and stability. Part two “Relationalism as the Basis of Transcivilizational Communication in the 21st Century” begins by Chapter 5. “Relationalism in Substantialism” and looking at comparison between substantialism and relationalism, tracing these definitions and content from Epistemology, History of Philosophy, Anthropology, Cultural studies. The author next guides us through a much-needed review of Mannheim’s dynamic relationalism within substantialism, doing it persistently and meaningfully. We cannot but agree that relationalism, according to Mannheim, is capable of melting down the totality and absoluteness of the dominant ideology. In addition, it promotes openness to other points of view. The author’s reference to P. Bourdieu was also valuable, who overcomes an opposition of objectivism and subjectivism by introducing a third party - a relational field. Remaining within the boundaries of substantialism, it modifies to some extent the spatial interpretation of essence and it leads to the so called habitus. Speaking of an objective of social sciences to develop a methodology for temporal events, replacing the traditional Western-minded approach, the author focuses not on the study of subject and objects, but on events and process in transcivilizational communication. Therefore, the next chapters devoted to M.Buber, M. Bakhtin, L. Karsavin respectively. Buber believes dialogic relationship is a source of thought, a pure I-Thou relation in a dialogue. Relationalist point of view within substantialism frameworks pulls Martin Buber with appeal as his main element in the dialogue together with representatives of Russian philosophy. Z. Morochojewa demonstrates her deep knowledge of not only Western thought, but also Russian philosophers. Karsavin’s notion “Personality is trinity” gives much to develop relationalistic view on transcivilizational communication. M. Buber and L. Karsavin are more interested in the problem of actualization of I in the Absolute, the author points out. As for M. Bakhtin, he continues developing a dialogic relation outside a subject-object relationship, and designates this specific spatial and temporal characteristic (space-time) of an event as chronotope. It goes without saying that M. Bakhtin’s dialogical methodology is widely well-known in Russia and can be applied to the analysis of intercultural interactions. The author underlines the advantages of Bakhin’s theory. Another contemporary debate she brings up in her book is Relationalism in Postmodernism. J. Derrida criticizes substantialism based on the concept of presence, identity and logo centrism. Instead, he proposes a logic that uses the terms of trace, différance, and writing. Derrida designates différance as something other than ‘what’ and even tries to draw an analogy with the concept of nirvana in Hinayana and Mahayana. It can be assumed that Z. Morochojewa could reveal the similar positions and tendencies in two contrasted theories, represented East and West. Taking into consideration Derrida’s advanced and progressive ideas there can be found more original comparisons and ambivalent concepts. Although the author has no intention to include Derrida’s manifestation “no absolute difference between I and the Other” into the Eastern tradition. In the chapter about Deleuze the author underlines his approach to communication as a meaningful activity and the sense as a relational concept. the relation between a word and a thing is expressed as the ‘state of the thing’. Z. Morochojewa gave specific arguments to refer the main ideas of Deleuze to original way of presenting his vision of relationism, because he constructs a relation between the world of words and the world of things. From his point of view, the event –meaning of Aion, rhizomes, production of sense are much more important than subjects. In the temporal perspective transcivilizational communication is not the interaction of subjects, but of decentered structures, networks that represent multitudes. From these lines the author makes the connection of Deleuze’s vision with the epistemological turn to multiplicity. In conclusion the author summarizes the results of the inquiry, elaborates the foundation of methodology on the basis of the opposition of relationism and substentialism. Brining all the results and ideas together, the author proves the possibility of this heuristic approach. There were two very minor disappointments for me, amidst all the positives in this text. The first is that the author provides her own understanding of logics and places the theoretical and methodological part after the praxis and practical examples from different cultures. From my point of view it would be better to make interchange. The second is that I haven’t found anything relying to Hermeneutics as one of the main approaches to dialogues, including transcivilizational communications. Nevertheless, this book provides excellent insights into the complexity of intercultural and transcivilizational communications. In comparison to the traditional treatment given by other authors, this book provides the understanding needed form different angles of vision: how to understand, why it is relevant to be able to construct a true dialogue in this globalized world. The theoretical discussions are excellent and detailed, Z. Morochojewa provides a unique combination of many essential issues in transcivilizational communication, a sophisticated and original theoretical framework. In my opinion, the author Z. Morochojewa has reached her goals. I would like to recommend the book to other scholars, students and all, who is interested in issues of human communications. (from BOOK REVIEW) Irina Boldonova, Prof. Dr. in Philosophy, habilitated Nankai University, China
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wydanie I, Warszawa 2023