Abstracts

Life-world and Cultural Consciousness:
Constructing an Organon of the Cultural Sciences

Israel Bar-Yehuda Idalovichi
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The logical-mathematical models and the scientific methods clearly and distinctively structure the fundamental determinants that all other cultural sciences follow. A similar logical process of the exact and social sciences has ostentatiously been introduced into the humanities. This trend in the humanities has led to disaster, or what Husserl called “ideational abstractions”. However, the object of the cultural sciences is to be acknowledged and accessible to all. Life experiences, personal narratives, all objects of arts and humanities, seem self-evident and easy to comprehend since they are the deeds, inventions and works of  art of our own creation. The reflective process of understanding is oriented toward moving in the opposite direction – namely, to reduce such endeavors to their parts, transform the creative process into a quantifiable, predictable, universal production process. Hence, to create a meta-synthesis that will equip all the cultural sciences with a common meta-language and meta-logic seems in our epoch to be a Promethean figment of the imagination. Bridging numerous cultural sciences is easier said than done, in terms of the objects with which each cultural science is concerned, the methodology that each one employs, the sources of inspiration, modi of thought and the anticipated successful results that each cultural science expects. Culture as a whole should be comprised of perpetual, synthetic creations of all cultural sciences, while the task of every cultural science is to decompose elements analytically in its own language and method and make them comprehensible, in order to obtain maximum realization in its own realm. The previous process is followed by the self-reconstruction by every cultural science of its own realm by symbolic forms, although, evidently, the totality of symbolic forms in itself cannot express the entire reality, and no cultural science per se possesses exclusive access to absolute truth.

Culture is not created by human’s conscious purposive behavior or thought, because the individual always finds himself already within a specific configuration of cultural forms, from which he draws substantial contents and values, which can always be altered or transformed. Human consciousness is directed toward interpreting, maintaining and actualizing certain forms of culture. Paradoxically, a major aspect of modern culture refers to new possibilities to shape the environment or even to fashion new ones, albeit at the price of spiritual homelessness. There is a collision between symbolic representations and the modern life, which ultimately discards the old aesthetic and ethical values. The striving for renewal or ‘new life’ versus tradition demands an internal dialectics in culture and the creation of new symbolic forms. Yet the completeness of each symbolic form is preserved in culture free from of dependence on cultural processes. In this manner, the entire human culture, as well as the structure of reality, turns out to be determined by the organon, which comprises the plurality of irreducibly different symbolic forms. This means that the liberated spirit strives to find new forms of fulfillment in life and culture, subsequent to recognizing this homelessness. By means of creating a systematic program of cultural sciences – i.e., an organon – it would be possible to moderate the crises of knowledge and life. Such a systematic program of the cultural sciences is intended to be an antithesis to the overall cynical, skeptical and hopeless pessimistic and nihilistic – modern or postmodern – moods.

(This abstract is based on my book Symbolic Forms as the Metaphysical Groundwork for the Organon of the Cultural Sciences, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, vol. 1 & 2, 2014, pp. 925)