Klejn L.S. Culture and evolution. Theoretical studies (Prospect-abstract)
Prepared, but still not accepted by Publishers
By Leo S. Klejn
This collection of articles by Prof. Leo S. Klejn (the publishing house is still not decided) is devoted to culture and evolution. The author, an archaeologist, anthropologist and philologist, worked from 1962 to 1997 at Leningrad – St. Petersburg University and delivered lectures in many of the leading universities of Western Europe and America. The subjects of these lectures to some extent coincide with the subjects of the articles in this collection. These are articles written at various times and published in specialist journals in Russia and abroad in several different languages, so for many readers they are hardly accessible. Some of the articles presented here have not been published at all, for the author always wrote frankly, and his views and his views were not in keeping with official Soviet ideology.
Much was written in our country on biological evolution (usually in connection with Darwinism), but considerably less was written on socio-cultural evolution because this sphere was occupied by historical materialism with its dogmatic interpretation of Marxist-Leninist classics written a century and a half ago. However evolution, i. e. the development of mankind, has many aspects, and during the last century and a half there have been many interesting developments in the study of culture. New approaches to the study of culture are also suggested in this book. It should also be added that author’s experience as a university lecturer and polemicist enables him to present difficult theoretical questions in a way that is both understandable and fascinating.
The articles are divided into two sections.
In the first culture is considered as part of a system of concepts; the history of this concept and the change of its content is traced. The concept of culture was ignored in the classics of Marxism, and the author suggests reasons for this. He, furthermore, discusses changes to this concept in Soviet scholarship, and derivative concepts (the meaning of which is not always clear in their use) – material culture, spiritual culture etc.. Culture and art are examined in the process of their creation. The author also gives his views as to the place and prospects of culture studies (culturology) as a discipline.
The theme of the second section is the cultural-historical process (cultural process in American terminology) – the problem of the continuity (heredity) and change of cultures, the cardinal question for archaeology. In attempting to solve this problem the author makes use of cybernetic ideas and the theory of communication. This allows him to formulate afresh several major problems of modern life.
His argument is that the tempos of biological and social evolution of man are unequal, - the tardiness of the biological as compared with social - created the main contradiction of modern epoch: the psycho-physiological nature of man remained at a Cromagnon level while the running ahead of social conditions and technology demand another man. The failure of man to adapt to modern culture has begun to tell in contemporary life (the crimes without obvious causes, certain diseases specific to humanity etc.). In culture a number of compensatory mechanisms have been developed to soften this contradiction (sports, the entertainment industry a. o.), but the problem remains acute. This argument diverges radically from Marxism, for Marxism holds for the main contradiction of the epoch to be something else entirely – the confrontation of old and new production relations (both of a socio-economic nature). The possible applicability of this theory to scholarly and practical questions is also discussed.
The bibliographies of all the articles have been brought together into a single list. The book is not very long (ca. 300 pages), and is supplied with name and subject indices. It may be of interest to culturologists, philosophers, ethnographers, art students and sociologists. It can also be used as a text-book for a lecture course in culture studies.
I. Culture in the system of concepts
II. Cultural-historical process
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