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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2018 year, number 2


M.S. Mikhalev
Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, 32a, Leninskiy ave., Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation
Keywords: коренные народы, мировоззрение, традиционные знания, народная философия, современные мыслители, национальное возрождение, Алтай, Николай Шодоев, биликизм, жизненная миссия, indigenous people, weltanschauung, traditional knowledge, native philosophy, modern thinkers, national revival, Altai, Nikolai Shodoev, Bilikism, life mission


The visions and conceptions put forward by the representatives of the aboriginal minority groups have been drawing attention of the researchers since long. While in the past it was common to look down upon such conceptions, the recent trend has been to accept them the way they are without any criticism. This paper attempts to bring back the topic of the native thinkers and their visions into the realm of science proper, at the same time trying to avoid the sense of detachment that has been characteristic to this kind of research in the past. It elaborates on the views of Nikolai Shodoev, a prominent representative of the new wave of the native Altai intelligentsia. He was one of those, who took the responsibility of the revival of the aboriginal traditional culture of Altai in the 1980-1990s. Shodoev made a sound attempt to sum up and present in a structured, formalized way the unique conceptions of nature, society and human that his kinsmen had developed, as well as to deliver to his readers their ethical imperatives and principles. It is fair to say, that his works are blessed with systematic approach and provide insightful and original conclusions. Based on the series of personal interviews with Shodoev himself and careful reading of his available publications, author reviews and summarizes his views on the essence of Altai and elaborates on his hypothesis with regards to the origins and the special mission of its native people to be the custodians of sacred knowledge contained here, which Shodoev himself names “bilik”. The paper concludes that Altai’s people weltanschauung in his interpretation combines both confidence in their special mission, deification of nature in general and their native land in particular with the staunch belief in the ability of an individual to master his own faith. It is further concluded that in this way Nikolai Shodoev blends oriental and occidental philosophic traditions and ultimately creates a unique concept that deserves further study and popularization.