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"Philosophy of Education"

2014 year, number 3

A spiritual-practical dominant idea of russian education and its byzantine origins

S. V. Kotina
A. I. Gertsen Russian State Pedagogical University, Quay Of The Moyka River, 48, Saint-Petersburg, 191186, Russia
Keywords: ancient Russian literature, Greek patristics, spiritual-practical character of knowledge, rhetorical-homiletic tradition, hagiography, anthropocentrism of Russian philosophy


In the article, there is considered the problem of influence of the Eastern Christian civilization on the formation of education in ancient Russia, with particular attention paid to the comparison of the nature of ancient verbal creativity and the Byzantine literary-theological and philosophical traditions. Eastern Christian tradition, which was considered by elder Russian Slavophiles as the foundation of Russian spiritual and mental development, having centuries-old experience of philosophical reflection, had formed quite a reserved attitude to the possibilities of the human mind. Greek patristics discovered a balanced position between ancient rationalism and Biblical moral precepts; whereas the significance of philosophical doctrines was not excluded, but restricted in the applications to the spiritual-practical sphere. Philosophy was defined as a relative truth, which was to serve as a means to establishing a supreme principle. In comparison with Western Christianity, where the spheres of application of reason and faith were in a slightly different proportion, Greek patristics was not inclined to trust rational arguments for the meaning of fundamental moral convictions. On the contrary, the Western Church demonstrated its specificity in the propensity to build doctrinal tenets on formal logical deduction of reason. The heritage of the Latin pagan culture in the form of disproportionate aspiration to formalization was never gotten rid of in the Western thought despite the fact that the Roman ethical and social system was defeated in the clash with the anthropological ideals of Christianity. The identity of Russian culture with the Byzantine heritage is a permanent subject of interdisciplinary polemics and studies. Indeed, at first, the theological and philosophical achievements of Byzantine Christian Hellenism were perceived in the ancient Russian mind very passively and on a small scale; much more actively there were perceived the aesthetic aspects of Eastern Christianity. Possibly, it is not quite correct to directly compare the ancient Russian literacy and the Byzantine tradition of education: the penetration of the intellectual traditions of Hellenism into culture, which had just acquired its own alphabet, is a rather complicated process. The author emphasizes that the main priority of the development of Russian education is the orientation toward the moral-practical value of knowledge, which has as its background the Byzantine heritage. The influence of the Greek-Byzantine culture to Russia was manifested not so much on the theological-philosophical level but in the sphere of realization of a system of values; and the choice of the value coordinates remains one of the major tasks of modern education.