Alexander Asmolov - III. IV. I.

From Human Education in the 3rd Millennium

(Moscow State University, Russia)

III. BEING HUMAN

12) Being human. (What does it mean to be human specifically ? How should education correspond to these specific human features?)


Of course, the overvalued conference line is “to be human.” Today, the formula that Fromm repeats in his dialogue with Marx is important: "It is better to be much than to have much!"


I’m pretty sure that if I could invite from astral La Mettrie, Descartes and many other masters of understanding the world and man, they would look with interest at all our discussions, smile and say: “And there’s something in it! There is something painfully familiar ... "

As I see there are several lines in these discussions. One is the line that I name “Cognitive egocentrism in the understanding of man”. What is it? We pull a person out of the world, we pull a person out of the system, we tear him out of the mycelium of biological, social, and intellectual networks. And then we try to comprehend the meaning of human phenomenon and answer, why is all this happening? And for what has a human appeared in this world?

But, having pulled a phenomenon out the system, it is impossible to understand the phenomenon. When we diagnose this situation, we repeat after Goethe: "He who would know and treat of aught alive,/ Seeks first the living spirit thence to drive: /Then are the lifeless fragments in his hand/ There only fails …"

But anyway it would be ridiculous to argue in philosophical context with Lametri, because in his own way he was right… And moreover, when we discuss Descartes, we must flinch, marveling at his wisdom and accuracy in understanding man when he gave reflexological models of life, followed by special lines of causality when he spoke about psychophysical parallelism. After the textbooks, we all start saying: “Dualist, dualist...” thus simplifying thinkers who agree or disagree with us on something! One of the prominent philosophers of our time Merab Mamardashvili, puffing on his pipe, repeatedly said: "If Descartes, Kant could say something, they would not get tired of repeating: "Excuse me... I’m not talking about that!" And yet when we speak about man as a machine, then sooner or later, for many reasons, we begin to understand that we have impaired the innate connection and do not understand what man is.

For me, two lines in understanding of man, which I call "Descartes Line" and "Spinoza Line", are incredibly important. Reflexological line is beyond the human line, associated with Descartes, which breaks through many approaches, in particular in models of artificial intelligence. It is the line which is connected with simplified mechanical causality, the line of rigid models of determinism.

But then, what will be a vision of a man, when a human is “a bag full of conditioned and unconditioned reflexes ...” (I repeat Vygotsky, who criticized this line).

The genius of positivism, Watson, said: ... "man is nothing more than a bundle of unanalyzed protoplasm ..." This positivist, tough, but clear line is the line that causes a huge number of questions.

And beyond it, the logic of understanding man as a robot (an automaton) grows.

From here comes the question: “Then, what are the laws of education? What laws of human development does this line determine?” Watson’s answer is precise, clear and excessively simple: “The first issue of behaviorist’s understanding a man is the issue to predict reactions on the base of impetus. The second issue is control, based on this prediction.” Thereby, we see reduction to manipulations, reduction to the “impetus – reaction” scheme, which is a rigid formula, and besides, ontologized through the conditioned reflex.

Physiologists worked with real ontology, but as soon as I transfer this scheme to education, we get reactive education, reproductive education - education, which only wishes to grow the similar. The education that deals not with “production”, but with “reproduction”. The education that, whether it wants or not, long before bioengineering thinks it will grow clones.

“In other words, the line associated with reflexes, the line associated with the routine explanation of routine behavior - this line is also manifested in behaviorism and very often in modern neuro-cognitive sciences. "Where is the man?" - "There here is, under the skull box." Man is not there and never will be! The brain is a tool for development, not explanation for development. Through the brain (only) we are slaves of reflexive understandings of life in general, not only the man, and we can hardly understand the essence of man this way.

Another line that is close to me is the line of great Benedict Spinoza. It affirms and shows that there is self-causality, self-development. The person is the cause of himself, and thus education should help him to reflect on his spontaneity. Education should help him become a "humane human."

While adaptive evolutionary schemes are important, they lead to the ideology not of life, but of survival. They lead, in the evolutionary sense, to a super-important adaptation ideology. But while they lead, in the evolutionary sense, to the ideology of adaptation, if we consider them in the socio-cultural system of coordinates, we will encounter another phenomenology, the phenomenology of conformism, the phenomenology, which is expressed in the words of the master of the existential analysis of man’s multi-existence Lev Tolstoy: "Everybody is trying to ajust themselves. When will they start to live?!"

This is the quintessence. I was born and live despite. Here I repeat the words of the famous writer Chesterton, that the living is different from the non-living by the fact that the living can swim against the current. These words are spoken differently by my favorite scholar Nikolai Bernshtein, XX century genius, the creator of biomechanics, of physiology and ideology of activity (agency): “Life is not a striving for balance. Life is overcoming homeostasis and balance. What is coordination? It is the overcoming of excess degrees of freedom.”

While adaptive evolutionary schemes are important, they lead to the ideology not of life, but of survival. They lead, in the evolutionary sense, to a super-important adaptation ideology. But while they lead, in the evolutionary sense, to the ideology of adaptation, if we consider them in the socio-cultural system of coordinates, we will encounter another phenomenology, the phenomenology of conformism, the phenomenology, which is expressed in the words of the master of the existential analysis of man’s multi-existence Lev Tolstoy: "Everybody is trying to ajust themselves. When will they start to live?!"

This is the quintessence. I was born and live despite. Here I repeat the words of the famous writer Chesterton, that the living is different from the non-living by the fact that the living can swim against the current. These words are spoken differently by my favorite scholar Nikolai Bernshtein, XX century genius, the creator of biomechanics, of physiology and ideology of activity (agency): “Life is not a striving for balance. Life is overcoming homeostasis and balance. What is coordination? It is the overcoming of excess degrees of freedom.”

What are we moved by? We are moved by the fact that we construct ourselves at the animal level, but more - at the human level. Images of the future are needed. The key line of understanding the essence of man is that man does not come into this world from the past, but builds his behavior as the realization of the image of the future.

Hence, we are taking very powerful steps in the practice of Russian education, following Vygotsky saying that the key development of a person is, firstly, the development of motives and meaningful attitudes of the personality. To be a person you need to understand that our life is a sort of struggle of motives. To be a person, you should understand that the key thing is self-development through the systems of personal choice.

Man is disharmonious. Conflict develops personality. And in this situation, first of all through the systems of actions, through the systems of deeds, man creates the world in another person. This is clearly shown by the concept of personalization of personal contributions, revealing that a person acquires otherness in another person, created by Vadim A. Petrovsky.

And this is the most important thing. We live in other people. It is in tune with Seneca. "Disagree with me in at least in something so that there were two of us!"

And in this sense, our otherness in other people (a term that I suggest: "fundamentally motivational and semantic multi-self"), diversity does not fit into any models associated with artificial intelligence. The key code of a person is the unpredictability code. The key feature of a person is the generation of motivational-value and motivational-semantic sets.

Set is an embryo of future behavior. And when we talk about sets, then after Benne we repeat: “What is the meaning? Meaning is an image of future action. ” “Personal meaning,” says Leontiev, “is in the value of life for me.”

Thus, we approach something that we, I hope, never will solve, - the essence of man, which is immeasurable - and therefore remains an eternal secret.

And thus, maybe, we will not become the slaves of our own consciousness and the slaves of those educational schemes that grow future robots.




IV. PEDAGOGY

Here is very interesting question: "What is the key risk today?" It hides in other forms. As soon as a child is born, she is told that she must gain competence in education. They used to say: knowledge, skills, today: competence. But this is the same pragmatics - in different clothes! This is an early professionalization of a person. The risk of early professionalization is one of the risks.

Then, when it seems, we approach the personality and see its value, when we decide how to be a person, we begin to mix it with another very difficult question: how to be a leader. We have a leadership epidemic. And I always say: "Who do you want to grow: a person or a leader?" This is an existential question for the education of the XXI century. That is, a person who appears only to replay others. ! I came to beat others!

An unkind man named Karl Popper said, teasing Darwin: “Survivors survive.” In our country, the formula is: "leaders survive." But this is the same Darwinism brought to the loss of humanism. Darwinism is great, but you can't give it as a simplified model!

Sometimes it is necessary to return to the new understanding of the old. In this regard, the work of Konstantin D. Ushinsky "Pedagogical Anthropology" is important today. And therefore, when we are discussing pedagogy today, we say: “We will change our position, move on and leave knowledge, skills and abilities, if mastery of subject knowledge is reduced to them,” we say: “Give emotional intelligence! Give empathy! Give collaboration or cooperation! ", we are moving from hard-skills to soft-skills in education systems. But this is not enough. The key thing is different: where do all these high-skills and soft-skills fit as tools ?!

The key thing is the motivational value basis of the personality. Neither hard-skills nor soft-skills work without it. Without it the whole person evaporates. Therefore, motivational-value analysis is the key thing for education.

And if once the leader of the USSR V. Lenin said: “Learn, learn and learn”, then I want to say today: “For education, the main thing is to motivate, motivate, and once again motivate!”


I. Policy

The risk of reducing the education model to models in the human capital policy for me is the most serious risk! And although I support the understanding of human capital as a special case, but to reduce a person to capital is to turn him into a thing and follow the logic of accumulation.

Therefore, my tough thesis: politically, when creating education reforms, we should move from a human capital model to a human potential model.

It is necessary to clearly understand that man is a creature living in the world of networks, but also generating other networks. In this sense, Latour’s actor-network theory as well as Luhmann’s theory, no matter how conflicting they may be, in different respects say: "Truth is in the middle." We need to find the truth.