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Theory, discourse, process

The article substantiates the necessity of post-non-classical, heterogeneous approach to the problem of conceptualization of modern social cognition, the essence of which is discursivity. Modern society is represented by a decentered, multidimensional reality composed of singular units. Post-non-classical social paradigms are necessary in order to come closer to understanding modern social processes, the main carriers of which are people driven by unique characteristics and qualities; and to develop humanistic, human-dimensional tactics and strategies for the future development of mankind. Being is given as co-being. An event is a given being, which is not the basis of this being. Thus, essence rests on difference. Essence is not a model of a thing, but a process, not of creation, but of becoming. Social being appears as an event that precedes essence. Being unfolds as an implicit, virtual process of becoming. Self-organizing, being retreats into uncertainty. The heterological dimension of being is a radical cognitive inversion in socio-philosophical discourse, associated with the rejection of stability of social being and the transition to its living processuality and discursivity.


During the period of the emergence of non-classical science (the end of the XIX—60s of the XX century), when classical natural science revealed its limitations in cognition, the American theoretical physicist John Wheeler noted that “the most difficult in modern thinking is to get used to seeing the world not as ready... for understanding” [1]. This difficulty is due to the need for a person's ontological certainty, which closely borders on the anthropic vision of the world, which classical science guaranteed him. In this regard, Merab Mamardashvili rightly noted that “the evolution of philosophy occurs when something is really perturbed in this conquered bliss, in this ontological rootedness of man. And as a result, a person begins to feel that he is dealing with a world that almost excludes the very possibility of understanding it. And the question arises (or at least, in the course of this question, there is a rethinking): if there is really a ready-made world of laws and predetermined entities?” [1].

It is this question that has become acute in the transition period from the classical worldview to the non- classical, and further to the post-non-classical, and the understanding of the place and role of man in the ontological and cognitive space has changed contemporary to this epistemological transformation. Now this place looks different still, and we have to re-conquer it.

Research methods

The research uses methods of fractal analysis, theoretical generalization, heuristic synthesis, methods of social synergy and social heterology in the study of modern social processes.

Results and Discussion

If in the classical paradigm, indeed, it was a question of a pre-set world of laws and entities ready-made for the subject, and in the non-classical one scientific truth was understood as the result of the cognitive activity of the subject, then the modern, post-non-classical paradigm, refuses the basic attitudes of metaphysics, essential for classical and non-classical science. “Modern science overcomes the ontological project of metaphysics, the substantialist-essentialistic worldview” [2]. This is demonstrated, for example, by string theory in quantum physics, the theory of dynamical systems, and synergetics. In general, the science of the twentieth century, which focuses on the study of infinitesimal objects, does not so much refute the substantialist interpretation of the world, according to which nature was represented as absolute, unchangeable and homo-

geneous, as it legitimizes the possibility of a heterological horizon unthinkable by science. In other words, the current relationship between philosophy and science is fundamentally new: philosophy does not play the usual role of the methodology of the sciences, but, on the contrary, philosophy grows out of the results of scientific research.

Just as the relationship between science and philosophy has changed, the relationship between scientific and social philosophy has always changed in the history of the development of philosophical ideas. Thus, if classical social philosophy closely correlated with natural science, drawing from its naturalistic research programs, then non-classical philosophy makes an inversion from naturalism, objectivism to a subjectivist interpretation of truth. This is already stated by the social thinkers of the XIX century, offering a new, special methodology of the sciences of “spirit”, reflecting the specificity and disequilibrium, the specific logic of social processes, rather, its absence.

As a reverse reaction to pan-scientism, the “philosophy of life” awakened and in the person of Wilhelm Dilthey proposed the idea of dividing, demarcating the natural sciences and the spiritual sciences, understanding the inability and fundamental impossibility of the tools of classical natural science to explain the complex mechanisms of social processes. Therefore, neither reductionism nor blind extrapolation as methods of cognition are able to adequately study society, which meant that it was necessary to develop a new, special methodology for the analysis of social processes in the human sciences, focused not so much on their explanation (as happened in the natural sciences), but on their understanding. And this naturally predetermined the subsequent cognitive turn from theory to discourse.

The importance of setting and solving the problem of the methodology of social cognition in the mid- XIX—early XX centuries was stated by the thinkers of the Baden (Freiburg) school of neo-Kantianism- Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert. Expressing anti-positivist philosophical sentiments, they firmly called for a return to the transcendental method of I. Kant, reviving the main Kantian ideas in the field of epistemology, according to which in the cognitive act the subject deals not with the objective world itself, but with the human attitude to it, with the content of human consciousness. Therefore it is necessary to create an appropriate cognitive methodology that follows from this philosophical position. The leitmotif of the new social methodology, the Badenians put forward an axiological component, which led to their interest in the humanitarian sphere, in which value imperatives are especially important.

W. Windelband was not a supporter of the traditional classification of scientific knowledge, which differentiates the sciences according to the criterion of the difference between their subject areas — natural and humanitarian. He offers as such a criterion not the subject, but the methods and goals of the sciences, which are specific to them. According to W. Windelband, there are two types of sciences — nomotetic and idiographic:

1. Science that reveals the general laws of phenomena uses the nomotetic method of studying.

2. Science that is aimed at detecting singular, unique phenomena uses an idiographic method of research.

At first glance, the first type of science is characteristic of natural science, and the second — for social science. In fact, the division of sciences, according to this classification, occurs both in the field of natural science and in the humanities. Thus, for example, the historical sciences of nature may be idiographic, and the social sciences nomothetic, since otherwise social science would not be possible as a science, but would represent a type of art whose determining value is the singularity.

According to H. Rickert, who grasped the complex dialectic of scientific methodology, cognition depends on research interest. Therefore, the philosopher deduces individualizing and generalizing methods of cognition, which differ in their interest in the particular or the general. In this sense, scientific and humanitarian knowledge are connected, but differ by the subjective understanding of the scientist, as a result of the analysis that deduces conditional lines “which the geographer thinks of himself in order to orient himself on the globe with lines that similarly do not correspond to anything real” [3].

Thus, according to a retrospective analysis, since the XIX century a discourse has been brewing in the field of social and philosophical knowledge, pointing to the complexity, the singularity of human existence. And what happens in natural science?

As already mentioned, in the late XIX—early XX centuries, new trends were discovered in the natural- scientific picture of the world, indicating a more complex structure and functioning of the natural world, the presence of factors of relativity, subjectivism, irrationalism, randomness, and even uncertainty. For example, in 1927 the German physicist Werner Heisenberg discovered the uncertainty principle in the field of quantum physics. In the 1950s the discovery of the antiproton occurred in quantum physics, proving the sensational fact that matter exists in two forms — as a particle and an antiparticle. These and other discoveries led to fundamental, turning changes in the natural-scientific picture of the world, up to the conclusions about reaching the limits of the cognizability of nature.

The new scientific picture of the world, dismantling the attitudes of classical science, thus began to correlate again with the social one, confirming their coherence and congruence. In the combination of “social cognition — natural science” the first element turned out to be more mobile, explicitly indicating the fractality and singularity of human existence. Natural science came to the idea of fractality and relativity much later, when studying the processes of the microcosm. “If earlier, in the XIX century, the basis for the formation of general philosophical epistemology was cognitive processes in the natural sciences, now we can say that at first the social and humanitarian sciences offer many innovative epistemological and methodological approaches, which are then included in general philosophical epistemology. The ideas, images, methods, and concepts proposed by the social sciences are actively borrowed by the natural sciences. The very standards of post-non-classical science were most clearly defined earlier in the social sciences, and only then were they used in natural science cognition” [4].

The post-non-classical social paradigm, which declares the rejection of ontological constructions and establishes the “principle of non-foundation” of being, emerged in the last third of the twentieth century on the basis of a number of objective and subjective reasons, historical and theoretical prerequisites.

Thus, under the pressure of civilization, the object of social research has radically changed — a society that becomes non-equilibrium, unpredictable, ambivalent, multidimensional, and nonlinear in its development.

The society of today is pluralistic, polyphonic, represented in a variety of multi-vector processes, views, ideas, life positions, ideological aspirations, including polar, reactionary, constituted from various centers that are not responsible for society as a whole. Society ceases to be monolithic, and its main attributes become narrowness of goals, fragmentary and superficial relations, instability of ties, the strengthening of the factor of irrationalization, uncertainty of social development, which casts great doubt on the possibility of harmonious human coexistence. And the extremely tense political situation of our time, connected with the gaps in social life and consciousness, puts the very existence of humanity in danger.

Despite the processes of world globalization, modern society cannot be correlated with the main provisions of classical social paradigms, focused on the search for a single system-forming principle of social life, on total metaphysics, which defines all social processes as a single higher, superhuman principle of existence and development. T.Kh. Kerimov, referring to Heidegger, calls such metaphysics ontology [5]. An eloquent critique of ontotheological thinking is firmly set forth by the hero of “Crime and Punishment” F.M. Dostoevsky: “if society is organized normally, then all crimes will disappear at once, since there will be nothing to protest for, and everyone will become righteous in an instant. Nature is not taken into account, nature is banished, nature is not allowed! With them, it is not humanity, having developed in a historical, living way to the end, that will eventually turn into a normal society by itself, but, on the contrary, the social system, coming out of some mathematical head, will immediately arrange all of humanity and in an instant make it righteous and sinless, before any living process, without any historical and living way!” [6].


Contrary to traditional metaphysics, modern society is not reduced to a common ground as a criterion of certainty. This is already another naturalness, “another sociality”, another “humanity”. Modern society is divided into many parts that are difficult to call composite, they are different in relation to each other.

Therefore, the post-non-classical social paradigm is, first of all, a reflection on the ontological, epistemological, methodological, axiological foundations of previous social theories, in which the categorical and conceptual apparatus and methodology of research do not meet the demands and needs of modern society.

As a result, fundamentally new approaches to cognition (informational, system, activity based, evolutionary, synergetic) emerged.

Researchers are increasingly claiming interdisciplinarity in its various variants as a key direction for the further development of knowledge. But to a greater extent than about interdisciplinarity, modern social researchers speak about the pluralism of theories of social and humanitarian knowledge and multiparadigmality. We are talking about the unity of classical, non-classical and post-non-classical paradigms.

The post-non-classical social paradigm in the field of ontological and epistemological intentions states the need for a heterological dimension of a modern turbulent society. We are talking about the rejection of ontological constructions that connect society with an absolute foundation, and the legitimization of the “principle of non-foundation”, according to which being is co-being: “From now on, the question “what is being?” is meaningless. Being is not just “is”, being is given. But how is the being given? The nature of the question has changed: being is given as event” [2].

The concept of “worldview” inherent in classical philosophy is replaced by the concept of “film of the world” as a living process of changing the scenery. Processuality is characterized by infinite variety, incompleteness and uncertainty. Even between the living and the inanimate, the line is blurred. This is not the world of the become, but the world of eternal becoming, which requires a heterogeneous dimension.

The post-non-classical paradigm of social research, of course, calls for the heterogeneity of language, the transition from theory to discourse. In our opinion, the discursivity of post-non-classical social- philosophical research is semantically close to its postmodern understanding.

For postmodernism, discourse is a self-sufficient processuality: “Discourse... has the form of a structure of interpretations. Each sentence, which in itself has an interpretative nature, can be interpreted in another sentence”. In reality, there is not an interpretative activity of the subject, but “moments of self-interpretation of thought” (J. Derrida) [7]. According to R. Barth, “the subject... is not extraterritorial in relation to its discourse” [8]. Moreover, it is in the space of the processuality of discursive intentions that a person “turns himself into a subject” (M. Foucault) [9]. Therefore, the postmodern theory of discourse is semantically close to narratology.

The world is a process, man is a process, cognition is a process. “Ontogenesis is heterogenesis, the process of actualization is the production of new differences, thanks to which multiplicity is actualized” [2]. Being is a difference, a discourse.



  1. Mamardashvili, M.K. (2002). Vvedenie v filosofiiu [Introduction to Philosophy]. Saint Petersburg: Azbuka-klassika [in Russian].
  2. Kerimov, T.Kh. (2011). Bytie i razlichie: genealogiia i geterologiia [Being and distinction: genealogy and heterology]. Moscow: Akademicheskii prospekt [in Russian].
  3. Rikkert, G. (1998). Nauki o prirode i nauki o kulture [Natural sciences and cultural sciences]. Moscow: Respublika [in Russian].
  4. Platonova, S.I. (2014). Paradigmalnyi kharakter sotsialnogo znaniia [The paradigmatic nature of social knowledge]. Izhevsk: FGBOI VPO «Izhevskaia GSKhA» [in Russian].
  5. Kerimov, T.Kh. (2015). Ontologiia kak ontoteologiia i orientiry ee preodoleniia [Ontology as onto theology and the landmarks of its overcoming]. Izvestiia Irkytskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta — Bulletin of Irkutsk State University, 14, 106–113 [in Russian].
  6. Dostoyevskiy, F.M. (1990). Prestuplenie i nakazanie [Crime and Punishment]. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura [in Russian].
  7. Gritsanov, A.A. (2007). Diskurs [Discourse]. Noveishii filosofskii slovar. Postmodernism [The latest Philosophical Dictionary] [in Russian].
  8. Bart, R. (1989). Semiotika. Poetika [Semiotics. Poetics]. Moscow: Progress [in Russian].
  9. Gritsanov, A.A., & Abushenko, V.L. (2008). Mishel Fuko [Michel Foucault]. Minsk: Knizhnyi dom [in Russian].

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