This article describes the historical and axiological development of volunteerism, which is a modern breakthrough. Today, there are many questions on the emergence of volunteerism, its history and value. During the historical development of volunteerism, the views and works of world philosophers and thinkers are systematized and analyzed on a historical and axiological basis. It is impossible to imagine a society in the history of mankind that is alien to the idea of voluntary and unselfish help. Volunteerism is a quality of human nature that is preserved even in the most difficult times, even in the most difficult years of war and absolutism. The most important thing for voluntariness is the presence of moral values in a person. The scientific significance of the work lies in the study of the development of volunteerism in the philosophical world since ancient times and the basis of research in the views and works of world culture, philosophers and thinkers. The first signs of volunteerism are actions that have taken place through the combined efforts of thousands of people, from traditional aid.
What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.
Currently, volunteering covers innovative and important issues. It had developed in the world of civilization since ancient times as a form of charity and now it has taken its place on the practical horizon. Volunteerism is one of the constituents of human act. Volunteerism was formed based on such values as humanity, humanism, and generosity in its historical development. The value and significance of this topic should be noted separately. After all, the historical development of volunteerism is directly related to the works of philosophers, laws and canonical rules formed by World Culture. The object of research is humanistic ideas formed in World Civilizations, which are the basis of volunteerism; the subject of research is the process of historical and axiological analysis of volunteerism.
The scientific hypothesis is that human history has shown that there is no society that is indifferent to the ideas of voluntary and selfless help. Volunteerism is a feature of human civilization that persists despite the cruel times, the era of injustice and violence. Volunteering is based on the human capacity and desire to volunteer for the sake of high human ideals, without the goal of personal gain through material rewards. The idea of volunteerism, as a common human value, is one in all civilisations of the world which are shown by philosophical works of thinkers of various civilisations in mankind history.
In this article, we have reviewed and examined the features of the concept of volunteerism in world philosophy. Based on the results of the conducted scientific research, we studied the historical development of the concept of voluntariness.
The general purpose of the work is to analyze voluntеerism in a historical and axiological context.
To achieve the goal of this scientific work, we have set ourselves the following tasks:
- To study the concept of “volunteerism” in the philosophical and humanitarian sciences.
- To characterize the influence of volunteerism in charity as a new term in historical and philosophical science.
- To study the significance of volunteerism as a social phenomenon in the Kazakh steppe.
In the scientific research of volunteerism as an ethical problem in the system of general worldview, the authors gave an overview of the theoretical analysis of philosophical works. This method allowed us to determine the nature of the values of virtue, altruism and charity.
Also, the methodological basis of the work is the dialectical-materialistic method of cognition. In the course of describing and studying the topic of the work, other general scientific and private scientific methods were also used: Analysis and synthesis, comparative-historical, formal-logical, system, classification.
As a result of the study of volunteerism as a socio-cultural phenomenon, an important condition for its historical assessment and study is determined. Through the review of foreign and domestic historiography of the problem of volunteerism, the need for a comprehensive study of the ethical problem is revealed. The issues of volunteerism are considered not only in the Kazakh culture but also in the world as a whole. The work analyzes the concepts of volunteerism as a whole historical process associated with the culture and tradition of a certain time.
Voluntary aid, provided by a person or group of people to society as a whole or to individuals, is based on the ideas of selfless service to the humane ideals of humanity and is not intended for profit, payment or career advancement. It can take many forms: From traditional forms of mutual aid to the joint efforts of thousands of people to overcome the consequences of a natural disaster, to resolve conflict situations, to eradicate poverty [1; 267]. Thus, volunteerism is an important element of the social sphere and requires careful research to raise its importance.
Recently, there have been changes in the pattern of volunteering across the developed world. Changes in lifestyle, in the numbers of women entering the workforce, and in working patterns have impacted both on the nature of volunteer activity and on the demographic characteristics of typical volunteers. These observations aside, there are few truly global trends in volunteering since the propensity to volunteer and individual volunteer behaviour seem to be a function of the nature of the society in which this takes place [2; 431].
The concept of acting of one’s own free will, and in modern Western sociology, “volunteerism” is used to refer to freely offer to do something as an activity carried out by people voluntarily on a gratuitous basis and aimed at achieving socially significant goals, solving community problems.
The historical methodological tradition in the study of volunteerism focuses on the formation of the phenomenon of volunteer labor, its rootedness in religious values and patterns of development of society.
The category of freedom is a key to understanding the essence of volunteer work. The formation of its nature and specificity is closely related to the release of labor from all types of coercion: Social, economic, administrative, and legal. In a slave-owning society, the labor of socially free citizens who participated in the government was considered free, in contrast to the labor of slaves, which was essentially valued as domestic labour.
The first ideas of volunteerism in ancient Eastern philosophy
Ancient China was not deprived of humane ideas even though it was a slave-owning society, volunteer work was an integral part of social relations. The ideas of virtue and selfless assistance were among the first to be expressed by the philosophers of ancient China. The peculiarity of the ancient Chinese philosophy of virtuous work is its inalienable connection with tradition. The basic ideas of virtue and unselfish work in China were reflected in the writings and views of Confucius since ancient times.
Charity and philanthropy have a special place in the history of development of Chinese philosophy. For Confucianism and Buddhism, virtue was the main value. Traditionally, “helping and caring for others” was highly valued by the Chinese. The value of charity goes back to thousands of years to Chinese culture. Among them, a special representative of Chinese philosophy is the ancient philosopher Confucius.
The meaning of human existence, according to Confucius, the concrete embodiment of Tao in each individual being and phenomenon is “grace/virtue” (de). The hierarchized harmony of all individual de forms the universal Tao. We see that the teacher (Confucius) was worried about the correct behavior of each person [3; 14].
Teacher Kuhn suggested 5 principles of good living. They are
- jen “good intentions”;
- xin “goodness, duty”;
- yi “truth, justice”;
- li “ritual, custom”;
- zhi “wisdom”.
Confucius’ philosophy is based on behavior showing high moral standards. It is the path to virtue according to Confucius. A virtuous person, a noble person (jun-zi/chun tzu) is the origin of Confucianism. As stated by Confucius, a person goes on the road by virtue and sticking to rituals. On this journey, a person changes himself, perceives wisdom by changing himself, and his soul is purified [4; 58].
Confucius is undoubtedly the initiator of goodness. Based on these ethical theories, Confucius developed and further substantiated his political views. The philosophical and ethical worldview of the great moralist Confucius was based on high morality, right action and ethical norms.
Some of the ancient philosophical views on virtue and volunteer labor are contained in ancient Indian sources. For over two hundred years there has been a scientific study of the history of Indian philosophy, and such concepts as “Hindu values”, “Indian axiology”, etc. became an integral part of the science of philosophy. Many eminent philosophers have devoted their research to “Indian Axiology”, among them are the publications of the classics of this issue — M. Hiriyanna, Nagaraja Rao, T.MP. Mahadevan, W. Goodwin, the famous Indian philosopher G. Malkani, W. Tetinen, and others [3; 114].
One of the main values that Buddhists attribute to moral perfection was generosity. Generosity is counted by Buddhists to be the most important state for the promotion of any business. The praise had been seen from the earliest monuments of Indian culture. For example, one of the hymns of the Rigveda, as a warning for rich people, asks them to separate their wealth, because the wealth does not last forever and must be used wisely. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the God of lightning, states that people should behave themselves appropriately and do charity, including distribution of alms. In the Chhandogya Upanishad, generosity is accepted as a readiness to do or give something, which goes along with asceticism, truthfulness, and justice. Generosity is on the amnesty list of Dharmashastra and is also highly presented in the didactic texts of the Mahabharata [3; 146]. Generosity in Buddhism is the most important aspect in both culture and religion. It is regarded as a gift from God.
In the texts of the Pali Canon, charity, along with minimal moral behavior and meditation, is considered as an act of forgiveness which is highly rewarding. These texts indicate at least three ways to differentiate the statements about charity: Eight objects of gift, eight methods of giving charity and five “symbols” of generosity: Charity should be done faithfully, carefully, promptly and neither having regrets nor harms to anyone. According to the Abhidharmists, the highest gift, however, is not material thing, but the gift of dharma, while the five “great gifts” are five periods of life, considered as a gift to others. Among the Mahayana texts, the “soteriological” treatise “Bodhisattvabhumi” should be highlighted, in which nine types of charity are distinguished:
- free will to give everything asked;
- willingness to sacrifice any property (even the one’s body);
- readiness to offer the most expensive belongings;
- nondiscrimination of persons who are beneficiaries;
- giving a gift accompanied by reverence and awe for the giver;
- non-discrimination of the gifted;
- donation in order to alleviate real needs;
- endowment for the benefit of the person accepting a gift both in this life and in the next;
- immediate donation. Other variations of the virtuous gift include: Giving without swings, giving up the habit of “accumulating” for another time, granting with total unselfishness; sacrifice with joy; sharing the best; act of giving not to build up “merit” [3; 147].
Despite the constant declaration of altruistic attitudes, the diverse ways of overcoming the personal principle in Indian worldviews, Indian ethics is “selfishness”. This explains the lack of justice as a social virtue in all the numerous aretological lists of Indian texts, while for ancient aretology justice was the focus of all virtue. The basis of Indian ethics was an orientation toward a goal rather than a benefit, the opposite situation was in ancient ethics.
Aretology in Europe
Antique ethics was preceded by a moral canon that was actually contained in the prephilosophical forms of culture. It was a reflection on this canon and at the same time entered into this canon itself as a conceptually formalised conclusion. Moral refers to the ideal vision of a perfect (dignified, virtuous) person and a perfect (dignified, happy) life. It was set in the first (and by time of origin meaning) texts of ancient Greek culture.
Aretology, a branch of ethical science, is derived from the Greek word arête, which is translated as “morality”. The word “arête” referring to a person means “virtuous”. In a broad sense, it means “morality” as a characteristic of a worthy person. Hard work is required to correspond to this quality. Hesiod, the first poet of ancient Greece, described the “arete” as follows: “Hooliganism is easy to achieve, but difficult to have” [5; 32].
According to Socrates, the meaning of life, its goal is in truth, in goodness. The very activity of the human mind has therefore an ethical content; the doing of reason is a practical doing, and idle speculation that has no practical purpose is condemned as false and fruitless, as empty sophistry. Socrates: Virtue does not come from money, but from virtue money and all good things come to human beings in both private and public life [6; 215].
Socrates contribution to philosophy was well-illustrated by his pupil Aristotle, who said that “Socrates was one of the pioneers who were dealing with the question of moral virtues and tried to determine the general understanding of it”.
Aristotle, as the founder of ethics, criticized Pythagoras in his “Great Ethics” for equating ethics to numbers, Socrates for comparing ethics with knowledge, and Plato for equating ethics to abstract higher well-being, because he believed that the condition for disclosing the essence of “ethical problems” was the definition of what ethics is a part of. Aristotle considered ethics as a part of politics, because in his opinion, in public life, it is possible to act only with certain “ethical characteristics”, which means to be a respectable person [7; 296]. Therefore, ethics as a science of moral behavior is not only part of politics but also the beginning. The first subject of ethics is the highest good, but not an abstract human good, good in public life.
Aristotle says that the volunteerism is what we hold people responsible for morally.
In his work “Nicomachean Ethics”, Aristotle, reflecting on virtue, says the following:
“Indeed, the property of virtue consists more in doing good (eu poiein) than in accepting it (eu paskhein), and in doing fine deeds more than in not doing shameful ones. Meanwhile, it is quite clear that giving implies good deeds and fine acts, while acquiring implies accepting good, if not committing shameful acts, and finally, gratitude is due to the one who gives, not the one who does not take. And the first one, rather, deserves praise. It is easier not to take than to give, because people are even less inclined to squander their (good) than not to take, even more, someone else’s. And those who give are called generous, and those who do not take are not praised for generosity, but praised nevertheless for justice; those who take do not deserve praise at all. Among those with whom friendship is made because of their virtue, perhaps most friendship is with the generous, for they are helpers, since help consists in giving” . Virtue according to Aristotle, a person who does good, to whom bad deeds and sins are alien. This topic is always relevant in his writings.
In the Middle Ages, “toil by the sweat of your brow” was considered the curse of man for his original sin. F. Aquinas argued that by his labor a person can provide only his biological existence and is not able to achieve high goals, unlike volunteer labor [9; 28].
There is reason to believe that the ethical readings of Thomas Aquinas, a representative of philosophy in the Middle Ages, were formed on the basis of biblical morality and the philosophical views of Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas: “In order to do the most important good in moral life, a person must strive not only with intelligence, but with all his soul. This should be the most important thing for a compassionate person” [3; 539]. F. Aquinas, as a true religious philosopher, considered ethical norms in a society with religion and spirituality.
The emergence of a social free worker in modern times became the most important condition for the formation of an economic free person, whose personal structure and behavior were influenced by ancient ethics (the Renaissance) [10; 54].
A critical mass of such individuals, who preserved the religious spirit of Protestantism and managed to combine it with the spirit of freedom, laid the foundations of civil society in the United States, which, according to A. de Tocqueville, was based on the ability of the early settlers to organise themselves, voluntarily building schools, roads, houses and solving community problems together. Religious values (work as a path to salvation; a high level of social organization of life as a duty to serve God, good deeds as a sign of being chosen; willingness to learn and accept new things), combined with civil liberties, have become the basis of modern volunteerism. Thus, the phenomenon of voluntary work lies in its freedom from social, economic and political coercion and its disinterested focus on solving community problems. At the same time, it would be excessive to consider it entirely altruistic. History confirms that the motives of volunteers, at least some of them, are not always altruistic [11; 203].
In New Age philosophy in Europe, man, his sovereignty as only responsible to himself, was paramount. Consider the views of some modern thinkers regarding virtue and virtuous work.
Martin Luther’s ethical views are inseparable from his work aimed at reforming the Church and reviving the true Christian faith. Luther’s ethical views were expressed in a series of letters — small treatises and the essay “On the bondage of the will”. According to Luther: “Kindness and good deeds never make a good and kind man, but a good and kind man does good and kind deeds. Not good deeds show person’s rightness but his faith. Through faith in God, people become pious and have the opportunity to do good deeds”. Martin Luther divides human acts into two groups: the first is actions towards one’s own body, and the second is to one’s “more important” actions toward other people.
According to the ethical ideas of Pierre Gassendi, the main virtue is prudence, in which reason leads the will. Prudence means the need to be content with a certain minimum, because “... to a man who is not satisfied with little, everything is always little...” [12; 314].
According to I. Kant, “the fulfillment of duty by everyone does bring good to all, but this good should be the goal of social duty, not the pursuit of personal gain. Everyone should make the ultimate goal the highest possible good in the world. And yet the question arises: why is this so? Because everything must be done in the name of Man” [13; 126].
For Kant, it is not only the form of the act that is important, but its certain correlation with the content. According to Kant, people should be judged not only by their actions, but also by the motives that guided them in performing these actions. Kant's distrust of fine-minded promises of «making everybody happy» is not groundless, nor is his reliance on a general moral interest which is intended to rise above the motley diversity of private empirical aspirations. But he does not take into account the fact that actions are still no less important than their motives, and accustoming to the right actions is one of the means of educating moral feelings. After all, “in the beginning was the deed”. Neither should the chasm between duty and happiness be ripped out. It is wrong to turn a person into a servant of duty as such; on the contrary, duty must be such that it serves the happiness of people. On the other hand, the consciousness of fulfilled duty does not make people happy? Humanistic aspirations never weaken a correctly understood duty, but, on the contrary, contribute to its fulfillment. From all motives of moral action Kant chooses the extremely general and therefore inevitably the most formally understood motive, as far from sensuality as possible, but he is mistaken, because “no morality exists without sensuality, i.e. as pure morality. In other words, as a clean conscience refers to a conscience that has never been in use” [14; 67]. A true conscience is the most important element of conscientiousness, and a good conscience is the pledge of volunteerism.
Duty practiced, colliding with sensual reality, penetrating into it, cannot remain by duty locked in its “pure” self-sufficiency. Kant nevertheless hoped that duty could retain its purity. In “On the proverb 'It may be true in theory, but it is not fit for practice'” he develops the apologia of duty in a spirit of extreme rigorism. Not showing the slightest hesitation even in the most artificial situations, he is of the opinion that even the slightest, by way of exception, breach of duty would be extremely destructive for moral practice. After all, “duty is the necessity of (doing) an act out of respect for the law” [15; 236].
The formation of voluntariness as a certain activity in Europe lasted from the beginning of the XIX century to the 1920s. The work of volunteers at this stage is characterized by the predominance of their zeal for religious principles. The charitable practice of the people is developing in all European countries. According to history, the logic of the emergence and development of volunteer prototypes within the European space at this stage is similar. At this stage, the community of European volunteers has signs of religious or ideological unity, but not associations. Researchers note that in many European countries, since the 19th century, the church has promoted volunteerism and mutual assistance within the local community. In some countries, secular forms of mutual assistance have also developed.
In ideas of the above-mentioned European humanist philosophers, first of all, human existence was important in all aspects. At the same time, humanists did not deviate from their religious views, gods, and Christian religious teachings. The main focus of humanists was on man and his soul. The influence of Christianity on human social problems and good deeds became clear.
Volunteering in the Arab-Muslim culture
A characteristic feature of Islamic culture is the absence of division into secular and religious, as was the case in Christian civilization during the Middle Ages.
In Islam, charity is divided by four areas. The first type of charity includes various gifts, charity acts, and voluntary donations in the form of deities. Voluntary interest — free lending to people in need is the second direction. The third direction of charity is the obligation to pay zakat (a certain part of the annual income in certain cases), and the fourth direction, which is eternal charity, the waqf, which is the best form of charity because the donated property is used regularly and for a long time.
While obligatory prayers indicate the spirituality of the Muslim in building a direct connection with the Supreme Lord, charity reflects spiritual maturity in the context of building relationships with the creatures of the Supreme. Its importance is mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Perform namaz, pay zakat and bow together with those who bow down”.
Charity is so important before the Almighty that the Quran says the following about it: “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah”.
Ideally, the act of donation in Islam should be seen not only as a moral obligation towards society, but in reality it is a sincere desire to attain the grace of the Lord of the Worlds.
Humanity is one of the fundamental principles of Islam. Making a donation or helping someone who has been injured are actions that the believer cannot do on his own, they are as obligatory for him as prayer, fasting during Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca. Performing an act of humanity for a Muslim is thus one of the main components of religious practice, whether it is a donation of money or in kind, or acts of a more practical nature, such as gratuitous work, supporting one’s neighbour and distributing help [15; 121].
Donation or charity, as an economic basis, is considered significant in religious, social and commercial exchange, since it emphasizes the importance of giving action rather than acquiring oneself, which serves more public and public interests (maslakha) rather than the individual.
The importance of charity and helping people is noted in many hadiths. It must be remembered that everything that is done unselfishly comes back with the gifts of the Almighty. Engaging in charity, a person not only helps those in need, but also protects himself from bad things and earns savab.
In classical Arab–Muslim literature, he operates with the concept of good (khair). The good deeds of people will be rewarded and they will be seen on the Day of Judgment without fear: “Whoever brings a good deed will have a better reward. And they will be saved from the fear of the Day of Judgment” (Quran 27:89), On that day, not only the good deeds of a person, but also all the bad deeds will be shown to him: “On that day people will go in scattered crowds to see their deeds. It’s a mercy from Allah that none of our good deeds will be forgotten, even if they weigh the equivalent of a speck of dust. On the scales of Judgment Day, good deeds and good intentions, no matter how small they seem in human terms, have the heaviest weight” [16, 123]. And those who believe in the Day of Judgment always do good deeds, even with noble words and intentions. This is called “thawab” (meaning “reward”)for Muslims.
An analysis of the texts of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) show how strongly Islam encouraged humanitarian activity, giving it a duty and a formal character. By doing good deeds, a Muslim first of all worships Allah and becomes closer to Him. He will also be rewarded for good deeds both in this life and in the next. A person cannot consider himself as a Muslim if he does not give a hand to his relatives.
Volunteerism ideas in the Kazakh steppe
Volunteerism has its own tradition in the Kazakh steppe. It has been the most important characteristic of Kazakh history. The Kazakh community has a tradition of volunteer labour in the Kazakh steppe, which has been the most important characteristic of the national history.
The great thinker of the Turkic world, the eminent philosopher Abu Nasir Al-Farabi studied the sacred in man as a value.
Al-Farabi’s ideological legacy is vast and diverse. This is evidenced by numerous works that are widely known not only in the countries of the Muslim east, but also throughout the world. In his works, the main place is occupied by the problems of morality, humanism, and human relations that lead a person to happiness. His contemporaries called him “Muallimus Soni” — “The Second Teacher” after Aristotle, as well as “The Aristotle of the East”.
In his works, the issues of human relations occupy a central place. The great poet, thinker and philosopher Khoja Ahmad Yasawi and Al-Farabi warn that only a society in which people help each other to achieve happiness is a good society. He wants a good city to be ruled by a good man.
Al-Farabi's main and deepest work is “The ideas of the citizens of the virtuous city”, which reveals the essence, structure, development and prosperity of the most perfect form of society “good city”. An integral part of Farabi’s problem of the “ideal city” is the question of the upbringing of different categories of morality and perfection. Speaking of a perfect man, Farabi means the head of state. According to him, such ruler should lead to the existence of a good state, the formation of the necessary qualities of its citizens [17; 309].
Khoja Ahmad Yasawi in his works “Diwani Hikmet”, “Risala” defines the basic principles of his doctrine. He calls people to personality, goodness, morality, charity, brotherhood, and criticizes insatiability and rudeness, cruelty and ignorance.
Yusup Balasaguni, on the other hand, is famous for his charitable deeds in the famous epic “Kutty Bilik” about charitable deeds for the poor, the elderly, the widows and the sick.
Kydyrgali bi Kosymuly Zhalairi, one of the most educated people in the Kazakh steppes, called the work “Zhami at tavarikh” a historical record of the XVI–XVII centuries and a valuable cultural work. At the same time, this work can be considered as a work that glorified the glory of Oraz Muhammad. The author describes in detail the moment of Oraz-Muhammad’s accession to the throne: “Everyone, old and young, mullahs and kalkhuds, all Muslims took part. Prayers were offered. Ordinary people and leaders were scattering over the High Khan. Mullahs and hafiz, orphans and widows, the poor and the needy were rewarded with alms”. The image of Oraz Muhammad in this work: “He showed kindness and goodness to the homeless and the poor. With his right hand he ruled according to the Shari'a, and with his left hand the thief punished the old and unworthy”. Indeed, it is a magnificent monument of glorification [18; 576]. The main focus of poems and the words of the great Abai is the Man. According to Abai, “the believer of the believers”, the reaching point is called “generosity” (charity). According to Abai, the improvement of the social situation, the establishment of justice in society depends on the mercy, kindness and compassion of the people.
To sympathize with the country, to be a “guardian of the Kazakhs” and to love “all mankind as a brother”, first of all, one needs true faith. It was the mission of the “Truth-Confirmation” to convey man to the path of perfect faith [19; 54]. Abai’s main idea is that any state or person will achieve great success if he is guided by the three qualities of Abai — justice, science, kindness; where everyone’s rights are preserved, science and technology are advanced, poor and needy are cared. Being the Man was important for Abai.
Summing up, we conclude that for a deeper understanding of volunteerism, we believe it would be worthwhile to scientifically reflect on the phenomenon in question in philosophy. We note that by foreign and domestic philosophers, volunteerism is not distinguished as a separate moral category, as a special form of human cognition of socio-cultural activity. Within the framework of our research, we focused on moral categories such as altruism, virtue, kindness, compassion, unselfishness, etc. Having complex social and moral values of activity and human existence, they form the foundation of volunteerism. Overall, we would like to conclude with the words of the UN Secretary General (January 1, 1997 — December 31, 2006) Kofi Annan, “At the heart of volunteerism are the ideals of service and solidarity and the belief that together we can make the world better”.
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