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152. Cognition And Cultural Complexes

In the course of the exposition of facts, concerning the psychomental complex we have seen that certain phenomena of the Tungus culture remain unnoticed by the Tungus — they are not cognized. In fact, even such an evident fact as the social-economic-biological unit — the family — is cognized only partly, as a household, chiefly associated with the «wigwam». Indeed, it may appear in Tungus eyes in its other function, e g. the biological function; but still there will be no full cognition of the phenomenon. The same is also true of units, such as the «clan» and the ethnical unit which are very important realities and which are not fully cognized. Still less are cognized important elements of the psychomental complex and their regulation. For instance such an important mechanism of regulation of psychic life as shamanism is functioning without being cognized. Although some elements which constitute shamanism may be cognized and even-termed other elements remain unnoticed altogether while third ones are noticed in their non-shamanistic functions e.g. as an aesthetic phenomenon and the like. The fact of non-cognition of these phenomena is not surprising, for it is known to be so among other ethnical groups, which have been the subject of an ethnographic analysis. However, such a non-cognition has always been explained as due to a condition of low mentality of the «primitive» groups. Since the question of mentality for its serious discussion ought to be put on different ground and since as a simple explanation of psychomental differences it cannot be used any more, we have to approach the problem of non-cognition from another side. That the question is not as simple as it seems to be at first, is evident from the fact that such a lack of cognition of existing and functioning phenomena is characteristic even of the ethnical groups which are supplied with methods of modern science. The same is true of the earlier ethnical complexes, such as that of the Greeks and Romans, who were groups which cannot be regarded as «primitive». Those who have an absolute faith in the scientific methods may say that even though the Greeks and Romans, as well as the Europeans of the eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries, could not raise themselves up to the height of self-cognition, It does not mean that this state will never be reached by other ethnical units (and groups) which will perfect their scientific methods so much that anything will escape from the analytical eye of scientists. Indeed, such an attitude of certainty is perhaps the only one which is possible for a psychomental complex adapted for a continuous change of the cultural complex, and chiefly along the line of positive variations (conditioned by positive impulses). It is not my idea to deny its existence or to diminish its functional effectiveness. It exists as a part of the mechanism which maintains the function of the psycho-mental complex in any ethnical unit (or group). However, facts are facts. They show that the cognition of all phenomena of cultural adaptation was never complete. The description and analysis of relatively simple forms of social and economic organizations were always much more successful in respect to the past than to the present, supposing the material was available. The same social and economic contemporaneous systems were usually neither described nor understood, could not be cognized in all their varieties. This was due not only to the defective methods, but apparently to some deeper reasons. As a matter of fact, we have only one method which may be used, namely, the comparative method. It is used in application to the same unit at different historical moments and to different groups studied simultaneously. No methods exist which permit to distinguish immediately a new form and even a new element, and still less to foresee them as forms and elements of the future [722]. So that even the description of the existing forms meets with difficulties, for these forms become noticeable only in their historical and ethnographical aspects, and the cognition of new forms is always behind the facts. However, the question of cognition of forms is very intimately connected with the tempo of variations. When the tempo is rapid the comparative material is abundant; when the tempo is slow the material is limited, or there is none, especially if two changes are separated by several generations and no written records exist. A relative increase of interest in these problems observed among the ethnical units (and groups) of the European cultural cycle is chiefly conditioned by the tempo of variations of observed phenomena and not by the special cleverness of the bearers of the complexes of the special properties of these complexes [723]. There is another condition which is also responsible for the process of cognition. This is the variation of the pressure produced by the interethnical milieu. Let us remark that these two conditions are especially typical of the psychomental complexes of leading ethnoses and therefore, in the given conditions of cultural adaptation, it is likely to expect a growth of science in the leading ethnoses, quite independent of the inherited thinking ability of the population which forms the leading ethnical units [724]. By this remark I do not want to deny the possibility of the existence of favourable and unfavourable conditions of «inherited» predisposition for productive mental work in general. In so far as the group possessing a complex cultural adaptation are concerned, another and new condition appears, namely, a selection of the elements better adapted for thinking. This may have a positive effect upon the thinking power of the unit as a whole. In fact, the destruction of this element and of the mechanism of selection may cause general lowering of the thinking power of the unit, whence a decrease of its power in the interethnical milieu. In the history of ethnical units (and nations) these facts are so numerous that some observers considered the condition of selection to be the only one which is responsible for the variations observed in different ethnical units, while others believed in an equally distributed inherited mental ability. Very closely connected with the above mentioned conditions is a third one, namely, the numerical power of the unit, especially in growing units for the mental work is carried out and handed over to the coming generations by individuals: the more numerous the individuals, the greater the chance of producing thinking individuals. Indeed, both a special mental endowment and an organized selection are important conditions, but if there is no change within the units and if there is no interethnical pressure, the mental power will remain unemployed or confined to the aspects of special adaptation, which may even not be noticed by other ethnical units and which will not contribute anything to the cognition of the milieus [725].

Therefore the process of cognition of milieu must be regarded as a function of quantity of population and of changes which occur in the interethnical pressure and in the cultural adaptation of the ethnical units, the latter being physically more or less adapted (inherited condition) and organized (selection, both cognized and not cognized).

Besides these conditions of cognition there is a still deeper reason for arresting at a certain point the cognition of milieu and especially the psychomental complex of the unit itself. Namely, the psychomental complex of a unit as shown, cannot be abstracted. When new elements are introduced into the complex, the complex is already not the same as it was and there is a change of the whole complex of cultural adaptation, be it small or great; any newly acquired knowledge as to the milieu or particularly the psychomental complex produces such an effect upon the whole complex, and a further step is automatically done for its rebuilding. In its new form it must be again cognized. Here I have in view a cognition which is reached by the whole unit, or at least by the leading-section of the unit. Indeed, there may be individuals who possess full cognition, but they will have no influence on other members of the unit and thus they will not exactly be members of the same unit.

It is evident that this limit cannot be overstepped by the unit.

What has been said above was referred to ethnical units being in a state of variation produced by positive impulses. However, the situation is different with the units which are in a state of decline, especially at the period of a decline at a rapid tempo of variations. In fact, such a unit, with every new step of its decline, has to simplify its complex, and the latter will be easily cognized and understood. However, it may be so only in case the process of decline is noticeable within a short period, practically less than a generation. The decline may remain with-out producing any cognizable comparative material should the process be very slow. The second condition is that of at least relative preservation of the thinking elements if it is found in a selected group. In the first case, when the thinking selected group is affected, the process of cognition may be arrested still earlier, so that the unit will produce a picture of a complete psychomental decline — a rather frequent occurrence in the life of highly differentiated units which will not be a psychomental decline of the population; in the second case, when the group is not destroyed, the process of cognition will not be arrested and the unit, in spite of its actual decline, may produce an impression of great brightness [726]. The last case is rare, for under the conditions of negative variations the unit usually becomes disorganized, in which state it cannot function as before, and thus the psychomental functions are also curtailed. It should be noted that this refers to the ethnical complex and not to individuals who may preserve a perfect cognition in all conditions and therefore will be still more separated from the bulk of their ethnical unit [727].

I note here that, when an ethnical unit comes to a clear understanding of its own social organization, economic system, and psychomental complex «acting» at the given moment — by the way, this is a great ambition or educationalists and science [728] — it usually means that the unit has already reached its state of decline [729]. In fact, this can also be recognized from other signs of biological order, the movement of the population, and the change of interethnical pressure.

A particular case of decline, which may remain unnoticed, is that when there is a general decrease of the interethnical pressure connected with a partial, particularly selected, loss of population, occurring during important wars and «revolutions», which affect large groups of the «population». Such a decrease is not much noticed, because the process affects all units bound by the given interethnical pressure. The lucidity of thought after wars is only partly conditioned by the increase of experience, but it closely depends on the temporary decline and relative simplification of relations [730] which occur within a short period.

As I have already pointed out, the comparative material for the cognition of one's own complex may be received from the interethnical milieu. However, this cannot be done by the ethnical units, but only by the scientists who may transmit their knowledge still further — to the bulk of the population. However, there are great limitations too, namely, the time required for cognition (at least one generation) and for transmission (at least two generations), during which the complex undergoes further changes. The application of this method becomes more or less hopeless when the self-cognizing unit is in the process of leading ethnos, and must create a new form, naturally unprecedented in its own history. The complex may be cognized only hypothetically, by extrapolation of the pre-existing forms, and it will not be fully cognized even by scientists, who again will have no time to transmit their knowledge to the bulk of the population prior to the occurrence of new changes, sometimes very essential in the life of the unit. Such an impossibility of cognition of the complex of the leading ethnical units thus resides in the nature of the psychomental complex [731].

In thinking over and over again the problem of self-cognition of ethnical units (and groups), one naturally come to the idea that perhaps such a complete cognition and understanding is generally impossible — as soon as such a state would be achieved, a free readaptation of the cultural complex and the interethnical equilibrium would be lost and the unit, possessing such a knowledge, would become a permanent leading ethnical unit. This would gradually annihilate all other ethnical units, of the leading ethnical unit would perish in the struggle with the whole interethnical milieu. In the first case, should no new differentiation occur, there would be almost an immediate arrest or further are readaptation (no impulse produced by the interethnical milieu) and a general decline, first of all affecting the psycho-mental complex; should the process of further differentiation occur, there would be a loss of the former cohesion and the benefits resulting therefrom, and the psychomental complex would suffer at once The idea of the limitless power of science seems to belong to the psychological mechanism of the leading ethnos among the groups of the European complex, without which it could perhaps not function at all. Indeed, the same idea among the non-leading ethnical units is a mere reflection of the interethnical milieu [732].

When the problem of cognition of the cultural complex is put on this basis, we may easily approach the situations found in the Tungus psychomental complex. First of all, under the present conditions, the Tungus groups are not leading units, but probably some of them were so in the past; secondly, as shown, some of them are found in a state of decline and complete disintegration; thirdly, the lack of cognition is not a particular character of the psychomental complex of the Tungus, but it is a general phenomenon; fourthly, since the Tungus complex is not very voluminous, it may be better understood than the complexes of greater quantitative volume; fifthly, there are some aspects of the psychomental complex, as for instance psychic life, which is well studied by the Tungus and expressed in elastic hypothesis and in the symbolization of spirits.

722. Various theories regarding future forms of the social and economic activities are merely justifications of conscious and unconscious desires. As such they belong to the mechanism of variations and not of cognition of the present forms.

723. This success is ascribed by the historians to the special development of scientific methodology, while the latter is nothing but a component of the complex. Indeed, to explain the progress of science expressed in an accumulation of knowledge and generalizations through that of methodology is equivalent to a tautology.

724. The conviction of mental superiority, also characteristic of leading ethnoses, has its biological (ethnological) function without which the leading ethnical unit may lose its ability of being «leading» for other ethnical units.

725. In some instances of ethnical units we may guess a practical application of mental power, for instance, along the line of penetration into the psychology, a kind of self-cognition, also a scaffolding of religious teachings in their ethical aspect and operation with an imaginary world of abstractions. In such cases the psychomental complex may lose altogether its function as a component of ethnical equilibrium but it will be rather a fruitless discharge of mental energy of the ethnical unit.

726. Such is the state of leading ethnical units at the period of the first steps in the decline and also at the periods of a stationary state.

727. Ethnical units which are strongly affected by the process of social differentiation, followed by a formation of new potential ethnical units (a strong centrifugal movement) receive on the spot a great deal of material for the cognition of the milieu. This is the comparative ethnographical material which becomes available for all differentiated groups. It is not incidental that the units, which undergo this process before their final collapse (disintegration), very often produce «thinkers». In so far as cognition of milieu is concerned the case of a unit affected by the process of social differentiation is similar to that of the units being under an increase of interethnical pressure. Indeed, what has been said in reference to the ethnical units holds good for differentiated social groups before and especially during the process of disintegration. This is, of course natural, because the nature of the social groups is the same as that of the ethnical units. Vide supra Section 6.

728. Indeed, such ambitions are of a professional character without which the profession cannot exist. As I have shown, the function of educationalists is much more moderate than it is usually believed by this profession — to transmit the past knowledge to the coming generation, the present knowledge being beyond the reach of professional educationalists and especially that of the bulk of the population which constitutes the ethnical units (and groups), when they undergo a process of change at a rapid tempo.

729. Within the units that are in such a state one may notice a very curious phenomenon of «clear thinking», «cynism» and other attributes of supposed to be «modernism». They are also indicative of the same process. Practically this process is easier to be understood when studied in differentiated ethnical groups (especially «nations») dissolving into changing social groups which attain a state of ethnical differentiation. In small and simply organized ethnical units all these processes are too slow for being observed.

730. It is very risky to speak of one's own time, but the present psychomental state of the masses of the European populations (in nations and ethnical units) is undoubtedly due to both factors, namely, to experience and to a significant cultural movement backwards, in the sense of «simplification» of the complex. Still stronger is the lucidity of thought among the individuals who at the same time realize the impossibility of regulating the process and are only «functioning».

731. Poor cognition of the existing complexes was always explained by a reference to poor «development» of science. It is true that, for instance, the present investigations of rather simple aspects of cultural complexes, such as social organization, political organization (which is only an aspect of social organization), also economic systems are far from being able to give a full description of a formal organization and functioning. So in books on «political science» outer forms are usually given almost nomenclature of some easily perceived facts like «constitutions» etc., but the actual mechanism is neither seen nor shown. The best approach to the social phenomena — the psychological aspect — fails even to describe the mechanism, though the latter is only a minor part of the task. The best approach to the economic system — mathematical and statistical — is psychologically based on the hope that in the material of the past, laws, good for the present and the future will be discovered. But even with the approach no description of the present complex is possible. The creation of a science which would permit to foresee the present and future forms of these complexes is perhaps a mere dream, for actually the role of these sciences is functioning as «applied sciences» or as a justification of the past, the present being beyond the cognition and understanding if the unit is in a process of positive variations. This becomes still clearer if we remember that besides these complexes, always changing, there are also very important changes in the physical characters of the peoples — a factor which affects other complexes which cannot be noticed at once and will be so in the future. An interesting instance is that of Russia, where under the conditions of great simplification of the whole complex, attempt was made to create a premeditatedly elaborate system. When it was produced seemingly according to a certain plan the inventors lost control of the process and now special investigations into the problem of social differentiation of the creators themselves and their psychomental complex etc. are required. It is thus that in spite of the relative simplicity of the existing complex they find themselves in a more difficult position than anybody else among the experimentator, for they have eliminated as far as possible thinking elements of the controlled ethnical units; they require a rigid simplified approach to the actuality and prohibit scientific inquiries into the problems. Among other ethnical groups (nations) such a tendency exists too, but those nations are not so much affected by the belief in the system practised, so that the complexes are merely functioning while in the case of Russia they are paralysed.

732. This idea is also maintained by the professionals who are living on science for making themselves more important in the society, but in this case there is no relation to science, as such, nor to the motives underlying the activity of the scientists.

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