|Introduction: the ideal, the meaning of life, and progress|
|Chapter I. Love: its essence and manifestation|
| ||Ancient Greeks on love|
| ||Love, the Bible, and Thomas of Aquinas|
| ||Love in the epoch of Renaissance and Enlightenment|
| ||German philosophers on love|
| ||Love Russian-style|
| ||Erich Fromm's philosophy of love|
| ||Contemporary American approaches to the theory
| ||The law of love: increasing mankind's life delta|
|Chapter II. A woman's intelligence and / or beauty|
| ||There are brains and then there are brains, or woman is
no comrade to man|
| ||Girl or boy, nature or nurture|
| ||Male intellect + female beauty = mankind|
| ||Why are Russian women more attractive than Western
|Chapter III. Family, love, and marriage|
| ||The forming of family and monogamy|
| ||Love + monogamy = monophilogamy|
| ||Marriage and the state|
| ||The upbringing of children|
| ||The ideal wife and the ideal family|
| ||Divorce is the cessation of love|
|Chapter IV. The crisis of the family in the West|
| ||Decay of the family -- dropping birth rates|
| ||The consequences and causes of the decay of family|
| ||Post-liberalism as an attempt to overcome
the crisis of family|
|Chapter V. The Russian catastrophe|
Dedicated to my children
Ulyana and Guerman
My motivation to write this small work came from three reasons. First reason:
the monograph titled Society: Force and Progress (on which I am currently
working) must necessarily contain a chapter on the problems of family and
marriage. The second reason is the polemics started recently in the Western
press on the topic of who is more intelligent -- woman or man; this topic is
likewise directly relevant to my monograph. Finally, the third and most
important reason is the statistical data I stumbled upon concerning the
relative numbers of marriages and divorces in Russia; namely, there were 800
divorces for every 1000 marriages in 2002. This figure shook me so greatly that
I decided to put aside for a while the other chapters and concentrate urgently
on researching the problems of family and marriage in Russia vis-a-vis similar
problems in the West. As a result, the chapter on family grew into the small
book which I am now offering to the reader.
The book The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State by
Frederick Engels was published over 120 years ago. In it the author
substantiated the regularity of simultaneous and mutually-conditioned emergence
of monogamous family, private property and state. This mutual dependency
obtains to this day. It is just that the vector of development has been turned
around: the process of destruction of marriage is underway and so accordingly
the family and the state are decaying. (Private property is affected by this
process to a lesser degree, because many of its forms have acquired a
transnational character.) The process is manifested very obviously in the
Western world, to which Russia has aligned itself. The latter, having failed to
develop the engine revolutions of prosperity, is already exhibiting wonders of
decay and hurtling into a precipice. Nonetheless, the problems of family and
marriage, even though they cause concern to the ruling circles of the West and
of Russia, are relegated if not to the last, then at least the next-to-last
place. At least they are not perceived as a crisis -- or, in the case of Russia,
catastrophe. International terrorism is considered a more urgent problem today;
billions of dollars are expended to combat it. No one fully realizes that the
detrimental effect from the collapse of the family exceeds by several orders of
magnitude the damage from all terrorists put together. The consequence of the
destruction of the family isn't just population decrease in this or that state
- the existence of the state itself is cast in doubt, will all the due
consequences. This process is rather drawn-out from the historical perspective,
therefore less noticeable. There is only one way to halt it: change the
direction of development; move on to the next stage of history, namely
socialism. The West, by the way, is indeed gradually shifting precisely to the
path of socialism without realizing it, or rather without admitting it. This is
manifested most obviously in the sphere of social-family relations, within
which framework the policies of many Western states recreate the policies that
used to be practiced in the USSR.
In this book the problem of family and marriage isn't just analyzed on the
basis of sociological science. Contrary to my preliminary intentions, the topic
led me to reflect philosophically on such phenomena as "beauty," "intelligence"
and "love," that are clear to all but incomprehensible to scientists. Not at
all simple, from the perspective of philosophy, are also such phenomena -- known
to any reasonable person -- as "family," "husband," "wife," "father," and
"mother." However, without philosophical interpretation of the above-listed
"words" it would be impossible to interpret sociological data. For any
phenomenon discussed, it is important to have criteria, clear definitions of
terms, and their translation to the level of concepts and categories. Otherwise
the inevitable outcome would be the kitchen assortmentof arguments found in
abundance in all contemporary books dedicated to marriage and family.
I did find a more serious approach used in the treatment of problems of love,
which are discussed on a complex philosophical level. Actually, I had no
intention of touching on this topic in the present work. However, one of my
friends, who had read the original draft of the manuscript, knows of my
penchant for formulating concepts, and he asked me to define in two -- three
words what love is. I obliged him: love is life. This definition did not
satisfy him. Strangely enough, many people favor the mystical version of
"defining" love: great is the mystery. Since this latter formulation is not
operable, i. e. is not scientific, I was compelled to bury myself in literature
on the topic, which, to my misfortune, turned out to be very vast. Naturally, I
had to limit my circle of reading to a few scores of works, especially since
most of them repeat each other. Amazingly, even after studying quite a few
books I preserved the essence of my formulation of love as life, since it
turned out to be the sole correct one, which will be proved in the
corresponding part of the book.
This work in form and in style is not a scientific investigation in the strict
sense of the word "science." Apart from the section on "love," the main text is
written as a publicistic essay, which implies, apart from stylistic liberties,
a subjective view of the topics. My wife, involved as always in the editing,
attempted to adapt many philosophical sections for the normal reader, as well
as substitute acceptable words for the "vulgarisms." This time she was thwarted
by my determined resistance. I resisted because I have no desire to please the
philistine reader, on one hand, and the purist reader on the other hand -- the
kind who is offended, for example, by the word "perversion," preferring the
word "deviation." Still, for the sake of "scientific character," I retained the
minimum scientific apparatus (the bibliographical data), to avoid accusations
of libel, such as had been leveled against me on several occasions.
The reader who is familiar with my previous works knows that my principal and
sole assistant in my research is my wife, Valentina Battler; on this occasion,
too, she participated most actively in discussing all sections of the essay.
Although, as I mentioned already, I did not agree with all of her remarks, "in
essence" I was compelled to reinterpret many things, add some, and remove some.
In any case, this is precisely that version of the wife's participation in the
husband's affairs which I describe in the section on "the ideal wife." I am
thankful to my fate.
Oxford, the United Kingdom,
Introduction: the ideal, the meaning of life, and progress
One cannot think without having thought,
One cannot understand
without having concepts.
Science begins at the stage where "common sense" is left to the masses, while
the researcher switches to the language of concepts and categories, i. e. to
the language of science. Otherwise we would never be able to penetrate
phenomena which we meet all the time, including such as family. Almost
anyone would say, if asked, that family is a union between a man and a woman
with a household in common -- the commonplace definition from the dictionary of
"common sense." But if this family has no children, can it be called a family?
Some would say yes, others -- no. For example, the German philosopher Friedrich
Kierchner wrote in his book that was popular in Russia once: "The principal
pillar of all culture and morals... is the family, i. e. offspring issuing from
marriage." In this connection another question may emerge: what about a
divorced single mother with a child -- can they be considered a family? Once
again, some would say yes, it is a family, while others would say no. "Common
sense" no longer works.
Here's a more complex question: why is the family needed? Is it for
continuation of the species? However, in the era of savagery there was no
family, yet the species continued. I fear that this question, too, cannot be
answered by "common sense."
An even greater variety of quotes-answers would be produced by the question:
what is the ideal family? What is the ideal, anyhow? Carriers of "common sense"
wore down these words to dilapidated banality; yet, having failed to find a
definitive answer -- which they have no need of anyway -- they would say that the
ideal is a subjective thing. It suffices to look in any glossary on this topic
to see that for some the ideal is embodied in looks, for others -- in character
or intelligence, for still others -- in sexual potency, and so on. This all is
reminiscent of the anecdote about the sultan who was given a choice of several
dozen women. To the surprise of many, his choice was not the most beautiful
one, or the most intelligent one, or the most good-natured one, but rather the
one with the biggest bosom.
Consider now the above-listed qualities of the sultan's brides: the evaluations
of each of these, too, can vary very widely. What does it mean: beautiful --
ugly, clever -- dumb, etc.? Is it all subjective, too? Perhaps the term ideal has no objective criteria at all? However, if that is so, why then are
the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Madonna recognized by all peoples (all
literate ones, that is) as ideal works of art? Why is the music of Bach,
Mozart, Beethoven, and Shostakovich considered to be classic (which is an
expression of the ideal)? The same can be said of certain poets, such as
Shakespeare, Goethe or Pushkin. It follows that there is something universal in the ideal, something independent of concrete individuals'
Alreadyinthepre-Hegelianphilosophytheterm"ideal"startedacquiring a conceptual
content, reflected in certain words that are adequate to the sphere of their
application. In aesthetics, the ideal was embodied in the beautiful, in beauty;
in ethics -- in goodness, virtue; in politics -- in fairness (justness). All
these concepts undoubtedly always bore and still bear the imprint of history
and geography, since in each epoch, in each different culture the
beautiful, the virtuous and the just was tied to the particular
(according to Hegel), i. e. it reflects the specifics of space and time.
However, is there the universal present in the ideal? Hegel wrote in his
"Aesthetics": "For the Ideal requires an inherently substantive content which,
it is true, by displaying itself in the form and shape of the outer as well,
comes to particularity and therefore to restrictedness, though it so contains
the restrictedness in itself that everything purely external in it is
extinguished and annihilated." On the basis of his claim about the
substantiveness, i. e. the being-ness, of the ideal, he analyses the forms of
all arts, including poetry, in order to understand their substances. This all,
however, belongs in the realm of aesthetics -- on the conceptual, i. e.
reflected, level. To Hegel, this was sufficient; but not to us. For we need to
find out: does the ideal have the substance of being?
I maintain that it does, and its being-ness content is definedby the answer to
the question: what is the meaning of life? A multitude of answers have been
offered. Theologians will claim that the meaning of life is "in serving God";
revolutionaries -- in struggle; philistines -- in peace; bourgeois -- in money.
This kind of answers often confuses "the meaning of life" with "life's goal."
In either case, we get a great variety of answers. Without getting involved in
polemics, let me outline my position which I had justified on the philosophical
level in my book Dialectics of Force: Ontobia. Briefly, the philosophy boils
down to this:
All concepts are a reflection ofbeing which realizes itself through matter,
motion, space/time and force. In all three realms: the inorganic, the organic
and the social -- being realizes itself in different ways, and these differences
are captured in the corresponding laws, some of which are fundamental. The word
"force" is not used in each and every law, but as it is an attribute of being,
whether in hidden or evident form (in the latter case the wordforce is
signified) force is present in all phenomena that take place in our Universe.
In my aforementioned book I designated force as a philosophical category with
the word ontobia, in the micro- and macro-worlds -- as force, in the
organic world as orgabia, in the Universe as cosmobia. In the world of
social relations this force merged with knowledge (force = knowledge) --
mankind's main weapon in the battle against the law of entropy growth for
control of space and time in the Universe.
In that same book I prove that life starts with man. Everything that is outside
of man, outside of society belongs to the inorganic and the organic worlds,
including animals and other creatures. Therefore, the concept of love, for
example, is inherent to man alone, i. e. it is a social idea. It does not exist
outside the boundaries of society, and neither do all other social ideas
(enmity, happiness, pleasure, etc.). Therefore, when certain philosophers or
writers/poets write of love between animals, plants, etc., those writings are
either metaphors or fairy tales that are very good for children. However, when
they write such things in full earnestness, that is evidence of their
So, let us get back to life. What is its meaning? I repeat after Goethe that
the meaning of life is life itself. Therefore, the longer the life, the more
meaning it has. The entire history of mankind's formation and development is
the history of extending the life of man himself as a species and preserving
mankind as a genus.
From this statement follows my definition of the concept of progress,
which goes as follows: progress is the "increment" of life, i. e. the
difference between the years allotted to man by nature (the laws of the
inorganic and the organic worlds) and the years he really (actually) does live
thanks to his knowledge. I call this difference the life delta, or progress.
For obviousness' sake, it can be expressed thus: LDelta =
LA -- LN where L is lifespan; A is the actual, or real,
average lifespan; N is the natural, or biological, lifespan allotted by nature.
Hence the meaning of life is the effort to attain progress, i. e. to increase
delta. Let me remind here just in case that the humanoid's initial average lifespan for over 99 % of the time of his existence on the planet
was 18 years. Today it has been pushed in advanced countries to nearly 80
years, and this leap has been achieved in the last two centuries. This means
that man has "bypassed" nature thanks to his knowledge, having increased his
life delta by a factor of four.
What is the main enemy of life? The answer is obvious: death. It will be the
death not just of man, but of the entire Universe, which will come inevitably
in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. For those who are not very
familiar with this law (also known as the law of entropy growth), I present one
of the definitions: entropy is the degradation of matter and energy in the
Universe all the way to the ultimate state of inert uniformity. In other words,
this law postulates the death of the Universe. This law is fundamental; it
applies to man, too. However, unlike the entire non-human world, man alone is
capable of... no, not canceling, but rather "slowing down" the rate of effect
of the second law of thermodynamics. I want to stress that although man does
indeed on the strength of this law tumble to a state of perfect balance and
death, he manages at the same time to extend his existence as a species.
On the level of mankind as a whole, he already aspires to immortality. That is
his ultimate goal as a representative and carrier of the noosphere. Even though
this goal is unattainable in principle, according to that same law of entropy,
the struggle for its achievement -- precisely struggle, rather than passive
belief in progress -- is the essence of human existence. The progress of human
development is essentially nothing other than the extension of the life of
humankind and of man as its core. Man appeared in the universe by chance, but
mankind must survive by regularity.
It follows from this reasoning that the substance of the ideal is rooted
in the very life delta which is realized through man, by man himself. This
means that the ideal does have objective criteria for all times and peoples, i.
e. it is possessed of the universal. As for its particular, it
manifests it in many phenomena, including family.
Let us now return to family. Why family, of all things? I believe that
mankind's ultimate fate is dependent on the family, or rather the ideal family.
Of course, the progress of mankind as a rising trend is realized through many
factors. Nonetheless, the family and subsequently the state always played, and
still play, a special role. Prior to the forming of the family, the life delta
- that very difference between the lifespan of the species and the factual
lifespan -- practically did not grow: average life expectancy stayed at
the mark between 18 and 20 years for several million years. The formation of
family -- the monogamous family above all -- served to accelerate the rate of
progress. However, even in monogamy there are different types of families. So
where are the criteria of the family that is "ideal", that is constructive?
What is its specificity? The answer will be given below, but first it is
necessary to specify the following:
In everyday life, the word "ideal" can have two meanings. One of them is
"idea." Then the expression "ideal family" can mean "family after an idea," i.
e. one that performs certain functions. In this meaning the ideal is
equivalent to the normal, or natural, family. The definition of
family given by the Russian philosopher V. Rozanov can be perceived in
precisely this meaning. He wrote: "The family is an organism that emerges in
the closest fashion around an individual, merged with him physiologically, yet
remaining after his death as a number of individuals who form anew each around
himself a similar organization."
I direct your attention to the expression "similar organization." This is the
normal family that realizes itself, to use a term from political economy, in
simple reproduction from the perspective of its qualitation. (We're not
talking in this case about the number of children.) Such a family will find a
place on those pages of statistics where the phenomenon is not working for the
life delta. In this sense it is no different from the "family" of certain
animal species that reproduce "a similar organization."
The ideal family lengthens the life delta, which reflects the other meaning of
the word ideal: certain perfection, the supreme ultimate goal of
aspirations, or of activity. This kind of family is tied to the idea of
progress. The "fantastically" daring way to making the life of man and,
accordingly, mankind endless -- at least within the framework of the existence
of the Universe itself -- is a challenge to crucifixion by slavery. However, the
ultimate goal is never achieved in principle, since the finite owes its
existence to the infinite. In this sense it resembles the word truth: the ultimate, or absolute, truth is the infinite, or relative, truth.
These words exist as concepts in mutual definitions. For all that, both the
absolute and the relative possess the property of objectivity, since their
conceptual perception is reflected from their ontological, or being-ness,
existence. Their objectivity is tested in practice through their adequacy to
the laws of nature and society.
What this reasoning has to do with the ideal family is that it objectively
serves progress as it increases the life delta. This is only possible when it
produces offspring that is qualitatively superior to the parents (members
of the family that gave birth to them). The quality itself of the subsequent
offspring is determined by the volume and depth of knowledge that they are
capable of using for increasing the duration of mankind's existence.
It is pointless to mention here examples that appear to contradict the above
reasoning, such as: a certain family produces a genius who discovers some laws
but dies at the age of 25. That is, despite discovering laws, the genius in
this instance did not even reach the statistical average life expectancy. Such
examples are all from the domain of common sense, but we are talking here of
the general trend that forces its way through a mass of particularities and
Thus, the ideal family is a social organism within society that ensures
mankind's progress toward immortality.
And now follow the questions: why? when? in which case can family possess such
qualities? I claim that one of these universal properties is love. At this
point the well-read reader will inquire maliciously: "Love? What is that? The
question has no answer to this day."
I want to make a correction: there was no answer until now. Read Chapter 1 and
all the rest in the bargain. At the very least it won't hurt you.
About the Author
, a Canadian citizen of Russian origin who resides in France (Paris), is a doctor
of historical science and a full member of the Military Academy of Science of the Russian
Federation. He worked for many years as a professor of political science, economics, and
international relations in many Russian schools of higher education (in Moscow and
Vladivostok). He has published about 300 books and articles worldwide (mostly in
Russia). These include twenty individually written books and contributions to more than
twenty collective monographs. In recent years, he has been tackling philosophy and sociology.