Reflection on Culture and Its Synthesis in the World Outlook of Lithuanian Intellectuals of the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Centuries

Margarita Poškutė


Processes of globalization rapidly reduce the boundaries between traditional special sciences and thus create new challenges for the creators of these sciences, i.e. contemporary human. Despite the unique degree of globalization during the last century, this process is not new. Therefore, a constant need for rethinking of cultural and historical heritage emerges. This article focuses on the period from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, when professional philosophy was not developed for objective reasons but intellectuals of different views (both catholic and secular) sought to reflect on contemporary processes. Even though the questions of nationality were the most relevant at the end of 19th century, the problems of culture and questions on interaction between different fields of culture were also discussed at that time.
The question what kind of culture and science should exist to develop matured and balanced personality is discussed in the article. This question is discussed from a historical perspective. Three different prevailing world outlooks can be distinguished during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Materialists (positivists, socialists) denied any spiritual science if not as useless or even harmful, then as minor. As the only goal, i.e. to solve contemporary (social) problems, for science was set, then sciences which provide accurate and useful knowledge are only needed. Therefore, any question on humanities or other fields of spiritual culture is rejected.
Clergy denied such single sided view of culture. For them, not only material and scientistic interpretation of the world was not acceptable, but also single sided idealistic reasoning of culture which was hold by supporters of romantic views. While holding neo-Thomistic views and often combining them with the ideas of V. Solovyov, the clergy had no doubt about the possibility of holistic understanding of the world which could unfold the versatility of the being. However, such universality is not an end in itself: it is necessary for creation of the balanced, moral human. The final ends of the positivists, Marxists and neo-Thomists became paradoxically similar: the culture according to the neo-Thomists and the science according to the positivists must lead to the ideal state of humanity. In fact, clergy speaks about balanced individual and positivists and Marxists speak about anonymous unified humanity united by the uniform scientific or social ideals. Consequently, the question if by reducing the limits between regions, cultures, and thus, by merging entirely different areas we could maintain the diversity emerges. In this case, the romanticists, who emphasize the originality and uniqueness while speaking about language as the main source of the culture, are exceptional. Also, neo-Thomists, who sought for synthesis of all fields of culture, noticed the distinctions of these fields, which could not be eliminated.


culture; science; neo-Thomism; positivism; romanticism

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236