Here I will present the thoughts of a scholar closed in the category of “Oriental Studies”, which has traditionally been the study of foreign languages, that is, philology, but for me it has always been a study of man in a special edition, which is the man who wrote texts in Sanskrit, beginning in the twelfth century BC , but over time, as I learned new methodologies, findings from neuroscience and psychology, as well as semantics and cognitive linguistics, and assumed embodiment of thinking, I saw that you could learn how these people believed about the world and themselves as active, causative, and free entities.

I realize that a lot of the things I’m going to talk about have been expressed by a lot of people and organizations before, but this is a message, not a thesis, so I’m not going to quote them all here. First of all, I wanted to suggest a comprehensive approach.

My main thesis is that the humanities should finally formulate their research object. As we know well, the humanities (like all sciences) are divided into disciplines and we study everything separately: literature, language, philosophical theories, past events and artifacts, etc. Moreover, for example, the study of cultures is a part of anthropology (the social sciences), but the study of culture and religion is already a branch of the humanities. Oriental Studies studies the languages ​​of foreign cultures, but is separate from anthropology, which studies cultures. Philosophy looks at what happiness is, but psychology (in the social sciences) looks at what happiness is, only in different ways. Anthropology studies culture and sociology studies society as if they were two separate entities. I have already omitted the division into history, art history (the humanities) and art science (a separate field). And that’s how we live – side by side.

Man is a creature that creates meanings and understands them

In my opinion, this can not be done anymore. By stripping all this entanglement from its conceptual device, in fact (if any of them really exist, but let’s say they do exist for the sake of this message) we have:

  1. Human,
  2. the things it produces,
  3. Relationships between man and these things as well as man and other people, the environment with which man interacts.

This is what should be the subject of the humanities in the literal sense, that is, human research. In other words, human research should cover this full range of issues. It is the man who produces things and enters into relations with other representatives of his race and with other beings and the world, which must be studied in the humanities. How is this different from, for example, biology?

First, human biology affects how they produce these things and how they interact, so collaboration with biology is required. And secondly, and most importantly, such a universal human search for man embodied him in his own (and only characteristic of the human race) ability to give meaning to his products, actions, and relations with and with other members of his species. The surrounding environment and its understanding by other individuals. Realize that Clifford Geertz has already said that the study of culture is the study of the network of meanings, and in the same spirit he defines the humanities as Helen Small (Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford Merton University and a colleague from Merton College, Oxford): the humanities study the meaning-making practices of culture, in the past and present, with an emphasis on interpretation and critical evaluation, primarily in terms of individual response and with a removable subjective component.

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So one might ask, what’s new in my proposal? Well, Geertz and Small talk about the study of culture or cultural practices that create meanings. I suggest that this be a humanistic study that creates meaning.

According to my definition, the subject of research in the humanities (if I am allowed to use such a huge word in this context) is a dynamic one, because a person is constantly giving meaning, changing it and trying to understand it.

This dynamic subject has to be studied by means of the various methodologies used in these particular sciences. But this does not mean that methodologies should form the basis for a rigorous classification of research disciplines.

This classification is probably due in part to bureaucracy, but I don’t want to go into that. And I don’t mean that in the context of this research on the way man understands the world and gives it meaning, one cannot do a detailed research of a seventeenth-century Maracian poet or determine an age found in a cemetery. But the point is that the seeker of such a poet or tooth must have a broader human basis (in the sense given to him here), a broader perspective: that it actually enriches, ultimately, through this particular person or thing, our knowledge about ourselves As creatures and creatures. Understanding meanings.

Not everyone who wears a toga and chain is a judge

The current controversy over the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court is an example of the controversy over meaning. Created by proper procedure – not everyone who wears a toga and chain is the judge. The people who create and participate in the action give it meaning that members of the community understand. In the current situation, many people do not understand this meaning or are rejected. A new meaning is established: the judge of the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court is appointed by the executive branch. People create meaning for some reason, and it is people who want others to understand it. Thus, in examining the procedure for appointing judges, we not only examine their importance, but ultimately we arrive at those who create this meaning, e.g. who they are, in what circumstances they are, what traditions they come from, what religion they profess etc. Here you can already see the need for cooperation, sociologists, anthropologists, historians – and perhaps also psychologists? Maybe psychiatrists? And if we add to this that we study the procedure for appointing a judge, for example in India under Modi, the Orientalist will also be useful.

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For example, Mikai Janushkevich writes about this crossing of the boundaries of disciplines and fields in the humanities: in the field of philosophy. Likewise, when he analyzes ethical and axiological issues, of particular importance to literature. When he adopts the human attitudes, behaviors, and motives expressed in literary anthropology (that is, contained in a literary work), he enters the field of psychology and sociology. When he thinks about religious issues, he gets involved in religious discourse. If he conducts research on stylistics, he enters the field of linguistics, stylistics, etc.

But I would like to go further and prove that the world of literature is looking not only for literature, but for the man who makes it; The dynamics of his “theme” are especially evident in the case of literary authors: they change their style, what they write about, and we are talking, for example, about early Miłosz, about late Miłosz.

Through the prism of an individual’s creativity, the literary world examines what it means to be a man who creates and understands meaning.

At the same time, I would like to emphasize that I am not talking about abandoning the methodology of detailed science and creating a universal methodology. of course not! We will then not recognize the dynamically understood human, but rather recognize some static abstraction, “the human in general”.

Implementation of this hypothesis requires true multidisciplinary. Of course, there are already interdisciplinary conferences and projects aimed at researching an issue from different perspectives. But they have two major weaknesses. First, successive participants often present a particular issue from their point of view, from their “bubble” and there is no penetration or communication. Niladri Chatterjee (Department of English, Kalyani University, West Bengal) rightly argues, true multidisciplinarity is a danger – the danger of telling a political scientist, for example, that things are not what he thinks. It takes bubbles to break when we want to see what the results of all these separate studies show, as well as show what our research shows—perhaps contradicting findings from other science research—Have we transformed our knowledge of the human being as a creator and an understanding of meaning? In some particular aspect that is usually part of a title or project?

Second, my experience is a reluctance to adopt new methodologies in such interdisciplinary meetings. If there is indeed some methodology adopted in a particular research direction, which, as its representatives believe, describes well, for example, the emergence of abstract concepts or the institution of initiation, then it does not need a new methodology or other method. However, every good methodology presents the thing a little differently, in a slightly different light, and sets the accents differently. The more good methodologies there are, the better for science and its combination allows us to better understand our topic. It also gives you a better chance of capturing its dynamic.

We are not only human to ourselves

At the same time, we realize that – in terms of empirical data – we have an object of type sane man By interacting with himself and with the world, he gives us a purposeful starting point for research on a larger scale. On the one hand, man is a part of the world, says Supriya Choudhury (Jadavpur University, Kolkata), we are not only human for ourselves, but define ourselves in relation to living beings and nature. On the other hand, one of the most important artifacts made by man in the past decades is machines that are widely understood, from computers to rockets. The humanities must investigate the meanings we give them and whether we can relate to each other on these meanings. A dynamic understanding of man allows us to better understand his interrelationship with the world, other beings, and machines. Medicine and neurosciences study their impact on our health, mentality, and biology, and the humanities must investigate how and what we create them and how we understand them as individuals and entire societies. This meaning is what most connects us with our surroundings, and is what distinguishes us from animals. And there is no doubt that this essence that creates and comprehends meaning cannot be studied using the methods of exact sciences (although there are exceptions, such as statistical methods, calculating probability, etc.). Accordingly, it is not logical to expect human science to apply the methodology of the exact sciences or measure its results in the same way as those of the exact sciences, i.e. more than it is reasonable to expect that humanistic methods will allow us to understand the workings of nature (although we do as well as possible).

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Humanistic studies of man understood in this way have a great impact on society, because they can look for ways to describe what has happened to us and is occurring in conflict with the processes of nature and with cultural and social changes, both in the collective and individual dimension. . He can search for new paradigms, not only in times of changes or crises, when old paradigms are no longer appropriate, but also in so-called ordinary times, because, as I said at the beginning, man is constantly creating new meanings and learning to understand them.

Someone might ask if this is not the role of art. I do not think so. Science and art are two completely different approaches to experience, while the latter is indirect, science must speak frankly, even if what it says is very complex or contradictory.

In my opinion, “there is something wrong with the world” – as Olga Tokarczuk said in her lecture on the Nobel Prize, precisely because the humanities ceased to deal with man and focused on parts of his activity and creativity, which cannot be reduced to a single coherent part. We are all going to explain something to us, scientists, not to mention the public.

the professor. Joanna Jurewicz

Orientalist, cognitive linguist, professor of humanities, academic instructor at the School of Oriental Studies at the University of Warsaw

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