Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cutlural Theory

Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cutlural Theory

Edited by Galin Tihanov
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    Gustav Shpet's Contribution to Philosophy and Cutlural Theory
    Book Description:

    This book offers original research by leading scholars from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Russia, which covers the central areas of Shpet's work on phenomenology, philosophy of language, cultural theory, and aesthetics and takes forward the current state of knowledge and debates on his contribution to these fields of enquiry.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-034-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Gustav Shpet's Life and Works: Introduction to the Volume
    (pp. 1-10)
    Galin Tihanov

    Gustav Gustavovich Shpet (1879-1937) has emerged as one of the most prominent Russian philosophers of the twentieth century. The principle promoter of Husserlian phenomenology, at the same time creatively modifying Husserl and at times departing from him, Shpet was also an early advocate of hermeneutics. He left behind seminal work spanning philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, literary and theater theory, and the history of Russian thought. Significantly, many of his concerns anticipate preoccupations that have dominated the discourses of cultural theory and the philosophy of language over the last few decades.

    Shpet's publications on phenomenology and hermeneutics are indispensable for gaining a...

  5. Part One Mapping out the Field
    • Tropos Logikos: Gustav Shpet's Philosophy of History
      (pp. 13-27)
      Peter Steiner

      Recollecting the heady atmosphere at the Moscow University before WWI when belonging to a particular camp of contemporary German philosophy wasde rigueur, Boris Pasternak wrote: "The devotees of the Göttingen Husserlites found support in Shpet" (35). This cryptic remark (Shpet's name is not mentioned again inSafe Conduct) caught my attention for several reasons. The first is quite trivial: when writing his autobiographical novel, Pasternak could not have known that his then-seven-year-old son Evgenii—whimsically compared in the book to the philosopher Hermann Cohen—would once upon a time marry Shpet's granddaughter Elena. Two other reasons deserve a more...

    • The Hermeneutic Triangle: Gustav Shpet's Aesthetics in Context
      (pp. 28-44)
      Robert Bird

      From 1921 to 1930, numerous Russian thinkers found refuge in a Moscow institution called the State Academy of the Artistic Sciences (GAKhN: Gosudarstvennaia akademiia khudozhestvennykh nauk). GAKhN was an island of relatively independent scholarship and open intellectual debate, and it served as a locus of cultural continuity in the tumultuous period between the Civil War and the first Five Year Plan (see Misler). A large share of the credit for GAKhN is owed to Gustav Shpet, a member from its inception in 1921 (when it was still known as the Russian [Rossiiskaia] Academy of Artistic Sciences), head of the philosophical...

    • Gustav Shpet's Influence on Psychology
      (pp. 45-55)
      Vladimir Zinchenko and James V. Wertsch

      Gustav Gustavovich Shpet is re-emerging as a major figure in twentieth-century intellectual history. As the person who introduced Russia to phenomenology, he has had a powerful impact on a wide range of intellectual debates in Russia and beyond. This impact, however, was ignored or consciously downplayed in the USSR. Starting in the 1930s, Shpet became largely invisible in official Soviet scholarly discourse, a tendency that was only exacerbated during the decades after his execution in 1937. This tendency is one of the factors that contributed to Shpet's being so little known in the West today.

      In this article, we trace...

    • Gustav Shpet's Literary and Theater Affiliations
      (pp. 56-80)
      Galin Tihanov

      Gustav Shpet's theoretical work on literature and theater has not been systematically studied, nor has sufficient attention been paid to his overall presence on the Russian cultural scene from the 1910s to the 1930s. As a result, our knowledge and appreciation of the scope of his writings and the variety of Russian literary and theater life in the first third of the twentieth century have remained less rich and well informed than they could otherwise have been. Shpet's participation in contemporary literature and theater assumed different forms: to start with, he wrote on both from a theoretical perspective grounded in...

  6. Part Two The Russian Context
    • The Fate of Philosophy in Russia: Shpet's Studies in the History of Russian Thought
      (pp. 83-97)
      James P. Scanlan

      Gustav Shpet's historical essays on philosophy in Russia occupy a special place in the study of that subject. Neither a Marxist nor a defender of the prominent religious tradition in Russian thought, Shpet saw little philosophical merit in the earlier figures most esteemed by those dominant groups. He approached his country's philosophy with a fresh and highly critical eye, and if his essays dismayed both the social radicals and the religious thinkers, it was because he managed to provide a valuable new picture of Russian thought from a perspective that sought to avoid their established orthodoxies.

      Shpet was not, of...

    • Gustav Shpet and Phenomenology in an Orthodox Key
      (pp. 98-114)
      Steven Cassedy

      Gustav Shpet was one of a number of Husserl's disciples who took some of phenomenology's central principles and applied them to language theory and aesthetics. Much of the value of Shpet's contribution to philosophy derives from his introduction of phenomenology into his own country. But even though he knowingly proposed certain significant modifications to Husserl's thought, an examination of some of his major writings on language and aesthetics leads one to suspect that Shpet, apparently without knowing it, gave his own slant to those parts that he thought he was merely interpreting and passing on. Both the witting and the...

    • Vladimir Solov'ev and the Legacy of Russian Religious Thought in the Works of Gustav Shpet
      (pp. 115-122)
      Maryse Dennes

      The task of studying Vladimir Solov'ev's legacy as well as that of Russian religious thought in the works of Gustav Shpet should come as no surprise since the publication of Tatiana Shchedrina's book on the intellectual biography of Gustav Shpet in 2004. So far only a few papers have been devoted to this topic (see Boiko; Cassedy; Noskov; Epina, "G.G. Shpet," "Tvorchestvo"). The approach I use here will shed further light on this subject. I attempt to demonstrate that such a legacy is not only present in Shpet's works, but also has a pivotal role, insofar as it allows the...

  7. Part Three Phenomenology
    • Shpet's Departure from Husserl
      (pp. 125-139)
      Thomas Nemeth

      Already in the early 1900s, we find references to Husserl in Russian philosophical literature. N.O. Losskii mentioned him in his 1906 workObosnovanie intuitivizma, where in the context of a discussion of the structure of judgmental acts Losskii quoted from the former'sLogical Investigations. Shpet's mentor in Kiev and later Moscow, G.I. Chelpanov, a keen observer of contemporary developments abroad in philosophy and psychology, had already presented in 1900 a relatively brief synopsis of Husserl's 1891 treatisePhilosophy of Arithmetic. Translations were soon to follow: the original first volume of theLogical Investigations, the "Prolegomena to Pure Logic," appeared in...

    • Shpet as Translator of Hegel's Phänomenologie des Geistes
      (pp. 140-156)
      George L. Kline

      Gustav Shpet published five books during the 1920s. The first three—Filosofskoe mirovozzrenie Gertsena(Herzen's Philosophical World-View; 1921),Ocherk razvitiia russkoi filosofii(An Outline of the Development of Russian Philosophy; 1922), andEsteticheskie fragmenty(Aesthetic Fragments; 1922-1923)—were published by Kolos in Petrograd, a private publishing house. This was during the period of the New Economic Policy (1921-1928), when limited small-scale enterprises were tolerated in the Soviet Union; however, the publishing houses were subject to government censorship, which resulted in the removal of certain politically sensitive passages inAesthetic Fragments, omissions restored in the 1990 reprint, although, even under glasnost,...

    • The Objective Sense of History: Shpet's Synthesis of Hegel, Cieszkowski, Herzen, and Husserl
      (pp. 157-168)
      Ulrich Schmid

      Gustav Shpet is well known for his strong opinions. He relentlessly searches for objective truth—and truth is only acceptable to him if it represents life (Shpet,Istoriia kak problema53). Mere formalistic thinking is highly suspicious to him (Eismann 219). For all his inclination towards rigorous scientific categorization Shpet always ties theory to practice. Even pure logic is in his view not without subject matter: the laws of logic are applicable to logical thinking itself. His philosophy is never autotelic; he unremittingly strives to explain the objective phenomena of the world. In hisOutline of the Development of Russian...

    • Shpet's Aesthetic Fragments and Sartre's Theory of Literature
      (pp. 169-178)
      Alexander Haardt

      At the very latest by the time of his 1927 Humboldt interpretation,Vnutrenniaia, Shpet's phenomenological descriptions of eidetic structures take on a dialectical dimension derived from Hegel'sPhenomenology of Spirit. Every description that attempts to grasp the essence of the object lying before it proves to be one sided, and points to alternative descriptions that go beyond itself: "The contradiction, which arises between the posited [zadannoiu] fullness of a concrete object and its present [nalichnuiu] incompleteness at any given moment, dissolves in its own process of becoming" (Shpet,Vnutrenniaia39). In relation to "culture as the object of linguistic awareness...

  8. Part Four Semiotics and Philosophy of Language
    • Sign and/vs. Essence in Shpet
      (pp. 181-191)
      Thomas Seifrid

      What I mean to indicate by my somewhat cryptic title is a certain tension or distance, perhaps introduced by our retrospective gaze but possibly present in Shpet's thought itself, between two different kinds of philosophical projects that unfold within his works: between, on the one hand, Shpet's several insightful theorizations on the nature of semiotic phenomena and their role in human culture; and, on the other, a project that is present throughout but less evident, which I would briefly summarize as an attempt to elaborate a model of selfhood that is grounded in linguistic consciousness and to establish its ontological...

    • Problems of Sense, Significance, and Validity in the Work of Shpet and the Bakhtin Circle
      (pp. 192-206)
      Craig Brandist

      The works of Gustav Shpet and the Bakhtin Circle (most notably Mikhail Bakhtin and Valentin Voloshinov) represent two of the most important episodes in the Russian reception of the so-called linguistic turn in philosophy. Each recognized the paucity of systematized thought in Russian philosophy of the period and was dissatisfied with the intuitive, even mystical manner with which language was understood. While nineteenth-century Russian philology reached considerable heights, philosophical reflections on language had developed largely within the bounds of Orthodox theology and this continued to shape the spirit of secular debates on language in the twentieth century and to endow...

    • Semiotics in Voloshinov and Shpet
      (pp. 207-218)
      Dušan Radunović

      The conceptual foundations of Gustav Shpet's general semasiology and Valentin Voloshinov's principle of dialogic speech interaction have rarely been considered from a comparative perspective. This article purports to draw critical attention to the partly convergent, partly divergent trajectories that these two thinkers followed in their approach to language. Whereas the two methodologies and discursive practices may not appear commensurable on the surface, there emerge beneath important philosophical convergences between Shpet and Voloshinov. Notwithstanding the fact that the two thinkers developed their views on language in different directions, coextensive philosophical concerns and common intellectual backgrounds provide a certain justification for a...

  9. Part Five Translations
    • Introduction to Excerpts from Shpet's "Germenevtika i ee problemy" ("Hermeneutics and Its Problems")
      (pp. 221-222)
      George L. Kline

      "Hermeneutics and Its Problems" offers a concise critical history of hermeneutics—"the general theory of understanding and interpretation," from its Greek and Hellenistic origins, through the formulations, focused on Biblical interpretation, of medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation theorists, to the British, Scottish and French thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It concludes with a close examination of the (mainly German) hermeneutical systems of the early nineteenth century, which culminated in the work of Schleiermacher and Boeckh, and the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century developments in Dilthey and Husserl. This brief outline suggests why Soviet censors did not permit the publication...

    • Excerpts from "Germenevtika i ee problemy" ("Hermeneutics and Its Problems")
      (pp. 223-245)
      Gustav Shpet

      St. Augustine in hisDe doctrina christiana(397 A.D.) andDe Magistro(389 A.D.) provides us with a kind of textbook of Biblical hermeneutics, organized like a textbook of rhetoric,¹ and although, as befits a textbook, there are no analyses or justifications, but only what might be called results, nevertheless it can be seen from Augustine's divisions and definitions that he saw clearly and thought through a significant number of questions connected with the problems of sign, meaning, sense, understanding, and interpretation. But the same strong interest in the practical role of interpretation which hindered the Alexandrians also prevented Augustine...

    • Introduction to Shpet's "O granitsakh nauchnogo literaturovedeniia" ("On the Limits of Scientific Literary Scholarship")
      (pp. 246-247)
      Dušan Radunović and Galin Tihanov

      Gustav Shpet delivered this paper on 24 November and 1 December 1924 in Moscow, at the joint session of the Literary Section and the Department of Philosophy of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences (GAKhN). Here we publish a translation of the synopsis prepared by Shpet (Shpet 441-42). Readers should be aware of the covert addressee of Shpet's paper, the primary intention of which was to contest the arguments that had been advanced a month earlier by another researcher in the Department of Philosophy, the renowned classical scholar Boris Isaakovich Iarkho (1889-1942). Iarkho's paper, presented in two parts—on 24...

    • O granitsakh nauchnogo literaturovedeniia (On the Limits of Scientific Literary Scholarship)
      (pp. 248-250)
      Gustav Shpet

      1. The object of literary scholarship does not belong among the objects of the natural sciences; in defining the tasks of literary scholarship, analogies from the natural sciences are methodologically illicit [nezakonomerny].

      2. The givenness of the object of literary scholarship is significative [signifikativnaia], and not perceptive.

      3. Literary scholarship is part of the encyclopaedia of philology and employs the heuristic methods of criticism and interpretation.

      4. Detaching itself within philology from material history, and more generally from the so-called realia, literary scholarship, as a science of the "word," aligns itself with linguistics, which is what defines the problematic of literary scholarship.

      5. The word,...

  10. Part Six Bibliographies
    • Bibliography of Gustav Shpet's Published Works (1901-2009)
      (pp. 253-272)
      Galin Tihanov
    • Literature on Gustav Shpet (1915-2009)
      (pp. 273-312)
      Galin Tihanov
  11. Contributors' Profiles
    (pp. 313-317)
  12. Index
    (pp. 318-323)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 324-324)