Академик Фролов Иван Тимофеевич

Some of Ivan T. Frolov`s texts

Genes or Culture? A Marxist Perspective on Humankind

Countless myths and legends, religious teachings and philosophical systems, scientific hypotheses and fantastic visions, views of Utopia and anti-utopia have been produced by man in his attempts to find an answer to the major torturing questions — to know himself, his mission and his fate.

The problem of man has always occupied a central position in philosophical reasoning concerning the world. In that connec­tion, classical philosophy, beginning with ancient Greek philosophy, produced not only that image of man that reflected a specific age, but also developed a certain ideal, and «idea» of a future man, and many of its anticipations have shown themselves to be by no means mistaken. Nevertheless, it was Karl Marx who first offered a scientific answer to the question: “What is man?”.

In contrast to idealistic and religious-mystical conceptions of man and to naturalistic anthropologism, even by the middle of the nineteenth century Marx formulated a thesis that provided a key to the scientific understanding of man: “the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations”.

Marx had understood that man is not only a natural being but is a humannatural being. Individuals are members of the human species as well as representatives of specific social communities such as specific classes, and specific nations. For Marx, it was clear from the first that a person’s essence is constituted not by “its abstract physical character, but by its social quality”, and that accordingly “all history is nothing but a continuous transformation of human nature”.

Marxism draws the attention of researchers to the most important element, namely a concrete-historical analysis of man, and to the identification of specific traits of social relations such as the nature of labour activities. All other approaches to identifying man’s essence and his specific nature have failed, just as attempts to select specific external attributes that distinguish him from animals do not succeed.

Marxism seeks a definition of human essence in the specifics of human activities and human existence and finds it in human labour. Already, in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844,Marx had observed that for man “… production is his active species-life. Through … production, nature appears as his work and his reality”. It is labour that has created man, and it is in labour activities that specifi­cally human qualities are realised and developed. According to Marx, labour is not only a means of existence but also a form through which man asserts himself; man engaged in labour “really proves himself to be a species-being”.

In such a context, for Marx, labour is above all a social relation towards nature, and accordingly reflects man’s social nature, which must be included into the understanding of man’s essence. Man and society are inseparable, and only in society, in the framework of specific social institu­tions, does man realise himself as man. Man’s consciousness and thought emerge as a social product, and accordingly are secondary in relation to his social existence. It is on that basis that the specifically human material and spiritual needs develop that are also associated with man’s essence and are included in his definition.

Marxism by no means ignores the specific traits that distinguish individuals, and does not seek to reduce the importance of their specific qualities as personalities possessing a character, will, gifts, and passions. On the con­trary, it draws attention to the most general principles in order to provide a background for revealing and making scientifically understandable these personal qualities of individuals. And in such a context, a consider­ation of man’s biological nature as well as his social essence is important. The concept of “human nature” that Marx initially employs is subsequently comple­mented by the notion of a “set of needs and instincts”, while in Capitalhe develops the thesis concerning interactions between man’s external nature and his internal nature, as a result of which both change.

The definition of man’s essence as the set of all social relations was intimately linked in Marx’s conception with an understanding of man as a tangible sensory being, whose individual charac­teristics and strivings (such as passions) Marx also viewed as “essential forces”.

That approach was given a diversified basis in the works of Engels, who also developed it further, and who emphasises that we do not have power over nature but on the contrary “…we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst”. In providing a philosophic generalisation of findings on man’s origins in the works of Darwin and Morgan, and in analysing critically the limitations of Feuerbach’s conception of man, Engels naturally emphasised a most important and essential element in the Marxist understanding of man, namely hissocial and social labour-oriented and production-oriented characteristics.

Man as a social being is not in opposition to hisnatural essence, which is its prerequisite. At the same time, the relative significance of social and biological factors may change in various respects and in particular research situations. Accordingly, to establish how “the humanessence of nature or the naturalessence of man” expresses itself today requires not only a consideration of man’s specific biological characteristics as they relate to a social analysis. It is not only because sociological problems have emerged that must be solved with the help of a knowledge of man’s biology (even though here, too, there have been new developments) that man’s biology has acquired a powerful voice in modem life, posing new problems for sociology. The main event is that the intensive development of social factors and conditions of life constitut­ing man’s essence, and above all of production and labour activities, have begun to influence the foundations of man’s very existence as a living sensing being.

Faith in the boundless possibilities of man’s mind, combined with an historical optimism, permits one to think that man’s future is as infinite and as glorious as is the wisdom of nature, which created him. But that future is not inevitably predetermined. It is produced by man himself, who brings collosal material forces into play, together with a vast spiritual potential contained in his culture and in particular in science. What will be the road along which a realisation of the material and spiritual possibilities of human development will proceed? That will also largely depend on a correct choice in selecting a general strategy for acquiring a knowledge of man, and on its methodology and view of the world. This is why in answer­ing the question “What is man?” it is so important to formulate correctly the problem concerning the relative roles of social and biological elements in man.

Marxism has provided the principle that leads to a solution of that problem, which has been formulated in the history of thought. But, because it is closely linked to revolutionary conclusions concerning the necessity and inevitability of a communist alternative to bourgeois society, that scientific solution was received very differently from many other solutions and discoveries in the natural sciences, for example. And this, despite the fact that, even in science, the struggle for truth is often a prolonged historical process.

As a result of progress in a complex of biological sciences, naturalistic conceptions of man that attach an absolute significance to the specific characteristics of his biologi­cal nature have met with an especially rapid development in various branches of modern “social-biologism”. This calls for a greater emphasis on critiques of all such conceptions, which seek to take advantage of new discoveries in modern biology. At the same time, this also presupposes a positive development in the scientific conception of man in the light of such discoveries. In order to see this, let us turn now to some recent writings by biologists about our species.

Of great interest are the works of T. Dobzhansky, a prominent American geneticist, who believed that natural selection will not cease to operate either in contemporary society or in the foreseeable future. Undoubtedly, he overemphasized the importance of biological mechanisms in human life and in society. Never­theless, it is not possible to associate the studies of Dobzhansky with the general approach that we have characterized as social-biologism, for he considered only individual aspects of the problem of man in the context of a specialised dimension, namely that of genetics.

Another widely-known American evolutionary biologist, E. Mayr, interprets these problems in a somewhat different way. In showing the advantages of a demographic and historical approach to man’s biology, Mayr does not shy away from complicated social problems, although it is true the solutions he proposes are not always convincing from the point of view of Marxism. Nevertheless, Mayr’s general world view, as well as his concrete approaches to the problem of man and his future, are based on principles of humanism and democracy and on a recognition of the uniqueness of the personality and its freedom. Mayr stresses the significance of both heredity and the environment in the development of the personality. He argues against the “principle of identity” as one that is both harmful to mankind and anti-democratic, and leads to a loss of freedom. He emphasises that each individual must be valued on the basis of his own characteristics, rather than on the characteristics of his race. Nevertheless, while this argument carries much weight in the struggle against racism, we cannot pretend that Mayr offers concrete ways leading to the development of individuals, having due regard to questions about social background. Marx has observed that man “…will develop his true nature only in society, and the power of his nature must be measured not by the power of the separate individual but by the power of society”.

As we see, in such a context it is not the “great truths of population zoology”, to which Mayr refers, that play the greater role, but the socio­logical truths developed by Marx.

Mayr’s work is somewhat exceptional, however. Generally, in modern scientific literature, we find a more pronounced and increased emphasis on the biological aspects of man. This is true also in science fiction, and in the works of many philosophers, as well as in works of literary fiction and in art. Occasionally, this perspective acquires a sensational character. This development is at least partly explained by exceptional achievements in biological science in recent decades. Social Darwinism has been consider­ably revitalised, and supporters of such an approach now seek to find a “scientific basis” in genetics. In answering the incorrectly formulated question – “Genes or culture?” — the answer frequently favours the uni­versal significance of the activities of genes. Man’s genetic programme thus becomes either the only source or else the decisive source of his essential properties. Such a stress on the absolute role of biological factors in man’s development produces a distinctive approach in modern thought, what we have called “social-biologism”, and that includes a variety of theories and conceptions possessing a common methodological basis.

More than this, since such conceptions seek to declare as “eternal” and “inherent” those manifestations of aggressive behaviour leading to wars, to instincts of private ownership, and to the division of society into classes, they serve to disorient the social efforts of individuals. The view of social-biologism is that these biologically-determined traits of human behaviour can only be overcome with the help of purely biological methods and that social conditions merely constitute a background against which man’s biological qualities express themselves. They may either impede or else contribute to their manifestation. Of course, such a social orientation of the conceptions of social-biologism is not always expressed “in a pure form”. But it is present implicitly in the very methodological basis.

This leads us naturally to a related scientific approach that is currently producing much discussion. I am referring to so-called “sociobiology”, which aspires to be a separate scientific discipline. R. Trivers, who is one of the leading theoreticians of sociobiology, even asserts that sooner or later political science, juridical knowledge, economics, psychology, psychiatry and anthropology will become branches of sociobiology. This view has met with sympathy among some scientists, in other quarters it has met with sharp criticism, in which the excessive aspirations of sociobiologists are rejected.

In particular such sympathetic but critical caution applies to the ideas of Edward O. Wilson, one of the founders of this approach, presented in his Sociobiology(1975). The main objective of that work is to show the genesis and nature of social propensities and their largely constructive role in the evolution of living creatures. According to Wilson, sociobiology is usually defined as the systematic study of the biological foundations of all social behaviour.

In establishing the theoretical foundations of a science of sociobiology that is alleged to be common for all living beings, including man and human society, Wilson places particular emphasis on the attempt of biolo­gists to draw parallels between insect societies and societies of vertebrates, including human societies. He seeks to establish some common traits in the behaviour of all highly-developed living creatures, to infer some general principles that govern their behaviour, and to show that sociability is a trait of all living creatures. According to Wilson, all living creatures live as some form of “community”, and in a sense they are all social. He appears not to be a proponent of the conception that qualitative changes in “sociability” are possible in the course of evolution, but is rather inclined to see growth of a particular quality, a type of “variety” in a single quality of living creatures, namely their ability to form social “associations” in the course of evolution. Thus, he views the activities of the insects (ants, bees) as a labour activity.

It is interesting to note, in fact, that Wilson does not view aggression as a primary genetic trait of living creatures. In analysing systems of roles and castes among animals, as well as the problem of leadership among them, Wilson gives free rein to biologising views. He compares man with “non-human” primates, or more precisely with their societies, while adding that the low state of development and undifferentiated character of the institute of roles among societies of primates (more specifically among apes, including the highly-developed chimpanzees) serves to underscore even more the very great importance of roles in human societies. In his opinion, each profes­sion, each role (for example of a physicist, a lawyer, a guard) is carried out precisely as «expected», independently of other considerations and of individual understandings of truth. Significant observable deviations from role performance in human societies are viewed as manifestations of unreliability and of spiritual or intellectual failure.

According to Wilson, one of the key problems of human biology is whether there exists a genetic predisposition for the “membership” of individuals in a particular class or for carrying out a specific role. In answering that question, which is very important for contemporary social philosophy and psychology, Wilson asserts that it is possible, for example, to refer to the hereditary character of certain parameters of intelligence, and to certain characteristic features of emo­tionality, leading to differences in intellect. Even if they are not very great, these differences lead to the appearance of class barriers, to racial and cultural discrimination, and to physical ghettos. In short, Wilson rejects the absolute influence of genetics, and admits genetically deter­mined heredity only within certain boundaries and with regard to specific relations.

In this connection, it should be emphasised that Marxist theory has not simply shown the significance of social factors operating togetherwith biological ones. The joint operation of both by no means constitutes, as some theoreticians try occasionally to show, an equally weighted dual determination of man’s essential manifestations. Instead, Marxist methodology determines the dominantsignificance of social methods for studying man, thus opposing biological tendencies in the course of which a scientifically unjustified reduction takes place, in which essential properties of man that appear in his integrated biosocial existence are reduced to individual aspects of man as a living tangible and sensing being. At the same time, Marxist methodology is distinct from simplified socio­logical approaches to man, in which (often together with misleading references, to Marxism) the biological nature of man is ignored, and the importance of biological methods in acquiring knowledge about man is denied.

Marxism draws the attention of researchers to an analysis of concrete modes of combining social and biological methods, and to their dialectical mutual interaction and mutual interpenetration in a context in which the dominant significance of social methods is retained. Nevertheless, we often continue to see today, within science, merely a certain “coexistence” and complementarity of social and biological methods for studying man. In light of this, we should establish a very general methodological rule: at the present time, sociologists should carry out an analysis of social factors governing the development of man in such a way that the characteristic features of his biological nature are considered; while biologists, seeking to study man as an object of the analysis, must consider him with due account of social factors.

These emphasize that the central element in the problem of man concerns the understanding of two types of heredity (N. Dubinin). Biological heredity makes possible the existence and development of a reasoning man. Yet, the development of each person takes place within a specific social environ­ment. The outcomes of historical development are cemented in a social programme that transmits, in an adequate form to each new generation, the experience of all preceding generations. Of all the creatures on Earth, only man is a biosocial being, and only man experiences the mutual interaction of genetic and social progammes. The carriers of genetic properties are DNA molecules, while the carrier of social programmes is man and his brain — or, more precisely, the experience of mankind that is not recorded in genes but is transmitted to new generations through education.

In the case of man, natural selection no longer plays a leading role. This has ended that aspect of his biological evolution that leads to the formation of races and species. The genetics of populations confirms that man’s hereditary potential is boundless and may be preserved indefinitely. Under such conditions, following the emergence of man, when a social form of movement of matter developed, it is precisely the social laws alone that came to define man’s social progress. Nevertheless, a number of scientists hold the view that in referring to the specific mechanisms that underlie man’s evolution, it is important to see clearly what is known today concerning the activities of the brain and the role of genotypes in the behaviour of animals and of man.

Man’s social progress under any conditions is practically boundless. But, genetic constraints do exist, particularly with regard to instincts. Accordingly, one must of course view as one-sided and errone­ous tendencies to ignore the biological roots of social phenomena and to emphasize social governing principles alone. This has created a situation in which many phenomena, that are by no means independent of biological factors, have come (improperly) to be viewed as lying outside that material biological basis of man, which is subordinated to social governing prin­ciples. On the other hand, it is widely known that geneticists and biologists often tend to underestimate the importance of the social factor.

The points which have been made thus far can be brought together by looking, finally, at the question of biology and morality. There is much interest today in the nature of so-called “altruism”, and in its possible material roots. For convenience, let us continue with the ideas of E. O. Wilson.

Wilson considers so-called “ethical behaviourism” to be another of the attempts to conceptualize ethics (Wilson refers to it as a second form of conceptualization). The basic proposition of ethical behaviourism is that moral behaviour is fully defined by training, together with a certain dominant mechanism, a background element (which in all such concep­tions is society), in short, a determining principle. In other words, children fully assimilate or internalise the behavioural norms of society. According to the author, the evolutionary genetic conception stands in opposition to all such “conceptual” views. “Ethical philosophers intuit the deontological canons of morality by consulting the emotive centres of their own hypothalamic-limbic system. This is also true of the devel-opmentalists… Only by interpreting the activity of the emotive centres as a biological adaptation can the meaning of the canons be deciphered”.

Wilson further analyses, or more precisely, “unfolds”, this assertion in the language of biological studies. Essentially, he asserts that ethics is closest to biology, and that this philosophical discipline, which is linked to it through its «destiny», cannot be constructed in terms of logical mental means alone. This is because it relates to interpretations of the behaviour of persons, while that phenomenon is rooted in the biological evolution of man and of primates — and even in the history of invertebrates, if one considers altruism.

This is why, Wilson asserts, ethics as a science must be constructed on a biological foundation; but, this first requires that it be «removed and taken away from philosophers». In such a context, it remains unclear why it is not possible to study and formulate many propositions of ethics on the basis of the currently existing level of its objective development by society (as a set of behaviour norms) and by scientists (as philosophical systems and world-view systems). Why cannot biogenetic studies be carried out merely as complementary to philosophical ones, or else as an independent and possibly even altogether different form of “model” for studying ethical problems and especially the genesis of ethics?

Let there be no mistake. The evolutionary genetic and ethological findings that are presented in support of this position are extremely important.

On the other hand, one must recognize that, in the works of many ethologists, neo-Freudians, and sociobiologists as well as of those who rely on their conclusions concerning the origins of ethical values, there is a dreadful overemphasis on the animal nature of man and a neglect of his human properties. In short, there is an exaggeration of the importance of biological factors and an underestimation of the significance of social factors.

The social origins of ethical values and of their changes and develop­ment as societies progressed, and finally their class-oriented character, are of decisive importance in formulating the problem of mankind’s future. This is why attempts to exclude specific spheres of human activity, and the corresponding ethical values, from the wider socio-ethical context cannot be viewed as positive. In effect, they appear as continuations of purely biological, evolutionary-genetic approaches to the origins of ethics, with which they share a common “naturalistic” foundation. But, as a result, even though it originates in science, such an extrapolation into a qualitatively different sphere of human existence becomes anti-scientific. In short, in the words of Dostoyevsky, we have merely a «semi-science”.

In Search of Man

«Know thyself», this dictum inscribed on the pediment of the temple of Apollo at Delphi was regarded in Ancient Greece as a formula of wisdom, the love of which is philosophy. As he personified wisdom during the classical period this dictum was attributed to Socrates who, according to Plutarch, «did more than any other human to humanise philosophy by ridding it of all pompous obscurantism». Another famous dictum relating to the cognition of man is associated with Diogenes, who, legend has it, wandered about in broad daylight with a lighted lantern and when asked what he meant by it, replied that he was looking for a human being. Since those distant times, of course, much has changed in the world and in the life of mankind and indeed in the state of knowledge and self-knowledge of the human «Ego». Man himself has undergone important changes but the chief task of philosophy viz. to explore the essence of man and human existence, to investigate and evaluate man’s world from the specific standpoint of human values guided by Protagoras’s well-known dictum that «man is the measure of all things,» has remained unchanged.

In this day and age human life is in the focus of a many-pronged, multi-disciplinary research effort. But there will be little or nothing to show for it if we confine ourselves to strictly biological approaches ignoring the associated social and ethical problems, or if we fail to give due atten­tion to the various moral and philosophical issues which inevitably confront any rational individual and which colour in a unique way the very problems tackled by science in the course of biomedical, psycho-physiological and other investiga­tions in such fields as gerontology, reanimantology, etc. Significantly, all this has traditionally been intertwined with literature and art which these days, too, are seeking to achieve harmony with science in the probing of many problems, notably those directly bearing on man, above all, the meaning of human life, death and immortality.

The specific forms of such an alliance (or, conversely, disunity) underlie the unique character of cultural traditions, if not, indeed, of culture as a whole. They form the humanistic «hard core» of culture, which manifests itself differently in the history of different peoples and of humanity as a whole.

The Marxist conception of the meaning of human life, it will be recalled, proceeds above all from a recognition of its «self-value» and «self-purpose». However, it is important not to confine oneself to seeing the meaning of human life in the mere act of living, ignoring the question «What is there to live for?» This conception unites in an organic way the scientific understanding of human life with a value-based approach. Looked at from this angle human life turns out to be anything but fortuitous (even though it may indeed look this way to the individual) and not at all meaningless since the individual and the human personality are examined not per se, but as forming an integral part of human society as a whole.

Man differs from other members of the Animal Kingdom in that throughout his individual life he never attains «the goals» of his generic, historical life. In this sense man is a living being condemned to a lifelong pursuit of elusive goals as he strives to realise his potential adequately. Nor can man come to terms with a situation where, in Marx’s phrase, «…life itself is but a means to life». Inherent in this state of dissatisfaction and «unrealisability» of one’s potential are motivations to creative activity which go beyond the immediate motives of this activity (material incentives, etc.). That is precisely the reason why, as Marx and Engels pointed out, the task of any individual is to try and develop his potential to the full in accordance with his calling and vocation. Such an understanding of the meaning and value of human life relies, therefore, on the doctrine of the social essence of man. This being so here, too, the social factors do more than merely mediate and transform the biological factors, they do in fact «remove» them for the most part. Any attempt to de­rive the meaning of human life by proceeding from the biological in man, however important the latter may be to the individual’s physical existence at the level of instinct and the subcon­scious etc. is essentially erroneous in regards to the individu­al’s behaviour which is shaped by a combination of social and socio-ethical factors which regulate his behaviour. The meaning of human life as determined by these factors also acquires a regulatory function, which has an increasingly deciding role to play as humanity continues to evolve on the personality and societal levels in their dialectical unity.

The evolution of man and society in today’s world, as well as the progress of science and culture combine to compel our attention to ever new aspects and facets of these problems. Take, for instance, the threat of nuclear catastrophe, the exacerbation of the full range of global problems, the explo­sive progress of microelectronics and robotics, of genetic engineering and cloning, of reanimatology and psycho-physiology. All these developments and processes are revealing ever new aspects of the problem of human life and death.

Science today has obtained data indicative of man’s hitherto unknown psychological and physiological resources. As «nature’s supreme creation» man must know how to tap these resources in harmony with social, psychological and moral forces.

The universal organisation of the human brain is defini­tive for his higher nervous activity and intellect. Yet, it heavily depends on inherited determinants, which is why scien­tists seek to decipher the neurophysiological code of psychic phenomena to thus enable the brain’s resources to be put to more effective use. However, there are several complex natural scientific and socio-ethical issues in the way.

Many scientists, while recognising that artificial stimu­lation of the brain by means of chemicals, electricity and the like are permissible, greatly fear the possible negative con­sequences. «Should attempts ever be undertaken to make intellec­tual abilities the product of chemical and teaching laborato­ries,» P. Anokhin observes, «it may well happen that when science reaches a still higher plateau we shall see that we will have injected the human brain with irreversible changes that unforunately can no longer be remedied.»

The cybernetic modeling of man’s neurophysiological me­chanism, their computerisation to evolve «an artificial intel­ligence», capable of performing a broad range of the natural intellect’s functions, likewise open up new vistas for our searches. But there are many obscure debatable issues here that pertain, for instance, to the initial definitions of intellect and intelligence — often merely outwardly conveyed by the use or otherwise, of inverted commas. However, it is not a matter of the formal aspect. Some refuse to believe in an «artificial intellect», still less, intelligence; others, on the contrary, envision unlimited possibilities. It is already clear, though, that biocybernetics will serve to enhance man’s intellectual ‘and psycho-physiological potential, and find still wider application in future fields of medicine and ergonomics, as a science that studies man comprehensively in activities involving the use of technical devices. An analysis of psycho-physiological phenomena in extreme cases of high nervous and emotional tension as, for instance, when operating machinery, reveals not only man’s reserves, his spare capacity, but also wide individual psychological differences, whose registration and analysis represents a basic aid to psychophysiological adaptation,

Meanwhile, psychological researches are of still greater significance in that they best concretise and bring together the whole range of sciences studying man from the standpoint of the natural biological aspect and of the supreme manifestations of man’s creative potential. It is even expected that even­tually psychology will become a new form of anthropology, in­corporating the philosophical and political context of the problem and marrying theoretical and experimental researches with practice. Time will show whether this will indeed occur; at any rate, as I see it, the latest advances in the comprehensive study of the human psyche seem to suggest that such forecasts are well-grounded.

Summing up, we must reemphasise that the achievements of modern biology, genetics and psychology will enable man to adapt himself better to his environment and hold out prospects for purposefully remaking his nature. But will man’s physical shape change as a result, and how? Will we have a «superman» of a different type in place of Homo sapiens? Won’t there be new forms of existence linked to a biocybernetic device or devices? Will man become a «bio-cyborg»? Finally, have we entered into a new phase of evolution, during which man will be created largely by artificial means with the help of genetic engineering and biocybernetics? Won’t he have extraintellectual qualities in this case and become Homo sapientissimus?Not only science fiction writers engage in such surmises. Not in­frequently we come across all manner of pseudoscientific pipe-dreams which purport to look-at science’s present achievements from the angle of future developments. Indeed, the concept of an artificial human, the result of «Homo engineering» that would equate man, if not with God, then at least with Satan, is possibly as old as man himself with all his fantasies, dreams, myths, and — believe it or not – scientific forecasts. They derive from the hazy sensation, colored by legend, of the surging might of scientific thought as a forward-looking fan­tasy wed to the fear of science’s impending «demoniac» rise. Recall in this connection, for instance, Goethe’s Homunculus, that laboratory-created alter egoof man, who realises that he must yet improve himself to really become man. However, already with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prome­theus the constructed humanoid monster is endowed with all those negative features, which to this day attend many Utopian projects for evolving the «new man». In his sensational Brave New World A. Huxley reduced the idea to sheer absurdity. Yet even now it continues to trouble scientists fascinated, «by eugenics and its new variations involving attempts to employ genetic engineering to «construct» a human being.

The term «eugenics», from the Greek for «good race», was first introduced by F. Gallon in his book Hereditary Genius(1869), in which he, firstly, showed that human heredity, like that of any other living creature, obeys the laws of genetics, and, secondly, set the task of improving heredity by selecting and enhancing good qualities and inhibiting or removing harmful ones. As the latter are associated in the popular mind with intermarriage, the restriction of such marriages along with medical and biological counseling, etc., will serve to reduce harmful heredity. This is what is known as «negative» eugenics, and it follows roughly the same lines as modern medical gene­tics. As for «positive» eugenics, it sets itself the broader objective of evolving the «new man» by selecting genotypes derived from the progeny of persons in possession of outstand­ing mental or physical qualities. This trend was exploited — at times in defiance of the humanitarian intentions of its advocates — by racists, especially when advocating the theory and practice of fascist «racial hygiene» and genocide.

One would have thought that this discrediting of euge­nics should have scuttled the whole idea — even though, in many cases it proceeded from well-grounded genetic surmises and was backed up by the prestige of eminent scientists known for their humanitarian views, such as N. Koltsov, H. Muller, J. Haldane and J. Huxley. Moreover, with modern science having debunked «classic» eugenics’ basic postulate to the effect that it is possible by means of controlled selection to evolve human beings with fantastic I. Q.’s, many of its advocates revised some of the initial premises. Nevertheless, much has remained unchanged; no wonder, at the Second International Congress on Human Genetics in 1961 Muller promoted the basic idea of «positive» eugenics as the concept of «embryonic selection», noting, true, that it could not guarantee completely satisfac­tory results, as the manifestation of the properties of a particular individual also depends on the social environment and individual development.

Though the purely scientific aspect of Muller’s hypothe­sis drew objections from eminent geneticists including Th. Dobzhansky, G. Beadle and H. Glass, many supported his ideas proceeding to switch from theory to practice with the result that several Noble Prize winners have donated their sperm for storage and subsequent use. The driving spirit behind this bizarre exercise was Mullers friend, the US businessman R. Graham, who drummed up several women agreeing to participate in a «superpeople» experiment.

Speaking of «the ideal man», we cannot proceed from our, as yet, very limited knowledge of genetics, from spurious ideas of a direct link between man’s genetic basis and his mental and intellectual characteristics. These projects are fallacious also from the social point of view, as they orient us not to­wards social factors, but towards purely genetic ones (no wonder racist ideologies are quick to sponge upon them). Being highly disorienting from the philosophical and methodological angles, they misrepresent the substance of man and his place in the world, and are lop-sidedly geared to social biologism. They must be condemned from humanitarian positions, as they encroach upon the sovereignty, and the unique and inimitable character of the individual. Finally, neo-eugenic projects must be jettisoned also from the moral and ethical standpoint, as their implementation would call in question such basic human values as love, parental feelings, etc.

The foregoing does not imply that it would be impossible or undesirable in principle to have any active intervention in heredity, or that even in the distant future man will not have some means of modifying biological nature in desired ways. However, one must draw a line of distinctionbetween scientific possibility and practice, which, as such, cannot be motivated by abstract surmises and which call for a concrete definition of the social environment needed to implement this or that idea.

At any rate, the implementation of projects for modify­ing man’s biological nature will only be possible at the con­cluding stage of the «biology age» and given the attainment of humanity’s social homogeneity on the basis of communist principles. This alone will enable man to resolve this problem in accord with.the ideal of the myth and pipedream, one that the future will establish as the product of the fusion of science and art, of intelligence, kindness and beauty. This approach, which takes into account the various humanitarian facets of the problem, should clearly underpin every project aimed at remaking’ of man’s biological nature.

As I see it, scientists today must not only continue to explore man’s new potentialities, but they must also renounce dangerous experimentation and banish every single speculative thought that might attend research.

However, that is only one aspect of the quest for scientific knowledge. There is also another, equally important, side, one concerned with the very essence and meaning of human life. As Hegel observed, the human spirit is great and broad. True, man has within himself many gods, holding within his heart the forces scattered among the gods. He has all of Olympus in his breast. Apart from noble qualities, there are those that are downright repugnant and that now surface. For this reason man’s history is colored not only by the bright hues of intelligence and humanitarianism, but also by the black stains of senseless gruesome cruelty and meanness. That is something we must never forget, or we shall disarm ourselves in the struggle for the real Man, an intelligent, humane man, one noted for a balanced intellectual and physical development. Of great importance here is the Marxist understanding of the social substance of man and of the ways of developing the individual in dialectical unity with society. Marx’s celebrated thesis that «the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In reality it is the ensemble of the social relations», provides the methodological key to a scientific understanding of humanitarian problems and objectives. There is hardly in the entire history of thought a more meaningful and pithier definition.

From this inevitably follow numerous important conclu­sions that deepen and develop from various perspectives Marx’s understanding of human problems, that most consistent and thoroughly scientific concept. It alone is capable of answering the «eternal» question of the relationship between social and natural biological factors in man — a question that overrides the biologised, neo-eugenistic and other spurious ideas of evolving «a superman».

The development of the individual’s social ties takes on adequate forms only when «the richness of human nature» is not monopolised by an elite. This is the goal we are pursuing as we develop a new programme for a comprehensive study of man, which, incidentally, is fully in keeping with what Maxim Gorky wanted to see undertaken one day when he proposed the establishment of an Institute of Man, which would pool together the efforts of scientists, philosophers, men of letters and cultural and artistic personalities in the exploration of man. Niels Bohr said: «The reason why art can enrich us lies in its ability to remind us of the existence of harmonies which are beyond the reach of systems analysis.» Therefore those engaged in the study of man will have to overcome the persisting divergence between what Charles Snow called the «two cultures», scientific and artistic. I hope that the publication of the present anthology will make an important contribution to the identification of new avenues for blending the two cultures by influencing the practical activities aimed at moulding the new man of the emerging new civilisation.

On Life, Death and Immortality

The true life is that which carries on past

life, and promotes the well-being of the

present and future life.

Leo Tolstoy

What is the use of living? Such blunt straightforwardness in formulating the meaning of human life may seem excessive. The Marxist approach to this issue is based on studying the entire range of scientific, social, socio-ethical and moral humanist questions pertaining to various internally unified aspects of man’s biological and social existence and his essence as the «ensemble of the social relations» (K. Marx), his activity and development both as an individual and as a personality in the general evolution of life and the formation of reason on Earth and in the Universe. Stressing but a single aspect of man’s existence results, as is known, in a one-sided and consequently false interpretation of his essence, and thereby in a one-sided conception of the meaning of human life, beginning with the idealist assertion of certain «absolute principles», anthropocentrism, «predestined harmony», etc., and ending in total rejection of meaning in the life of man and mankind, which follows, e.g., from existentialist philosophy and from certain positivist propositions on the subject.

The Marxist conception of the meaning of human life, in contrast to these trends, assumes that human life is a value in itself and a purpose in itself. But this conception is not restricted to the view that the meaning of human life is in life itself, nor does it ignore the question «what is the use of living?» As we have indicated, this conception is an integral combination of a scientific view of life and of man in life, a view originating from their objective foundation, with the value-oriented approach, which is also given a scientific objective foundation. Accordingly, human life is neither accidental (as it may appear to the individual) nor meaningless, since the individual and the personality are not regarded by themselves only but also as a part of the whole – of human society. Even in his earliest works Marx pointed out that “the individual is a social being. His life, even if it may not appear in the direct form of a communallife carried out together with others – is therefore an expression and confirmation of social life».

But man differs from all other living beings most of all in that in the course of his individual life he never attains the «goals» of generic, historical life; in this sense man is a being that is continually unrealisable adequately. He is dissatisfied with a situation in which, as Marx put it, «life itself appears only as a means to life”.This dissatisfaction and unrealisability contains the stimuli and causes of creative activity that are not inherent in the immediate (material and other) motives of that activity. Therefore «the vocation, destiny, task of every person is to achieve allround development of all his abilities”.

Herein lies the meaning of the individual’s life, which he realises through society, but that is also, in principle, the meaning of the life of society and mankind as a whole, which they realise in historically varying forms, depending on the direct motivating goals that they set themselves and on whether these goals coincide with the goals of man’s own development (and if they do not coincide, the question is to what extent). Of considerable interest from this standpoint is Marx’s observation that Ricardo «wants production for the sake of production and this with good reason.To assert, as sentimental opponents of Ricardo did, that production as such is not the object is to forget that production for its own sake means nothing but the development of human productive forces, in other words, the development of the richness of human nature as an end to itself.To oppose the welfare of the individual to this end, as Sismondi does, is to assert that the development of the species must bearrestedin order to safeguard the welfare of the individual, so that, for instance, no war may be waged in which at all events some individuals perish. (Sismondi is only right as against the economists who concealor deny this contradiction.) Apart from the barrenness of such edifying reflections, they reveal a failure to understand the fact that, although at first the development of the capacities of thehumanspecies takes place at the cost of the majority of human individuals and even classes, in the end it breaks through this contradiction and coincides with the development of the individual; the higher development of individuality is thus only achieved by a historical process during which individuals are sacrificed, for the interests of the species in the human kingdom, as in the animal and plant kingdoms, always assert themselves at the cost of the interests of individuals, because these interests of the species coincide only with the interests of certain individuals, and it is this coincidence which constitutes the strength of these privileged individuals”.

Marx substantiates the ideal of a future society in which the development of each individual is the condition of the development of all, where the goals of society and the individual coincide. It is the coincidence and unity of the personal and the social, or, to be more precise, their measure varying with different stages of history and with different socio-economic formations, that determine the value of human life.

Consequently, this conception of the meaning and value of human life is based on the theory of man’s social essence, so that here too, as we see, the social factors do not simply mediate and transform the biological ones but in most cases “sublate” them. Any attempts to deduce the meaning of human life proceeding from this last sphere, however important it may be at the level of the individual’s life activity at the level of instincts, of the subconscious, etc., are false as far as the behaviour of the individual, determined by social, socio-ethical and moral humanistic factors, is concerned. The meaning of human life defined through these factors is also ascribed a regulative function, which plays an increasingly decisive role as mankind develops on the personal and social planes in their dialectical unity.

This was superbly expressed by Leo Tolstoy who said that «man may regard himself as an animal among animals living horn day to day, he may also regard himself as a member of a family, and as a member of society, of a people living through the ages, he can and even must (because his reason leads him to this) regard himself as a part of the infinite world living eternally. And thus a rational man has always been obliged in relation to the infinitely small phenomena of life which may influence his acts to make, and always has made, what in mathematics is called integration, that is, to establish, besides his relation to the nearest phenomena of life, his relation to the whole universe, infinite in time and space, by comprehending life as one whole». In defining the meaning of this relation of man to the whole, Tolstoy believed that it is from this relation that man deduced «the guidance for his acts». He wrote: “The knowledge that is inevitably necessary for living men has always been and still is this: the knowledge of man’s purpose in the situation in which he finds himself in this world, and in the activity or refraining from activity which follow from a conception of this purpose”. In Tolstoy’s view, “that knowledge has always appeared to all men as the most important knowledge, it has always enjoyed the greatest respect and has mostly been called religion but sometimes also wisdom”.

It is of no consequence here what he ascribed to religion, and besides, he gave it an interpretation that resulted in his excommunication. What is important is the force with which he induces us to consider “the question insoluble by intelligence, one that drove me to desperation, to suicide: what is the meaning of my life?.. The answer must be not only sensible and clear but also correct, that is, it must be such that I should believe in it with all my soul, that I should believe in it just as inevitably as I believe in the existence of infinity”.

Tolstoy did not believe that life was in «living in the position of a Solomon or a Schopenhauer — knowing that life was no more than a silly joke played on me and yet living, washing, dressing, dining, talking and even writing books. That would be disgusting to me…”. To recognise the «meaninglessness of life», as the «negative philosophers» like Schopenhauer, Hartmann and others did, was something that he could not do, but neither could he see its meaning in personal well-being only, when man «lives and acts as if only he himself may obtain the good, that all men and even all beings may live and work so as to furnish him with comfort and pleasure”. That is, in Tolstoy’s view, «an animal personality» rejecting the dictates of reason, which demand the common good.

Neither was Tolstoy satisfied with passively following what most educated persons, as he writes, express by the word «progress». As he put it, «living in accordance with progress actually = a man in a boat: where to sail? And as if he, without answering the question, should say: “We are being driven somewhere”. Tolstoy clothed his answer about the meaning of life in religious, Christian terms, declaring loveto be the «striving after the good of what is outside of man, which remains in man after the renunciation of the good of the animal personality”. Love is «life itself; but not insensible and perishing life, but life blissful and infinite… It is the joyful activity of life itself”. The «movement of common life» through subordination to reason leads, according to Tolstoy, to men’s concord and unity, which are the highest good -«perfect union, in the perfect, highest reason».

Stressing the ideal aspects of the world and of man’s essence, his thinking, reason, and morality, ultimately leads to the meaning of human life becoming superfluous, for it is expressed already in the very definition of man. This idea was realised by philosophers long time ago. Recall Immanuel Kant, who wrote that «man alone as a thinking being determining his goals by his reason may be the ideal of beauty and the limit of perfection. It can no longer be asked of man… as a moral being, for what purpose (quem in finem) he exists. His existence has the highest purpose in himself, and to this he can subject the whole nature, to the extent in which he is capable of doing so”. But this serene and truly philosophical statement is not given to us from the start, and each thinking person searches for his own answer to the question of the meaning of human life as hislife and, only after that, of genericlife. This search may be the ultimate in emotional tension and suffering, often tragically coloured, as was the case, e.g., in the history of Russian thought, where philosophizing at times took unusual forms, as in Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and others.

As is well known, Dostoyevsky studied life in its «extreme» forms, in those fractures which lay bare its very essence, and that was why he so pointedly posed the question: «what is it all for?» «I did not suffer that I might serve as dung, with myself, my villainy and agony, fertilising someone’s future harmony… and so I decidedly reject higher harmony. It is not worth one little tear of that child tormented to death…. I don’t want harmony out of love for mankind, I don’t… though I may be wrong”.

Without question, it would not be enough to limit the meaning of life to the sphere of morality only, but neither it would be possible to ignore it: that would contradict the broader Marxist formulation of the development of man as a goal in itself.

It would be senseless, I believe, to borrow anything directly from Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky; Marxism has its own tradition of scientific consideration of these issues from the positions of real humanism. But many ideas of Russian writers relative to this area stimulate the constructive work of thinking in areas which have regrettably been little studied in the analysis of man and his future. In the first place that applies to the moral meaning of human life as a process of perfection of its social essence and its spiritual foundations. This approach is extended to the economic sphere as well, to the relations of man and nature, and man’s biosocial existence itself — the length of human life, the possibility of prolonging it, the attitude towards death and immortality, etc. Here too, man’s social nature conditions the dominance of the moral principles.

This connection between the meaning of human life and that of longevity, death and immortality can be traced throughout the history of philosophy and science. It was aptly put by Seneca, who said that it was not important whether you lived long but it was important whether you lived correctly. Leonardo da Vinci noted that any life that was well lived was a good life. The same idea was stressed in Montaigne’s dictum that the measure of life is not its length but the way one used it. It is obvious that the measure of life is determined by its human, i.e., social-personal and moral, form. It is this form that may serve as a starting point in solving complex issues, among these, that of prolonging man’s life span.

Their complexity takes extreme forms precisely because, on the biological plane, the individual is always in some respect merely a means for the species as a whole, for it is through the adaptive life-activity of the individual, culminating the production of offspring and death, that the species ensures its existence as a definite form of life measured in temporal dimensions different from those of the individual. But, whereas biologically nature becomes “indifferent” towards the individual, losing interest in him after the completion of the reproductive cycle, it is not nature but society that becomes the frame of reference for the measure and value of the life of the human individual that has become a personality. And often the interest of society grows where nature’s interest recedes, for the development of the personality is the goal and means of the existence and development of mankind — both as the Homo sapiens species and as the social community, the bearer of reason and culture on the earth.

This dialectic contradiction is the basis and driving force of the evolution in the length of human life. It is all the more sharply manifested in each individual since the latter does not cease to be an individual after becoming a personality: the individual becomes a personality while preserving all the natural biological conditions and factors of his existence. It is also important to remember that even in the directly biological sense the relative extention of each life-span may involve, in terms of evolution, increased stability and reliability of the progressing species. This circumstance was stressed by Schmalhausen, the outstanding evolutionist, who wrote that “prolonging the life span and reproduction period along with bigger body measurements, is the second and more perfect (relative to increased fertility) response of the body to a high extinction rate of offspring. This response is characteristic of the more differentiated and viable forms of life possessing perfect methods of defence”.

However, the life span in itself is not an absolute criterion of the stability and reliability of living systems or a condition of the length of the existence of the species under definite environmental circumstances. This span or life measure of the species is manifested in the succession of generations accompanied by the aging and death of individuals. As Schmalhausen remarked, «a series of animals implements the process of development of increasingly perfect and viable forms of individuality… Animals with fully viable active individuality reproduce only through sex cells. The rest of the body dies, sooner or later. Death is the price of prolonged higher individuality… Thus the existence of the individual is always limited in time. If it is not death then other causes lead to a loss of individuality”.

Schmalhausen interpreted highly developed individuality as “that form of it which is characterised by the highest activity”. We are therefore justified in extending these characteristics to man as an individual, representing the species Homo sapiens,although on the subjective plane the statements by the remarkable Soviet Russian scholar have certain limitations. But they echo, in a way, the above-mentioned words of Marx concerning the price of higher development of individuality and the interests of the species being asserted at the expence of the interests of individuals, both in the plant and animal kingdoms. But here the analogy ends, for the development of individuals as personalities, coinciding as it does under definite social conditions with the interests of the species, contemplates the development of each as a condition for the development of all.

Prolonging the human life span may be set as a scientific and socially realised goal, and the question then arises, why is it necessary to society and the individual? Then again this question may not arise at all, if life itself is accepted as an absolute and self-sufficient value. Finally, this question may be solved spontaneously in the course of history, in the evolution of the life span throughout it. And it is actually “solved” in that way, as is clear from historical and modern demographic studies.

According to numerous demographic sources, the human life span has varied throughout history, and its evolution continues to this day. We are not speaking here of the purely “biological” time conditioned genetically (for this never happens in man as a personality subject to the dominant influence of social factors) but of the sociallife span, where living conditions and the environment play a determining role, essentially altering the effect of biological factors. Of course, the data cited by researchers vary. Yet they express fully enough the general regularities and trends, as well as their concrete realisation in the modern industrialised and developing countries. If these factors, differing in different socio-economic systems, are taken into account, the process itself of man’s social aging can be divided into normal aging (proceeding naturally, along with the expenditure of the body’s resources) and pathological aging (in which the negative effect of the social factors determining the natural processes of aging is observed). The first and primary task is therefore to bring to a minimum the causes leading to pathological social aging. This task coincides with the more general social tasks of restructuring society which would ensure man normal human conditions of existence, including medical care. The right to health is a basic one, on the social plane, also in the assertion of the right to live a life that is all the longer the more effectively all human biological reserves are realised and the pathological influence of the factors of early social aging reduced to a minimum.

In this aspect (the main one in present-day conditions), the value-oriented and humanistic approach coincides with the social one.

The biological life span, i.e., the life span of the species genetically coded in the course of the evolution and assuming individual succession of lives as the condition of historical activity, is a quite different matter. Here, a great many new questions arise pertaining mostly to biology, but which cannot be considered outside the social and moral-humanistic aspects of the general problem of the essence and meaning of human life.

The scientific approach to these problems directly depends on the attainments of biology, primarily. It is the study of the essence of life and death on the general biological plane that created the premises for the inquiry into these processes in man, including the biology of aging, modern gerontology, etc. Here we need not delve into the remote past, for the modern formulation of many relevant questions dates mostly from the post-Darwinian period and is closely linked with the evolutionary method which, as is well known, served to place the science of life on a scientific footing.

An essential contribution to working out this problem was made by the remarkable Russian scientist I. Mechnikov, his studies being marked by a desire to establish links between the biological and the social, humanistic approaches and a philosophical formulation of the question of the meaning of life. True, he laid primary stress on the biological aspect, which determined certain naturalistic limitations of his position as a whole. That is sharply outlined in his Studiesin Human Natureand especially in Studies in Optimism.In his view, “the purpose of human existence lies in passing through a normal life cycle resulting in the loss of the life instinct and painless old age reconciled with death”. Mechnikov believed that the normal human life limit was 100 to 120 years, which differs substantially from the one set by the biblical King David (70 to 80 years). The whole point, according to Mechnikov, was that premature old age was a disease, which had to be treated by modern scientific methods — a «rational macrobiotics» as the «science of the future». The main aspect of this science was the study of human nature.

Of course, from modern scientific positions, there was a great deal of oversimplification both in Mechnikov’s concrete views of the harmony and disharmony in the body and correspondingly in his recommendations for the methods of «treating old age'», etc. However, scientific research in human aging and death later was boosted greatly from the development as well as from critical revision of many of Mechnikov’s ideas.

That is also true of his general conception of the destiny of man and the goal of man’s existence, of the instincts of life and death of the refashioning of human nature (and correspondingly of morality) for “recovering the correct evolution of the human life, i. e., for turning its disharmony into harmony (orthobiosis)”. According to Mechnikov, correcting disharmonies of the human nature through scientific methods appears all the more possible because, in the past, old age was “more physiological and death more natural”. Moreover, in his view “the study of human nature permits a definition of the true purpose of our existence, just as it explains the meaning of true culture and true progress”.

Here Mechnikov leaves the ground of reality, elevating to an absolute the importance of «human nature» and science’s role in the life of man. Mechnikov was so carried away by utopian visions that he made his life a laboratory for the study of his conceptions of old age and death. He believed that in advancing towards the «true aim of existence», which is the «completion of a normal cycle» rather than direct enjoyment of life, men would largely have to give up personal freedom in the name of solidarity, and that man would actively change his nature, just as he changed the nature of animals and plants, to make it more harmonious and in better agreement with the ideal. All of this is crowned with a paean to science and its future role. “If an ideal is conceivable that is capable of uniting men in a certain religion of the future, it cannot be substantiated other than on scientific data. And if the frequent assertion is true that one cannot live without faith, the latter cannot be other than faith in the omnipotence of knowledge”.

Of course, the omnipotence of knowledge can do without becoming “a religion of the future”, and subsequent development showed the danger of elevating science to an absolute, to the detriment of the other factors of the historical development of mankind and man himself, and the decisive role of the social, moral-ethical and humanistic factors constituting man’s essence, particularly in questions directly bearing on man’s life, aging and death. At the same time this emphasis promoted the focusing of scholarly interest on the study of these questions, particularly within the framework of biology. That inevitably had a favourable effect in later years, resulting in a snowballing accumulation of scientific works, including modern ones, which surpass in quality and quantity everything that had earlier been done during many centuries of studies.

Of considerable significance here was the development and critical revision of many ideas of A. Weissmann, particularly of his theory of aging and death as a result of organism differentiation emerging and deepening in the course of evolution. According to Weissmann, the simplest organisms are potentially immortal, but this is lost in multi-cell organisms. Schmalhausen also stressed the importance of old-age changes, particularly as a result of arrested growth. In his view, “old age degeneration is part of the normal cycle of an individual and death is the last link in the chain of life’s phenomena”. Schmalhausen pointed out that “death is inextricably linked with life if only because any manifestation of life is possible only through the destruction of a certain amount of living matter. Death is the negative aspect of life, as it were. There is no death without life, and life itself is the source of death”.

Here Schmalhausen referred to Weissmann’s doctrine of immor­tality or, to be more precise, of potential immortality of elementary organisms which, as he underlined, “have nothing whatever resembl­ing death. Death is the ending of a life and is always accompanied by the appearance of a corpse. Here we have neither the one, nor the other. Everything continues to live, and nothing dies”. True, although the protozoa have no natural physiological death, they die in their masses under favourable conditions of existence. However, when they divide in two, the individuality of the mother cell is lost, being dissolved in the filial cells. But Schmalhausen believed that objectively the loss of individuality could not be compared to death. Death results from the formation of a higher individuality — a rigorously defined form with a fully harmonious correlation of parts. It is preceded by aging, accompanied by degeneration of the organism’s members and tissues, primarily the nervous system. The inevitability of setting a growth limit also sets a definite life limit, according to Schmalhausen, and the gradual approach to this limit is accompanied by the phenomena of aging.

Following other scientists, including Weissmann, Schmalhausen saw the length of life as connected with the animal’s organization (although it is not linked with the overall level of organisation), in particular with the «cephalisation factor», so that «the most intelligent animals do the greatest amount of life work and live longer than others». At the same time he did not believe that increasing the mass of an animal’s nervous system would always result in increasing its life span. That is only possible on condition that a rigorous harmony of the whole organisation is maintained. And he does not believe it to have been proved at all that longevity is a biologically useful feature: «We shall have to give up the preconception that a long life is a ‘useful’ one, and to accept that each species of animals (and even each sex and each form) has its own characteristic and not at all maximal life span determined by its entire organisation. In some cases an amazingly short life is observed, clearly determined by a specific predestined disharmony of the physiological constitution».

Here Schmalhausen concentrates on the Weissmannian view of the length of life as an adaptationensuring reproduction and death as «a useful adaptation eliminating from the reproduction cycle the old worn-out individuals who could produce only weak offspring». In the end he states that biologically, the span of life is linked first of all with the animal’s reproductive capacity and the biological features of reproduction and rearing offspring. In his view, «introduction of death as a means of limiting the span of life results from limiting the growth and form of an animal by definite norms». Limitation of growth is limitation of assimilation and metabolism disturbances, and elimination of such phenomena or their weakening will facilitate increasing the span of life.

Concluding his analysis, Schmalhausen writes that Weissmann «viewed death as a secondary adaptation of animals, as a useful acquisition in their struggle for existence. Many other authors believe death to be the inevitable final phase of the life cycle of all organisms, i. e., the primary property of all living matter. Both sides are right, to some extent». Schmalhausen combines these ap­proaches in a kind of theoretical synthesis which has not, regrettably, been noticed by some modern authors. In his opinion, «the length of life, just as any organisation, is determined in the final analysis by the structure of the sex cells, the composition of the ‘genes’, rigorous harmony of the entire organisation being one of the conditions of maximal longevity».

Accordingly, the life span of animals might be considerably extended, in Schmalhausen’s view, and if that is not the case, the obstacle is not the general biological properties of living matter but the biological conditions of the existence of organisms.

As for man, whose life span is longer compared with the other mammals, his high development of individuality is accompanied by the organism’s viability, “a complete rejuvenation of the whole organism… being impossible without loss of individuality, i. e., of that which constitutes the whole value of our life… In any case, man’s life span is relatively lengthy as it is and can undoubtedly be prolonged considerably. But we have one more advantage over animals: the results of our creative activity do not perish with us, being accumulated for the benefit of future generations. So let our short passage through life be illuminated by the realisation that human life is much higher than other lives, and that death is the only condition making possible the existence of the immortal creations of man’s spirit”.

This sage exhortation ends that short but extremely profound work of the remarkable scholar and thinker, which had a noticeable effect on the modern conceptions of man’s life, aging and death. It opened a new chapter in their development, stressing the social, moral, ethical, and humanistic aspects of the problem, which affect in particular the development of modern gerontology.

Within the latter, there now exist a great many (some 300) extremely diverse conceptions stressing the diverse factors of the aging of the human body, sometimes raising those factors to an absolute. Some of these conceptions are merely modern versions of hypotheses expressed in the past, using the new biological data, in particular those of molecular genetics. These conceptions are sometimes divided into two principal categories. According to one of them, aging and death are programmed genetically; according to the other, they result from genetic injuries, which accumulate since the body has no time for restoring them. As a rule, however, both conceptions link aging and death with certain mechanisms of evolution, and that is a manifestation of the fundamental approaches considered above, including the ideas of Weissmann, Mechnikov, Schmalhausen, and others.

Some of these conceptions and hypotheses evince the effect of reductionist («biologising») trends, which exaggerate the role of certain factors in the life activity of the human organism. However, there is a growing realisation of the need for an allround systems approach to the problem of man’s aging and death, based on an understanding of its social essence mediating and subordinating the biological factors. Frequently, however, negative views are expressed concerning the idea that social conditions are the leading factor of gerontogenesis.

As far as the present time and foreseeable future are concerned, the idea is mostly expressed of the need and possibility for attaining, through various scientific methods, the maximum of the biological life span of the human species (which is set at about 150 years by a number of scientists). That is now the primary object of scientific effort, although other tasks and goals come to light that are differentiated in a more complicated manner. It is even asserted that scientists are on the threshold of a new era when medicine will transform Homo sapiensinto Homo longevus, when men and women will retain both their mental and physical zest in their mature years. And if this happens, we shall have to look upon life with totally different eyes.

What should be borne in mind here, first and foremost? I believe that a life view proceeding from the humanistic attitudes of man’s consciousness and behaviour and a clear definition of the purpose of man’s continued life is conditioned by the normal age parameters corresponding to the person’s individual traits and the needs of society. Undoubtedly, the personality attitudes themselves essentially depend on social conditions, but they also have a reverse effect upon the latter. There is a dialectics of a special kind here, which is barely taken into account in gerontological studies.

True, already at the present time some of the theories of gerontogenesis endeavour to take account of this dialectics of the biological and the social, of the individual and the social, as illustrated by the introduction of a functional division of the time of man’s life into the chronological, biological, psychological, and social ages. I believe that the time is not far off when the very concept of the social, as applied to the length of human life, will be differentiated with due consideration for personality orientations of consciousness and behaviour, including moral and humanist at­titudes. Whatever science might promise us, including the science of prolonging life, or macrobiotics, Seneca’s old and wise dictum holds for the present and future that the best way of increasing the length of life is not cutting it short. And here is Kant’s observation: «He lives longest who takes the least trouble to prolong life but carefully avoids shortening it through interference with our beneficent nature».

It should be mentioned that Kant did not limit himself to common-sense observations on this question. He wrote a special treatise On the Power of the Spirit to Be Master of Painful Sensations, through Sheer Resolution, which was in response to the well-known German doctor Ch. W. Hufeland’s book Makrobiotik oder die Kunstl das menschliche Leben zu verlangern,extremely popular at the time. The treatise contains a great deal of stuff that can only make the modern reader well-versed in medicine smile, but there is one very important and instructive point there: the stress on the role and significance of spiritual, particularly moral, factors in extending man’s life span. True, Kant’s final conclusion is that «moral-practical philosophy is at the same time a universal medicine» which may not cure all diseases but neither can it be absent from any prescription”, according to his view. Moreover, concurring with Hufeland in his definition of dietetics as the skill of preventing disease and thereby of prolonging life (but not of ensuring its enjoyment), Kant speaks of stoicism as a principle of dietetics and, consequently, a part of practical philosophy “not only as the science of virtue but also as the science of doctoring. The latter becomes philosophicalwhen the mode of life is determined only by man’s power of reason to be master of his sensual feelings through a rule of conduct adopted by man himself. That applies to philosophising itself which, according to Kant, is a means of eliminating unpleasant sensations and of causing excitement, which introduces interest into the spiritual life of those who are not essentially philosophers. This interest, in Kant’s view, “does not let the vital force stagnate. On the contrary, philosophy, whose interest is for the whole of the final goal of reason (which is absolute unity), has a feeling of power that can to some extent compensate for the bodily weakness of age through a sensible evaluation of life’s worth”. True, Kant makes the reservation that any interest in science works in a similar manner, and he who takes such an interest “is to that extent also a philosopher and enjoys the beneficent effect of such an excitement of his powers in a rejuvenated life extended without exhaustion”. Kant adds, with tongue in cheek, that almost the same results are brought about by trifling; persons leading a carefree existence live to a ripe age, fearing merely death of boredom.

C. N. Parkinson and H. Le Compte tried to unify in a certain law of a longer life some curious ideas; despite the «biologising» and Malthusian one-sidedness of their conception deserving the sharpest criticism, they express an idea that is on the whole rather rational: there are many ways of prolonging life, but it should be remembered that the question of whether to live or to die depends to a great extent on the state of mind. We die because, or at least partly because we have lived long enough, and we live because we have something to accomplish yet. I especially stress this idea because it strongly connects the length of human life with personality attitudes, including the view of the meaning of life, its purpose and moral and ethical evaluation.

I belive that of great significance in this respect would be the development of conceptions in which the leading role of the social factors would be substantiated in their socio-biological being. An enormous methodological and axiological role should be played here by the scientific philosophy and sociology of man, by an understanding of the specific features of the moral-ethical foundations and of the meaning of his life, aging and death. Many facts and trends point to that. I believe, however, that all of this will be within the scope of science in «the era of man».

This will require, of course, a qualitative change in the general conceptions of the meaning of human life and correlation of the social and the individual in it, as well as of the attitude to death — not only in the scientific but also socio-ethical, moral and humanistic aspects. Today, when science faces the challenge of prolonging human life, the very goals of life are as a rule defined with a great many contradictions, and just as widely differing are the temporal parameters, which are almost never seen as depending on the socio-ethical and humanistic factors. Hence the view, for instance, that in the future it will be possible to prolong the life span of the human species to a thousand years or even to infinity.

But how does all this look on the socio-ethical and moral-humanistic plane? Will mankind always strive towards a maximal individual life span and immortality, or will it find other solutions, where the socio-ethical and moral-humanistic consciousness will be determined by the fact that the individual will no longer regard himself separately from mankind?

It is hard to predict the ways in which science will solve the problems of increasing the life span of the human species in the future, although one thing is clear: the path towards such a solution assumes interdisciplinary application of various methods taking into account complex interactions within the human organism as an integral system. It is even harder to predict the temporal parameters of the individual biological life, and there is hardly any need for doing this instead of those who will come after us: for they will be more reasonable and humane than ourselves. Already in these days there are many works showing that the level of the functioning of intellect attained in mature age may be preserved well into old age.The principal task is apparently one of rational and maximum employment of this priceless gift without setting as yet any goals attainment of which would end in unforeseen results for mankind and the individual. It is not clear in general in what way the very prospect of life passing beyond the species parameters will affect mankind on the social, psychological and moral-ethical planes, for this assumes essential changes in the human organism through «homotechnology», which may be fraught with the danger of the loss of human individuality, personal identity, etc. Besides, there is the danger not only of gerontophobia but also that of gerontophilia, of arresting any historical advancement of generations, conserving what has been attained, and the fearful prospect of its extrapolation to the time of a hundred years ahead or even to infinity. It is hard to imagine a man who would agree to be an eternal personification and standard of “man in general” thereby imposing himself on the future. In this case he would lose all the attraction of novelty and the mystery of the absolute movement of the moulding of man, to which Marx referred, and kill any hope of the appearance of a new Aristotle, Goethe, Einstein or Marx….

However, Jonathan Swift drew a fine picture of all that in his narrative of the «chosen» inhabitants of Laputa doomed to immortal­ity in old age and envying the death of other old men. (Goethe’s Faust, too, rejects suicide, not out of an egotistic desire to live as long a life as possible but out of love for men, out of a desire to share the common fate of mankind — albeit, while staying young at the same time. These views are now revived in the so-called juvenology, whose postulates should, I believe, be seriously tested not only in terms of biology but also from the socio-ethical and moral-humanistic stand­points. In any case, I believe the gerontological principles of Davydovsky are better substantiated and more attractive: he thinks that «longevity and the related problem ofactive creative old lifeis something more real than boring immortality. In actual fact it is a question of the new man who fully realises his potential not only on the earth but also in the boundless cosmic space. He has become master of time and space.

This approach by our outstanding scientist is, I believe, in full agreement not only with the scientific realities of modern times and the nearest future but, what is even more to the point, with the socio-ethical and moral-humanistic principles that emerge as impor­tant, and in the future probably decisive, regulators of the length of man’s life span. This approach holds life to be an infinite historical prolongation through reasonable and humane alternation of tempor­ally limited individual lives, as the joy and sadness of the emergence, flourishing and death of a unique and self-infinite personality.

This humanistic approach assumes a new scientific and philosophical realisation of the meaning of human life and general social and moral progress of mankind today and in the future. Mankind obviously has a great deal to change and overcome, and its whole history of thought is an appeal for that — particularly when we contemplate death and immortality.



The share of theoretical research in modern scientific knowledge tends sharply to grow. Now that we have entered the ‘age of biology’ this process is revealed perhaps in the most characteristic form in the attempts to construct a generalizing theory describing the basic reg­ularities of living systems, with the inevitable resort by the scientists to the fundamental principles of the theory of knowledge and an analysis of the heuristic potentialities of the traditional and new methods of research in their interconnection and interdependence. Among the principles most intensively discussed over the past few years are the principles of causality, determinism in their specific expression, nota­bly, in biological knowledge in connection with the problem of organic purposefulness and its teleological interpretation.


In modern science, this general problem, connected with the need to bring out the specifics of organic determination of living systems is tackled both within empirical research and within the framework of theoretical generalizations of an extremely extensive class. This ap­plies, in particular, to the general theory of systems on the basis of whose propositions attempts have already been made to produce a symbolic presentation of the changes within a system which is some distance away from the state of equilibrium but, in a sense, ‘striving’ to attain that state in the future. In this context, L. von Bertalanffy characterises the living systems as ‘equifinal’, that is, as being capable of achieving a similar final result practically regardless of initial condi­tions. This property of ‘equifinality’, which H. Driesch brought out vitalistically and interpreted teleologically, is associated in modern science with the special character of the interaction of living systems, their activity, the specifics of the processes of regulation and control, which are being intensively studied above all by biocybernetics.

Without going in detail into the concepts established by cybernetics and connected with the control of self-organising systems, coding, information transfer, etc., let us recall the most essential characteristics of self-regulating and self-governing systems, which also include living systems. These relate above all to the capability of modifying their state under the impact of information signals, that is, the capability of selective response. Complex systems of this type also have the capability of memorising the best effect of earlier responses, which is why they are characterised as self-regulating and self-teaching systems. Such systems can receive information signals from other systems and the environment and transmit them after an indefinitely long interval of time. They are capable of modifying their working algorithms and their own organisation depending on changing information signals, which ensures not only the survival of these systems, the self-reproduction of the organisation achieved, but also their improvement and development.

It was also highly essential that self-regulating and self-governing systems realise these characteristic properties with the aid of feed-back mechanisms (that is, a continuous exchange of information between the governing device and the executive organ). Self-regulation is effected in the form of a cyclical process which runs along a closed circle. The feed-back can also exist in the form of a fixed device with the character of secondary regulation built up over the primary dynamic interactions between processes in complex systems. But these primary interactions also ensure a feed-back effect, even if indirectly. This means, for instance, that living beings with a developed nervous system effect feed-back ensuring the processes of self-regulation in the form of signals which are sent back to the central nervous system. But there is also a feed-back effect in intracellular processes, biochemical interactions between individual structures of the genotype and the phenotype, etc. This is also effected in populations in their relations with their environment and within the biosphere as a kind of extensive class integrated system.

These characteristics of complex systems, brought out by cyberne­tics, are of universal importance. They will be found in any directed process of active adaptation connected with the selection of the opti­mal variant for modifying the structural or functional properties of a system. It goes without saying that these changes themselves have many a value and their overall trend, which is realised integrally has a statistic, probabilistic nature.

In this sense, these cybernetic characteristics are brought out in the analysis of biochemical processes of living systems, in their molecular-genetic interactions. This is most clearly revealed in the mechanism of protein synthesis, where an exceptional role belongs to DNA molecules, the carriers of the genetic (heredity) code, in accordance with which molecular synthesis is effected and the cells and the living system as a whole are ultimately self-reproduced. The information coded in DNA whose loci are formed by genes, is a programme of genetic processes and their realisation in the development of organisms as individuals and as a species. The concept of the genotype of the individual as a peculiar ‘programming device’ has helped to gain a deeper understanding of the biological importance of heredity infor­mation in organisms as a concentrated and duly coded flow of the influence of the environment throughout the individual life of organ­isms and the historical development of their species.

This makes it clear why organisms which have travelled a more complicated evolutionary path and whose heredity has taken shape under the impact of the most diverse factors of the environment have the most diverse information. That is why, in their responses to its changes they display the maximum activity and are capable, with the aid of fixed secondary regulation devices, of working out oriented adaptive restructuring of their organisation and behavioral acts as is the case, in particular, among the higher animals with a developed nervous system.

This growing activity of living systems is simultaneously connected with the increasing switch of self-regulation mechanisms to individuals, whereas this kind of ‘individualisation’ is much less frequent, say, among plants, where the basic self-regulation (and evolving) unit is the population, the species. As for the individual, while information pro­cesses are effected through it, it itself exists as a peculiar ‘variant’ in the course of ‘selection’ by the population of optimal values of adapta­tion in new environmental conditions. This is what is fixed in the concept of natural selection, in its statistical action, which is only possible when it comes to an ensemble, a definite discrete set, which is the more effective the greater the diversity achieved in the types of structuring living systems and their changes.

Still, the initial primary mechanisms, which results not only in self-preservation but also in the self-improvement of living systems, and in morphophysiological and adaptive development, are formed on the individual level. On this level are created the prerequisites for adaptive responses, their ‘thematic orientation’, which is realised in the population by means of selection.

Adaptive actions, whose forms may be either genetically coded (programmed) in accordance with a definite scheme or may be worked out in the course of individual life, are characterised as being oriented precisely because they are determined by a definite programme with an unusually large information capacity. Indeed, one may even say that this programme is excessively complex. This becomes clear if we consider the exceptional complexity and the inexhaustible ‘inventive-ness’ of the environment in which organisms carry on their vital and adaptive behavioral activity, and which determines, in vigorous interac­tion with this activity, the formation of the complexity of the pro­gramme itself.

That is why the programme coded both in the genetic heredity structures and in the physiological systems with a fixed acceptor of the result of action (P. Anokhin) may appear as the ‘anticipatory model’ of an action not yet performed, as its result. Cybernetics must be credited above all with having shown the possibility of such models existing in nature by giving new facets to the understanding of the problem of purpose and purposefulness in the overall anti-teleological framework of their scientific explanation. Where teleology saw the idealistically interpreted action of ‘final causes’, ‘rational purposes’, etc., cybernetics established the material causal relationship, having shown in strict scientific terms and in complete accord with Darwin’s theory, the more general grounds for treating purposefulness in nature as a material relationship. In this way it has preserved and rationalised the objective meaning of this relationship, having carried on Darwin’s effort in research into the material causes of purposefulness in nature. At the same time, expelling teleology from what might be called the ‘inside’ of purposefulness itself, cybernetics has more than mechanically drawn a line, for instance, between organic purposefulness and man’s purpose­ful activity. By analysing their common principles as mechanisms for realising oriented processes in self-governing systems, it has clarified the ‘rational’ meaning of the ancient analogy between the adaptive functioning and development of living systems and purposeful human activity. Consequently, it has ‘won’ a vast empirically existing bridgehead which science has traditionally by-passed, believing it to be firmly held by teleology, its age-old adversary.

Summing up what has been said, we have reason to state that cybernetics does not introduce the concept of purpose into the science of living systems and does not invest it with a boundlessly extensive meaning by stripping it of anthropomorphic and biomorphic elements, but merely finds materialanaloguesand purposes in the objective characteristics of self-regulating systems, designating these by means of information and feed-back terms, that is, producing semantic in­variants of purpose. Is it at all useful to convert these invariants into the initial ones which had served as the starting points for analogy? Is it not better to retain the term ‘purpose’ only in its immediate, specific sense, which is connected with the comprehensionwith an ideal notion of the final results of activity, leaving therelativeuse of the term to characterise natural processes, as relative, for instance, is the concept of organic purposefulness?

Consideration of this question could also be continued in application to the concept of ‘purposeful causality’ in nature. Cybernetics has provided a materialist explanation for the specific links and interac­tions, for instance, in living nature which teleology had presented by direct analogy with human activity in the spirit of finalism, implying that material processes in living systems were determined by an ideal ‘final purpose’, etc. There again it also made use to the end of the ‘rational meaning’ contained in the analogy, taking it to mean only the beginning, the starting point of cognition, and not its completion, as in finalism.

The results of this cognition, expressed in information and feed-back terms, are in complete accord with the conception of organic determin­ism, helping to enrich and develop it. It is, accordingly, established that in the functioning and development of self-regulating self-governing systems there appears a new type of link, which is characterised, in particular, as being cyclical. From the information standpoint the cyclical connection effected in the form of interaction between differ­ently oriented processes, can be designated either as direct or feed­back connection. In it we observe processes of a peculiar predetermi-nation, fixed in the programme, in the form of a code model of subsequent actions and determining the statistically realised orienta­tion of these actions. The mechanism of such connections itself appears in the form of their ‘duplication’, a superimposition on the objective material process either of its ideal scheme, and epistemological sample-purpose-or of a material programme, a code model, which, it is known, may or may not have a figurative value.

Accordingly, the interactions observed between the various states of a self-regulating system and expressed in the form of causality may be characterised by the concept of cyclical connection between cause and effect (direct and feed-back) of which the so-called purposeful causality is in effect a type. In this way its existence is not denied, but the limits of its applicability, which may be extended, again only in a relative sense, are specified. Is it necessary, in this instance, to pose this question once again: what do we really gain by ‘transcending the limits’ of the meaning of the term? What new knowledge do we gain if we impose-even if only terminologically-for instance, on a plant ‘selec­tion of purpose’, ‘striving towards an aim’, ‘purposeful activity’, and so on?

This is not such a simple question as it may appear to those who are not abreast of the history of the philosophical struggle over the problem of determinism and teleology and who, for this reason may very easily ‘revise’ its lessons. Nor does the question here at all boil down to purely semantic aspects, or to a dispute about words, although that is also important. We find that somewhere close to these disputes and sometimes from them stem such forms of ‘mythology on the cybernetic level’ which coalesce directly with teleology and finalism. After all, the discussions on the cognitive importance of teleology have not been taking place in philosophical vacuum, and the recognition (however formal) of the scientific effectiveness of the ‘teleological principle’-even if only as a definite methodological instrument-may be easily transformed into the assertion about a ‘revival’ of teleology and finalism as a philosophical, theoretico-cognitiveconception confronting the principles of determinism.

Let us note that this kind of situation which results at any rate, in formal assertions about a ‘revival’ of teleology and finalism exists in biological science, in particular. Many leading natural scientists, philosophers and methodologists have been trying to escape from the situation and to dissociate themselves, even in formal terms, or, you might say, semantically, from teleology and finalism.

Thus, E. Mayr said in a paper at a symposium on theoretical biology in 1966 that biologists have long since come to feel the ambiguity of designating the purposeful behaviour of individuals programmed by the properties of its genetic code as ‘Ideological’. He held that “scientific biology has not found any evidence that would support teleology in the sense of various vitalistic or finalistic theories… The complexities of biological causality do not justify embracing non-scientific ideologies, such as vitalism or finalism, but should encourage all those who have been trying to give a broader basis to the concept of causality” (Waddington, 1968, pp. 49-50, 54).

In an effort to give adequate expression to this ‘broader basis’ in his familiar concepts and terms, Mayr accepts Pittendrigh’s designation of the behaviour of systems, ‘not committed to Aristotelian teleology’, as being ‘teleonomic’,confining its use to systems operating on the basis of some programme or a code of information, and taking this to mean ‘the apparentpurposefulness of organisms and their characteristics’, as Julian Huxley put it.

Commenting on these considerations of Mayr’s, C. Waddington agreed with him on the point that the teleological or vitalistic type of explanation was not acceptable and that there was need for ‘tele-nomic’, or ‘quasi-finalistic’ explanations, to use the term he introduced. However, he did not agree with Mayr that “natural selection is not purposive. In itself it is, of course, no more purposive than is the process of formation of interatomic chemical bonds. But just as the latter process is the basic mechanism underlying the protein syntheses which are integrated into the quasi-finalistic mechanism of embryonic development, so natural selection is the basic mecha­nism of another type of quasi-finalistic mechanism, that of evolution. The need at the present time is to use our newly won insights into the nature of quasi-finalistic mechanisms to deepen our understanding of evolutionary processes” (Waddington, 1970, p. 56).

Rejecting teleology, Waddington seeks to interpret the quasi-finalistic explanation of biological processes within the framework of materialism (mechanicism, to use his own term), even assuming that ‘the general system of concepts which is beginning to take shape … is in a sense close to Marxist dialectical philosophy’. (Astaurov, 1970, p. 8).

The terms ‘telenomy’ and ‘quasi-teleology’, or ‘quasi-finalism’, are being presented as alternatives to the teleological interpretation of causality in the spirit of finalism. In effect, they describe the causal relations expressed in the language of cybernetics by means of the concepts of programme and feed-back, that is, they describe cyclical, reciprocal causality, including predetermination of the results of action and a corresponding orientation of the latter. One may, of course, argue about the aptness of these terms, which on the whole still revolve round the initial concept of teleology. But we can well under­stand the urge to dissociate oneself from it, while retaining the method of research into complex systems through an analysis of the relation of purposefulness which is only nominally qualified as ‘teleological’ (Frolov, 1958, 1965).


The question of this method of research is of importance in itself. It is connected with the heuristic use of the concepts of purpose and purposefulness in the study not only of the processes which could be desig­nated as purposeful in the immediate sense of the word, but even in relative forms, to express their objective orientation. Here the relative nature of the concept of purposefulness of processes, empirically accepted and resulting from the development of the new content in the old semantic form (as we find, for instance, in the case of organic purposefulness), is allowed deliberately as a definite method of re­search. This implies the so-called purposive approach which is now and again interpreted as being part of a general functional analysis of complex systems of the organic-integrated type.

The ‘teleological’ approach is usually taken to mean the functional approach in its broad sense, which involve the study of processes, the dynamics of the elements of the system characterised as a specially stable type of behaviour of these elements (or subsystems), that is, as their derivative function. In biology, from which these concepts histori­cally take root, later to be more broadly applied, function is always the result of vital activity, of the concerted operation of a definite organ (or system of organs), each of which also has a systemic quality that is recorded structurally and dynamically.

Consideration of organically integrated systems and their compo­nents in the light of the results of their functioning means bringing out one of the specific properties of these systems. But only in some instances can such consideration assume the form of purposive analysis (and, consequently, be designated as ‘Ideological’), because the con­cept of function does not always assume the meaning of a definite orientation of processes, to say nothing of their purposefulness.

That is why it is possible to separate the functional approach in the narrow sense of the term (analysis of the behaviour of systems which is unconnected with notions of orientation), the functional purposive approach (analysis of the behaviour of systems characterised as oriented or relatively oriented), and the purposive approach proper, under which the researcher turns to the final stage, to the result of the process as its aim, starting from which the cause is analytically estab­lished from its effect.

Consequently, the final stage of the process tends to be regarded as its purpose, that is, the functional-purposeful or simply the purposeful approach is realised regardless of the meaning with which we invest the concept of purpose, because the latter appears as the regulatory princi­plewhose potentialities were analysed by Kant. In the purposive approach, the concept of purpose may reflect a real phenomenon (as in the analysis of forms of human activity) and may designate it ade­quately; it may represent directed (fixing the relation between the initial and the final stages) processes in the form of a material or an ideal model, in the form of theoretical constructions, a purposive hypothesis, etc.

Thus, the purposive approach may be used not only in the study of ‘equifinal’ systems but also in the spheres where one deals with cyclical and oriented interactions, where processes of progressive development are studied. The purposive approach may also be used in situations where the final result of a process may be established empirically. In such instances, it is constructed ideally, hypothetically. Here again the analysis is based on the assumption that the result of the process is ostensiblypresent in reality in the form of a peculiar purpose. In such an approach, the resort to this ‘purpose’ appears as a special method of hypothetical anticipation, description of a process subject to subse­quent scientific analysis.

On the strength of this, the purposive approach in general cannot, as a matter of principle, be contrasted to the traditional and the new methods of causal analysis of living systems (historical, experimental, etc.), as we find in the event of its teleological interpretation when this is assumed to be ‘the most characteristic’ method for biology. It has a definite cognitive value only in connection with other methods, and within their system, reflecting the overall dynamics and strategy of scientific research, establishing and dividing up the forms of objects and helping to clarify their functional role and origin.

The purposive approach is extensively used for the purposes of description, evaluation and explanation in sociological and economic research, in aesthetics and other fields of knowledge and culture. Its terms can help to interpret many methods of research in mathematics, statistical physics, technology (one need merely mention the construc­tion of idealised objects, extreme principles, etc.).

However, in all these instances, when this or that postulated or actually existing result of a process assumes the form or purpose in subsequent retrospect of the process, there is no question of the ‘teleological principle’ as an alternative to determinism. In contrast to teleology and finalism, scientific research and explanation is achieved here in the light of the many values and diverse orientations of objective interactions in nature and society, of their ‘thematical orien­tation’, programmed action of instruments but not of results as a whole, the direction towards which as a real or conditional and apparent purpose is brought out only integrally, in the form of a general tendency. The basis of such research and explanation is provided by the dialectico-materialist view of the conception determinism-organic determinism.


Astaurov, B. L. (ed.): 1970, Towards a Theoretical Biology, Russian Translation of

Waddington, 1968, Moscow.

Frolov, I. Т.: 1958, ‘Determinism and Teleology’, Voprosy filosofii.No. 2 (in Russian). Frolov, I. T.: 1965, Essays in Methodology of Biological Research,Moscow (in Russian). Waddington, C. H. (ed.): 1968, Towards a Theoretical Biology. I. Prolegomena,Birming­ham.

1In: “Foundational Problems in the Special Sciences”. Butts and Hintikka(eds.). 1977, D. Reidel Publishing. Company, DordrechtHolland, pp. 119-129.



(Social and Ethical Problems of the Gene Engineering.

Criticism of Neoeugenics)1

In modern discussions much attention is given to the fact, that due to the developing scientific and technological revolution and the ever expariding use of its results by society we witness an unprecendented increase in the number of factors contributing to man’s biological disadaptation, which threatens the future of mankind. This is related not only to physical, but also to psychological factors linked with the pollution of man’s habitat, the noise increase, the nervous and psychic loads. All this leads to stresses, to a number of diseases regarded as the illnesses of the civilization (cardiovascular diseases, psychic disorders, cancer, etc.). In other words, today man increasingly faces the problem of self-preservation as a species adapted to the changing social and natural environmental conditions —the problem of man’s adaptation to the environment.

Unlike all other living beings that only biologicallyadapt them­selves to the environment through phenotypic and genotypic changes in the course of the adaptatiogenesis controlled by natural selection, man, remaining unchanged as a genotype and as a species, adapts himself socially tothe environment through its transformation, primarily in the course of production. «Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material reactions between himself and Nature,» — wrote Karl Marx2.

It is precisely due to this exchange that the unity between man and Nature is achieved, the transformation of the latter and its adaptation to man’s requirements, the creation of a second Nature — man’s artificial environment which comes into existence due to specific features of culture and social organization. Hence, the features of the interaction of man and Nature, including negative phenomena in this area, are not only and not so much due to the direct physiological activity of man as a biological type, but due to the mode of material and spiritual production, the form of social activity of people and the type of social organization. The objective dialectics and the inner con­tradictory character of this interaction manifest themselves primarily in the fact that in the process of material production we observe, on the one hand, the increasing liberation of man from direct dependence on the elemental forces of Nature and, on the other, the closer union of man and Nature, the mastering of more and more substances and types of energy by man and their intensive drawing into the sphere of man’s vital activity. But this way the very activity of man proves to be increasingly involved in the production process and more closely linked with scientific and technological progress since in many cases man’s biological nature acts essentially as a second Nature.

All this brings to the fore the biology of man and his biologicaladaptation to the new habitat as a socialproblem which can and must be solved by strictly scientific methods. Actually, the present external effect on the biology, genetics and psychics of man can be regarded as a threat to his very existence. At the same time, the present-day scientific and technological revolution brings into existence new op­portunities and means of the development of man as a bio-social being.

Never before has the technical basis of production made such high psychophysiological demands on man as now, in the conditions of the scientific and technological revolution. At the same time, man’s labour has never been so highly efficient, and this offers new opportunities for man’s development. Turning to man’s biological nature and psycho-physiological features, modern science is searching for effective ways of helping in moulding man’s abilities with regard to the development of technology. The automation and cybernation of production makes it possible to mechanize not only difficult and monotonous physical labour operations but also mental operations, which are not of a creative nature. It is complemented by the biologization of production due to the active adaptation of the human organism to new conditions of production, in the first place, due to the change of man’s psychophysio­logical activity.

What lies ahead? What new opportunities open up before us due to an ever greater insight into the mysteries of man’s brain, his sub­conscious activity and instincts?

Never before has the acceleration and intensification of the rates and rhythms of life been so rapid and never before have they brought about such an upswing in nervous-psychic diseases and stresses. Enhancing the heavy load on man’s psychics, the urbanization and technicalization of human life are accompanied by the minimization of physical loads and — in consequence — by a growth in the sickness rate as far as cardiovascular diseases are concerned. At the same time, mankind has never gained such striking successes in medicine. They have changed the demographic structure of the human race and almost entirely removed the effect of natural selection as a factor of the development of humanity.

Finally, never has man’s habitat beenso exposed to ionizing radiation and so polluted with chemicals harmful to the very existence of man and extremely dangerous to the future since the mutation process and its negative effect on man’s heredity have grown im­mensely. At the same time, for the first time in history mankind is in a position to reduce, with the aid of medical genetics, the load of pathological heredity accumulated in the course of the evolution and to get rid of many heredity diseases by various means, including genetic engineering and the replacement of the pathological gene bya normalone.

Can scientists studying the biology and genetics of man help achieve the more adequate social realization of the essential poten­tialities of man? In what way can it influence the development of the abilities and requirements of the man of the future, the attainment of the genuine equality of people, retaining at the same time the unique .nature and the inimitable specific features of each personality?

E’ngels has stressed that «man is the only animal that can, due to labour, find his way out of the purely animal state, his normal state being that which corresponds to his consciousness, and he must create it himself»3. Man achieves this, creating social conditions that cor­respond to the modern state of his consciousness (determined by his existence) as well as to the scientific cognition of the objective trends in the development of production, culture and the whole history. He sets in motion all these forces, and they change him. That is why the normal condition of a human being is that which should be created by man himself.

This apparently concerns also man as an object of biological cognition. In this respect promising prospects open up before him even now, but on the way to them man is faced with serious dangers. As far as man’s future in the biological respect is concerned, we see here various Utopias based on abstract consideration of the op­portunities opened up before man and the human race by science, and genetics in particular. We know, however, that the scientific opportunity hindered by nothing except the limits of a concrete historical character which are contained in human knowledge itself, becomes a reality only in definite social conditions. Therefore, the con­sideration of the future of man should always be corrected by them. In this way, real scientific forecasts differ from numerous pseudo-scientific topics created in the field of the genetics of man. This explains Marxist scholars’ caution and sometimes sharp criticism of those eugenic Utopias which proceed in many cases from the assump­tion of the biological degeneration of mankind and which see in genetic interference in man’s heredity a universal solution to all problems, including social ones. This concerns not only reactionary forms of “eugenism” which find their sociological expression in racism, Malthusianism and the theories of an elite, but it also includes humanistic varieties of eugenism (H. Muller, P. Teilhard de Chardin and others).

Today, however, many of the main ideas of old eugenics are being revived in concepts of neoeugenics,which causes justified alarm, in the first place, among geneticists themselves, since neoeugenicists refer predominantly to the latest achievements of genetics.

What are the scientific and ideological reasons for the present revival of eugenics? What is the methodology of neoeugenics? In fact, we see here extreme social biologism with its scientistic narrow-mindedness, ethical nihilism and lopsided methodo­logy which reduces man to the level of the purely biological being devoid of the social essence and isolated from the complex of social relations. As far as scientific foundations are concerned, they are in many respects modernized in neoeugenics {use is made of molecular genetics, the results of experiments with clonal reproduction, etc.) proceeding, however, from the initial idea of a genetic catastrophe, threatening mankind.

Neoeugenics, like all eugenic projects of the past, seeks to find the scientific, emotional and personal support in the idea of all-absorbing care of man, his dignity, freedom and future. «The thinking substance should be given a reasonable organization», — proclaimed P. Teilhard de Chardin. «If mankind has the future, it can be seen only in harmonious reconciliation of freedom with planning and unification into an integral community»4. It is supposed that man subject to the effect of eugenic measures (“positive eugenics”) will better correspond to this essence. Using H. Muller’s classification, he will physically be in better health, mentally will have a stronger, deeper and more creative intellect, morally will possess greater cordiality and collective inclinations and as far as perception is concerned, will possess keener understanding and more adequate expression of it.

It is worth noting that as compared with old eugenics, neoeugenics lays greater emphasis on the meansof implementing its projects, on their moral, ethical permissibility. As a rule, «the noble human form of eugenism» (P. Teilhard de Chardin) is meant which will be used gradually, during centuries and on a voluntary basis.

Marxists, however, cannot accept the ideas of neoeugenics even in the ennobled form. And not only because these ideas have been compromised. The Marxist science of man and the ways of his development does not need such a supplement, since Marxism incorporates scientific results of studying man, including those obtained through the use of the achievements of genetics. Marxism orients people on solving the problem of creating new man as, in its essence, a social problem. It is only from these positions that Marxism turns to biology, primary to genetics which today is increasingly expanding the sphere of direct servicing of man, his health and development.

As for neoeugenic projects of creating a “new man”, they are untenable primarily on scientific, theoretical grounds. They are based on as yet very limited knowledge of the genetics of man, on false ideas of direct correlation between man’s genetic foundations and his mental and spiritual qualities. These projects are unacceptable in their social aspect because they are used by racist ideology, by the theory and practice of genocide. Neoeugenic projects are misleading in the philo­sophical, ideological and methodological sense since they represent in a distorted light man’s essence and his place in the world, his role as a premise and a product of history and unilaterally orients itself on social biologism. These projects should be denounced from humanistic positions as they encroach on the sovereignty and unique originality of man by sanctioning scientistic and manipulative approaches to him. Finally, neoeugenic projects should be rejected from moral and ethicalconsiderations on account that their implementation in all cases threatens mankind and questions the fundamental values of man’s existence, such as, for example, love, parental feelings, etc.

This does not means, of course, that in general, in principle any active interference in man’s heredity is impossible and undesirable and that at least in the distant future there will be no prospect before mankind for changing man’s biological nature as desirable. However, it is necessary to draw a clear-cut demarcation line between the scientific possibility and real practice which cannot be guided by abstract suppositions and which calls for a concrete determination of the social conditions of the implementation of this or that idea. In present-day conditions in the world neoeugenic projects can objectively play only a reactionary social role. Their implementation would spell out a genetic disaster for the human race, a disaster which would be much more dangerous than that which is depicted by neoeugenics and from which it promises us to save.

Rejecting neoeugenics from purely scientific, social, philosophical, humanistic and ethical considerations, we see at the same time the real prospects of man in the biological respect. They open up due mainly to the studies of problems of the genetics of man, as well as medical genetics, which over the past few years have made great progress, especially as a result of successes of genetic (gene) engineering. These investigations have nothing in common with neo­eugenics, but they raise new, sometimes even more complicated and delicate social, philosophical and ethical problems, which give rise to scientific discussions all over the world.

Genetic (gene) engineering has come into being thanks to the progress made in recent years by one of the youngest fields of biological science — molecular biology. The application of the achieve­ments of genetic engineering opens up before mankind truly fantastic prospects in many areas, including the sphere of genetic control over human population.

With the aid of genetic engineering man will be able in the not too distant future to obtain an unlimited amount of medicines which are now scarce, for instance, insulin (the human growth hormone), many antibiotics, etc. Methods of genetic engineering will help man realize the cherished dream of all plant breeders — to impart to farm crops such properties as resistance to diseases and pests, frost hardiness and drought resistance, the ability to assimilate nitrogen from air, making unnecessary the expenditure of oil and natural gas for the manufacture of costly nitrogenous fertilizers. And, finally, it is precisely from genetic engineering that we can expect the saving of man from hereditary diseases.

In a word, the opportunities opened up by genetic engineering before mankind both in fundamental sciences and in many other fields, specifically applied ones, are truly unbounded. Of late, much has been written on this subject, but sometimes without reasonable caution and scientific substantiation of forecasts and without paying due attention to the dangers we face along this path.

However, since manipulations underlying new methods concern the most intimate mechanisms of genetic self-regulating processes and, in the long run, life itself, it has become obvious that molecular biologists have reached the edge of an experimental precipice, which may become even more dangerous than that into which nuclear physic­ists peeped in the years preceding the creation of the atomic bomb. Even mere negligence or incompetence in safety measures on the part of the experimenter may lead to irrevocable consequences and may threaten all mankind. These methods may be even more harmful in the hands of malefactors of various kinds or if used for military purposes. These dangers are of a global nature primarily due to the fact, that organisms with which experiments are most frequently con­ducted are widespread and possess the ability to exchange genetic information with their wild brothers. The problem is assuming new aspects in the light of the fact that it is possible to create, as a result of such manipulations, organisms with quite new genetic qualities which have not so far existed on earth and which have not been produced by evolution. The effects of such experiments are unpredict­able.

This problem acquires particular acuteness if methods of genetic engineering are applied directly to man. This perspective becomes ever more real and close and requires the solution of many complicated social and ethical problems which today have come to the fore in genetics. It can be even stated that at present the unique situation of the extreme sociologizationof genetics has developed: the social and ethical problems of genetics have never been discussed for such a long time and by such a great number of scholars.

We should think this over and draw conclusions, which would be important for all of us.

It is stressed in modern discussions that not only more rigorous social and ethical principles of experimentation on man should be worked out, but also that stricter social and ethical control over the observing of these principles should be established. It is necessary to recognize in unambiguous terms the uniqueness and freedom of each personality, ensured by moral and legislative standards and actions on the part of society as a whole, and also guarantee free development provided these principles are not violated. This is what is needed for the benefit of all and, therefore, ought to be encouraged in every way by society both morally and legislatively. Of course, in this sense any experimen­tation on man means partial intrusion into man’s inalienable liberties and rights, but it can be limited to an extent that will correspond to the system of moral and other values of society and be a consequence of decisions taken quite freely.

Of course, these general principles depend to a great extent on the fact which society accepts and implements them. Many scientists point out that today a system of international agreements regulating the biological (genetic, medical, etc.) research on man is a must.

In this context the problem of the admissibility of experimental manipulations with man is widely discussed. Of great positive impor­tance in this respect was a Conference held in Geneva in the autumn of 1973. The Conference on Protection of Human Rights in the Light of Scientific and Technological Progress in Biology and Medicine was sponsored by the UNESCO Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Conference gave much attention to problems associated with the necessity of in­troducing some restrictions and bans, in particular in the field of ge­netics and psychosurgery, in order to safeguard human rights, man’s dignity and freedom as a personality. The criteria of admissibility and inadmissibility are determined depending on this or that understanding of the initial principles of ethics and humanism. Most scientists maintain that these principles should be observed from the very beginning of the preparation for the experiment, from its first steps. Investigations con­ducted in violation of these principles even if they produce important results, cannot be grantedpost hoc ethical justification. Post hoccan never become ethical, and in the sense, in the biological experiment on man, the end never justifies the means.

Especially delicate and difficult ethical problems arise if methods of genetic control, including genetic engineering, are applied to man. Many scientists believe that scientific cognition, specifically studies and practice of genetic control, should be considered outside the context of social, humanistic and ethical values. At the same time, there are op­ponents of any interference in the genetics of man. They fully denounce this line of scientific research as immoral and dangerous to the human race. They therefore categorically insist that it should be banned. Of course, due to its extreme obscurantism, this point of view upheld, as a rule, by people who are very far from science, cannot have a great number of adherents among scientists. That is why the most widespread and influential is the position of the principled defence of the idea of genetic control within certain ethical limits5. This trend was clearly expressed, for example, by A. Etzioni in his book where he resolutely comes out for the greater sense of responsibility within the community of researchers working in the field of genetic control6. Discussions of the social and ethical problems of genetic engineering showed the con­troversial nature of the proposals and actions in this respect. In the middle of 1974 and at the beginning of 1975 these discussions reached a dramatic pitch and the attention of the wide sections of the public was drawn to them.

In July 1974 a group of researchers, pioneers of genetic engineering and members of the Commission on these problems set up under the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and headed by Professor P. Berg from Stanford University, called on scientists of the whole world to apply a moratoriumon investigations in the two most dan­gerous fields up to the convocation of an international conference in February 1975. They meant experiments in 1) the injection of the genes of oncogenous viruses of animals and toxins into bacteria and 2) the cloning, or shot-gun experiments, of genes of higher organisms in bac­teria. This was the first strong appeal to the world scientific community on problems of self-regulation of research since the early 1940s when physicists decided to deprive Germany of access to nuclear information. The appeal of P. Berg’s Commission was backed by scientists through­out the world. In Britain a Commission was set up under the chair­manship of Lord Ashby to study the danger of experiments in the field of genetic engineering which resulted in banning such experiments by the Medical Research Council of Great Britain.

The moratoriumwas almost unanimously observed for eight months up to the end of February 1975 when the international conference was held in Asilomar (Pacific Grove, USA), where 140 scientists from 17 countries summed up the achievements in studying recombinant DNA molecules and discussed the social and ethical aspects of the experimen­tation in genetic engineering, the ways of preventing potential biological dangers of this work and conditions for lifting the voluntarymora.torium on the two most dangerous types of experiments.

In its final document the Conference divided the admissible ex­periments into three categories by the degree of risk — from experi­ments with the minimum risk to highly dangerous experiments7. The Conference singled out a group .of experiments that at present bore a very great threat and decided that these experiments should not be carried out until adequate precautions are worked out. The Conference’ participants see the main ways of preventing the existing and potential dangers in the genetic design of new bacteria and vectors which would have a limited possibility for reproduction outside the laboratory. The Conference emphasized in its Summary Statement that the whole per­sonnel should be fully informed about the degree of the risk in all experiments and that adequate training of the personnel in safety measures necessary in such risky experiments should be ensured.

On the whole, the Asilomar Conference played a great positive role. It ushered in a new era in the ethics of science, marking a change in the attitude to the ethics of research, to the process of the development of science. In modern science ethical and moral problems emerge when one considers each scientific discovery, each scientific task and also when general aims of science are discussed. That is why the present discussions on the problems of the ethics of scientific cognition, in particular genetic engineering, are not of a transient nature. They are of importance for the development of science, they become an intrinsic feature of scientific activity, which marks a new stage in the develop­ment of science and reflects its growing role in the life of society and each individual.

It goes without saying that the social and ethical problems which came to the fore in discussions of the prospects of genetic engineering can and must be solved on a wide humanistic basis presupposing the assertion of the priority of man’s benefit although, unfortunately, it is often defined in a very vague form. At the same time, this decision cannot and must not bar the new ways of human cognition of the mysteries of Nature, since in the longrun they also serve the benefit of man and open up great vistas. However, science and the human race should reach a new stage in their social, moral and ethical develop­ment if we want to realize these hopes.

This requires greater attention to the social and ethical problems of science which are far from being easily solved everywhere and which link scientists by thousands of threads with the life of all mankind, making them to a considerable extent responsible for the destiny of humanity. Hence, we need scientific discussions, comparison and battle of ideas, a constructive dialogue of scientists upholding different phi­losophical, social and ethical views. From this standpoint the attacks against Marxist-Leninist theory by the Nobel Prize winner Jacques Mo-nod should be rebuffed. Monod’s views are summed up in his book advertized by bourgeois propaganda in many countries8. Actually, Monod defends the scientistic concept of pure knowledge unconnected with the ideals of people and alienated from man, his subjective world and his requirements. But objective knowledge as the highest and absolute «value is sheer abstraction which can only give rise to romantic and Utopian illusions. Considering science as a social institution, we shall see that knowledge itself, irrespective of the aims for the sake of which it is obtained, and the ethics of cognition cannot be regarded separately from the social, economic, political, ideological and moral factors. Which always have a concrete historical character.

The ethics of cognition, i.e. the standards on which science relies in its approach to the truth and principles which the scientist is guided by and which make up his professional ethics cannot play the role of the ethical code in the broad sense. It cannot be the highest value, a measure and a guarantee of all other values, including social and political institutions and humanistic ideals, since in its implementation it heavily depends on them. This, of course, concerns not isolated areas of research, for instance, in the sphere of molecular biology, but scien­tific cognition at large, including philosophical generalizations, science as a social institution of modern society. The ethics of cognition acquires its value and regulatory sense only when it coincides with the general social and humanistic trend of science. This sense is, however, only an aspect of a more general relationship of science and society, where the communist ideal of societyand man himself as the goal of history is the basis.

Hence, recognizing the unlimited character of the strivings of sci­ence, Marxist-Leninist philosophy sets social and human parameters of scientific cognition and not cosmic parameters, where man is an ac­cidental phenomenon, as it is believed, for example, by Jacques Monod. The Marxist-Leninist world outlook and the socialist society based on it, its philosophy and ethics, rule out even the possibility of manipula­tive approaches to man, including manipulations linked with the use of methods of genetic control.

It is only on this basis that socialist countries develop cooperation in the field of biological and medical studies of man with countries of the capitalist system. Aware of the danger of the lack of control in this field and understanding the global character of many problems which are typical of this area, socialist countries are champions of and signa­tories to many international agreements on regulating scientific investi­gations of man. They vigorously struggle against the possible use of the results of these investigations for military purposes, come out in favour of banning the creation of new, biological, weapons which will be even more formidable than atomic weapons and which can employ methods of genetic (gene) engineering.

New problems call for .new solutions. Our task is, first of all, to formulatethese problems and to critically analyzethe ways and methods of their solution and the concepts put forward. Finally, we should give their social, ethical and humanistic appraisal. It is not easy to solve the whole set of these problems in each specific case. Critically analysing and brushing aside false views, which sometimes represent an imaginary contrast, we do not arrive at the final truth. As Goethe observed, «It is said that the truth lies between two opposite opinions. Not at all! A problem lies between them». Trying to solve these problems, we should most critically assess our own generalizations and conclusions, regarding them only as a material for further meditations and for the working out of agreed-upon positions with regard to these new and vital problems which concern man’s prospects in the biological and genetic sense.

1 “Dialectics and Humanism”, N 3-4, 1976.

2K. Marx and F. Engels. Collective Works, vol. 23, p. 188.

3K. Marx and F. Engels, op. cit, vol. 20, p. 510.

4P. Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, Moscow, 1956.

5J. Fletcher. The Ethics of Genetic Control. Ending Reproductive Roulette. Garden City, N. Y.: Anchor Books, 1974.

6A. Etzioni. Genetic Fix, New York — London,1973.

7«Summary Statementof the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules». In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Of the United States of America. Vol. 72, no 6, pp. 1981—1984, June 1975.

8Jacques Monod. Le hasard et la necessite, Paris. 1970.

Scientific Advance and Humanistic Ideals.

(Social and ethical Regulation of Science)

1. Modern science is not an isolated sphere of «pure» cognition. It is a special social institution whose substantive purpose is to cater for man, for his free and all-round development, which is history’s «end in itself». One of the basic, global socio-philosophical problems of our age is the connection between modern science and man’s life and work, the prospects before him as a biosocial being, the humanistic implications of scientific and technological advance.

2. Because man increasingly becomes not only the subject but also the chief objectof science and its applications, exceptional significance is attached to the ethics of the scientific cognition of man, to the moral criteria of scientific quest, and to the social controland regulationof research into areas which bear directly on man’s vital interests, on his future as a biological species. These problems are most acute today, notably in discussing the permissibility or non-permissibility of various experimental manipulations with man, in discussing the ethics of genetic control, and in the unprecedented movement by scientists for a moratorium on some experiments in genetic (gene) engineering.

3. The ethics of scienceis established as a vitally necessary condition for the effective functioning of humanistically oriented cognition. There is no alternative to this either for science or for mankind. But can science be regulated only on the ethical level, is it capable of ethical self-control? The answer can evidently be a negative one if the ethical principles of science are regarded in isolation from the other forms of its value orientation, above all from social factors.

4. The socio-ethical regulation of science in the modern society, becoming an ever more obvious necessity, has made some advances but has to confront tangible obstacles stemming from the private-property relations, the egoistic drive for profit, which is inadequately limited by social regulations.

5. The socio-ethical regulation of science stemming from its humanistic orientation and development as a science for man means purposeful direction of science not only on a national but also on an international scale. It implies the formulation of definite ethical codes and agreements in interna­tional law to regulate scientific cognition in areas affecting the vital interests of the present and future generations of men. But the chief problem today, I believe, is to establish more effective control over the observance of the already adopted socio-ethical and legal regulations, codes, and agreements. The socio-ethical regulation of science, which science and society as a whole is coming to regard as a vital necessity, can provide a humanistic basis for a new stage of the development of science, more freethan before. The social responsibility of scientists and freedom of scientific quest are not alternatives.