The Problem Of Understanding In Politics


The main philosophical question related to politics is the following: can a socio-political unit, a secular society (a state or an international union) or knowledge about it be a knowledge or ontological subject? How a unity of mind (omonia) is possible between people, especially if there are democratically many people, and the axiomatics of their beliefs, which, sometimes expresses various interpretations in the form of well-developed evidence related to the symbol of faith or the Eucharist, is not only not supposed, but also directly denied? Moreover, the presence of a symphony in the form of the mutual understanding is taken for granted, based in some surprising way on heterophony and gammophony of incompatible opinions as a pluralism of truths, which is accepted as a basic value. In other words, in order for people to understand each other, it is necessary to deny each other democratically, to contradict, to wrangle, and from this disaster, as M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin said, somehow it will be of a great benefit for all. At the same time, many people live in territories of senses and use senses, but only a few develop and expand them. In any discourse on various manifestations of public consciousness, democratic processes and decisions is not the anticipating philosophical questions that are fatal. How a democratic awareness is possible to all times and people in the absence of a philosophical and strategic policy, the level of culture in politics decreases, and the negotiation processes are weakened..

Keywords: Philosophypoliticsreligiondemocracyinternational relations


When speaking about the political aspects of democracy, and a form of citizen participation in politics, a form of knowledge, first of all, we note the following: It is important to pay attention to the well-known and the most influential researcher Alexis de Tocqueville (Tocqueville, 1992), according to whom democracy is not only and not so much a certain form of society organization, but also an appropriate process taking place in social and political life. In other words, a process that has long traditions and origins. This is true, since not a one of the known democracies in the history of democracies has developed a single institution for the management of a society different to those developed in monarchical systems. As E. Burke (Burk, 1993) noted, from the institute of royal courts both parliamentarism, party building, press freedom, and the institute of higher education have grown [for more details see: (Shamshurin, 2003)]. According to modern theories of democracy (J. Schumpeter, W. Rostow), democracy is possible only with an active participation of the masses in social and political life. However, the institutional implementation of this provision is significantly hampered by the concentration of economic power in the hands of the ruling elite, creating an oligarchic model of power and politics. In addition, it is a well-known truth that, despite any free elections, 80% of officials in any branch of government and in any country are not rotated. The example of the so-called free democratic states indicates that, despite the change of parties and candidates for power, the strategic (and, most often, tactical) preferences of these states do not change significantly. This example is usually presented as evidence of the sustainability of legal mechanisms that, against all odds, counterbalance any electoral surprises. Actually, it is possible, but only under the condition that pre-election declarations are not fulfilled or real power is not held by the representatives, but by some other forces. Therefore, the following should be said: democracies are veiled monarchies; it can be Athens of Pericles or other modern examples. Moreover, if there are oligarchic, mafia examples of the conspiracy plan, then their leadership is simply not obvious. Moreover, if there is prosperity, it is only possible during good years. In the bad years, the manual control is needed.

Problem Statement

Can non-personified forces rule someone or something? Can laws, even the perfect, rule on their own, anonymously? What is democracy from a philosophical point of view? In addition, what is the role of understanding in politics? This desire for clarity and readability of knowledge. This is the belief that there is a hermeneutic continuum within which, as already noted, the maximum number of people can democratically understand each other. However, that is what philosophy asks for: How is the creation of thought, as essence, and the creation of thought, as existence, is possible? Why it is possible, by whom, by what and where is it going? It is possible not to raise these questions at all, calling them, for example, traumatic, pseudo-questions. Since everyone already (as the postmodern teaches) somehow and from somewhere has its own truth. Each source of this truth is the carrier, the creator, and the keeper. Universal and unchanging truths simply do not exist in nature. Is it so?

Research Questions

It must be said that there is nothing new in such pseudo-philosophical justifications of democracy and politics. This is an old sceptical-sophistic and precisely polytheistic rule about a multitude of forces. This rule states, first of all, the polytheism of supermen and higher races. It is known that the controversy of Protagoras’ dubious paradigm about the mortal man (that is, something particular) can be at the same time the measure of everything (that is, something universal and necessary, and eternal, and therefore the universal beginning) was revealed by the truth that civilization is not only a dead end, but also the death of paganism. The gnostic somatism of paganism (which has already been mentioned by sophists and sceptics), in truth, calls for the return of the postmodern. Yet this is not clever, and even dangerous. If truths (local narratives) cannot be counted, if they are already given and their reality is not discussed, and everyone is right in his own way, then we cannot abandon the political and legal question about the essence of democracy. How does all this interact? Can it interact at all? If there is no single truth – understanding, within the framework, of which the transition from one to another takes place, then understanding as such is impossible. There are only mechanical collisions. Truths do not converge, but diverge, because the truths of understanding are as much as the truths of their expression. Yet hermeneutics, linguistics, in general, or other sciences working with a word, like agreement-coordination of anything and anyone (and not aggression-conflict), is possible only with a different philosophical (as in the polytheistic case) assumption. The assumption is monotheistic, on which all is based in different kinds of awareness and consistency. Politicians, scientists, private citizens – all explicitly or implicitly, but democratically suggest that Understanding is still there and It is accessible to all. It exists only in one form. The language of understanding exists in one form. In contrast to the multitude, the infinite multitude (really reaching the opposite) of the languages serving to express this single language Understanding-Sense. People, parties, organizations, cultures, languages, ages, states, civilizations can rich a democratic convergence (no matter what) in one thing – in truth. This is their path – the path of agreement, negotiation, based on the adoption of others’ peculiarities. This means that it is both an admission of one’s own imperfections and a desire to move towards the due, as a single Understanding. Therefore, the truth is still there, it is a single and universal beginning. According to J. Habermas, R. Merton and T. Parsons – systematic and holistic, if we aim to at least some kind of scientific nature and understanding. On the various approaches in the philosophical study of politics and law ( Philosophy of politics and law , 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014a, 2014b, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).

Purpose of the Study

One way or another, any theoretical and practical tools in legal and socio-political interactions that exist between people and institutions cannot be torn off or considered outside the context of the super-task of a philosophical and even religious-metaphysical nature. One cannot but agree with the classics of science, for example, S. T. Bor and V. James: metaphysics is the persistent aspiration of thought to achieve ultimate clarity. How is it possible to have a democratic implication between people (in the process of communication) of the same meanings and what guarantees that people work and remain within the same connotations and do not move to implacable positions leading to wars? More specifically, the question is the following: What is the source of legal state and interstate documents? How are the negotiation process, contractual relations, diplomacy possible and what is the theoretical political and legal background for the conflict and the consensus? What are the most appropriate types of rationality in this respect, and what are the least? These questions are on the brink of peace and war, life and death. The problem can be clarified even more. The point is not that people do not know how to think right. The situation is completely different: people close (and deliberately, by will, emotion, behavior, types of property, sometimes even research activities in the form of biased pseudo-justification) their logos-understanding from everything that differs from them, deliberately condemning both themselves and others to hate and aggression. They do not want to think how to go beyond their own limits (while remaining themselves) and how to think in order to be understood by others? They do not even want to assume the possibility of with-the-world attentiveness to another. Obedience as hearing and hearing another, who is very different. Lawyers in this case speak more down to earth – about public legal regulation, coordination of interests. On the contrary, in the postmodern the a priori primacy of persuasion is affirmed, as, above all, a forced action.

Research Methods

An opinion on values practiced in postmodern, the disordered diversity of description languages and models of explaining political action in general does not lead to an increase in political and legal knowledge. It does not lead, because in the absence of a single conceptual dictionary and comparable criteria for assessing the adequacy of theories (which is denied from the beginning), it is impossible to compare the results of empirical studies. The latter are carried out in the framework of completely different theoretical traditions and theoretical paradigms about the harmonization of the initial settings, which, as a rule, are not even questioned (a lawyer will say – they are not codified). However, the fact is more obvious: the gap between the language of theorizing and logical-methodological standards for stating scientific inference, expressed in postmodern, leads to the aggravation of the communicative impasse and conceptual chaos in modern political and legal theory. And in politics and law it is dangerous, as nowhere else – with hermeneutical flaws, the case ends (without a single exception) with mechanical communications – with the help of assault, force and terror. It is hard not to agree with Cervantes – the worst kind of madness – to see life only as it is, forgetting, as it should be.

Apart from that, speaking of the role of understanding in politics and in law, as the latter not only implements the meanings of politics, but also institutionalizes them in clear formalizations, there is one thing to add. The philosophical problem of understanding in politics and law is important not only as a tribute to Justinian, who offered in Institutions to young people who love law not to be distracted by anything useless and perverse, but, on the contrary, to dwell on what constitutes the essence of things (Justinian, 1998, p.13), and also think of it as a guide to practical action. In other words, Justinian, rewriting the classical definition of philosophy, called to take into account philosophy in politics and law. However, in addition to a special tribute to Justinian, there are other good reasons. Who is a legal participant (both in terms of competency, competences and authority), and who is not? Which segments of society and politics can be religious, ontological and legal entities, and which cannot be such under any democratic circumstances. As Novgorodtsev (1991) perfectly showed in his work On the social ideal, neither plebiscites, nor polls, nor monitoring, nor elections (even the most democratic) give real ideas about the will and interests of society. Moreover, the most terrible type of government in the history of mankind is the dictatorship of parliament, i.e. tyranny of the most democratic legislative structures of power.


In other words, taken outside the philosophical and eschatological context, only secular, laicist, i.e. secular sociopolitical structures do not possess stable subject characteristics in everything that concerns the forms of responsibility. From the point of view of hermeneutical knowledge, indicators in the form of universalism, consistency and integrity, are not stable carriers of meanings and values, do not speak the language of politics. The church, as shown by Khomyakov, which is not only a human, but also a religious institution, is not only a society of mechanically coexisting neighbors, but also a friendly union, society-organism, the Council. In contrast to purely human communities, can also be a religious subject, for example, in prayer. It may also be an ontological subject, for example, in the Eucharistic communion. It can be a language and can have a language of communication, implemented (and very effectively) in the chased forms of conciliar decisions, as well as in those problems like meaning of life for many and many people as a life goal and the life of meaning as a goal of being.


In this regard, all predominantly economy theories, which are based only on the assumption of collective secular responsibility forms with regard to property (public ownership of the production means in Marxism, which is again popular even in seemingly the most bourgeois countries) – build their arguments on the sand. These arguments are surely built outside of philosophy, which speaks not only about the economy (external world), but also about the iconomics (internal world). According to B. N. Chicherin (2011): Empiricists who deny metaphysics are like a student who disassembled a car, but does not know how to assemble it again, and to justify the mistake asserts that there is no machine at all, but only individual wheels and parts. It is constantly confirmed by history and modern politics. It can be clearly seen on the example of stalled reforms, where modernization and international negotiations, completely non-philosophically donate the main and essential in favor of particular factors. In Roman law, common property is nonsense, no one’s thing, ownerless property, and a reason for theft (which most often happens in reality). In addition, electoral processes constantly give evidence of it. It seems that democratically elected by civil will of the masses leaders who are unable to philosophically combine Gornee with Dolnii, high philosophy and morality with economic and political pragmatics, combine promises with the responsibility to do so and, who seemed to have unconditional support at the time of their election, they can almost loose it the next day. There are many such examples in modern politics. If short-term profit blinds a person and completely distracts him from the eternal, fatal questions of philosophy, then it is always eventually (most often – early) that turns into a catastrophe, confusion, military conflict. During the initial period, he behaves like a private individual and asks as a common citizen Why do I need all this? This is the way to the abyss. Another leader thinks systematically and democratically: What for do I need all this? Only with such philosophical approach are fruitful theoretical constructs possible, which during negotiations turn into treaties, and can make true democratic values in politics happen.


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29 March 2019

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Shamshurin, V. I., & Shamshurina, N. G. (2019). The Problem Of Understanding In Politics. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2618-2623). Future Academy.