Danilevskys, Buslaevs, Zelinskys Ideas In The Context Of Contemporary Transdisciplinary Humanities


The article defines the features of historical and cultural research of the dynamics of social phenomena in the aspect of understanding culture as an integral system that forms the matrix of existence. The work is characterized by interdisciplinarity in the Humanities and the conclusion about the need for a deep synthesis of disciplines with the aim of transdisciplinarity, which allows to identify permanent imperatives of cultural experience and explore their transformation. The study is characterized by a range of smart alternatives to foreign colleagues and the heritage of the Russian historiography of the XIX – to the beginning of XX century. The article analyzes the ideas of historians who worked in the field of transdisciplinary discourse - Danilevsky, Buslaev, and Zelinsky. Given the characteristics of the ideas of Danilevsky, presented in the work "Russia and Europe". Approaches to define civilizational specificity are studied, the characteristic of assessing various phenomena of cultural and historical dynamics in Russia is given. It is noted that Buslaev was the first in the national scientific community to substantiate theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the nationality and archetypes of national culture, which, despite the inaccuracies made by him, have not lost their relevance in our time. The author analyzes the works of Zelinsky, which were devoted to push the limits of the whole of scientific knowledge, combining the totality of the epistemology of historical, linguistic, psychological disciplines, which allowed us to understand the nature of the "folk soul" of ancient civilization.

Keywords: Humanitiesmethodology of cultural-historical researchtransdisciplinarity


At the turn of the XX-XXI centuries, interdisciplinary studies of social transformations are becoming popular, in which an attempt is made to determine the specifics of a society in the context of studying its cultural experience. With the development of the globalization paradigm of the modern world, we are witnessing a reverse process – an appeal to the traditions and origins of national cultures, which causes the strengthening of collective identity. According to Huntington (2017), there is a clash of civilizations. The increase in the number of local world conflicts, the potential prospects for global conflicts, caused largely by civilizational differences, force scientists to apply methodologies that would make it possible to understand the uniqueness of a particular cultural and historical community, to determine the reasons for the obstacles to world integration. It becomes apparent that differences and unique traits are in the realm of mentality, which in turn are projected by culture. Consequently, researchers should, first of all, identify cultural imperatives, classify them and analyze, which will allow them to understand the laws of civilizational transformation.

In this regard, the actual new transdisciplinary research paradigm, which will ensure full interoperability of the Sciences in solving of actual scientific problems. This paradigm is not new. In Russian historiography the scientists of the XIX – beginning of the XX century – N.Y. Danilevsky, Buslaev, Zelinsky worked in the framework of this paradigm.

Objective, methods and stages of the study

The objective of this study is to examine the experience of Danilevsky, Buslaev, and Zelinsky, in the context of the current transdisciplinary approach in modern historical and cultural studies. Furthermore, the study analyzes the peculiarities of their approaches to justify the necessity and prospects of transdisciplinary methodology in the modern Humanities.

The methodology of this research consists of scientific approaches of theorists of interdisciplinarity in science, such as Bazhanov, Budanov, Kiyashchenko, Ogurtsov, Porus, Scholz, and others (as cited in Bazhanov & Scholz, 2015). The work describes the problem of transdisciplinarity in historical and cultural studies, and examines the experience of Danilevsky, Buslaev, and Zelinsky.

Results and discussion

Interdisciplinary discourse in science is a relatively young phenomenon. In the second half of the XX century, Braudel (2014) expressed ideas about the need for a comprehensive study of societies within the framework of a methodology that would provide the socialization of different sciences. However, this idea, like the annals school, broke up into different currents, which later led to an understanding of interdisciplinary approach, based on the mechanical combination of methods of different sciences. In the last twenty years, interdisciplinarity has become a scientific trend. However, interdisciplinarity is understood, rather, as a fragmented use of a "borrowed method", usually from a related discipline. We believe that interdisciplinary research in the humanities of civilization is possible only within the framework of the cultural paradigm, in which a scientist is a universal researcher, organically connecting different approaches to solve a scientific problem. This is particularly important for understanding the uniqueness of the cultural dynamics that capture the different phenomena of existence. It should be noted that in order to understand the dynamics, it is necessary to analyze the sources, historical knowledge and methods to determine the cause-and-effect relationships. But along with history, different concepts, both humanitarian – philosophical, sociological, cultural, psychological–, and precise–, based on quantitative data, are becoming important. Trying to answer the question "why?"- forces the researcher to resort to interpretations, to broad generalizations, and requires a variety of knowledge and professional skills. It is important to emphasize that the vector of scientific research is aimed at understanding the specifics of culture as a recurring set of archetypes, icons and images, understanding culture as a system that has a certain logic of its development, and therefore certain laws, manifested at different levels of being: institutional, personal, regional, etc. Cultural paradigm provides elimination of conventional boundaries between disciplines, which allows one to determine the root causes of a phenomenon inherent in a cultural and historical community. It must be emphasized that, in this context, civilization is perceived as a means of implementation of a particular culture, to understand the specifics of a particular civilization, the researcher needs to work in a cultural paradigm, which is inherently transdisciplinary. Danilevsky, Buslaev, and Zelinsky worked in such a paradigm.

One of the founders of the civilizational approach in the study of history is rightly considered Nikolai Danilevsky. Reception of the ideas of Danilevsky, their further development in the framework of the transdisciplinary methodology, in our opinion, is an urgent and important task for modern humanities. Danilevsky was trying to understand the peculiarities of cultural transformation of Russia. Putting forward the theory of cultural and historical types, he laid the foundations of the civilizational approach. It is important to note that his scientific research can not be clearly attributed to any one scientific discipline, they are inherently interdisciplinary. In his famous work "Russia and Europe" Danilevsky was trying to identify the unique features of Russia, analyzing the different aspects of social life. He refers Russia to the Slavic cultural and historical type. In our opinion, the most important for the researcher working in the cultural paradigm is his approach to identifying the peculiarities of Russia (Danilevsky, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2013d).

In this context Danilevsky comes to the conclusion that Russia has a mobilization type of organization that is willing to confront: " So, the great struggle, the more or less near future the Russian people, and the righteousness and Holiness of the case, which he must defend, and on special properties of the state system, can and should make the character heroic " (Danilevsky, 2013b, p. 2).

According to the scientist, the paradigm of confrontation is peculiar to Russia. It is an important phenomenon of Russian civilization. This is connected with another important phenomenon of Russian culture – the special importance of power, which is identified with the defender of the people. Unity is found in the power of the people. This feature, in turn, explains the mobilizing nature of society, the readiness to protect state interests rooted in moral, psychological and religious grounds (Danilevsky, 2013b).

To understand the cultural specifics of Danilevsky one must analyze differences in mental structure. He highlights the important features of the Slavic cultural type in the context of comparison with Western culture: lack of violence among the Slavs, uniting character, deep religiosity, lack of revolutionary psychology of confrontation. It should be noted that in the process of identification and characteristics of these features, he largely repeats the Slavophiles. However, it is necessary to draw attention to the analysis, which is done in the context of comparativistics and consistency, determining the relationship with modern processes to the author (Danilevsky, 2013c).

One must pay attention in this regard to the analysis of the influence of religion as the basis of civilization. Danilevsky considers religion as the basis of civilization. He conducts a comparative analysis of the religious traditions of Europe and Russia and concludes that deep differences in religion laid the foundations for two different vectors of cultural development. Catholic rationalism is the main feature that appeared in the cultural and historical path of Europe (secular nature of Church power, infallibility of popes, etc.). For Russian Orthodoxy, the main characteristic is sobornost, which is the idea of the separation of secular and spiritual authorities (Danilevsky, 2013d).

The desire to link the civilizational development of Europe and Russia with the specifics of Christianity gives grounds for the analysis of political, social and economic events of different periods in the context of the religious paradigm, and in our opinion it is a very important scientific vector, that must be developed by modern scientists.

In the bosom of transdisciplinary synthesis, our outstanding countryman Fyodor Ivanovich Buslaev, a philologist by training, who managed to overcome the boundaries of narrow scientific discipline and become the first historian of culture in Russia, was looking for ways to comprehend the national spirit (Novikov & Perfilova, 2016a). "Inquisitive curiosity" of the scientist was focused on the identification of the spiritual warehouse of the Russian people – the genetic branch of Indo-European integrity, comprehension of the mythological by nature a "folk perspective", immersed in the cultural and historical context (Novikov & Perfilova, 2016a). He was also attracted by algorithms of consciousness of the "basig" person, stereotypical mental attitudes of archaic and ancient peoples, who through images – the language of the subconscious and the system of interconnected symbols–participated in the creation of cultural universals and the formation of the national image of the world (Buslaev, 1861a, 1861b).

Originating inside the difficult fixed the problem field of ethnic groups, these areas of research reflections by Buslaev served as a structural design of lexeme "nation" (Novikov & Perfilova, 2016b). In addition to solving this urgent problem in the years of the scientist's life, his research was turned into the future – substantiation of the demand for those vectors of the movement of scientific thought, which are now associated with the prospects for the implementation of the interdisciplinary, fundamental problem of "Man in society, history and culture." With the help of the concept "world view", which can be traced in the fabric of numerous publications of Buslaev, we are able to scientificalle systematize the results of the study. A unique way of cultural development of the world of the primitive and ancient peoples, collective socio-psychological reactions caused by "the habits of consciousness", "the products of the national spirit", is imbued with ideas about the world, man and society in their contingency. The totality of Buslaev's (1897) directions of creativity today is invested in the content of the concept "picture of the world".

According to Buslaev (1861c), mythological thinking is peculiar to all peoples without exception, creating an image of reality through emotional reactions, an unconscious perception of the world. It is a total sign of the state of spiritual life of all mankind, not only at the primitive stage of existence, but also much later: remnants of religious and mythological world view of deep antiquity survived in Europe until the era of reformation, and in the peasant environment of Russia they show vitality even now, claimed Buslaev (1861c, 1861d).

Knowledge of the "general laws of development of the human spirit, which in its infancy always expressed the same phenomena everywhere", gave Buslaev the basis to use to describe the hidden mechanisms of the human sense of antiquity semantic space of a word or text, identifying, in the spirit of conclusions V. Humboldt, the processes of thought and word formation (as cited in Novikov & Perfilova, 2017a, p. 2). Believing that the word is complete identity of thought, and a thought – analogue of mental regulators of the human spirit, Buslaev extrapolated the problems of psychology's collective identity and above individual creativity in a plane of linguistic phenomena. It is no coincidence that the specificity of the archaic consciousness, which did not distinguish between the object and its symbolic form, being and name, action and cause, product and manufacturer, was interpreted by him in the usual key of theoretical linguistics: a variety of brain functions and complex mental reactions of man were identified with the creative potentials of language and interpreted in the plane of linguistic world view (Buslaev, 1904).

For Buslaev (1861a,c) was obvious the fact that the myth as "the initial manifestation of national consciousness" cannot be separated from the language of its creators, who were the true "treasure trove of original views of man and nature". Both myth and language obeyed the same law – the irresistibility and inexhaustibility of the "creative imagination" of the "national spirit". Both portrayed the world as it was felt by a person, being a part of a specific ethno-cultural group with its historical destiny and "conditions of national life"; they absorbed "all mental and moral interests of the people". Both the language and the myth were determined by the impersonal spirit of the people, created by "the whole mass of the people", were his "common heritage", which did not allow the arbitrariness of the individual, subjective, biased (Novikov & Perfilova, 2017a, p. 4). Therefore, it is impossible to separate language from "mythical tradition" or not to notice the indistinguishability of "language and mythological thinking": both in the way of perception of the world, and in the thought traditions of its understanding, and in the methods of preserving information about the artistically transformed reality, there has always been a myth-born way of thought of people, preserved by the language foundation of the creators of culture (Buslaev, 1861a).

The law of relevance of linguistic processes and" popular beliefs", opened by German science and confirmed by Buslaev, allowed him to come close to understand the deep layers of human consciousness, in particular, to identify the causes of mythological thinking and its emanation as a myth.

The multifunctionality of the myth and its polysemantism – the ability of the word-image "metastasize" into the basis of national culture and become a universal way of expressing the national spirit – gave it a complex psycholinguistic and socio-cultural phenomenon. All facets of it has not been subject to the study of "humane" Sciences of the XIX century, but Buslaev (1861a), combining in his research epistemological possibilities of many disciplines (linguistics, literary studies, history, ethnography, "folk psychology"), was ahead of other compatriots to come to the comprehension of the essence of myth (Novikov & Perfilova, 2017a, 2017b). Obtained in the era of domination of positivism undeniable evidence of " the primitiveness of the prehistoric picture of the whole human race " gave him the opportunity on a broad ethnographic platform to substantiate the previously put forward provisions on the myth as a "living echo of feelings, views and moral, mental or religious beliefs" of any people at the initial stage of its cultural and historical development. Proving that myth-making is a common and comprehensive form of spiritual culture of mankind, Buslaev linked the myth with a special way of world view – paradigm of the primitive view of the world, which could only occur when unconsciously sensual, unconditional, unpredictable reactions of "primitive thinking" for outgoing outside calls, first the natural and then social environment. Becoming the only method of “understanding” the world, the myth determined the" picture of life" and behavioral habits of people of archaic and ancient societies (Buslaev, 1908).

The belief that the myth was the most important phenomenon in the history of human culture that prevailed over his psycho – emotional and spiritual life, on the one hand, and the recognition of the indisputability of the fact of " the participation of language in the spiritual development of the people ", on the other, is the essence of Buslaev's mythological concept. It is obvious that in his interpretation of myth, myth-making, mythological type of thinking contained types of many subsequent theories and directions of studying the initial form of spiritual culture of mankind, the general most ancient ideological systems.

For Zelinsky (as cited in Rostovtcev, 2013), who admitted the reality of the transcendent things, believed in the immortality of the soul and considered the subconscious as an expression of the divine mind, positivism turned into heavy chains, embarrassing his intentions in the knowledge of the "people's soul". But he could not completely abandon the positivism that enabled to estimate the rational experience of being Greeks and Romans. With a shortage of methods officially recognized as scientific, he, trusting intuitive theories and irrational epistemology, invaded the sphere of faith – religious metaphysics and empirical versions of "sacred knowledge", allowing himself their logical elaboration (Novikov & Perfilova, 2013).

The combination of these ambivalent – generalized and individualizing practices of the implementation of the research made the works of Zelinsky eclectic, contradictory, but at the same time accurately identified their orientation: they were considered generated by the medium of manifestation of the states of the "national spirit" of human antiquity in art and literature, mythology and religion, philosophy and social ethics and, in addition, an attempt was made to figure out the essence of the mental organization of man in the power of the biological laws of existence and the world Will at the same time.

The philosophical basis of many of Zelinsky’s works was the theory of "ideologism", bringing it together immediately and with the ancient Greek philosophical thought and Hegelianism. In accordance with his theoretical reasoning, the scientist recognized the desire of the human soul to the ideals of truth, goodness and beauty as the core of the process of cultural and historical development. Believing that ideals belong to archetypal formations of consciousness of the person, which are" enclosed " by the nature in soul of the individual, he called for the help psychology of the personality and social psychology in order to carry out penetration into those spheres of consciousness, which correspond to phenomena of cognitive, sensual and strong-willed character and dictate need for achievement of ideals. The most perfect examples of creativity of the individual soul, in his opinion, manifest themselves through the disclosure of individual consciousness in the sciences and arts. " Collective human soul " transmit its wealth in language, religion, mores as a set of forms of social and economic life (Zelinsky, 1995a).

Not ignoring completely material culture, family and state economy, Zelinsky (1997a) assigned them a minor role in the history of antiquity, claiming that the "economic principle" is a subject to the ideological one, since "social and economic life" fits into the concept of "mores", and mores are determined by the strong-willed area of human consciousness, belonging to the category of primary mental phenomena (p. 1).

Thus, in the arguments of the professor a man as a particle of the aggregate set was put in the center of the process of historical development. The growth of human consciousness, improvement of his artistic tastes, achievement of high moral, legal and political culture were perceived by Zelinsky – adept to the idea of evolution and the theory of progress – the main ways of society's progressive movement to its reference state. Having refused to perceive consciousness as an epiphenomist of social existence, the professor not only expressed a disdain for "economic materialism" – bringing "the whole system of culture", as well as the history "from one basic idea", he stated the productivity of technologies of judicious and ideological construction, when "the primacy of ideas over matter" guaranteed its author the freedom of expression and the confidence in the chosen position, which allow creating works, without fear of expository criticism or humiliating excuses in defense of their beliefs (Zelinsky, 1995b, p. 2).

If the theory of "ideologism" is the philosophical foundation of Zelinsky's research, their methodological basis is often determined by the concept of "feeling" – "artistic intuition by nature", far from scientifically provable facts. Due to the irrational nature of the mechanism of "feeling" in the human consciousness of antiquity, character, or "spirit", studied era, Zelinsky tried to penetrate the "innermost" secrets of Greco-Roman civilization (Braginskaya, 2013). Evoking a pagan religion and presenting himself as a man with a mythological type of thinking, Zelinsky, as he seemed to overcome spatial and temporal "dips" and learnt the ancient cultural phenomena like "inside" (Yarho, 2015). Although intuitionism in the "age of wandering thoughts and feelings" – a crucial period of development of Russia in the late XIX – early XX century was characterized by a spirit of many representatives of the culture of the Silver Age, for Zelinsky – "man of science", integrating the achievements of many anthroposociology branches of knowledge, he became the predicate of a creative identity, a distinctive sign of its author's research of handwriting (Zelinsky, 1997b, p. 2).


We believe that in the beginning of the XXI century in the conditions of development of transcultural global world, reliance on apparatus of any one science substantially reduces opportunities of the scientist. The movement of science to transdisciplinarity is inevitable. However, it should be noted that the study in this paradigm requires certain intellectual approaches, systemic vision, reliance on a variety of empirical data. And in this respect the heritage of the Russian scientists of the XIX – early XX century is a graet material for constructing trajectories of research within the framework of transdisciplinarity.

Buslaev, a universal expert in the field of humane sciences, transcending the narrow "frame" of standing apart from each other branches of scientific knowledge, first in Russia began to create his work on an interdisciplinary platform. Including in his research all the most important achievements of European science in comprehending the history of spiritual culture of mankind and experimenting with the integration of philology, history, ethnography, social psychology, Buslaev himself passed important stages of intellectual growth, internal professional growth.

One of the founders of the civilizational approach is considered to be Danilevsky. Receptions of Danilevsky’s ideas, their further study in the framework of interdisciplinary methodology, in our opinion, are an urgent and important task for modern Humanities.

The need to create not highly specialized works, but works that can reveal the "whole breadth of the horizon" of the researcher, Zelinsky as a person who "grew up in antiquity", realized in the process of long-term painstaking comprehension of the science of the classical world: he skillfully combined his philological talent, excellent knowledge of Greek and Latin languages with passion for etymology, comparative linguistics, ethnography, natural sciences, psychology, history, political, social sciences. The desire to create universal works on the scope of research problems was supported by the ideological thoroughness of Zelinsky's creativity, which absorbed the "spirit" of the discoveries of the sciences of his time and was ready to perceive the whole system of the world picture.


To the Ministry of education and science of the Russian Federation for funding the publication of this article as part of the project 33.7591.2017/8.9 "Study of theoretical and methodological foundations of historical science in Russia in XIX - early XX century".


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Novikov, M., & Eremin, A. (2019). Danilevskys, Buslaevs, Zelinskys Ideas In The Context Of Contemporary Transdisciplinary Humanities. In E. Soriano, C. Sleeter, M. Antonia Casanova, R. M. Zapata, & V. C. Cala (Eds.), The Value of Education and Health for a Global, Transcultural World, vol 60. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 902-910). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.04.02.112