Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
THE ECOLOGY OF THINKING

Mikhail Epstein

The phrase "ecological approach" is frequently used today in a broad, even figurative sense. The principles of "ecological thinking" extend far beyond environmental issues in their application to society and culture. What is usually meant by the expression "the ecology of culture," as used in the articles and public statements of the academician Dmitry Likhachev, the poet Andrei Voznesensky, and other respected and renowned authors, is the preservation of books, paintings, icons, buildings, and other cultural monuments of the past. This is an urgent and noble task, especially with a view to the long neglect and suppression of Russia's cultural heritage under the Soviet regime.

Culture, however, is not constituted by works already completed and by ancient monuments, the preservation of which is certainly our responsibility. Culture is constituted also by thought and by intellectual activity.1 Has the time come to extend the principles of "ecological thinking" to the sphere of thinking itself? The world that we inhabit is not constituted solely by a living but also by a thinking environment. The noosphere (the sphere of reason),2 however, is just as polluted by the waste of intellectual production and ideological activity as is the biosphere by industrial waste. What then is this ecology of thinking?

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