Eng Cn Translate this page:
Please select your language to translate the article


You can just close the window to don't translate
Library
Your profile

Back to contents

Philosophical Thought
Reference:

The Idea of Justice in the Cultural Context of Renaissance Philosophy

Erdnieva Baina Dordzhievna

Research engineer of the Scientific Laboratory "Complex Buddhist Studies", Post-graduate student of the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, FSBEE HPE Kalmyk State University

358001, Russia, Republic of Kalmykia, Elista, Pushkin str., 11

baina.erdnieva@icloud.com

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8728.2022.12.39237

EDN:

SHQXGA

Received:

24-11-2022


Published:

30-12-2022


Abstract: The article provides a philosophical and cultural analysis of the phenomenon of justice on the example of the views of some representatives of the philosophical thought of the Renaissance. The choice of this period is not accidental: the Middle Ages, faced with an existential crisis as a result of the destruction brought by the barbarians, developed a concept of justice that turned a person to the search for an internal support that allowed him to cope with the challenge and the full power of which he was able to realize in the renewed idea of justice during the Renaissance. The purpose of the work is to determine, based on the results of the analysis: 1) whether the practices of justice proposed by the Renaissance are possible today; 2) if so, in what form? To answer the questions posed, the author uses the method of comparative cultural analysis. With regard to the concepts of justice proposed by the philosophers of the Renaissance, the following conclusions were drawn: 1) despite the historical completeness of the conditions that gave rise to the considered concepts of justice, the latter continue to exist today; 2) the form of justice proposed by the Renaissance became the forerunner of the concepts of fundamental human freedom and its value. The results of the work can help clarify positions regarding the idea of justice as understood by representatives of different social groups, and therefore can be used to build a dialogue between them.


Keywords:

justice, idea of justice, culture, freedom, crisis, creation, Renaissance, nature, cognition, mind

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The present study does not pretend to be a complete historical and philosophical exposition, but sets an additional goal to have a supportive effect, which the author intends to achieve by reminding that historically, the period of crisis is usually followed by recovery and development.

The reason why it is proposed to consider the cultural context of the Renaissance period was some similarity of circumstances, under the influence of which the idea of justice received new interpretations, with the circumstances of the search for justice by a modern person who finds himself in destabilized conditions. The paradigm of medieval philosophical thought preceding the Renaissance was a response to the crisis state of European culture caused by the destructive invasions of barbarians and the migration of peoples. In the conditions of socio-economic and political decline, the philosophy of the Middle Ages, at the junction with religion, became a search for answers and the discovery of solutions by a person inside himself, as well as a kind of attempt to cope with an external threat in an individual way. Medieval philosophy's explanation of the oppressive reality in the format of a theodicy, which presupposes the answer to the question: why did God allow this? put a person in the position of a passive observer of external events, whose right to seek justice was invariably limited to a spiritual dialogue with God. In contrast to this approach, the philosophy of Rebirth was the result of a person who was dissatisfied with the search for justice in the sphere of inner experiences and changed his course to create conditions for a just life around him, to the format of questioning: how to correct an unfair state of affairs? How to realize justice?

During the early European Middle Ages, man sought justice as a shelter from the hardships caused by barbarian invasions, as well as waves of famine, and found it in the Christian concept. A person has become valuable for his spiritual (inner, hidden) life, the perfection of which is most fully possible in ascetic seclusion, capable of protecting a person from the social upheavals of the outside world. However, already in the period of the High Middle Ages, characterized by the relative stabilization of socio-economic processes, we see a somewhat modified cultural and philosophical concept of a man who "straightened his shoulders": he is still a Christian, but no longer so categorically denying his connection with the material outside world, and in the late Middle Ages - ready to find his own a place in it.

EraThe Renaissance (k. XIV XVI century), which replaced the Middle Ages, contrasted extremely with the previous period with its anthropocentric approach, called "humanism". The Christian model of a person who was dominant in cultural and philosophical thought, striving to find God in order to find integrity in him, overcoming his sinfulness, helplessness and bodily conditioning, is replaced by a new paradigm that brought ancient values back to life (the Florentine Academy became the clearest example of turning to Platonic heritage), and also brought, in the words of E. Cassirer, "the principles of freedom entered the world of religious ideas of the Renaissance, as a result of which theological dogmatics lost ground under their feet" [1, p. 108]. Human freedom ceases to be the root of the problems of sinful existence, but acquires the status of a fundamental principle of decent existence in the world.

As G. G. Mayorov notes, in the Middle Ages, the "iconographic" method of reasoning prevailed in philosophy, denying any innovation and individuality of a religiously colored way of thinking, aiming to convey the author's thought (usually a monk) as close as possible to the original source (the Bible) and thus predestining the author as the subject of thinking [2, c. 10]. While the Revival was "consciously undertaken in order to express their modernitas, themselves" [3, p. 376]. The Renaissance man is the creator of a cultural form of being, he harmoniously coexists with the world and strives to know himself and it in order to comprehend God. This attitude was reflected in the emergence of new directions in philosophical thought: natural philosophy (the knowledge of infinity becomes possible and is applied to nature instead of God) and socio-political philosophy (in the form of utopian projects on the structure of an ideal society).

The concept of the Renaissance man returns the dignity of life and attaches decisive importance in its implementation - the active beginning of the organization of the external world. The strengthening of the position of man in the world in understanding at the same time led to the appearance in the philosophy of the Renaissance of certain "rolls" in favor of justifying moral permissiveness, denying the need to submit to the monarch and the search for justice in new forms of government that can ensure socio-economic equality.

What is justice and how to achieve it? Definition and method.In the works of representatives of the philosophical thought of the Renaissance, who spoke about the destiny of man (P. Mirandola [4, p. 249], M. Ficino [5, p. 511-512]), we find a recurring motif about the unique ability of a person to create and thereby define himself, which is "based on the free will of a person, allowing him to be that, by whom he wishes.

Moreover, a person is able to design not only himself, but also to change the world around him The world is not something given, it is the result of human activity" [6, p. 13]. The conviction that a person should not only know, but also be able to express himself in the outside world was the reason for Petrarch's criticism of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics", in relation to which Petrarch concluded that she did not fulfill these promises: "gives an answer about what is good, but does not teach how to become a good person, and does not have enough power to encourage its readers to search for the truth" [7, pp. 222-223].

By the thinkers of the Renaissance, the active principle in man was valued above all else: active creativity, actions with awareness of the dignity of one's nature, resistance to conditions that determine nobility by such conditions as nobility of origin and financial viability. The totality of these priorities, based on the understanding of man as a receptacle of a single natural (divine) component, formed the basis of the view that each person contains the ability to create and create, and therefore has the right to realize these virtues, regardless of the degree of giftedness, social status and physical qualities. Kristeller defined such an ethical justification of the status of a person as the result of humanists' doubts about the philosophy of the previous tradition and a shift in the field of their interests towards the doctrine of morality. [8, c. 127].

Thus, the idea of justice in the Renaissance period is built on two levels:

- Individual: justice is achieved by the process of creativity as the realization of the divine plan, since a person reaches his goal state with his own nature as part of Nature.

- Social: justice consists in equality of opportunities for all individuals to create.

At the individual level, justice is achieved by the active creative activity of the individual.

Socially, in the absence of equal opportunities in society for the selfrealization of individuals in the sphere most appropriate to their abilities, each individual, since he is capable of action by default, should direct his active aspirations to the reorganization of society, and in a more radical reading - to create a new society. Let's pay attention to how the view of the status of ordinary members of society has changed: if the Middle Ages assigned the position of active directing action only to the ruler of the state (which was a direct consequence of the course of the historical process in which the strengthening of the sole royal power allowed to overcome internecine feudal conflicts and became associated with the stabilization of economic and cultural life), and the subjects had enough "to live together", to be a "united multitude" [9, p. 243], then the Revival gives an ordinary member of society the right to decide in what conditions his life will take place. Already in T. More's Utopia, the concept of civil justice is proposed, which is established by the destruction of private property as the main condition for establishing justice in public relations. "Pestilence's understanding of justice as an authority based on conscience has made justice a moral project that continues to disturb people's minds for centuries" [10, p. 72]. In T. Campanella's "City of the Sun", the idea of justice through the rejection of private property had such a radical scope that it acquired the features of the abolition of private life as a whole, and the total subordination of the entire society to the established law: "So in the dream of a just and reasonable social structure, barrack-monastery features clearly appear" [11, p.328]. Despite the belief in the good nature of man, which was proposed to be developed in conditions of universal social equality, Campanella did not avoid a tilt towards selective terror, offering to build a just society without regard to the moral and ethical side of the issue: "Campanella openly declares that there is no moral virtue without natural inclinations. For this reason, the rulers are doing everything possible to bring out the right breed (people)" [12, p. 27].

The ideas of justice interpreted by Mora and Campanella paved the way for the idea of creating public institutions that would ensure a proper balance in society and contribute to the establishment of a just system, avoiding those extreme negative consequences described by Campanella. Despite the fact that the views of both thinkers are assessed in the context of modernity as quite extreme, both works were statements for their time that philosophers can be effective in the field of public law relations.

What is the difference from the previous tradition? Criticism and cultural background.Justice is possible only in conditions of freedom this conclusion became the key in the general pool of philosophical thought of the Renaissance.

The reinterpretation of the medieval concept of human freedom as a nondeterministic will, which has only one mode of manifestation - the choice between sin and good [13, p.619], feelings and reason, earthly and divine, into the concept of human freedom not only choosing, but also creating options for choice became the main distinguishing feature of the philosophical views of the Renaissance.

Let us recall how Augustine strictly declared the impossibility of finding a just existence without faith: "true justice exists only in the city about which Scripture says: "Glorious things are proclaimed about you, the city of God" (Ps.86,3)" [14, p. 81]. By the "City of God" Augustine understood the community of people striving for the knowledge of true being (God), while faith and reason (with the priority of the first) were the instruments of knowledge. In the earthly city (that is, without faith), no justice can be expected. Being unable to comprehend the divine plan that allows for the existence of obvious injustice in the form of vandal attacks, a person can find himself in the world of justice in its true form if he commits an act of faith, thereby overcoming his own ontological rift into good and evil principles (22, "On various issues): "Let's just believe if we can't comprehend." In this giving decisive force to the act of faith, the "peculiarity of medieval consciousness manifested itself. The man of the Middle Ages perceives the world as a book, and life as a continuation of the development of this book. Therefore, he trusts signs and symbols, mystical vision more than independent critical thinking" [15, p.207]. The endowment of God with the status of the guarantor of a just world order in the explications of Thomas Aquinas combined with the Aristotelian concept of distributive justice and took shape in the thesis: "God fulfills justice when He gives to each thing what relates to its nature and conditions [of being]" [16, p. 286].Thus, the task of a person is to have knowledge about the nature of things, and reasonable knowledge of the true being (God) will become a just behavior. Closing the idea of the just existence of man on the divine being, the philosophical tradition of the Middle Ages for hundreds of years denied man an independent manifestation of himself in the world, limiting any possible search with introspective instructions, until man, hitherto turned to his inner world, found himself in the center of the Universe.

The concept of attainable justice without mystification of the surrounding reality and distrust of empirical knowledge of this reality has become the main difference between the idea of Renaissance justice and the previous tradition.A person in the Renaissance culture does not neglect the outside world and his manifestations in it. The cognitive principle in man has now received justification not only in the mode of faith and reason, but also in the form of sensory experience. The recognition of the integrity of man and the equality of his ways of cognition was the result of the denial of the religious extremes of medieval theology and a return to ancient values, the ideals of the harmonious development of the rational and bodily principle in man as the creator of the world. "For a person, the value is now not the otherworldly, but the real world" [17, p. 148].

The clearest example of a new way of understanding the status of a person is found in the treatise "On Assumptions" by N. Kuzansky, in which a person is both a "human god" and a "human world" [18, p. 259], due to the fact that with his cognitive abilities he can achieve everything in the world.

Thus, in the concept of Rebirth, a person in the fullness of his abilities begins to realize himself as a value, and his actions as a continuation of his essence good and just. This made it possible to reconstruct the concept of a person as a self-valuable individual and to take him beyond the determination of noble origin (one of such examples is found in Poggio B. "On Nobility"), thereby achieving greater justice in the fact that a person can be measured only by the scale of his actions. In this respect, the Renaissance was a transition from the elite concept of justice of the Middle Ages (with its hierarchical model of the world order, embodied, among other things, in the feudal relations of subordination of a servant to his master) to the egalitarian concept of socio-political equality of the Enlightenment [19, p. 87].

Despite its progressiveness, the idea of the value of human individuality and its creative potency, which dominated the Renaissance culture for almost the entire XV century, could not escape its crisis as a result of its comprehension and design in the form of absolutely extreme forms. Individuality, pushed to the extreme, turned into "bestial egoism", which required "police taming" in Machiavelli's "Sovereign" [20, p. 556]. The concept of justice has acquired a paradoxical and frightening character: recognizing the natural equality of all people, regardless of origin, Machiavelli proceeds from the fact that this nature is by no means good, but on the contrary it is a concentration of the basest qualities (hypocrisy, cowardice, greed, etc.), which is why a fair attitude to such a nature of people will be a merciless manifestation cruelty and deception on the part of the state.

Later, the Renaissance came to the point that it began to interpret actions that go beyond the limits of public morality as the realization by a person of his individuality and true nature, that is, justified and fair in relation to the one who commits them, without correlation with their consequences, which gave rise to certain negative consequences of understanding such a concept of a person: rampant immorality as overcoming the nature and human right of morality, and a new form of understanding of justice the Italian vendetta. Crimes of revenge, justified in the absence of a legal norm, along with widespread corruption, nurtured by what J. Burckhardt described as a "change of the ideal of holiness" by a mixture of selfishness, narcissism and "faith in the goodness of human nature" [21, pp. 285-287], entailed subsequent political upheavals and were evidence of the crisis of concepts that had come Rebirth.

Is justice possible in such a reading today? Modern practice.The project of the human creator (the heyday of the Renaissance) has become one of the most promising concepts for the development of the subsequent philosophical tradition, so much so that even today we can see in his ideals a description of the values of modern society, among which is the freedom to self-determination of the individual (in all spheres of its manifestation, from professional to gender).

In the world of the Renaissance man , the phenomenon of justice manifests itself in several projections: 1) it is a way of self-realization in creative activity; 2) it is an environment of opportunities (favorable socio-economic conditions) in which this path can take place. However, the transformation of the idea of the creator's freedom into arbitrariness, capable of turning justice for one into injustice for many (or everyone else), not only marked the transition from justice as an internal spiritual self-organization to its search in public life, but also gave impetus to the modern idea of the need to introduce public institutions capable of regulating and measuring justice within society.

It is noteworthy that approaches to the explanation of justice during the Renaissance took shape in the circumstances of escaping from the oppression of dogmatic thinking of the Middle Ages. At the same time, it is worth noting that in the search for justice, which became almost impossible in the early Middle Ages as a result of barbaric invasions and their destructive consequences, and in the periods of the high and late Middle Ages acquired an inertial character in the form of "iconographic" interpretations, parallels with modern reality are seen, which makes it possible to form one's own attitude to challenges more meaningfully modernity. Ultimately, the anthropological concept of medieval philosophy, which formed the idea of the limitations and, to a certain extent, helplessness of man in the face of largescale cataclysms under the influence of foreign policy and cultural crises, was overcome by the concept of new justice, which manifested the most valuable principle in man - the power of creation.

References
1. Cassirer, E. (2000). Selected: The Individual and the Cosmos. Moscow. St. Petersburg: University book.
2. Maiorov, G. (1979). Formation of medieval philosophy. Latin patristics. Moscow: Thought.
3. Batkin, L. (2000). European man on his own. Essays on the cultural and historical foundations and limits of personal self-consciousness. Moscow: Russian Humanitarian University.
4. Pico della Mirandola J. (1981). Oration on the Dignity of Man. In V. Shestakov (Eds.), Aesthetics of the Renaissance: Anthology. In 2 vols. Vol. 1 (pp. 248-302). Moscow: Art.
5. Ficino, M. (2020). Plato's Theology of the Immortality of the Soul in XVIII Books. St. Petersburg: Vladimir Dal.
6. Menčik, D. (2020). Perspectivism of the Renaissance Thought. Epistēmēs Metron Logos. 3, 824. doi: 10.12681/eml.22101
7. Sellars, J. (2020). Renaissance Humanism and Philosophy as a Way of Life. Metaphilosophy, 51, Is. 2-3, 226243. doi: 10.1111/meta.12409
8. Kristeller P. (1972). Renaissance Concepts of Man and Other Essays. New York. Evanston, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row, Publishers.
9. Thomas Aquinas. (1990). On the Rule of Sovereigns. In: I. Rutenburg, L. Medvedev (Eds.), Political structures of the era of feudalism in Western Europe (VI-XVII centuries (pp.217-244). Leningrad: Nauka.
10. Herian, R. (2022). The Conscience of Thomas More: An Introduction to Equity in Modernity. The Heythrop Journal, 63(1), 6475. doi: 10.1111/heyj.13507
11. Gorfunkel, A. (1980). Philosophy of the Renaissance. Moscow: Higher school.
12. Mordacci R. (2020). Reproductive Utopias and Dystopias: More, Campanella, Bacon and Huxley. Phenomenology and Mind, 19(2), 2435. Retrieved from https://journals.openedition.org/phenomenology/523
13. Rakhimdjanova D. (2021). The Concept of the Idea of Freedom in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. Annals of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, 25(2), 608622. Retrieved from https://www.annalsofrscb.ro/index.php/journal/article/view/988
14. Saint Augustine. (1998). Opera. St. Petersburg: Aletheya.
15. Ortynskyi, V., Slyvka, S., Scotna, N., Levytska, O., Shcherbai, I. (2021). Features of the socio-political and theoretical foundations of the philosophical understanding of law from the Middle Ages to the present. Wisdom. 19(3), 204216. doi: 10.24234/wisdom.v19i3.488
16. Thomas Aquinas (2002). The Sum of Theology. Part I. Questions 1-43. Moscow: Elkor-MK.
17. Fedorkina, A. (2019). The development of philosophy, science and technology in the Renaissance, Bulletin of the Research Center for Construction. 2(21), 147-156. Retrieved from https://vestnik.cstroy.ru/jour/article/view/30
18. Kuzansky, N. (1979). Essays in 2 volumes. Vol.1. Moscow: Thought.
19. Kanarsh G. (2019). Elite discourse of justice: theoretical origins. Knowledge. Understanding. Skill, 1, 83-98. doi: 10.17805/zpu.2019.2.5
20. Losev, A. (1978). Aesthetics of the Renaissance. Moscow: Thought.
21. Burkhardt, J. (1996). Renaissance Culture in Italy. Moscow: Jurist.