The Problem of the Person in Soviet Philosophy

Dissertation, Duke University (1981)
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This dissertation describes and assesses post-1961 Soviet discussions of the nature of the person. It focuses on post-1961 literature because the volume of Soviet material on the nature of the person increases dramatically following the 22d Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union . At that congress the CPSU declared that the USSR had become a socialist nation and that the country would now build a communist society. According to the CPSU, building communism required educating persons capable of living in communist society. ;Unlike many Western theories on the nature of the person, Soviet theories do not proceed from the proposition that a person's consciousness or self-consciousness differentiates him from all other kinds of entity. They proceed rather from the proposition that a person is different from all other kinds of entity because he is social. Soviets attempt to describe what makes persons social. ;Soviets have argued among themselves concerning a number of issues regarding the nature of persons. During the early 1960s some argued that no general theory of the person was possible and that theories must center on persons of particular classes and historical eras. In the late 1960s Soviets came to believe that a general theory of the person is possible. ;General theories of the person presented by Soviets sometimes distinguish between persons, humans and individuals. This distinction is most clear when these are conceived as properly social, bio-social, and properly biological entities, respectively. There is no general agreement concerning this distinction, however, and this lack of agreement has carried over into discussions of the essence of Man. This essence is said to consist in social relations. ;Soviets have attempted to account for a person's social nature by concentrating on his ethical behavior, his social roles and his activity. None of these accounts succeeds in describing what makes persons social. ;Since social relations are considered the essence of Man, Soviets attempt to characterize them. The best attempt to do this describes social relations as relations between conscious entities. This attempt fails because it is inconsistent with Marxist dogma that consciousness is a consequence--not a cause--of Man's social nature. It also fails because it does not exclude some apparently non-social relations. ;Research for this dissertation was conducted at the libraries of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Moscow State University and Leningrad State University, and at the Library of Congress and the Lenin Library



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Jon Erik Larson
Gustavus Adolphus College

References found in this work

The Soviet Concept of Man.Richard T. de George - 1964 - Studies in East European Thought 4 (4):261-276.
Social Psychology in the Soviet Union.Levy Rahmani - 1973 - Studies in Soviet Thought 13 (3-4):218-250.
Marxist Ethical Theory in the Soviet Union. [REVIEW]M. J. K. - 1980 - Review of Metaphysics 34 (1):137-138.
Social Psychology in the Soviet Union.Levy Rahmani - 1973 - Studies in East European Thought 13 (3-4):218-250.
Marx and the Human Individual.Michael H. Mitias - 1972 - Studies in Soviet Thought 12 (3):245-254.

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