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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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Lobazova O.F., "ACTUALIZATION OF ORTHODOX ASCETICISM IN CONDITIONS OF THE ECOLOGY AND MORALITY CRISIS". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 1 (103) Part 3, (2021): 141. Tue. 26. Jan. 2021.
Lobazova O. F. ACTUALIZATION OF ORTHODOX ASCETICISM IN CONDITIONS OF THE ECOLOGY AND MORALITY CRISIS / O. F. Lobazova // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2021. — № 1 (103) Part 3. — С. 141—144. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2021.103.1.080




Научная статья

Лобазова О.Ф.*

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8601-6665,

Российский государственный социальный университет, Москва, Россия

* Корреспондирующий автор (yashik211[at]


Российский менталитет и светская культура формировались под влиянием православного сознания, онтологической частью которого являлся аскетизм, мировоззрение и социальная практика которого основаны на приоритете самодисциплины личности во всех сферах ее активности. Именно актуализация аскетических норм и принципов неоднократно помогала ответить на вызовы истории, придавала устойчивость российскому государству и гражданскому обществу. В обстановке роста негативных последствий хищнического отношения к природе, свойственного такому типу социальных отношений, в которых индивидуальная быстрая выгода становится универсальным критерием, нормы сознательного ограничения потребностей становятся особенно актуальными. Потребительское отношение к любым видам ресурсов – от природы до духовного мира человека – наносит непоправимый вред всему универсуму, составляющему жизненный мир человека. Вульгарный гедонизм привел человечество к глобальному экологическому кризису, и теперь требуются особые ограничения, выражаемые не только в технических регламентах, но и в социальной политике. Принцип аскетизма, понимаемый как добровольное самоограничение потребления и активное сбережение любых видов ресурсов может стать мировоззренческой основой программы экологизации общественного сознания, основой для возрождения этики сотрудничества и солидарности и воплощения на практике принципа социальной справедливости. Аскетизм, как мировоззренческая основа согласования интересов всех позитивных социальных акторов, может оказать гуманизирующее влияние на содержание комплексных программ в сфере социального управления, повысить их ориентированность на гармонизацию отношений в системе «природа – общество – человек».

Ключевые слова: православный аскетизм, технология сбережения ресурсов.


Research article

Lobazova O.F.*

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8601-6665,

Russian State Social University, Moscow, Russia

* Corresponding author (yashik211[at]


The Russian mentality and secular culture were formed under the influence of the Orthodox consciousness, the ontological part of which was asceticism, the worldview and social practice of which are based on the priority of self-discipline of the individual in all spheres of his activity. It is the actualization of ascetic norms and principles that has repeatedly helped to respond to the challenges of history and gave stability to the Russian state and civil society. In an environment of growing negative consequences of predatory attitude to nature, which is characteristic of this type of social relations, in which individual quick benefit becomes a universal criterion, the norms of conscious restriction of needs become especially relevant. Consumer attitude to any kind of resources-from nature to the spiritual world of man-causes irreparable harm to the entire universe that makes up the human life world. Vulgar hedonism has led humanity to a global environmental crisis, and now special restrictions are required, expressed not only in technical regulations, but also in social policy. The principle of asceticism, understood as voluntary self-restriction of consumption and active conservation of all types of resources, can become the ideological basis of the program of greening public consciousness, the basis for the revival of the ethics of cooperation and solidarity and the implementation of the principle of social justice in practice. Asceticism, as a worldview basis for coordinating the interests of all positive social actors, can have a humanizing effect on the content of complex programs in the field of social management, increase their focus on the harmonization of relations in the “nature – society – man” system.

Keywords: Orthodox asceticism, the technology of resource conservation.


Features of managing the renewal process and the nuances of the mass perception of social changes taking place in modern Russian society have deep historical roots and are dialectically related to processes that began, according to some estimates, in the XIV-XV centuries during political centralization and led to the formation of the Russian nation with its distinctive mentality. In subsequent historical periods, concepts and trends emerged, that called on their supporters to improve the world through a demanding attitude of a person to himself – hesychasm, senility, hermitism. The idea of “active asceticism” was being developed, which subsequently influenced the concept of “going to the people.” Such characteristics of the consciousness and behavior of Russian people as the ability to creativity and self-sacrifice under constant restrictions, the willingness to provide assistance and support to the whole living world by minimizing their own consumption are being formed and rooted. These features, receiving conceptual support of the traditional religion and official ideology, have been repeatedly used in the practice of state building to achieve economic growth, external political influence and internal social unity.

Undoubtedly, modern life takes place in other conditions, and the full borrowing of ideas and methods of their propaganda and implementation is not only impossible, but also harmful. However, the author believes that some aspects of religious ideas, founded several centuries ago, are still relevant. At the turn of the century, the dominant position of the economic and material factors of social development began to be questioned, because economic growth alone was not able to solve the environmental, cultural and social issues that arise in a progressing pace and scope. Factors originating from the ideal being of man and society and not from the nature of the material attract increasing attention from researchers. As relevant, the task is formulated to realize «of the need of new socio-cultural dynamics, even of a broader change of the formed way of human existence»
[1, P.33]. Which means that the “official» status of social regulators is returning to the ideas and ideals of spirituality. In all fairness, we note that in practice no one could ever deprive them of real power, although at the doctrinal level attempts have been made to ignore the possibilities of religion.

Today, in our opinion, the most obvious is the significance of such an aspect of the ideas of Russian thinkers of the period of the formation of the centralized Russian state, as the problem of “autocracy” of a person, which in modern interpretation sounds like the problem of freedom and dignity of the person, and the problem of asceticism associated with it, which is understood today, among other things, such as moderation of consumption of material resources and respect for nature.

Point of view on the problem. Studies within the secular approach address the problem of asceticism in the format of culture-forming factors. In this regard, first of all, the importance of asceticism for the formation of other phenomena of the socio-cultural life of society is noted. Some researchers, such as N.A. Chernyshyova, note its positive effect: “Orthodox asceticism not only does not preach a departure from the world, self-restraint and rejection of the fullness of life, but, on the contrary, orientates a person to actively participate in private and public activities. Over the centuries, it actively contributed to the development of national culture and served not only as a spiritual support for the people, but also as a source of inspiration for the creators of Russian literature and art» [2, P.175.]. Others, like M.N. Kokarevich and Yu. A.Kucheruk, insist on the twofold nature of the ascetic influence: “An absolute reading of the dogma on the abandonment of the earthly life of sinfulness is actualized in contempt for worldly things, for material benefits, which explains the lack of a cult of comfort, amenities … This also explains the patience; and long serfdom; and the ability to live by ideals, sacrifice for them; and love for the distant, which has a flip side – neglect of the neighbor ” [3, P.82].

Responding to the challenges of secular science, which has come close to areas that were previously shielded from wide discussion, theologians have entered into public discussions and are explaining the Orthodox understanding of asceticism. So N.A. Karasev notes that “traditional asceticism means a certain path to spiritual and moral perfection and unification with God» [4, P. 72], and interpreting asceticism as part of mystical theology. Only the ascetic practice of physical self-restraint without further spiritual improvement, from the point of view of theology, does not mean the achievement of salvation, but “through asceticism a person begins the path to salvation and knowledge of God» [4, P. 74], which must be continued and which will not be immediately revealed to everyone.


The content of the basic thesis for further discussion is as follows: the urgency of the problem of intercultural dialogue in the era of globalization and the politics of globalism removes asceticism from the category of factors of indirect influence on culture and transfers it to the level of global social technology, since it can potentially be a means of gaining an updated national identity. We agree with the opinion formulated by N.N. Kozhevnikov and V.S. Danilova, stating that “cultures that have identified their own asceticism are able to form a dialogue among themselves according to universal rules, contributing to the establishment of planetary communicative reality and being» [5, P.118].

This leads us to understand Orthodox asceticism as the philosophical foundation of social technology, capable of fulfilling the functions of overcoming the crisis of the modern system of social relations. In practice, these philosophical foundations can be used to create comprehensive programs in the field of social management aimed at improving the quality of life, in terms of maintaining civic solidarity and cooperation.

In the course of the study of the possibility of “synchronizing» the ideas of Orthodox asceticism and the needs of society in social technologies for improving the quality of life, the following tasks were set:

1) to analyze, due to which factors Orthodox asceticism regains the value of saving technology;

2) to determine what elements of the content of the idea of asceticism actualize its value as a moral credo demanded by modern man, and allow him to act as a basic element of anti-crisis social technology to improve the quality of life.

Asceticism as a moral credo and social practice. Asceticism is part of the Orthodox theological idea of “autocracy of the soul.” Initially, it was understood as a kind of “technology» for saving virtue / protection from the sin of physicality and idleness. Therefore, it became part of the paradigm of God’s protection, in the format of “conditions», which guarantees the believer care and protection from the higher powers. In different historical periods, with the change of specific socio-cultural circumstances, the degree of distribution of ascetic ideas (for example, mass coverage, degree of enthusiasm for extreme forms, etc.) changed. The fewer people practiced asceticism every day, the more stringent requirements had to be met. In a way, the “total amount» of practiced asceticism was to guarantee to all believers (including far from ascetics) protection from higher powers. The exclusion of religion from official ideology changed the tactics in the interpretation of asceticism, which narrowed its ideological foundations, but expanded the list of physical and moral standards and made it an attribute of the life of the majority of the working population during the period of socialism construction. In the second half of the twentieth century, the massive and objectively forced asceticism of Soviet society, expressed in the limitation of individual consumption, should gradually give way to more sparing forms of control over the consumption by a person of the share of public goods allocated to him. But the rejection of “Soviet asceticism» took on a landslide character, since the country’s social system was subjected to devastating worldview attacks from the side of vulgar hedonism, reinforced by the successes of the Western consumer industry.

In modern conditions of the global and systemic crisis (including the ecological one), Orthodox asceticism regains the importance of technology of saving, but not only of personal virtue, but also of the common environment for all, and its main characteristics. The emphasis has changed in the interpretation of the sin of physicality and idleness (the causes, forms of manifestation of sinfulness, as well as ways to resist them, are characterized in a slightly different way). Poverty (an objective lack of access to resources) is not considered an indispensable condition for an ascetic lifestyle, but rather is considered a prerequisite for predatory consumption. Therefore, the fight against poverty is imperative, and it is precisely asceticism that becomes the condition for victory over it – as the principle of respect for social and material resources of the spiritual and spiritual order.

Conceptually, Orthodox asceticism contains deep philosophical foundations for creating a program for optimizing public relations. So, in the iconic text of modern Orthodox theology, which is the Draft document of the Pan-Orthodox Council, approved by the Assembly of Primate of the Local Orthodox Churches in Chambesy, January 21-28, 2016, known as the “Contribution of the Orthodox Church to the achievement of peace, justice, freedom, fraternity and love between peoples and the elimination of racial and other discrimination”, it is argued that “one of the highest gifts of God to man (…) is the gift of freedom.” At the same time, “freedom allows a person to succeed in ascending to spiritual perfection, but at the same time it also includes the danger of obedience, withdrawal from submission to God and, through this, the fall, the tragic consequence of which is the existence of evil in the world.” It is emphasized that freedom is necessarily combined with responsibility for the results of activities, which should be active, focused and moral. “The Church calls on its faithful children to participate in public life, which should be based on the principles of Christian morality,” which recognizes the equal dignity of each individual and makes high demands on his own person. In this case, the principle of freedom and dignity of a “self-sovereign” person is directly related to the norms of religious tolerance, peaceful cooperation and social solidarity. The Church’s official documents confirm that “the Church’s concern is the increasing imposition on humanity of a consumer lifestyle devoid of reliance on Christian moral values. Consumerism, along with secular globalization, leads to the loss by peoples of their spiritual roots, to historical unconsciousness and oblivion of traditions.” And further: “The desire for a constant increase in wealth and an unreasonable increase in consumption inevitably lead to disproportionate use and depletion of natural resources. Greed, manifested in the satisfaction of material needs, leads to the spiritual impoverishment of man and the destruction of the environment. (…) Thus, the Orthodox Church emphasizes the need to protect the creation of God by raising the responsibility of man for the God-given surrounding world, revealing the virtues of moderation and self-restraint.” The Church sees in asceticism an effective way to preserve the achievements of the spiritual and material culture of society: “Orthodox Tradition, formed by the embodiment of Christian truths, is a bearer of spirituality and is characterized by an ascetic nature, which is especially necessary to emphasize and manifest in our time.”

Thus, modern Orthodox asceticism offers a program of individual and social improvement, the goals of which are to achieve a higher level of understanding and implementation of the principle of individual freedom, intercultural dialogue and civil cooperation. Modern Orthodox asceticism allows us to establish strong links between the principles of equality and tolerance, between the limits of personal freedom and human responsibility, condemns consumer wasteful attitude to the spiritual potential of a person, to the environment and people. It is due to these substantial characteristics that Orthodox asceticism regains the importance of the technology of preserving the individual, society and nature.

The criteria for a new asceticism are the simplicity and purity of desires and actions, realized with the help of willpower, requiring special qualities and forming and perfecting these special qualities. These ideals apply to all areas of life, filling the lack of protection from the negative impacts of the “consumer society”, which are noticeable primarily in the field of values [6]. The need to withstand such an impact is clearly recognized by many, and in social and humanitarian studies there are formulations that define the necessary development vectors for a “society of creation” [7], a “society of social humanism” [8], which should reformat the consequences of unlimited consumption, based on traditional ideals and the meanings of Russian civilization [9]; [10].

The need to create, relatively speaking, an “algorithm” of nurturing the desire for good and giving this desire sufficient power to realize, makes us turn to various forms of experience in overcoming crisis circumstances through individual efforts. The newly actualized interest in the philosophy of Stoicism [11], on the one hand, and the psychotechnics of Eastern religions, on the other hand, confirm, in our opinion, the growing craving of people for ways to individually protect the integrity of the person in the context of the spread of “civilization of idleness”. However, all these efforts spent on the assimilation of very interesting concepts, but far from the Russian cultural code, can give insignificant positive results. Whereas Orthodox asceticism, organically integrated into the Russian mentality, coupled with figuratively emotional patterns of Russian culture, unfolds an accessible and clear program of moral and physical improvement for people and society. Such a program is in demand by modern society: «The new ethos of human practice, considering the future, cannot be expected without the axiological-ethical change of current level of human consciousness. According to us, it should take place in the personalistic and ecological, or eco-social spirit. Therefore, we identify three correlated moments: „ethisation‟, „ecologisation‟ and „spiritualisation‟, which are relevant in the socio-cultural dynamics with respect to the future» [1, P.42].


Simple norms of behavior that make up the extracultural side of Orthodox asceticism ensure optimal physiological, psychological and social functioning of a person. By regulating eating behavior (fasting) and attitude to one’s body (hygiene and physical fitness), asceticism sets the rules for a healthy lifestyle. Establishing intergenerational relations (relations of senior and junior) and gender frameworks (sexual morality), asceticism optimizes interpersonal interaction and increases personal competence. The ideals of mutual assistance and support for fellow citizens who find themselves in a difficult life situation are realized in the practice of social service, which is an integral part of Orthodox asceticism. All these qualities and characteristics of Orthodox asceticism attract the attention of our contemporaries who are looking for a program of a healthy and virtuous life.

But asceticism also has broader opportunities, the implementation of which is extremely important in modern conditions – environmental ethics, economic culture, ethno-confessional relations can be harmonized on the basis of an ascetic worldview. And here we can talk now not about an individual program of physical and spiritual improvement, but about a program that changes the quality of life of a large number of people.

The object of management, if we talk about any social technology, is a set of needs and interests of people, and this control effect is realized through a system of norms and standards of consumption. Thus, the practice of Orthodox asceticism is already a fully formed and approved (but, unfortunately, in modern conditions only partially applied) social technology of saving, which establishes a system of norms and standards for optimal and self-regulating consumption of resources of various origin and properties.

The principles of Orthodox asceticism, having spread in the mass consciousness, can become the ideological basis for the successful self-regulation of life and self-improvement of the spiritual component of man and society in conditions when it is necessary not to refuse to consume, but it is necessary to refuse to destroy resources.

Opportunities for replenishing the wasted resources of nature, society and man, taking the individual out of the framework of consumerism and returning to the state of creator of individual and collective spirituality, provides not only the economy and restoration of resources, but also the realization of the principle of justice, the need for which is felt more and more. And this means optimizing social relations, establishing civil peace, harmony and joint interaction between all subjects of society.

Thus, Orthodox asceticism, in essence, is a worldview that provides in all types of life the principle of harmonizing the interests of social actors. In this regard, it is quite reasonable to consider this worldview as a possible and desirable philosophical basis of anti-crisis social technology. And comprehensive programs created in this area in the field of social management, aimed at improving the quality of life, will be able to achieve the desired result – maintaining civil solidarity and cooperation.

Конфликт интересов

Не указан.

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

Список литературы / References

  1. Gáliková Tolnaiová S. Socio-cultural dynamics and ethos of contemporary man in the context of sustainable development / Gáliková Tolnaiová S. and Dojčár M. // European Journal of Science and Theology. – 2014. – № 10 [5]. – С. 33-44.
  2. Чернышёва Н.А. Аскетизм как культурная ориентация / Н.А. Чернышёва // Позиция. Философские проблемы науки и техники. – – №10. – С. 175-179.
  3. Кокаревич М.Н. Основные культурообразующие доминанты русской культуры / М.Н. Кокаревич, Ю.А. Кучерук // Вестник Томского государственного педагогического университета. – – №7. – С. 79-83.
  4. Карасев Н.А. Аскетика как составная часть мистического богословия: исторический аспект / Н.А. Карасев // Общество: философия, история, культура. ––№3. – С. 72-75.
  5. Кожевников Н.Н. Философское осмысление светского аскетизма / Н.Н. Кожевников, В.С. Данилова // Гуманитарные исследования в Восточной Сибири и на Дальнем Востоке. – – №1. – С. 114-119.
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Список литературы на английском языке / References in English

  1. Gáliková Tolnaiová S. Socio-cultural dynamics and ethos of contemporary man in the context of sustainable development. / Gáliková Tolnaiová S. and Dojčár M. // European Journal of Science and Theology. – 2014. – № 10 [5]. – pp. 33-44
  2. Chernysheva N. A. Asketizm kak kul’turnaja orientacija [Asceticism as a Cultural Orientation]/ N. A. Chernysheva // Pozicija. Filosofskie problemy nauki i tekhniki [Position. Philosophical Problems of Science and Technology]. – 2016. – No. 10. – pp. 175-179 [in Russian]
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  5. Kozhevnikov N. N. Filosofskoe osmyslenie svetskogo asketizma [Philosophical Understanding of Secular Asceticism]/ N. N. Kozhevnikov, V. S. Danilova // Gumanitarnye issledovanija v Vostochnojj Sibiri i na Dal’nem Vostoke [Humanitarian studies in Eastern Siberia and the Far East]. – 2017. – No. 1. – pp. 114-119 [in Russian]
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  10. Sukhinin, A. V. Krizis cennostejj v obshhestve potreblenija [Crisis of Values in Consumer Society]/ A. V. Sukhinin // Novye idei v filosofii [New Ideas in Philosophy]. – 2017. – № 4 (25). – pp. 104-109 [in Russian]
  11. Grigoriev A. S. Zhit’ v obshhestve potreblenija: stoicizm kak prakticheskaja sistema [To Live in a Consumer Society: Stoicism as a Practical System]/ A. S. Grigoriev, L. V. Pyatiletov // Gumanitarnye nauchnye issledovanija [Humanitarian Scientific Research]. – 2017. – № 8 (72). – p. 7 [in Russian]

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