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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18454/IRJ.2016.49.031

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Дьяченко Л. И. ФЕНОМЕН СТАРОСТИ: НЕКОТОРЫЕ АСПЕКТЫ РЕЛЕВАНТНОСТИ ФИЛОСОФСКОЙ РЕФЛЕКСИИ / Л. И. Дьяченко, Л. П. Устинова // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2016. — № 7 (49) Часть 1. — С. 110—112. — URL: https://research-journal.org/philosophy/the-old-age-phenomenon-some-aspects-of-relevance-of-philosophical-reflection/ (дата обращения: 19.04.2021. ). doi: 10.18454/IRJ.2016.49.031
Дьяченко Л. И. ФЕНОМЕН СТАРОСТИ: НЕКОТОРЫЕ АСПЕКТЫ РЕЛЕВАНТНОСТИ ФИЛОСОФСКОЙ РЕФЛЕКСИИ / Л. И. Дьяченко, Л. П. Устинова // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2016. — № 7 (49) Часть 1. — С. 110—112. doi: 10.18454/IRJ.2016.49.031

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ФЕНОМЕН СТАРОСТИ: НЕКОТОРЫЕ АСПЕКТЫ РЕЛЕВАНТНОСТИ ФИЛОСОФСКОЙ РЕФЛЕКСИИ

Дьяченко Л.И.1, Устинова Л.П.2

1Кандидат философских наук, доцент, 2Кандидат филологических наук, доцент, Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет им. А.Н. Туполева, Набережночелнинский филиал

ФЕНОМЕН СТАРОСТИ: НЕКОТОРЫЕ АСПЕКТЫ РЕЛЕВАНТНОСТИ ФИЛОСОФСКОЙ РЕФЛЕКСИИ

Аннотация

Со времен возникновения древних цивилизаций существуют  различные  взгляды относительно процессов старения, составляющих содержание геронтологии.  Философское осмысление старения  также имеет длительную историю, связанную с различными периодами в развитии философской науки. Авторы статьи пытаются рассмотреть различные точки зрения и важность комплексного подхода к проблеме старости с учетом дальнейшего развития геронтологии в самом широком смысле.

Ключевые слова: старость, геронтология, философская рефлексия, духовность, душа, телесность, жизнь, смерть.

Dyachenko L. I.1, Ustinova L. P.2

 1PhD in Philosophy, Associate professor, 2PhD in Philology, Associate professor, Kazan National Research Technical University named after A.N.Tupolev, Branch Naberezhniye Chelny 

THE OLD AGE PHENOMENON: SOME ASPECTS OF RELEVANCE OF PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION 

Abstract

Since the emergence of the ancient civilizations there are different views regarding the processes of aging which form the content of gerontological knowledge. Philosophical reflection of the old age phenomenon also has a long history, connected with different periods in the development of science. The authors of the article try to consider different points of view and importance of a complex approach of the old age phenomenon  with regard to further development of gerontology in its wide sense.

Keywords: old age, gerontology, philosophical reflection, spirituality, soul, physicality, life, death.

Aging is a natural stage of the life of a man and of his ontogeny, hence, old age as a state of being always attracted attention of scientists and thinkers. From ancient times to the present a large amount of fundamental data about the nature, characteristics and mechanisms of the aging process at different stages of its biological organization has been accumulated. In fact, gerontology has always accompanied humanity,  that has considerable knowledge in the field of methodology of the body senescence control, increasing life expectancy, there are many theories of aging.  In this sense we can talk about the emergence and further development of gerontological knowledge in the wide sense.

The first ideas about old age that occurred in ancient times, were distinguished by the lack of a deep analysis but at the same time they had a definite practical significance. It is interesting that the doctors of Ancient Egypt believed that the aging process begins with the deterioration of the heart [9; p. 222].  Aristotle, who  understood old age as “a natural disease”,  made assumptions about the causes of aging (the waste of vital energy and power) and offered recommendations for the life extension [2; p. 371-448].

In ancient Rome, in the treatise “Cato the elder on old age”  Cicero gave a detailed characterization of the stage of human old age, tending to  understanding of  it as a disease [9; p. 222]. However, the Roman scientists paid attention to psychology and aging. In the first century AD Seneca pointed out that people don’t get a short duration of their life, but they create it themselves and their life can be long enough if they know how to use it. It was clear for the philosopher, that the quality of old age means also an internal work of the man, his self-improvement. Furthermore Seneca, like other ancient thinkers, worried  about the evidence of an ageing appearance – old age was identified with authority, and thus required a spiritual self-improving work of man [10; p. 13, 22, 180].

In the middle ages in general, the representation of the entity, structure of man, his place in the world changed, because aging was understood as a recompense for human’s sins [9; p. 222]. The search of medieval scholars  for reasons of the human  organism aging  had a special significance for further understanding of the features of this period. Despite the religious outline, their works became the bases for many scientists-gerontologists of the future. In this period old age was considered not as a mystical phenomenon, but as a process on a real, earthly basis.

Writings of Avicenna played a special role for the development of ideas of the preservation of health and prolongation of life in the medieval era, which summarized the achievements of previous generations in this regard. He considered aging as a natural process of an organism development, which leads to physiological changes. In addition, not all people reach the natural death, as the heredity is very important. In the work “The Canon of Medicine” the philosopher suggested that from the beginning we present an extreme humidity, the shrinkage that occurs in our body, there is a necessity that cannot be avoided. When completing the drying of the natural moisture, fading innate warmth… [1].

Considerable attempts to reflect old age can be traced from the Renaissance, as it is known that the Renaissance worldview was based on the anthropocentric humanism, according to which the earthly man was Christ-like in his abilities. Therefore, for the early Renaissance, on the one hand, topics of old age, disease and decay were unacceptable. As an example, the majority of paintings by S. Botticelli (“Spring”, “Portrait of a Young Man”, “The Birth of Venus”, “Portrait of a Young woman”, etc.) were devoted to the youth. On the other hand, the spiritual dignity of old age became brighter and more prominent on the background of the emotional atmosphere of prosperity and perceived beauty.

The works of the masters, devoted to old age, appeared in the so-called period of the High Renaissance (Cinquecento) – the period of flowering of humanistic culture in Italy. Self-portraits of the artists (L. da Vinci, Titian), works of M. Buonarroti, A. Dürer, J. Bosch, in which themes of old age, decay, suffering sound more and more distinct,  are known world over. At the same time the spirituality, depth, sublimely tranquil images have been a constant cause for admiration at all times.

There are different points of view of when gerontology got its scientific status. According to O. N. Mikhailova, the formation of gerontology as a science refers to the Renaissance, to the time of the crisis in the minds of people and in the research, in spite of which not speculative views and beliefs became valued. In particular, the theoretical and empirical quest of Leonardo da Vinci were of special importance, although, his medical and alchemical experiments on the life expectancy increase could not be openly shown in public [8; p. 14].

There is an opinion that F. Bacon (1561-1626) had a leading role in the formation of gerontological knowledge as a science. In the work “Тhe Essays, or Counsels Civil and Moral” he wrote about preconditions of the new science emergence, the purpose of which will be a doctrine of the whole mankind life prolongation. In one of his essays F. Bacon provides the analysis of the psychological characteristics of people of different ages; in particular, describing the “portrait” of the older generation, he notes that  old people protest too much, consult too long, avoid the risk, repent too soon,  seldom slog it out, and are satisfied with modest progress [3; p. 446]. With regard to the issue of longevity F. Bacon criticized the existing methods, assuming the necessity of the systematic aging research and fond ways of the life prolongation through scientific experiments. He developed some practical recommendations and also insisted on the destructive impact of unhealthy habits on the aging process.

Most historians still believe that the real science about old age occurred only in the Enlightenment, when fantastic or religious-mystical views were replaced by the rational cognition mechanisms. The resulting change in attitude of man, freed from the pastoral activities of the spirit over the flesh, led to the realization of the need for physical longevity, the possible immortality without a spiritual transformation. Doctors began to pay attention to the detailed practical recommendations: hygiene, diet; they gave out  tips to lead a moderate way of life and to give up tobacco and alcohol.

Thus, talking about the problem of longevity, the French enlightener J. A. Condorcet  suggested that a time would come when death would be only the consequence of extraordinary accidents or the slower destruction of vital forces [7; p. 303]. Hence it appears that much depends on the man’s effort to achieve healthy and productive old age, starting from the youth, when he is still young in soul and body.

The frame of gerontology as a science based on a completely new methodological basis was laid by the research works of naturalists and physicians D. Cardano, G., Zerbi, S. Santorio, F. Bacon, A. Haller, H. Hufeland, I. Fisher and others. In their works the diseases of old people were considered, recommendations for the prevention and overcoming of diseases were given, physiological and psychological symptoms of old age were characterized. It is curious that many scientists of that time believed that aging is a disease caused by an unknown infectious agent.

In this period the scientific foundations of demography were established in the works of  L. Euler, G. Buffon, C. Huygens, G. Leibniz, P. Laplace that   developed tables of the life expectancy and the first widely used methods of statistics [4; p. 10]. For the first time in European science Professor of medicine H. V. Hufeland carried out a detailed analysis of all periods of human life, which was outlined in the work «Macrobiotics: The Art of Prolonging Life». H. V. Hufeland offered specific recommendations and rules of conduct for each age group with the aim of achieving the longevity. He succeeded to analyze and compare the life expectancy of plants, animals and humans, considering  problems connected with the influence of climatic conditions, professional activity on the life expectancy; a comparative analysis of the life expectancy of men and women was given. The reasons of the reduction  in the life expectancy, including “pampered upbringing”, “foul air and life in crowded places”, “peace-of-location and passion that reduces the life”, “fear of death”, “the idleness, the inactivity and boredom”, etc. among other things. In addition, the scientist  developed specific recommendations and rules of conduct for each age group with the aim of achieving the  longevity. Concerning old age, it was noticed that during this period the life force got depleted slower. According to H. V. Hufeland, the beneficial effects of life prolongation  are the following factors: physical education,  staying in clean and free air, and moderate heat, country life and gardening, the tidiness and the purity of the body” [5].

A the beginning of the nineteenth  century the most common  idea was that the changes of the old were coursed by the incomplete “haematosis”, i.e. blood supply (brain, heart, limbs, lungs, skin, kidney, etc.) [6; p. 195]. This means that old age was determined by the somatic aging and the spiritual transformation were not taken into consideration.

The most characteristic demographic phenomenon of the modern era is the aging of the population due to a complex set of problems and questions. Hence there is an intensive study of the problems of old age and a rapid development of gerontology. In this regard, it is important to note that the convergence of philosophy and gerontology will significantly advance the understanding of aging not only as a physiological process but also a qualitatively new state. It is a mistake to consider the phenomenon of old age reducing it to bio-psychiatry processes and   ignoring social and moral component. Philosophical understanding of old age as a final way of a human development includes first of all the attitude of the person to the aging process, to the way of life. Aging is the border between life and death,  a person begins to think about eternity, estimates if he reached self-realization or not. The richer spiritually the person is,  the stronger is his influence on the realities of the social existence.

References

  1. The Canon of medicine / Avicenna. – Minsk: Potpourri, 2000. – 448 p
  2. The Canon of Medicine. Collected works: in 4 volumes / Aristotle; ed. by V. F. Asmus. – Vol. 1. – M.: Thought, 1976. – 550 p.
  3. Bacon F. Тhe Essays, or Counsels Civil and Moral  // Works: in 2 volumes / by F. Bacon. – Moscow: Mysl’, 1978. – T. 2. – 575 p.
  4. Gavrilov L. A. Biology of Life Expectancy / L. A. Gavrilov, N. With. Gavrilov. – M.: Nauka, 1991. – 280 p.
  5. Hufeland H. V. Macrobiotics: The Art of Prolonging Life / H. V. Hufeland. – SPb. Typography Edward Praz, 1856. – 530 p.
  6. Davydovskiy I. V. Old Age and Evolution of Organisms / the Psychology of old age: a reader / edited and compiled by D. Ya. raigorodsky. – Samara: Publishing House. House “BAKHRAKH-M”, 2004. – S. 179-199.
  7. Mechnikov I. I. Optimistic Studies / I. Mechnikov. – M.: Nauka, 1988. – 328 p.
  8. Mikhailova O. N. The importance of international cooperation for the development of gerontology in the Russian Federation: dis. …candidate. biologist. Sciences : 14.00.53 / O. N. Mikhailov; S. Peterb. inst. of Bioregulation and gerontology. – SPb., 2003. – 198 p.
  9. Orlock K. Aging / Psychology of old age: a reader / edited and compiled by D. Ya. Raigorodsky. – Samara: Publishing House. House “BAKHRAKH-M”, 2004. – P. 200-227.
  10. Seneca L. A. Ad Lucilium epistulae morales: translated from the Latin. Osherove S. / L. A. Seneca. – M.: AST, 2006. –408 p.

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