How the brain and education dry up from digitalization and virtual reality
How the brain and education dry up from digitalization and virtual reality

Today, many are discussing distance education and universal digitalization. Concerns have been raised about who will end up with the collected data, how it might be used, and so on. I totally agree with most of the concerns and strongly oppose distance education. However, I must say that the very type of discussion being conducted does not cover the problem in full and deprives us of the opportunity to fully adequately respond to this dangerous challenge.

It seems quite obvious to me that the overly intense interaction of a person with gadgets from a very young age generates a certain type of consciousness. Almost a new generation of people appears, whom this consciousness is already beginning to define. However, the Internet and the computer themselves are neither evil nor good. Indeed, in fact, we cannot become like the Luddites who opposed the introduction of machines into production in the 19th century, and we cannot start throwing computers and gadgets out of windows.

Yes, we must respond to the laws that are adopted that regulate the collection and exchange of data, follow the reforms in education, and so on. All this is very important, but it is necessary to understand that something else is even more important, namely, that the problem of digitalization is not outside a person, but inside him. Ultimately, it depends on the person - it is he who uses the media and information, or they are his.

There is a certain "switch" inside a person, which transfers him from one state of consciousness to another. The Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin spoke in some detail about these different states and the border between them in his classic article "Art in the era of its technical reproducibility." Here's what it says:

“Cinema supplants cult meaning not only by placing the audience in an evaluative position, but by the fact that this evaluative position in cinema does not require attention. The audience turns out to be an examiner, but absent-minded."

Walter Benjamin 1928

Walter Benjamin 1928

It should be borne in mind that the "cult position" for Benjamin is, speaking very roughly and not going into details, it is reality. But cinema disposes and, if you like, seduces a person to switch his consciousness from the mode of perception of reality to the mode of the "absent-minded examiner." The power of the Internet and computer games, in this sense, is much more powerful than any movie. Moreover, if you watch a real film masterpiece, then you can find in it a "cult value", that is, act in relation to it not as a "absent-minded examiner", but as a full-fledged subject, attentively listening to the content. But if you “stick” on the Internet, then in 99% of cases you look at content that, indeed, you will not treat otherwise as a “absent-minded examiner”. As a result, something like addiction sets in. Moreover, if such a "sticking" mode - aka the "absent-minded examiner" mode - becomes the main one from childhood, then a person is deprived of the opportunity to switch modes, because his main "life" experience concerns only one of them.

Probably, someone will begin to say that computer games require participation, reaction, a certain kind of considerations and other skills, that is, they require not only the position of an “absent-minded examiner”. To such objections, Benjamin further replies:

“Humanity, which Homer once was an object of amusement for the gods watching him, became such for himself. His self-alienation has reached the degree that allows him to experience his own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the highest rank."

I think it is understandable that "the experience of their own destruction" should have drawn a person into reality even more than a computer game. However, in extreme cases of alienation, in the absence of experience of genuine interaction with reality, and most importantly, if the person himself does not want to face his own being, he really can manage to look at his own death as if from the outside, not to mention the death of others. But this is an extreme case, and not an extreme and already quite real one - this is when children, confusing reality and virtuality, can, for example, try to kill their friend so that he becomes a zombie with whom they could then play. The number of such stories is growing day by day.

Thus, the arrival of “technical” digitalization should be considered in close connection with the arrival of a certain “digital”, “counting” consciousness, and hence the arrival of a certain model of a person and society. And after this, certain models of power and management will inevitably come. Moreover, what is most important, it is necessary to take into account that such “anthropological digitalization” must be able to imagine even without digitalization “technical”. Digital technology is only a powerful tool for enhancing and activating certain tendencies within a person, but in no case (attention!) Is it that generates these tendencies, as is usually thought about. If there was not something inside a person that is complementary to "sticking" on the Internet, then he would not "stick" in it.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

This perspective allows us to understand what we are really dealing with and how to respond to the challenge. The essence of this challenge was described by Marx in the "Manifesto of the Communist Party." Only today, in relation to digitalization, it is necessary to make some corrections in Marx's words, but no more. He described the essence correctly. There she is:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it achieved domination, destroyed all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. She mercilessly tore apart the motley feudal bonds that tied man to his "natural rulers", and left no other connection between people, except for naked interest, heartless "cash". In the icy water of egoistic calculation, she drowned the sacred thrill of religious ecstasy, chivalrous enthusiasm, philistine sentimentality. It has transformed human dignity into exchange value and replaced the innumerable freedoms granted and acquired by one shameless freedom of trade. In a word, it replaced exploitation covered by religious and political illusions with open, shameless, direct, callous exploitation.

The bourgeoisie stripped the sacred halo of all activities that until then were considered honorable and which were looked upon with awe. She turned a doctor, a lawyer, a priest, a poet, a man of science into her paid employees.

The bourgeoisie tore off their touchingly sentimental veil from family relations and reduced them to purely monetary relations."

Replace the words "bourgeoisie", "money" and everything connected with them with "digitalization" and you will see that it was precisely today's process that Marx described, but with only one significant amendment. If the exploitation with the help of money is “direct”, “open” and “shameless”, then digitalization makes it “disguised” again, fulfilling in this sense the function of “religious and political illusions”. But the process of the advent of the kingdom of "selfish calculation" in the time of Marx and today's digitalization are twins. Capitalism requires a certain type of consciousness and a model of a person, well, this is how it comes, multiplied by digital technology.But what is replacing capitalism, which after the total destruction of man and culture will no longer be called this word, and what can be opposed to this?

In order to answer this question, one must bear in mind that any states of human consciousness and models of man and power (even if they are "digital") were considered in culture. And, therefore, the answers to the questions posed must be sought in it. Moreover, this approach to the consideration of the problem of virtuality is proposed not only by me.

In 1991, at the Institute of Man of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the founder and director of which was Academician Ivan Timofeevich Frolov (1929-1999), the "Center for Virtualistics" was created, headed by the founder of virtual psychology, Nikolai Alexandrovich Nosov (1952 - 2002). Nosov himself calls the creation of this center unprecedented and emphasizes Frolov's special administrative and other assistance, without whom this undertaking could not have arisen.

Ivan Timofeevich Frolov

Ivan Timofeevich Frolov

Frolov was an academician, secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (1989-1990), editor-in-chief of the Pravda newspaper (1989-1990). In 1987-1989, Frolov was also Gorbachev's assistant in ideology and was one of the founders of his foundation. Nosov described the reasons why the "perestroika" Frolov supported his undertaking:

“I must say that Ivan Timofeevich had reasons to support virtual research. The fact is that virtualistics offers an approach that allows integrating humanitarian, natural science and technical knowledge in uniform models and thereby realizes the idea of ​​an integrated, interdisciplinary approach, proclaimed as the methodological basis for research of the Human Institute."

Nosov's "Manifesto of Virtualistics" has been published on the site In particular, it reads:

“The world is virtual. Virtualistics makes it possible to philosophically conceptualize virtuality, to make it the subject of scientific research and practical transformations."

Thus, we see that the creators of virtualistics claim to have a holistic, interdisciplinary description and change of the world. But the virtualistics itself was created not only by Nosov. In the manifesto, he writes:

"The emergence of virtualistics dates back to 1986, when our article with OI Genisaretsky was published" Virtual states in the activity of a human operator "(Proceedings of the State Research Institute of Civil Aviation. Aviation ergonomics and training of flight personnel. Issue 253. M., 1986, p. 147-155), which introduces the idea of ​​virtuality as a fundamentally new type of event. The term "virtualistics" itself was proposed by me and received official status in 1991, when the Laboratory of Virtualistics was created at the Human Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1994, I defended my doctoral dissertation in psychology "Psychology of virtual realities and analysis of operator errors" and published the monograph "Psychological virtual realities" (M., 1994, 196 p.), Which set out the basics of virtualism as an independent direction in philosophy and science ".

Oleg Igorevich Genisaretsky from 1993 to 2005 was the head of the sector of psycho-practitioners of consciousness and culture of the Institute of Man of the Russian Academy of Sciences. What does psycho-practice have to do with it? The website of the Center for Virtualistics says:

"The philosophical work carried out at the Center includes an analysis of the spiritual experience of mankind, represented, in particular, by the systems of such thinkers as Basil the Great, Isaac Sirin, J. Boehme, E. Swedenborg, Thomas Aquinas, and others."

Oleg Igorevich Genisaretsky

Oleg Igorevich Genisaretsky

Andrey Romanenko

Such a combination of virtualistics with psycho-practitioners, of course, is impossible without some foundation that underlies it. The central category of virtualistics is "arethea". This is what the manifesto of virtualistics says: “The word“arethea”is a Greek synonym for the Latin“virtus”. Areteya is practical virtualistics”. It further states:

“Virtualistics provides a theoretical and methodological basis for the adequate use of computer virtual reality systems. For virtualistics, computer virtual reality is one of the areteya technologies (practical virtualistics). Virtualistics makes it possible to adequately integrate the technology of computer virtual realities into all spheres of human life: upbringing, education, medicine, politics, and so on. Already now there are projects of computer programs that are presenting a person without the direct participation of the areteut. Aretea can be applied in all spheres of human life, since the categorical distinction into constant and virtual can be applied everywhere."

As, I hope, it became clear, it was not in vain that I said that the problem of digitalization is not only outside, but also inside a person, and that it must be understood as broadly as possible. But what is this "virtus" that underlies the virtual world?

The Latin word "virtus" is translated as "valor". In ancient Rome, there was a temple of "Valor and Honor", in which the goddess Virtuta (valor) and Honos (honor) were worshiped. Virtuta was often portrayed as the companion of the god of war Mars. The cult of Virtuta, which had both female and male incarnations, began to rise during the reign of Emperor Octavian Augustus. It is based on the fusion of the cults of Bellona and the Asia Minor goddess Ma, who was brought to Rome in the 1st century BC. e under Emperor Sulla. The cult of the goddess Bellona-Ma was accompanied by orgies and self-flagellation of fanatics and was close to the cult of Cybele, which was also of Asia Minor origin.

Remains of an altar dedicated to Virtus from the province of Lower Germany, III century

Remains of an altar dedicated to Virtus from the province of Lower Germany, III century

Therefore, to our question about where digitalization is moving us, in the broad sense of the word, culture gives an answer - to the world of the Great Dark Mother. And what can be opposed to this? Culture tells us that the life of decaying Rome was extended thanks to Christianity, which saved Western culture. It declared its love for one's neighbor and endowed all people with a right to soul, abolishing slavery. Actually, it is precisely what is called the soul that makes a person prefer reality to virtuality, because virtuality is dead, but reality is alive, and there is a place for love and everything that the bourgeoisie and virtualization "drown in the icy water of selfish calculation."

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