Dreaming under Locke’s Shadow


Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, 1 Trakų Street, 01132 Vilnius
Email: nerijus.stasiulis@vgtu.lt

In this article I present an outline of the current issue of Filosofija. Sociologija which attempts to discuss the destiny of Man and of individual women and men in the technological society shaped by technological ways of thinking. Also, more general processes of cultural formation and reformation are analysed in the articles. How is identity understood in technological networks? What is identity’s relation to the brain or brain-based models and to cultural environment and its flux? What is the role of language in these processes and what non-analytical ways of philosophical speaking are there? The articles illustrate the trouble of human’s relation to himself in the technological context as a nagging issue for the current discourse.

Keywords: culture, epistemology, identity, language, technology

‘There’s a damned sight too much bureaucracy here! What I want is liberty for the individual’, – exclaimed a number in a short story by Bertrand Russell ‘The Mathematician’s Nightmare’ (as cited in Monk 2000: 348). Many decades later, the tension between the universal and the individual is still employed as an efficient tool in a scholarly analysis of society.

Valantinaitė, Sederevičiūtė-Pačiauskienė, Asakavičiūtė and Navickienė discuss the challenges that a student faces as an individual in a virtualized society which gravitates towards a mass-based attitude. Educational focus on an individual with his unique personal characteristics was first suggested and substantiated in the century of ‘the discovery of the child’ (Uzgalis 2018) by Russel’s empiricist predecessor John Locke (Locke 1964). The  authors of the article adapt Locke’s legacy to affirm the importance of curbing unificatory and depersonalizing tendencies of technologies which follow standard models. What impact does the increase in access to learning and its concurrent technologization have on individual dreams of students? The text concludes with a warning that introduction of e-studies that make education more accessible will only be delayed if one places too much emphasis on technological solutions and proposes a complementary point of view of encouraging a creative growth of individual personalities who should in turn contribute to forming their cultural milieu.

Râmbu (drawing largely on Nordau (1896)) asserts that it is not only contributions of rational truth-pursuing individuals that form a culture but also their collective dreams, or conventional lies that are shared by a member of society. Every civilization must be based on a shared lie which must be distinguished from prejudice – because most people accept prejudice uncritically and believe it but they know that the conventional lie they have accepted through tacit agreement and civilizational pressure is a lie. Râmbu directs his positivistic critical acumen toward three types of culture-founding lies – the religious, the matrimonial and the political. With time, every conventional lie is exposed only to be replaced by another conventional lie.

Bai’s contribution to epistemological analysis also relates epistemic and moral issues, namely, by describing two kinds of epistemic injustice (concept introduced by Fricker (2007)) – discriminatory and distributive. Similar to the authors mentioned above, Bai also calls for ‘liberty to the individual’, i. e. he suggests that expanding diversity in science may diminish these epistemic injustices. The author’s central claim is that people must have the opportunity to acquire knowledge about matters that objectively interest them as individuals. But it is not only individual epistemic virtue that is important but also epistemic justice as virtue of social systems on which people’s opportunity to acquire knowledge depends. Diversity of agenda setting in science policy decision making and diversity of research in scientific community are key to these virtues.

According to Krasavin, self-organization of multitude always remains exterior to any social order. Singularities aggregate and self-organize without any common agency or a common goal. Multitude does not serve anyone and does not have an order, and ‘[l]iberation from one order means obedience to another one’ (Krasavin 2020: 227). The author adopts from the post-Operaismo movement the notion of General Intellect (first coined by Karl Marx 1973: 626) which he understands as a property of a social connection structure which forms singularities as finite objects composed of multiple social ties. The concepts of General Intellect and heterarchy employed in the analysis are, like self-organization of multitudes, in a state of flux and the article serves to outline them in order to probe their creative and recreative virtues.

Cobos-Sanchiz removes the reflection on the virtual to another level. Is the hypothetical possibility of uploading our minds to a machine a solution for a seemingly inevitable eventual disappearance of the human species? In the course of his considerations about death on both the level of the species and of the individual, the author touches upon ages-long problems of identity and time – especially in terms of identity as persisting through temporal changes. In a Lockean fashion of thinking matter, he equates personal identity to ‘a template that persists over time and also an illusion created by the brain itself to insure the conscious coherence of the template’ (Cobos-Sanchiz 2020: 238). It is this template that is supposed to be uploaded to a machine. The only way to ensure personal identity as persistence over time is by changing its medium from biological to artificial. Cobos-Sanchiz presents this project as akin to a religious or metaphysical longing for transcendence.

Gondek’s quest for transcendence appears as a move from the empiricist analytical picture of language towards a language of metaphysics based on the notion of analogy, inherited from Aristotelian philosophies. Such metaphysical terms originate in colloquial rather than technical language which seeks to disambiguate concepts.

Vasiliauskaitė also deals with language of philosophy and identity by criticizing Bartašavičiūtė’s translation into Lithuanian of Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Butler 2017). The author speaks out to provide ample arguments why the translation is ‘very bad’ (Vasiliauskaitė 2020: 259). Her ultimate goal is to contribute to Lithuanian academic culture of translation and reviewing and to challenge current ethical standards which do not resist intellectual malpractice.

Rimkus presents a picture of the academic life in Lithuania by describing an interdisciplinary and varied input of Lithuanian scholars to the analysis of intertwined issues of humanism and post-humanism, technology, ethics, communication, society and culture in a conference that took place in January in Vilnius at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

The template of Russel’s dream to find ways of freedom in the technological maze lives on.


1. Butler, J. 2017. Vargas dėl lyties. Feminizmas ir tapatybės subversija. Vert. R. Bertašavičiūtė. Vilnius: Kitos knygos.

2. Cobos-Sanchiz, D. 2020. ‘Uploading: The Path to Transcendence or Illusionary Escapism? A Philosophical Approach’, Filosofija. Sociologija 31(3): 233–240.

3. Fricker, M. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. New York: Oxford University Press.

4. Krasavin, I. 2020. ‘Heterarchy of General Intellect’, Filososfija. Sociologija 31(3): 225–232.

5. Locke, J. 1964. John Locke on Education. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

6. Marx, K. 1973. Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft). Transl. M. Nicolaus. Penguin Books. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/index.htm

7. Monk, R. 2000. ‘Russell’, in The Great Philosopher’s from Socrates to Turing, eds. R. Monk and Fr. Raphael. London: Phoenix.

8. Nordau,  M. 1896. The Conventional Lies of Our Civilization. London: William Heinemann. Available at: https://ia801605.us.archive.org/3/items/in.ernet.dli.2015.35464/2015.35464.Conventional-Lies-Of-Our-Civilization_text.pdf

9. Uzgalis, W. 2018. John Locke. Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/

10. Vasiliauskaitė, N. 2020. „Judith Butler lietuviškai: vargas dėl vertimo“, Filosofija. Sociologija 31(3): 250–260.


Sapnai Johno Locke’o paunksnėje


Straipsnyje bendrais bruožais pristatau naujausią žurnalo Filosofija. Sociologija numerį. Jame bandoma aptarti žmogaus ir paskirų žmonių likimus technologinėje visuomenėje, formuojamoje technologinių mąstymo būdų. Moksliniuose straipsniuose analizuojami ir bendresni kultūros formavimo ir reformavimo procesai: Kaip technologinėse tinklaveikose suprantamas tapatumas? Koks tapatumo santykis su smegenimis? Kaip tai susiję su smegenų veikimu pagrįstais modeliais ir su kultūrine aplinka bei jos kintamumu? Koks vaidmuo šiuose procesuose tenka kalbai ir kokių esama neanalitinių filosofinio kalbėjimo būdų? Atskleidžiama žmogaus santykio su savimi problema kaip neišvengiama dabartiniam technologiniam diskursui.

Raktažodžiai: epistemologija, kalba, kultūra, tapatumas, technologija