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V. M. Kondratyev,

MCU, Moscow,



Theme of the XXIV World philosophical congress «Learning To Be Human», held in 2018 in Beijing, is interpreted by the author as a task of modern education, to realize which one must answer the questions: what kind of human being to be; how to become one; why should we learn to be a human being? The considerationof the history of mankind, undertaken by the author, shows the primacy of morality and the secondary nature of law. By nature, man is a moral being, and by training, a legal one.

The author proceeds from the fact that human education occurs not only within the walls of a school or university, but also in society, in the real life world of the person. The main contradiction in the development of modern society is the contradiction between law and morality, the domination of law over morality. One of the consequences of this domination is the incessant interethnic conflicts and wars in the world. The author puts forward a question about the peace-making function of education. The ability to influence social processes is determined by the level of the person’s conscious self-determination, which is a goal of edu cation. One of the resources of modern education is the concentration of knowledge and skills of teachers in students’ solving the research problems. Thus, the author suggests approaches to solving the problem of «learning to be human».


Keywords: human; personality; socialisation; morality; law; education; conscious self-determination.

For citation: Kondratyev V. M. The Problem of Balance between Morality and Law in Human Education // Systems Psychology and Sociology. 2019. № 4 (32). P. 103–108. DOI: 10.25688/2223-6872.2019.32.4.09.


Kondratyev Viktor Mikhaylovich, PhD in Philosophy, associate professor at the University-wide Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Institute of Humanities Sciences of the Moscow City University, Moscow, Russia.

E-mail: KondratyevVM@mgpu.ru




The theme of the forthcoming World Philosophical Congress expresses the concern of the philosophical community about the state of education in the world, and, first of all, its component of humanities, i.e. education of man as a human being [15–20]. It seems that the existing civilizational and national differen ces in human education are not conducive to the achievement of harmony among peoples, their peaceful coexistence and prosperity. Revea ling the nature of these differences, which is the task of the present article, will help to find ways of conflict-free existence of peoples. To this end, let us consider the history of mankind.


The Sources for Human Development


The first feelings that a person experiences during his/her birth and further development are feelings of dependence and uncertainty. Being natural and basic for human development, they form his/her basic needs, desires and interests. To safely satisfy them, morality was created as a system of prohibitions, and later the law as an «image of freedom» (Hegel). The satisfaction of basic needs in each historical era for each people took place in different ways, depending on the natural conditions and the achieved le vel of cultural development. The emergence of similar ways of satisfying them began with the emergence of productive activity, labor. «Labor», as K. Marx characterized it, «is primarily a process taking place between man and nature, a process in which a person mediates, regulates and controls the substance exchange between him/herself and nature through his/her own activity. <...> By acting through this motion on the external nature and changing it, he/she changes, at the same time, his/her own nature. He/she develops the forces dormant in nature and subordinates the play of these forces to his/her own power» [6: 188–189]. The development of the dormant forces in man, the attainment of power over the forces of nature testifies to the ability acquired by man to reduce his dependence on the forces of nature, that is, this testifies to the actual gaining of the freedom of action. The attainment of freedom took place also in the process of human mastering his/her life space already at the stage of foraging, identification of the useful and harmful objects for life, i. e. in the process of diminishing the uncertainty of his/her life world. However, the natural differences, inherent in a given territory, caused the differences in the content and nature of people’s activities, not promoting the convergence of their cultures.

Simultaneously with the satisfaction of natural needs, with the formation of language, the development of thinking and imagination, the human being was becoming aware of his/her dependence on the forces of nature and society and expressed it not only in words but also in ima ges. The consequence of this process was the early forms of religious beliefs: totemism, fetishism, animism and magic. Later, the human being created images of gods and other supernatu ral beings. Through the relation to the ideal ima ges, the person identified him/herself, became dependent on them. Each people gave them some special features. The common thing for all beliefs was the need to create norms of relation to gods: religious cult and the further creation of religious morality. While in the beginning of human history people believed in the inevitability of fate, la ter with the emergence of national religions, believers started to think that they have a possibility to influence their present and future lives. Thus, the emergence of religions harmonized the relation between dependence (morality) and freedom (law) on the basis of religious values. In the subsequent history of mankind, the contradictory unity of morality and law served as a source of development of public consciousness. The development of the «dormant forces» of the human being in the process of labor stimulated him/her to expand the space of freedom. «Freedom!» was the slogan of bourgeois revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. Law becomes the basis for the creation of bourgeois states in Europe and in America. The elevation of the status of law led to diminishing of the role of morality in public life. A reaction to the superiority of law over morality in the twentieth century was the socialist revolutions in Russia, Europe and Asia. However, the attempt to place morality higher or equal with law did not stand the test of time in the new historical conditions. At the end of the 20th century, Russia and the former European socialist countries effectively abandoned the socialist moral ideals; only the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are defending today socialist ideals that are oriented toward the harmony of morality and law.

The journey into the history undertaken by us serves as the basis for understanding the phenomenon of man. After all, everything that is in the world is created by man, his work, his talent, his imagination and his mind. However, to judge the person by his/her deeds means judging his/her past, while the human being is the only being on Earth who is living not just in the present but also in the future. And it is more correct to judge the person by the problems he/she is trying to solve despite the existing obstacles. It was this quality that was highlighted by Goethe in the characterization of man: «I was a man in the world: this means, I was a fighter!» [2: p. 61]. However, in order to formulate problems, the person must have some ideas about the historical process in order to find a place for him/herself in it, which is determined not only by the level of development of the productive forces, but also by the balance between morality and law in the society. It is this balance that determines the degree of self-determination of the person as a citizen. As is known, in history, a tendency is manifested of increasing the degree of self-determination of the worker and citizen. However, we are interested in the level of the person’s conscious self-determination, which allows him/her to influence this regularity. And the change in this level depends on the quality of person’s edu cation. Thus, the goal of education, in our understanding, is the person’s attainment of conscious self-determination, the level of which in different countries will be determined by the level of culture, the balance between morality and law.


The Role of the Level of Religiousness of the Population in Identifying the Objectives of Education


While identifying the objectives of education, one should take into account the level of religiousness of the population. However, contrary to religious precepts, religious wars continue even today. Can education influence the level of the conscious self-determination of a belie ver? I think, it can and should, clari fying the ba lance between law and morality. According to F. Niet zsche, «without the self-deceptions that underlie the moral assumptions, the human being would remain an animal. And now he recogni zes himself as somebody supreme and sets strict laws for himself. Therefore, he hates the stages which are closer to beastliness...» [9: p. 268]. We put morality above law as a phenomenon more objective in comparison with law. The subjectivity of law is confirmed, in particular, by the presence of its various definitions in the history of mankind. Thus, according to Hegel, «the law of the state... is freedom in its most concrete image, subject only to the highest absolute truth of the world spirit» [1: p. 95]. In Mar xism, however, law is understood as the will of the economically dominant class, elevated to the le vel of legislation. The notion that unites the meaning of morality and law is justice.

Today we speak in favor of the priority of universal morality over national morality, for the harmonization of morality and law [3; 5; 11; 13; 14]. The state ideology can help to get rid of «moral self-deceptions». The experience of China, which uses ideology in the education system, deserves serious study [12: p. 367]. We agree with the Chinese scientists’ approach to defining the development strategy of education: «When choosing a strategy for the development of education, it is necessary to put the human being in its foundation and be guided by the scientific worldview... to stimulate the development of both society and person» [12: p. 45]. Concerning the tactics of teaching in solving the problem of «learning to be human», we point out a possibility that is real but not used in higher education. We have in mind the possibility of implementing an integrated approach (cooperation of teachers of different specialties) in training and research, in the students’ carrying out the course and diploma work. The basis for its implementation is the level of methodological and moral culture of teachers, the manifestation of concern for the development of the learning human being [7; 8; 10].




The implementation of the approaches to learning, indicated in our article, will make human life worthier and happier. As the English educational researcher Stefan Collini once noticed «Higher education is not just a sum of private benefits received by those who are lucky enough to be related to it» [4: p. 15].

Let us proceed as Nietzsche advises: «move forward along the path of wisdom, with a cheerful step and cheerful confidence! Whatever you are, serve as a source of experience to yourself! Discard the displeasure with your being, forgive yourself your own Self: because in any case you have in yourself a ladder with a thousand steps, by which you can rise to cognition» [9: p. 393].




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