The philosopher fired from Smolny is about the protest and destruction of science. “Paper”
– As a teacher of philosophy, do you think your participation in the rally was “immoral”, as the dismissal order says? Why?
– Quite the opposite. Of course, none of us behaves completely immorally. At some moments we show our best sides, at some times we show our worst.
When a person tries to defend his beliefs, does it peacefully – and we walked along the sidewalk, did not attack anyone or block any movement, contrary to what is written in the protocol – he does not do anything immoral. People protesting against what is happening in Ukraine act in accordance with their inner convictions.
What is a “moral act” in philosophy? And how objective can a judgment about “morality” be?
– Of course, there is the concept of a moral act – a concept from the philosophy of Kant. Our actions are a diverse mixture of motivations and absolutely moral or immoral actions in this sense do not exist. Morality is a relative concept.
Peaceful protest cannot be immoral.
In general, St Petersburg University has a special commission on ethics. I was not invited to the meeting of this commission. Usually this commission makes some preliminary decision, having considered the act of a person. As far as I know, no such meetings have been held against me.
– In your opinion, is there any sense in your going to the rally, if after it you were detained and fired?
– I think it made sense. I don’t regret it. I did not expect that everything would develop in this way when I went to the rally. I hoped that I would not be detained, but things turned out quite differently – not in the best way for me. Despite this, I think I did the right thing.
— How did students and teachers see you off? How many people supported you? Were there those who condemned?
— I have never in my life encountered such approval and sympathy, such support from colleagues and students. A huge number of people offered me help, faculty teachers wrote a collective letter in support of me, students came to say goodbye to me.
I was touched and very grateful to my students – they are simply amazing in our faculty, these are the people who own the future. I hope no one takes it away from them.
Yesterday the faculty students gave me three handwritten letters on paper. It is very touching, they worry and worry about me and thank me for the time that I was at the faculty.
Have you already filed an appeal against the dismissal decision?
I didn’t have time to appeal. Wednesday, October 26th was my last day of work. Now I have a lot of things to do, a huge number of people write to me. I hope to get this done next week.
– What are you planning to do in the near future? Will you stay in Russia?
– I always wanted to live in Russia, but after February 24 I seriously thought about emigration. I enjoyed working at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It was a terrific scientific center, although now there is little left of it. It will probably cease to exist next year.
Now I am unemployed and do not rule out the option of emigration.
Do you see any risks for yourself due to the tightening of repression?
– Personally, for myself, I do not expect something good and do not exclude persecution against me.
As for the situation in Russia as a whole, it is changing rapidly. It is very likely that there will be a tightening of the regime.
— Recently, the faculty has a lot of problems. How can you describe what is happening in Smolny after February 24?
– In short, this is the destruction of a scientific center unique for Russia.
Smolny was a very special place – this was one of the reasons for the mistrust and dislike for him on the part of the leadership of St. Petersburg State University. Smolny stood out too much from the rest of the faculties of the university, it was an amazing scientific project, a kind of “Russian Oxford”, or, as students sometimes joke, Hogwarts.
It was a faculty with a completely enchanting set of teachers. All scientific stars in their fields were gathered at our faculty. Without exaggeration, they were the best experts in their field, the best scientists.
I remember a situation when I came to a bookstore, and there a third of the books that I found were written by our teachers, my direct acquaintances. Smolny attracted not only the best Russian, but also outstanding foreign scientists.
World-class scientific stars came there, there was good funding, extra-budgetary money, teachers received good salaries. Smolny had a good publishing activity. Students received scholarships that covered part of the costs, and sometimes completely covered the cost of education.
Now from this the project is almost gone. This is a tragic situation, a colossal loss, one of the leading scientific centers of Russia has been destroyed.
— How similar is this to what is happening with science in Russia?
— Unfortunately, doing science in Russia has always been difficult.
The modern scientist does not go to the library. Using the login and password given to him by his university, he gains access to a portal where the world’s leading journals in a particular field are published. To gain access to journals, universities pay a lot of money to the platform.
Even before February 24, St Petersburg University did not have a subscription to half of the leading scientific journals. What will happen now is already clear.
There is a catastrophic outflow in Russian science – people are emigrating from Russia. Many of my closest colleagues have already left. Under the new conditions, it is almost impossible to continue a scientific career.
It is important that modern science is deeply international. All scientists with high qualifications – the ability to work at the world level – participate in international projects, communicate with colleagues from other countries, and receive foreign funding.
How to participate in international projects now? It’s impossible. Receiving money from abroad, cooperating with foreigners, you risk getting the status of a foreign agent.
Science in Russia is now in the hardest, deepest crisis. I do not see a way out of this crisis in the short term.
– What, in your opinion, threatens the state in the long run with the dismissal of scientists disloyal to the regime?
“This is a step towards the isolation and provincialization of Russia. In the near future, Russia will not have serious scientific achievements.
The possible achievements of Russian scientists will be absolutely microscopic in comparison with the achievements of colleagues from other countries. Russian scientists will remain uncompetitive, will not be able to compete with Western colleagues and do interesting and important things.
Science is not only a laboratory, it is also universities, it is an education system. A weak scientist is a weak teacher. A great teacher knows how to interest his students in this science.
The outflow of great scientists will lead to a serious decline in the level of Russian education.