TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Februar 2010

Sektion 1.5. Europe and Central Asia – More than Security and Energy? Defining an Emerging Partnership
Sektionsleiter | Section Chairs: Peter Felch (ARTilek, Vienna, Austria) | Gunther Neumann (Vienna, Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Dialogue as paradigm of thinking in the XXI century

Urmanbetova Jyldyz (Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University and Kyrgyz-Turkish University) [BIO]



The end of 20th century is marked by global socio-cultural explosion, which brought destructions and crisis of social development. Along with this history gave a chance to Central Asia for reconstruction, discovery of itself in the époque of world contemporary civilization. There occurred a splash in self-perception and there occurred new developments on the specificity of Central Asia, based on ethnological and historical sources data. The main accent in researches is posed on specificity of traditional system of thinking which determined originality of mentality.

Definite characteristics of traditional system of nomadic thinking determine particular mentality of Central Asian representatives. Comparing with the history of development of East and West, Central Asia in its unique history experienced periods of disunity, because the tradition of nomadic culture had not been preserved primordially. This fact testifies that the characteristics of Central Asian thinking archetype preserved on sub-consciousness level. This reflects in the structure of many national cultures of contemporary Central Asia, ascending to Old Turkic tribes of the center of Asia. Traditional worldview evinces an archetype of thinking from where Central Asian culture descends.

Peculiarities of Central Asian historical development had conditioned drastic change of thinking paradigms:

  1. Change of nomadic way of life to settled preconditioned significant change in the sphere of cultural existence. This is internal culture crisis that caused the shift of the whole cultural system.
  2. Living in socialistic époque along with positive moments reflected the fact of socio-cultural isolation and subordination in definition of personal existence guidelines. National thinking stereotype exceptionally came to external display of peculiarity. It didn’t affect internal integrity and adequacy. Nomadic consciousness’ archetype was preserved on sub-consciousness level.
  3. After proclaiming of sovereignty by many of Central Asian republics. The process of traditional culture reorientation on the universal values stereotypes had started. The process of modernization of cultural basics has got an image of westernization, when innovations are not interiorized. Splash of national self-consciousness happens. An interest to Central Asian thinking archetype. 

In every of denoted period thinking paradigm specificity determined originality of social system. Traditional system of nomadic people generated the specificity of culture system: traditions and ceremonies, which with the shift to settled way of life was exposed to certain transformation. In the frameworks of Central Asian region correlation of nomadic and settled way of life in the forming of culture system is uneven. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in greater extent characterized with elements of settled way of life. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for the most part experience an influence of nomadic archetype. Along with that there is unanimity of historical roots.

Socialism period had brought essential correctives in functioning of traditional culture. Socialistic ideology with the image of soviet man and socialistic culture dominated in definition of systems of national culture. National originality was restricted to external characteristics and internal culture content was unified. Nations culture was restricted to the system of domestic traditions and rites. The level of national self-consciousness was not so high because exploration of “soviet people” category as a unified historical community was foremost.

The process sovereignty had raised the problem of revival of Central Asian culture archetype anew. Central Asia as a unified territorial and geopolitical region evinced itself as in republics self-development. On republican level tendencies of reinterpretation of past socio-cultural experience had occurred. In researches the accent is put on studying of mentality specificity. The splash of national self-consciousness promotes to self-revival of traditional culture values. Simultaneously the other tendency occurs: the process of globalization stimulates penetrating and absolutization of universal values. In this situation occurs interlacing of national, regional and global interests. Processes of modernization also affect culture system in its values expression. Social system reflects all contradictions of transition period.

In this connection Kyrgyz culture and society problems analysis in the frameworks of contemporaniety (end of 20th – beginning of 21st centuries) allows talking about tragedy of Kyrgyz culture, which opens on three basic items. Firstly the tragedy affected national-spiritual consciousness expression. By the end of 20th century an image of nation that didn’t realize the utmost basics of its own culture had formed. This was promoted with protracted silence about historical and spiritual-cultural role of Central Asia in civilized development. Kyrgyz culture is a variety of Central Asian way of thinking; consequently an archetype was preserved on the level of sub-consciousness. It didn’t have way out on the level of national self-consciousness. By the end of 20th century Kyrgyzstan had been a symbiosis of eastern and western culture elements. Thus Central Asian archetype didn’t have representation in this values system. At present time the process of realizing of historical roots is in progress. The origin of roots is in the system of traditional old-kyrgyz way of thinking. It allows developing of national culture, for which a dialogical monologue between historical past and contemporary state of culture and society is conductive. This is the process of restoration of basic principles of world perception but it is necessary to consider the moment of historicalness: values of former époques of culture history are irreplaceable in corpore – this is an objective process of development.

Second aspect of Kyrgyz culture tragedy shows in social development. That makes Kyrgyzstan related to other sovereign states. Soviet stage of development along with positive also had negative moments. One of them is the fact of socio-cultural isolation and subordination in defining of its orientation of existence of Kyrgyz Republic. National self-consciousness of Kyrgyz people underwent dull state, the state of non-awareness of its individuality in common row of soviet republics. National thinking stereotype came to exceptionally external display of originality which didn’t’ affect inner integrity and all-sufficiency. Kyrgyz people were attenuated in common notion of “soviet people”. There occurred the process of alienation from own principles of understanding the world. This is the evidence of tragedy of social-national development when Kyrgyz mentality was unclaimed. Sovereignty proclaiming defined starting of development of social culture. The necessity of creating a modern model of social order of Kyrgyzstan for self-identification in world society had ripened. Consequently at the present time it is necessary to interpret principles of traditional thinking of Kyrgyz people in practice of social reality. Without understanding of positive and negative aspects of national character the self-identification is not possible. In this regard it is vital to denote functional characteristics of traditional thinking and introduce contemporary development criteria, which consider that civilized norms of existence are global.

The third aspect of the tragedy exposes the nature of global consciousness at the beginning of 21st century. Both national and social development synthesize in raising the problem global-personal character. History had defined its challenge and its answer depends on every national-cultural system. In this case traditional system of thinking is exposed to fundamental transformation. The problem of cultural identity in the period of global development supposes concrete analysis of existing system of thinking with rational correction. Correlation of universal and national-spiritual values reflects adaptation of culture and the state during the period of globalization. Here also rises the problem of dialogue as a paradigm of thinking of contemporary époque, which is interpreted in existence of cultures and societies.

Forms of Kyrgyz culture tragedy noted above determine the necessity of analysis of traditional way of thinking and its correlation with contemporary changes.  

The following snapping back in the traditional system of culture was connected with gaining of sovereignty by Kyrgyzstan. The process has triggered the crisis in self-determination, epitomized in two tendencies: impetuous revival of the principles of traditional system of the thinking and blind imitation of the norms of western culture and society and of the stereotypes of the universal values. The first tendency is a logical response to the protracted silence on the sources of traditional culture. The realization of historical roots allows developing the national culture, the revival of which gives impetus to further development. However, it is impossible and is not allowable to fully restore the traditional system of thinking, since each historical epoch imposes its own criteria for perception of the being. Accordingly, not all of the norms of traditional and national character are claimed today: some of them cannot stand the criteria of the period. At the same time some of half-forgotten features of the archetype of thinking are, on the contrary, actual due to the setting of the problem of cultural identity.

The second tendency reflects the process of adaptation of culture, society in the being of XXI century, characterized with the process of globalization of civilized norms of being. None of national and traditional systems is not able to resist the dissemination of universal values, which pre-determine the unity of historical epoch and flowing processes of world development. In refraction to the Central Asian region, and in particular to Kyrgyzstan the given process is characterized by contradicting interweaving of interests of national culture, region and the civilization as a whole. At the same time the process of revaluation of values of traditional culture and of principles of Soviet epoch and re-orientation to the current processes of modernization is taking place. Modern tendencies encompass all the fields of being: economic, socio-political and spiritual-cultural. The latest aspect is the most contradicting since the perception values of the being cannot be changed quickly. The process of revaluation is fairly continuous and painful. This process has formed by westernization, when all western values without taking into account the specifics of the history and spiritual-cultural traditions are extended to the national basis. However, the values of liberal culture cannot be organically included to the traditional system and gain a character of internal transformation without taking into account the peculiarity of the mentality.

Contradiction is in the discrepancy of traditional culture values and universal values. In contrast to rationalism that developed into universalism of Western values in Kyrgyz culture prevail contemplative and intuitive thinking, pointing out local values. Rationalism is opposed by sensitivity the world perception; abstraction is opposed by concreteness of thinking; to culture of law – tribalism of interpersonal relations; to theoretical culture of thinking – intuitive perception; anthropological compatibility – ecological compatibility; to time historical succession – horizontal spatiality; world perception objectivity is opposed by symbolicallness of thinking; to pragmatism – speculativeness. Such a disparity in its origin is from contrast way of life. Settled way of life is opposed by nomadic way of life. Along with this Kyrgyz history reflects the fact of transition to settled way of life so the principles of such perception of existence are not completely denied but coexist with traditional.

The important moment in defining of contemporary mentality, values and culture system is the basic principle of worldview of nomadic culture - easiness in perception of changes so adaptation to occurring transitions is not so painful. In current life traditional thinking system is not kept in its classical feature. For achieving the leap in socio-cultural sphere of life activity to the traditional value system the ratio-pragmatical approach should be used. In present historical period conditionality of Kyrgyz people mentality is varying in accordance with distinctness of social layer. The general population basing in villages of republic to a greater extent is keeping the traditional thinking features; the general city part of population is liable to faster perception of universal values; intelligentsia according to its way of thinking is more influenced by European way of life. Along with this the most functional parameters of traditional culture have demand; they are preserved and develop.

From the system of universal values in the traditional system pragmatism adopted very well because reality dictates such approach to the process of self-realization. It is necessary to note that the question is not about to reconsider national and spiritual values. Changing of social look doesn’t mean spiritual and cultural regeneration of a nation. The problem of cultural identity is in the capability of a nation to adapt functional universal values to traditional culture system. Only in this case individuality is not graded and at the same time there is an opportunity of self-representation in existence of other cultures and societies in the period of globalization.

In this situation the necessity  to development of a cultural dialogue problem will allow to use principles of openness in national culture in solving emerging problems of inter-ethnic relations in the frame of Kyrgyzstan. The dialogue is a paradigm of thinking in the XXI century.

Concrete analysis of controversial processes of society transformation happening in the republic determine following theoretical conclusion. Transitional society of Kyrgyzstan reflects a peculiar variant of development from traditional society to liberal. Such a peculiarity is the consequence of mentality uniqueness: specificity of political consciousness, social memory and system of spiritual-cultural values. Namely taking into account of these elements will allow defining particular tendencies of social and value society structure development.

Kyrgyz mentality archetype is Central Asian way of thinking having following characteristics: dynamic, contemplative, ecologically compatible, spatial, peculiar succession, tribal, symbolic. Some of the defined traits of national character – dynamic, ecologically compatible and peculiar receptivity of changes determine easiness in adaptation to occurring fundamental changes in society.

Central Asian region (including Kyrgyzstan) in it historical development had experienced three stages of fundamental transformation of way of life. Adaptation to changes is the character trait so the current stage is not an exception. So it allows arguing that contemporary reevaluation of values and way of life is perceived rather easy, without harsh psychological shock. The process is natural but there are exceptions of personality nature).

Specificity of political consciousness and social memory is shown in following moments. Historically for Central Asia was typical sacralization of power – society concentrated around the power but not otherwise. From the olden times there was an institute of Aksakals (elder) reflecting patrimonial nature of power. Patrimonial trait of political consciousness are strong, they are stable on the level of sub-consciousness. That is conductive to vivid display of tribalism in contemporary politics. With proclaiming of sovereignty such features got stronger. That was the reaction on their prohibition during soviet époque. In transitional period there is new stage of “democratic sacralization” of power. Correspondingly neither newly born political elite nor counter-elite cannot become really national elite, which could bear responsibility for people. Special meaning have problems of republican regionalism, they have political bias. It is vital to keep representation of all regions of republic in power structures. It hampers the process of introduction of democratic values conditioning difficulties in perception of legal culture of democratic society. The basic meaning has tribal relations but not person (professional qualities, charisma)

Social memory includes peculiarities of ethnic memory. In the given case peculiarity of ethnic memory displays in putting “Self” with ancestors which is different from time criteria of settled culture. Instead of historical vertical ethnic memory is apparent in historical horizontal. Cult of ancestors determines strengthening of tribal interests so the social memory as a political consciousness lead to tribalism.

Consolidating role in strengthening of unity of society can play national idea. Attempts to build an ideology in republic on the basis of “Seven precepts of Manas” failed. It is rather natural because exploitation of spiritual legacy for political stabilization of democratic process is irrelevant and unprofitable. Democratic values have to become social and it is not possible to build them on the basis of ethnicity. One more factor for basing an ideology is taking into account and registration of historical time. 21st century with its globalizations inserts fundamental correctives in nation-cultural systems. It is necessary to realize that traditional culture endures an internal crisis and for further self-determination in living in 21st century the vital meaning gains rational-pragmatic approach in evaluation of cultural legacy. Only in that case liberal values can adopt in inner essence of culture but not function on the level of external borrowings.

This moment puts forward the problem of spiritual and cultural values. Liberalization of values supposes perception of universal values and philosophy of adaptation to liberal values in transitional period is destructive. Difference of Central Asian mentality from western mentality is so profound that it supposes incommensurable way of life and values system, resulting from specificity of mentality. Values system is conditioned by archetype of Central Asian way of thinking. Concreteness of thinking, symbolical figurativeness, nonreligiousness, epiqueness special form of succession in the form of cult of ancestors (arbak), uniqueness of traditions and rites as an exotic form of world perception, maturity of folk arts predetermined the system of values of irrational nature. Because of this rationality and pragmatism of universal values is alien to inner culture system. For perception of liberal values it is necessary introduction of rational approach in traditional system e.g. synthesis of the most functional historical values of modern norms of existence.

1.5. Europe and Central Asia – More than Security and Energy? Defining an Emerging Partnership

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For quotation purposes:
Urmanbetova Jyldyz: Dialogue as paradigm of thinking in the XXI century - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW: .htm

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