Abstracts for Akadeemia 1/2007

Ain-Elmar Kaasik
Limits of medical care: Medical, economic, and ethical issues

The expectations of populations regarding medicine are often exaggerated. Economic welfare and social cohesion are more essential for a population’s health than medicine; both lifestyle and the environment play an important role.

Implementation of all available methods of treatment is sometimes economically inexpedient and medically senseless. It is unethical to prolong the process of dying. Contemporary treatment sometimes prolongs a certain function of life, but the person’s wakeful mind cannot be restored. Desisting from the application of treatments that prolong life but do not return the human quality of mind can be taken for passive euthanasia, and hence, the area needs suitable consensus agreements, legislation, and guidelines.

David Lowenthal
Stewardship: How to care for future generations

The proponents of futurism Marinetti and Sant’Elia were of the opinion that old Italian cities with their numerous historical monuments formed an obstacle to progress. To commit oneself to the future, one had to discard everything old, the Futurists thought. The same trend continued in modernism. Some time after the end of World War II, however, people found that the chosen path to the future was not correct. Besides architecture and planning that alienated people from their urban environment, the loss of faith in technology was also caused by problems related to nuclear weapons and the environment. Such a joint influence created a vision of the future that consisted merely of nostalgia for the past; this also strengthened the position of heritage protection in society. All the problems related to cultural heritage have arisen from the loss of faith in the future.

Lowenthal explores what this faith was like and how it could be restored. The story of the faith in progress began in Renaissance Italy but became fully developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A belief spread that the resurrection in its religious sense (redemption, etc.) could happen in the everyday world existing here and now. This form of thought was based on the idea that God had left the world unfinished and expected people to perfect it. Progress was regarded as inevitable. The right to improve earthly life became an obligation, and, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this idea began to influence people’s understanding of themselves, their children, and society. Attaching significance to progress also improved the understanding of the past. When planning and preparing for the future, one had to merge it with one’s understanding of the past. In other words, there used to be an agreement between the past, the present, and the future – between what people owed to their grandparents, what they had to glorify and perfect and pass on to their grandchildren. In a sense, society then was larger than any society of the present. Society existed supratemporally; therefore, the time span during which people perfected it could be much longer than one generation. To achieve something permanent, one perfection had to be piled upon another. The problem of the modernist movement was that, while preserving faith in the future, it lost sight of the past and thought that the precondition for future progress was an absolute break with the past.

Kiira Subi
Research and money

This article analyzes and compares two systems for financing research. One of them is the system of financing research institutions. In this case the state organizes and guarantees the development of research by establishing institutions for different research areas and creates an integrated system of research. For work in research institutions, talented researchers are sought by competition for fixed time periods. Because in this system the relation between research and the state is based on work, the researchers are also oriented to work – to upgrading their knowledge and qualifications, to achieving maximum results in research in order to compete for research posts.

The other system is project-based financing, in the case of which the state is not engaged in organization of research but distributes money between researchers who apply for it. There is no integrated system of research, as research trends depend on what anyone wishes to do. As the relationship between the state and the researcher is based on money, the researchers are also primarily oriented to money – their work is not based on the inner logic of research but on the conditions of financing, as the more money they manage to get for their research project, the greater their income can be.

The author reaches the conclusion that the system of financing research institutions is orientated primarily at development of research, while the system of project-based financing is focused on money – on checking the distribution and spending of money meant for research. The system of financing research not only reflects the state’s attitude to research as a specific area of activity but society’s value system in general – whether a knowledge-based or a money-based society is developed. Development of research is realistic only in a knowledge-based society that places the greatest value on humans as doers and creators. For researchers, money is only a means for their research.

Roosmarii Kurvits
Changes in the appearance of Estonian newspapers in the 1990s: From socialism to modernism and some postmodernism. II

The article studies when, how, and why Estonian newspapers which used to be Soviet in form became similar to newspapers of the Western world. It compares the appearance of three major Estonian-language national dailies (Rahva Hääl / Eesti Päevaleht, Noorte Hääl / Päevaleht, Edasi / Postimees) by means of content analysis. It analyzes the frequency and size of the main elements of design (texts, photos, headlines, labels, infographics, sidebars, etc).

The 1990s were a period of rapid changes in Estonian society and journalism. Primarily, these resulted from disintegration of the Soviet Union and restoration of Estonia’s independence in 1991.

In the first half of the 1990s, the number of newspapers was growing; many untrained young people were employed as journalists. In 1990, pre-censorship was abolished; and from 1991-1994, state-owned dailies were privatized. From 1990-1993, the circulation of dailies decreased by around two-thirds. From 1990-1991, computers were introduced, and colour was widely used in the second half of the decade. This period is also characterized by concentration of the press and selling of papers to foreign owners (1998).

During the 1990s, the volume and size of papers changed considerably. The page sizes decreased throughout the decade. By autumn of 2000, no Estonian-language daily was published in broadsheet format. The causes for shrinking sizes were mainly economic. The volume of papers grew by four times. The growth was most rapid from 1993-1995 – 2.6 times; in the second half of the decade the volume grew by 10 per cent.

The structure of papers also changed. This was caused by the growth of volume and increase in thematic diversity. From 1990-1991, multi-thematic pages were typical; later thematic pages appeared and the share of entertaining topics increased. In the late 1990s, advertisement-based pages appeared where editorial texts served as a support structure for attracting ads on certain topics. Amongst the ads, there were two main tendencies: constant growth in the volume of ads (the share of ads in an issue grew by more than three times, the volume of ads in one issue by 16 times) and ads becoming constantly more conspicuous (placed on strategically important pages and in between the editorial material).

Changes in elements of design can be divided into two periods. The first half of the 1990s was a time of confusion and freedom, which was mainly characterized by random layout. The second half of the 1990s was a period of regulation and rationalization, which brought about the emergence of a new paradigm of newspaper design. Principally similar developments appeared in Estonian society and journalism. Thus, the look of newspapers clearly reflected changes in society.

In the first half of the decade, texts lengthened by a fifth, headlines became more prominent in their form (bolder typefaces, lowercase letters, alignment to the left), and photos enlarged by a third. The content of illustrations changed – instead of ideologically correct foreign political cartoons, daily editorial cartoons on domestic policy appeared; as a new feature, the same choice of comic strips as in the West was published.

The appearance of the newspapers was uneven and inconsistent: the lengths of texts varied greatly; headlines and text fonts were of arbitrary size; pages had inconsistent grids; bastard measures (e.g. column widths) and labels in different styles were used side by side. Novel elements were introduced: informational graphics, comic strips, sidebars, colour.

The most essential changes in the second half of the decade were the following:

Text type became standardized (one or two typefaces in standard sizes) and formalized (the font was not changed in order to make the text fit in). Titles (headlines that labelled the topic) were replaced with statements of the meaning of the events (declarative headlines that brought forth a certain idea from the story); the use of typefaces became systematic. Decorativeness of labels and standing heads decreased in both content and form. Photos ceased to be an addition to the text and became the central element of the page; their size range broadened (from extra large photos to a great number of very small ones), and their form intensified. Infographics were regularly used; they became smaller and more sophisticated. Simultaneously, they became more varied in their content and form. The use of colour spread rapidly, becoming orderly and systematic.

Texts were fragmented; they became shorter and strongly segmented: in addition to subheads, longer texts were divided into several parts, each with its own headline and block of text, and information was more labelled. Additional decks, liftout quotes, and fact boxes were systematically used to emphasize the central idea of the story.

Pages were divided into clearly hierarchical parts. A page contained one lead story (longer text, dominant headline, dominant photo), and other stories around it were given noticeably less prominence.

In sum, the author’s freedom decreased. Earlier the length of a story was determined by the author, now by the editor, who had to follow the regulations of design and layout. Editors and journalists were forced to redefine their tasks, to plan the stories with visual packaging in their mind.

Thus, the first period was characterized by confusion but also by freedom. Experiments were made almost without limitations. In the second period, the appearance modernized and functionalized and became more uniform. It became the main aim for the design and layout of the paper to enhance its content as effectively as possible. These changes can generally be classified into three trends: 1. The newspaper was tidied up to make it more quickly readable. 2. The newspaper content became ranked and hierarchized: the page design began to give the recommendable reading path. 3. The appearance of the newspaper began to promote its content.

From 1995-1998, as a result of these changes, Estonian newspapers acquired the appearance of Western papers of the same period. Following Kevin G. Barnhurst and John Nerone, we call it the modernist newspaper as its central features are characteristic of modernist design: order, rationality, functionality, efficiency, asymmetry, regularity, reliance on scientific research.

Simultaneously, four tendencies emerged in the appearance of Estonian dailies, which are typical of the newspaper type that followed the modernist newspaper and could be called the postmodernist newspaper. These features appeared in the early 1990s and became stronger in the late 1990s. As these changes happened side by side with the changes that led to the emergence of the modernist newspaper, we can say that the Estonian newspaper moved in parallel towards modernism and postmodernism.

1. Spacing: headlines and text type became larger (the font of the body text was spaced out by ca. 15 per cent in ten years (1990-2000)), white space was added between elements. 2. Repetition: the number of headlines and labels grew; kickers and decks, subheads, liftout quotes were added. In addition, there were repetitions in the structure of the newspaper: the front page became a “showcase” that did not contain full stories but promotional items, indexes, summary boxes, references. These served as entry points, invitations to read. 3. Growth in visual intensity: the amount of the body text decreased; more photos, infographics, illustrations, and colour were used. Other elements were added on account of the text; in 15 years (1985-2000), the share of the body text in Estonian dailies decreased by approximately a third (from 60 per cent to 42 per cent). 4. Fragmentation. From the early 1990s, longer stories in the papers were divided by strong subheads (e.g. text breakers). Thereafter, small promotional elements were added to longer texts (decks, fact boxes, liftout quotes). Later, instead of one long story, several shorter ones were used (main story + sidebars). Fragmentation appeared in other elements as well, e.g. very small photos (2-3 cm in width) and small coloured elements (small headlines, labels, mug shots) were brought into use.

Evhen Tsybulenko
Communist rule in Ukraine – chronicle of terror

A specific form of genocide can be associated with the Ukrainian word golodomor, the nearest equivalent of which could be “massive starvation to death”. In Ukrainian history there have been three waves of starvation – in 1921-1923, 1932-1933, and 1946-1947. The best known of them is the famine of 1932-1933, during which a huge amount of grain grown by Ukrainian peasants was confiscated. Simultaneously, the Soviet government put 1.7 million tonnes of grain up for sale on Western markets at rock-bottom prices. This proves that actually the “famine” was deliberately planned by Moscow in order to break the resistance of Ukrainian peasantry. According to different sources, Ukraine lost 7-10 million people then.

Among other violations of human rights, the article dissects the terror against the Ukrainian intelligentsia: the show trial in Shakhty against engineers who were accused of sabotage, the trial of the Ukrainian Liberation Union, the wave of repressions against Ukrainian writers and academics beginning in 1934. The latter was related to the adoption of the new orthography of the Ukrainian language that replaced the former “nationalist” orthography adopted in 1928. In 1933 alone, 1649 scientists were arrested, which constituted 16.4 per cent of the staff working for the Academy of Sciences at the end of 1932.

Two of the largest mass graves of repression victims are located at Lukyaniv cemetery in Kiev. According to different estimates, at least 25 000-30 000 people found their final resting place there. Another significant symbol of communist terror is the large village of Bykivnia in the northeastern suburb of Kiev. Its mass graves contain people who were repressed by NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) in Kiev from 1936-1941. Researchers estimate the approximate number of victims to be at least 100 000.

Also cruel were the repressions undertaken in the territory of western Ukraine that was transferred to the Soviet Union after signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In December 1939, preparations started for deporting the inhabitants of western Ukraine and western Belarus to the outlying regions of the Soviet Union. Approximately 320 000 people were deported in that period (1940-1941). From 1944-1952, 65 906 families were deported from western Ukraine. The number does not include the deportees from Transcarpathian oblast.

The author hopes that the new Ukraine will give a fresh historical, political, and legal assessment of Ukraine’s totalitarian past.

Alur Reinans
On Endel Kõks and Estonian art in exile

In this sketchy portrait, the author depicts Endel Kõks (1912-1983) as a go-getter who, in the author’s opinion, even surpassed such stars of Estonian art as Eduard Wiiralt and Adamson-Eric. The author describes the years the artist spent in exile in Sweden – his urge to experiment with different trends in art, his organizational talent, and the idiosyncrasies of his character.

As a whole, however, Estonian art and cultural life in exile developed in relative isolation as it failed to achieve a prominent place in Swedish society.

Denis Diderot
The paradox of the actor. III

In this treatise presented in dialogue form, it is not essential for Diderot how the original literary image of the dramatic character changes in the actor’s embodiment into a person of flesh and blood, but how the actor’s personality becomes irreal in the conditional world of the theatre. The author emphasizes the different dimensions of life and art. The leitmotif of the dialogue is that the theatre is a different world.

The greatest worry of Diderot is that art should not dissolve in the formless and fluid empiricism of life. He attempts to lift art above petty-bourgeois prose by abstraction and strict form. Everything in art has to be subjected to the laws of harmony and unity. This also determines his views on acting – the actor is not expected to possess heightened sensitivity but virtuosity based on sobriety of thought.

The actor must not be concerned with himself but with the audience. He must be able to enact all roles except one – which represents his own personality. This is possible if he does not rely on emotions but is guided by reason, by knowledge of human nature, which, in its turn, enables him to strive for the ideal image for the given role.

The contrast between life and theatre conceals the much stronger opposition between civilization and nature. Diderot equates the performance with highly organized society – the actor with his cold reason resembles the ideal citizen who, like the actor, has to forget his sensitivity, listen to the voice of reason in order to perform the role given him by society.

The leitmotif of the dialogue – “the theatre is a different world” – contains another significant overtone. It is as if the actors and the audience of the “great comedy of life” change places. Now, instead of the chaos of the “great comedy of life”, the audience can see the whole and is able to give a meaning to it. The audience, like the actor, has a paradoxical and dual role. The audience capitulates to the power of illusion, is transferred to the world of the performance, identifies with the character – and, simultaneously, is not subjected to the illusion.

Thus, the actor is able to enact any character and imitate any tone because he has none of his own. He is simultaneously everything and nothing: his personal countenance never coincides with the character he has to impersonate.

Diderot does not smooth away the paradoxes; his treatise is topical again as an open polyphonic dialogue on art.

Christine Marion Korsgaard
The authority of reflection

In this lecture, Korsgaard sketches – encompassing autonomy, thinking, and practical identity of the actor – the basics of normativity that grow out of the Kantian treatment of morals. Korsgaard’s stance might be summarized as follows: I consider an impulse a reason for my action if, as a result of reflection, I approve of this impulse. First, I identify with a reason that, at least partly, is properly connected with one or another of my practical identities. Approving of the respective consideration as a reason, I make a law for myself to always act in the respective way. The normativity that I attribute by doing so to a certain impulse results from the obligation of my free will. I have the power of imposing a law upon myself partly because I have the power over myself, i.e. the power to punish myself – if I happen to break this law, I can punish myself with painful emotions. Arbitrary desires are, thus, not automatically normative for myself. I make some of them normative by practical identification of myself and imposing a law for myself. The others are not reasons for me at all.

Korsgaard does not limit herself to that. Although most treatments of our practical identity are arbitrary and vary according to “different social worlds in which we live”, there is still one description of ourselves that, in Korsgaard’s opinion, inevitably serves as a basis for our valuation of ourselves. This is the description of ourselves as reflective beings or human beings. Who values anything at all, values the reflective nature of oneself and other people. As all of us are reflective beings, this is our only real identity or our moral identity. As our reasons usually grow out of different treatments of our practical identities, then our moral identity is present, so to say, all the time and forms a background to our practical identities. Thus, in the form of moral identity there is a universal circumstance that requires consideration, that we have to consider a reason, and such a reason is foundational in two respects. First, in the case of a contradiction, our treatments of practical identity have to be harmonized with it. Secondly, this is the condition for the existence of all our practical identities, and thus also the precondition for all our reasons. Thus, the normativity of reasons depends on the scope of normativity that we attribute to ourselves as reflective beings.

Published 22 January 2007
Original in English

Contributed by Akadeemia © Akadeemia Eurozine


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