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The Orthodox ethics of work

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 25-04-2011
Мир России. 1994.  Т. 3. № 2. С. 54-96. 
Тематический раздел:
The paper calls attention to the problem of ethics of work in the Orthodox tradition. This problem is not even investigated yet. What does make the sense of work and for what does a person work — only for gaining his "bread" or, may be, for some other aims? What does the human work mean — the vocation or the punishment, the malediction or the blessing? The Orthodoxy has its own answers to these questions. The author compares the Orthodox attitude to work and economy with Catholic and Protestant attitudes. The author is convinced that the Orthodox mode can help in the realizing and perceiving of our present amoral socio-economic situation and in searching of outlet of complexity. The Orthodox tradition doesn't dig up the ethics of economy, but gets into economic the spiritual basis and organizes it morally.In the first part of the paper the author investigates the commons for Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism modes in their attitudes to work. This common bases on the conception of the human work as the divine vocation to be a "co-operator" of God in realizing of His Divine conception, and simultaneously as a punishment for the original sin. The common character of labor’s ethics in Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism bases also on the definite hierarchy of the values system, in which the spiritual dominates and rules the material and corporeal: "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" (Jesus).The second part of the paper is dedicated to the investigation of the specialities of the Orthodox religious mentality and peculiarities of Orthodox ethics of work. The author analises the historical evolution of Orthodox conception of ethics of work and its differences from Catholic and Protestant traditions. The author emphasizes that the contemplative character of the Oriental Christianity determines the attitude to different forms of human work in the secular life as well as in the monkish way of living.                                                                                                                             193The specific of Ortodox religious conscience bases also on another accent of perception of Jesus Christ, differing from the Catholic tradition: the Orthodox perception accentuates an attention on the divine nature of Christ, which is unite ("unconfluencely and inseparately") with His human nature. On the contrary, the Catholic tradition concentrates on the human nature of God, i.e. is anthropocentrical one. This determines the specialities of the attitudes to time of life and to time of work, to rhythm of work.In this part of the paper the author analises also the religious value of different forms of labour and trades in Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions, their attitudes to differents forms of activity in the world.The author examines also the Byzantine religious heritage's influence on the Russian Orthodox tradition. The author analyses how did the social-religious and ethic ideal in Russia form?The paper provides the detailed analysis of the Orthodox doctrine of salvage and its difference from the Catholic and Protestant conception. The author shows the logical bond between this doctrine and the conception of place and role of work in human life.In the third part of the paper the author calls attention to the Russian Orthodox tradition. The originality of Russian Orthodoxy was manifested in particular in the "soluble" character of it's theology. Many ages the Orthodox moral theology was not articulated — there were not some special forms such as Codexes and Tracts in the Catholic scholastic tradition. That's why the author investigates the religious ideal of work basing on the biographies of Russian Saints and historical data of economic organization of monkish life.At the end of this part the author defines the primordial principles of the monk ideal of work and attitudes to possessions, property and material weals. The author also examines the problems — how was monk ideal assimilated in the secular life? And did Russian Orthodox people orientate on this perfect monkish norms in practice? The author comes to the conclusion, that many fundamental characters of the Russian national mentality in its attitude to work, property, social and property differentiation were formed under the direct influence of the monkish ideal.The author outlines that the Orthodox ethics was orientated first of all to the purification and traing of "heart", to spiritual inner life. This promoted of opening of creative potential of the person. The Catholic moral tradition cultivated first of all the discipline, so the discipline of labor in Catholic tradition was more developed.Russian religious consciousness was forming as an ascetic, rejecting the world wealth and focusing at eternal and higher valuables. In this connection the whole "medium" field of social life — including economy and culture — were not percepted as the supreme valuables.The Russian Orthodoxy claimed to intrinsic freedom of social and property state, breaking the auto-identification of the human being from all exterior social or professional roles. This approach has determined specific features of labor behavior of the Orthodox Russians and imprinted deeply into inner labor motivation and professional activity
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