Genealogy of an ethnos as a philosophical problem

The problematization of an ethnos through the concept of “genealogy” turns us to the problem of a method, an approach on which it depends, how and what can be consciously recognized as an “ethnos” as such. It is known that when it comes to the origin or the dynamics of a particular phenomenon, as a rule, historical and genetic are used.
Historical research studies the development of a phenomenon, building the logic of its development as a sequence of events, interpreted in the projections of a linear model of time – from the “present” to “past” and from “past” to “future”.
Genetic research involves the search for the initial state of the phenomenon, its fundamental principles and the study of it as a process.
What can the “genealogy” of an ethnos mean? – It is clear that we should talk about a genealogical “view” that is something different from historical and genetic.

The genealogical approach involves such a consideration of the phenomenon in the process of which:

  • Constants constituting this phenomenon are found that are immanent to it;
  • There is an “energy” principle of the connection of these constants, allowing the phenomenon to be “always” just this, and not another phenomenon;
  • The method of self-organization and reproduction of the phenomenon as a whole is being clarified.

Genealogy in this sense falls into the semantic field of “becoming.”
“Formation,” in this sense, is akin to Nietzsche’s “eternal return” of the same thing: “If it is obvious that everything is changing, then everything must change through its own repetition.” In other words, what is already “becomes”, and it becomes itself. This is the main problem that lies in the field of genealogy – how the phenomenon changes so that it continues to be what it is. Thus, the “genealogical” approach is associated with the problem of identity.
Studying the genealogy of an ethnos is not to determine in which pre- or historical period of time an ethnos has arisen, but to find a connection between the phenomenon of an ethnos and the experience of awareness of its own identity, to focus on those constants that, forming some kind of connectivity, they allow the ethnos to remain “by itself”, and, at the same time, give it the opportunity to continuously “open” the boundaries of its becoming, as if expanding the experience of identity. Arguing in this vein, one should speak of a completely different understanding of time than is customary in a rationalized and rationalized picture of the world. In this sense, time is identical with life, or time is one with life as with “self-existence”. Moreover, time is associated with a person as a “subject of life”, because it is the subject of life that “translates” life into “being.” Giving life a universal meaning, the individual experiences his individual life as an event, thanks to which he also realizes himself as a person, i.e. becomes oneself. The depth of eventuality “measures” the time of his life, building it “vertically”.
Within the framework of the declared theme, an ethnos is considered as a “form” of the subject of life (along with such a “form” as a social subject) – the ontological aspect – and as a category – the epistemological aspect. To codify historically specific “configurations” of an ethnos, concepts such as “family”, “people”, and “nation” are introduced. The leitmotif is the justification and analysis of the mutual generation of the “support” constants of the ethnos, reproduced in the family, people, nation. The connection of these constants allows the ethnos to be “itself through itself and for itself” (in the “family”, “people”, “nations”).
The genealogy of an ethnos, therefore, is the connection of the constants that define the ethnos as such, and this is the connection of the phenomenon of the ethnos and its awareness of itself as “being”, the awareness of what the ethnos defines itself, knows itself and takes care of itself, and reproduces itself, affirming its “infinity”. Obviously, from this it follows that the ethnos exists and becomes in the presence of such constants, which, already as criteria of identity, it must understand and symbolically “fix”. What are these criteria?
The genealogical constants of the ethnic group include:

  • The body of an ethnos, regarded as a landscape;
  • Language, as a means of expanding the semantic field of identity through the integration of the “continuous flow” of the environment into the image;
  • Community as a “family” and “home.”

These constants provide the ethnos with the energy of becoming, which “spins” it into the outside world, and thereby provides evidence of the ethnos about itself.
If you imagine this in the form of a graphic metaphor, you can depict a double spiral, two sleeves of which are unwound from one singularity.

V.O. Ryabov, S.N. Tesla *
SSU, Sochi


Propp V.Ya. The historical roots of a fairy tale. Compilation, scientific edition, textual commentary I.V. Peshkova. M .: Publishing house “Labyrinth”, 2010. 332 p.
Sublima V.A. Metaphysics of the landscape. Communicative strategies in the philosophical culture of the XIX – XX centuries. M .: “Canon”, 2012.


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