previous article next article to main page

Kostyantyn Sigov

The Lesson Of Chornobyl

© K.Sigov, 2001

The Chornobyl disaster did not only undermine the political and ideological system of Communist power and knowledge, but also, and with unprecednted radicalness, raise doubts about the “Faustian desire” of modern civilization to go beyond all natural and technological barriers…

These doubts were raised not on paper but in the air itself, which people were suddenly afraid to breathe. The whole atmosphere of old disputes changed. Peeping through the door of our ramshackle laboratory, we saw an immense shadow creep out and cover the planet.

We can neither see nor smell nor touch radiation. None of our senses helps us to spot the danger. Therefore, we cease to trust our own spontaneous and often traumatizing warning mechanisms, which may still be retained in the taste of iron or a certain sensation of the thyroid gland reported by some. Usually, we are nowhere near anything like “informed ignorance”, i.e. a self-limitation of reason, whose pride is likely to be aroused even in the hour of defeat.

Naturalism, as the leading ideology of the “scientific revolution”, transforms all knowledge about man: from medicine’s attitude towards man as a physiological “body” to socio-political views of natural human rights in society. In the twentieth century, according to S. Frank, “the system of natural powers is perceived as closed in itself and encompassing all existence.”

The expansion of naturalism into its own desire to subjugate all areas of human existence turns into an idol the very concept of Nature. Both global and local sacrifices are demanded by the idol of naturalism.

Global hecatomb is caused by such concepts as the “natural” supremacy of one race over another, the “natural” tendency of “healthy” people to eliminate “unhealthy”, suspicious ones etc. The local sacrifices in the name of Nature are no less horrible, they amount to the annihilation of those fundamental links between things and ideas which were traditionally thought of as natural.

The perspective of a new atmosphere of thinking (despite the inertia of “hypercuriosity”), of a new air of “informed ignorance”, will perhaps cast fresh light on the “ground” of our essence and existence, on the attitudes of people to each other, to the animal world, to the world as such, to language.