Frolov Ivan Timofeevich


FROLOV, Ivan Timofeevich (b. September 1, 1929, Dobroe, Russia; d. November 18, 1999, Moscow) – a famous Russian philosopher, a political activist, an organizer of domestic research and development in the field of contemporary global issues, and one of the founders of the new scientific field of globalistics.

Frolov graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow State University after Lomonosov (1953), being appointed a Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, and Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1987).

He played a crucial role in the development of globalistics in Russia, in the promotion of global issues and raising public awareness of this topic. In the 1960s to the 1980s Frolov researched the philosophical issues around biology, progress in science and technology, the environment, and so on, and played a positive role in weakening the ideological pressure on philosophical thought in the USSR.

Actively participating in the dethroning of Lysenkoism, he sought to show the failure of attacks on genetics, first through the Marxist philosophy which staged and raised to a high level of theoretical discussion these co-humanistic aspects of science and technology. Frolov has done a lot to turn the Soviet philosophy towards understanding environmental and other global problems of today.

After the publication in the early 1980s of his works devoted to this subject, the philosophical definition of global problems given by him has become firmly established.

He was one of the first to indicate the basic features of global problems, and formulated criteria that allow them to be singled out and classified in order of importance. In recent works, he has actively developed the ideas of a new humanism that is able to contain scientific and technical achievements.

Frolov is one of those philosophers who tried to overcome the dogmatism of official philosophy, and to give an objective analysis of the processes and trends of modern scientific knowledge. As chief editor of the journal Problems of Philosophy (1968–77), he managed to establish cooperation with representatives of major national science organizations who constantly spoke on the magazine pages on the issues of international development.

Round Tables, in which discussions about the most pressing issues of concern, were especially important (“Man and His Environment,” Vyazma 1–4 (1973); “Science, Ethics, Humanism,” Vyazma 6/8 (1973); “Socio-Philosophical Problems of Demography,” Vyazma 4/11 (1974), 4/11 (1975), No. 1, and others).

The dialectics of scientific and technical progress was objectively evaluated. On the one hand the STR and its modern forms (biotechnology, microelectronics, computer science, etc.) opened up new possibilities for science and social practice, and on the other hand identified some negative effects, including social and environmental issues.

Later, this was reflected in the thesis that indicated civilization needed to go to the level of “high ground” (1984, No. 9, in collaboration with N.N. Moiseyev) in which man, society, and the biosphere worked together. Asking the question “Does the ecological crisis threaten the world?” (Pravda, August 16, 1974), Frolov focused on socio-economic contradictions of Western industrial civilization.

However, he proceeded from the fact that the environ- mental issue has a universal nature, which necessitates an integrated approach to its solution (Vyazma 1 (1973)).

Studying the controversial nature of the functioning of science in modern civilization caused his interest not only in the methodological issues of scientific knowledge, particularly biology and genetics, but the mechanisms and forms of the governance of science and its institutions. Science is analyzed in a broad philosophical and socio-cultural context (Modern Science and Human- ism (Moscow, 1974); The Progress of Science and the Future of Man (Moscow, 1975)). He defended the thesis, asserting the unity of science and humanism as an imperative of the inevitable positive future of modern civilization.

As Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences (RAS) on the complex problem of “philosophical and social issues of science and technology” (1980–99), he initiated and actively sup- ported research in the rising field of global research.

The multifaceted activities of the Scientific Council received fundamental coverage in his official publication (see Philosophy and Sociology of Science and Technology: Yearbook; Br. Ed. it Frolov. Nauka (Moscow, 1983–88)).

In the 1980s Frolov was particularly interested in the work of the global issues section of the Scientific Council (Head of Section – V.V. Zagladin). Already in the first publications on this subject (vf. 1974, No. 8), Frolov managed to reveal their essence and meaning, which was later developed in “Man and mankind in the terms of global issues,” EoF 9 (1981) and in Global Issues of Modernity: The Scientific and Social Aspects (ed. with Zagladin) (Moscow, 1981). Theoretical results obtained by Frolov in the field of globalistics can be formulated as follows: (1) the development of general theoretical aspects of a global range of is- sues (“Philosophy of Global Issues,” EoF 2 (1980)).

The classification of global issues, which was proposed by him (together with Zagladin), acquired a fundamental nature, and has retained its conceptual meaning up to the present. Those methods were analyzed, primarily with a systematic approach, which can be applied to adequate analysis of an inherently complex (integral) range of issues; (2) analysis of the global consequences of the armament race and the real threat of global thermonuclear catastrophe.

The potential possibility of the exchange of thermonuclear attacks between the superpowers and the reality of the corresponding negative consequences, which threaten the very existence and even the survival of civilization, were treated as “global issue number one.” The environmental issue eventually became regarded as one of the most important contemporary global issues, and Frolov, as the chief of section of socio-philosophical issues of the Scientific Council of the Presidium of RAS on biosphere issues (1980–99), made a significant contribution to its analysis.

At the same time the extent and nature of human activity were evaluated as a determining factor of environmental degradation that was dangerous to humans and the biosphere. On the one hand, the causes of the intensification of global biospheric tension were analyzed, which were associated with the type of anthropogenic civilization, demographic processes, the growth of social needs, and so on.

On the other hand, the arrangements for “removal” of the severity of socio-ecological contradictions were proposed (the increase in the “degree of closure” of activity, “ecologization” of thinking, and so on). Dynamics of scientific and technical development were discussed in the context of a global range of issues.

The dialectics of the interconnection of elements of the system of science – technology – production was revealed. A historically established orientation of scientific and technical progress (the scale of activity in society, exaggerated status of technocracy, etc.) has be- come a significant factor aggravating the contradictions of modern civilization.

However, it is a constructive direction for scientific research and development, access to a new level (biotechnology, information technology, etc.) being considered as the basis of scientific and practical solutions to selected global issues as well as to the system in general. During the decade of “Soviet globalistics” (1981–91) the following results were achieved: attraction of the attention of a large group of scientists to the study of global issues; the formation of a new direction in domestic science, moving towards the interaction (and integration) of social sciences and humanities, natural-scientific and technical and technological knowledge; development and application of scientific methods (system approach, modeling, etc.) to the analysis of complex objects on a global scale; inclusion of ideas, beliefs, and concepts from Western studies in the scientific revolution, which significantly increased the possibility of domestic developments taking place; and perception of the results of global research by decision-makers (the policy of peaceful coexistence, new political thinking, etc.). Discussions of global issues were organized in the leading scientific institutions of RAS.

During this period, discussions were held in the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Institute of Geography, the Computer Centre, and so on, with the publication of material in the journals Issues of Philosophy (1983, No. 12 and others), Social Sciences (1985, No. 3, etc.).

Major national and international scientific forums were conducted, such as the National Symposium “Marxism-Leninism and the Global Challenges of Our Time” (Moscow, June 1983), which focused on the entire system of glob- al issues, and the National Conference “Social and Methodological Issues of Scientific and Technical Progress” (Moscow, November 1984), where the focus was on identifying the role of science and technology in the resolving of contradictions that were faced by modern civilization on a global scale (see “Scientific and Technological Progress at the Present Stage of Development of Socialism,” Issues of Philosophy 9 (1985)).

Eminent domestic scientists took part, including academicians N.G. Basov, M.I. Budyko, B.A. Kirillin, I.V. Petryanov-Sokolov, and M.A. Styrikovich. Discussion of various aspects of global issues, and the identification of the role of scientific and technical progress in their resolution was combined with the development of practical recommendations.

The workshop led by I.T. Frolov was directly involved in the organization and conducting of a number of international forums, such as “Socialism and Global Issues” (Prague, June 1985) and “Ecology and Peace” (Varna, August 1986), where, in particular, the need to strengthen international cooperation in the solving of global issues was stressed. In particular, they discussed the prevention of global thermonuclear catastrophe and the rationalization of interrelations of elements of the man – biosphere – society system.

Frolov was elected one of the leaders of the international organization Eco Forum for Peace (1986–99). As part of the Eighth International Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (Moscow, August 1987), a “round table” was organized on the global issues of modern civilization.

This was attended by leading national experts (academicians D.M. Gvishiani, N.N. Moiseev, for example) and foreign scholars (such as D. Meadows). Advocacy of global issues was actively conducted through the society Knowledge in the USSR, and in the Central Lecture Centre, where the most eminent domestic scholars and experts read a series of lectures for two seasons (1985–87), in which the whole modern system of global issues and prospects for their development were discussed. Similar lecture cycles were held in the capitals of a number of Union republics (in Alma Ata, Ashkhabad, etc.). Corresponding informational materials were published (see Library “global issues of the modern world”; comp. I.T. Frolov. Issues 1–4. Moscow, 1984). In 1990 on Frolov’s initiative as the USSR Institute of Man was created; it existed until 2004. This institute attempted to establish interdisciplinary studies of human essence and the main issues in the context of globalization.

As director, Frolov managed to run the program of interdisciplinary study of man and his interrelationship with the natural and biological, sociocultural, and moral aspects of a personality. It consisted of the implementation of a scientific program, the selection of like-minded collaborators, editions of the magazine Man, preparation of fundamental scientific works published under Frolov’s editorship (About the Human in Man (Moscow, 1991); Man. Philosophical and Encyclopedic Dictionary (Moscow, 2000); and others). Frolov, in thinking about the historical transformations of human studies, noticed that there are “eternal questions” but there are no “eternal answers.” On the one hand, the priority of a man remains unchanged: the spiritual value of world culture. On the other hand, adequate responses to the global challenges of civilization require the development of new approaches, such as scientific research and overcoming of historical delusions.

Works: Genetics and Dialectics (Moscow, 1968); Modern Science and Human- ism (Moscow, 1975); The Progress of Science and the Future of Man (Moscow, 1975); Perspectives Rights (Moscow, 1979; 2nd edn, 1983); Essence and Meaning of Global Issues (Moscow, 1981); Global Issues of the Modern World: The Scientific and Social Aspects (Moscow, 1981); Global Issues and the Future Of Mankind (Moscow, 1982; 2nd edn, 1984); About the Meaning of Life, Death and Immortality of Man (Moscow, 1985); About Man and Humanism. Works of Different Years (Moscow, 1989).