Actualisation of the 'Philosophical Functionalism' in Bioethics

- Konstantin S. Khroutski, Ph.D.
Institute of Medical Education, Novgorod State University after Yaroslav-the-Wise, Novgorod Velikiy (Russia)
IME NovSU, A/B 123, PO-25, Novgorod Velikiy, 173025 Russia

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 14 (2004), 63-65.


Developing the original philosophical system, exhibited in my previous publications in the Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics (2002, 2003), I attempt to outline in this paper, on the basis of the original 'philosophical functionalism', the conception of the universal Cosmist anthropology and the deduced notion of the bioethics of individual's health. The proposed approach in bioethics is characterised as person-centric, health-centric and cosmist functional. Significantly, my demonstrating and actualising of the Cosmist theses relies on the first philosophical fundamentals: cosmological, ontological, epistemological. Substantially, Cosmist anthropology and bioethics treat a man as the bio-social-cosmist creature, but not merely a bio-social one. The core notion of the original approach is a person's Basic (Cosmist) Functionality, the realisation of which leads a man to the entire ontogenetic well-being.

Key words: philosophy of Process, Cosmist universal anthropology, basic functionality, bioethics of individual's health

"Philosophy is a science and therefore, like every other science, it seeks to establish truths that have been strictly proved and are therefore binding for every thinking being and not only for a particular people or nation."

Nicolei O. Lossky.

(This sentence opens the chapter "Characteristic Features of Russian Philosophy" in N.Lossky's book "History of Russian Philosophy").


From the very origin the question remains of whether bioethical knowledge actually exists. Bioethics is a multidisciplinary field of knowledge. But may be it is more "para" than "multi"? Is it really possible to conduct the bioethical expertise in medicine, especially in family medicine? Basically, the term "bioethics" itself carries a deep contradiction in its meaning, insofar it covers both the scientific substance (based on "bios" - life sciences achievements) and the ethical substance (based on "ethike" - philosophical reasoning). To all appearances current bioethics will preserve (and even worsen) this ambiguity and controversial character in its future developments. Hence, are we capable to achieve the foundation for clear practical activities in bioethics?

To my firm belief, the given situation is a direct challenge to the creation of a new basis for bioethics, as well as philosophy and science on the whole. The judgment of Nicolei Lossky, which serves to me as an epigraph, clearly shows the way to reaching this basis - through the synthesis of an a priory (intuitive, phenomenological) knowledge with an a posteriory knowledge (of objective, empirical, and descriptive essence), although this kind of synthesis is the greatest philosophical sin. Significantly, Lossky had endowed with particular powers the philosophical branch 'cosmology'. To prove this it might be sufficient to demonstrate his understanding of the task of philosophy:

..."having studied the basic elements and aspects of the world, philosophy must detect the interconnection between them which forms the world-whole. Moreover, the world-whole, studied by the branch of metaphysics called cosmology, contains concrete individual elements of such significance as for instance, the biological evolution, the history of humanity - and philosophy must answer the question as to their meaning and their place in the world-whole." (Lossky 1951, p. 402)

We do need cosmological thinking. Life on Earth is a universal phenomenon in its substance. The latter is the undeniable fact of natural sciences. Hence, we are substantially inadequate in comprehension the cosmological (in Lossky's meaning) foundations for universal philosophy and science. In my context, for instance, I claim that either we will reach the creation of the rational basis for universal bioethics or the professional status, institutionalisation and future developments of bioethics remain beyond the area of their lucid objective understanding. In this, I fully support the claim of Prof. Jozef Glasa, who puts forward the need for a new underlying anthropological paradigm:

"The anthropological paradigm seems to be the decisive point of reference. It represents a particular conception of what the human being is; an image which implicit or explicit grounds for everyday choices, thus determining models of behaviour, criteria for evaluation and motivation for action. The term "human nature," a guiding principle for ancient and medieval cultures, has become a question for the modern and post-modern culture of contemporary mankind. On the other hand, human nature can be observed as an object of a great anthropological project that should help to understand what and who human beings really are, their proper place in the biosphere and in the universe... Within the global project of human nature, it has to have a say in the case for the future of humankind." (Glasa, 2001)

Cosmist Basic Notions and Terms

The substantial characteristic of my original philosophical system was given in my previous publications in the EJAIB (2002, 2003), as well as in the other publications (Khroutski 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003). Here, I want to develop in depth some core notions and terms, which might be crucial for understanding the whole concept. I am content to exhibit my points now taking into account the critical comments of the colleagues that were caused by my presentation of the material on the XVIIth European conference on philosophy of medicine and health care in Vilnius, 2003.

Primarily, my cornerstone cosmological notion is CEPLE: Cosmic Evolutionary Process of Life on Earth (my abbreviation for it is simply Process). Process is an objective phenomenon verified by numerous scientific disciplines, including comparative anatomy, biochemistry, etc., related to evolutionary history and, chiefly, to molecular biology. Therefore, Process is an a posteriory notion precisely of objective and empirical essence. Simultaneously, Process is an a priori notion, for it is solely revealed through rational (intuitive) cognition. Hence, the notion of Process integrates a posterior and a priori thinking, disclosing the approach for universal comprehension of the phenomenon of the life on Earth.

The other substantial notion, which stresses the universality of the life on Earth, is 'subject'. In Cosmist philosophy 'subject' means the integrated functional subject, which forever integrates autonomously and hierarchically other subjects (to be the functional whole) and, simultaneously, always being functionally integrated by the higher organised subject (organism). In other words, from the cosmist point of view subject means every living organism on Earth: molecule, cell, biological organism, biosphere, human being, family, community, social body, society, mankind, and, ultimately, Process itself (CEPLE) - the one common whole cosmic evolutionary process of the life on Earth.

Another cornerstone notion is 'emergent future', which means the successive appearing of the integrated macro-level of the ontogenesis of a subject's (man's) wellbeing (the university for a schoolboy; the vocational body for a graduate, etc.). In this, the term "emergence" substantially has the accepted meaning: the rise of a system that cannot be predicted or explained from antecedent conditions.

Further, I would like to stress the cosmist meaning of the term 'society'. This has not the prevailing political meaning, but it relates to any community, structure, organization, or any other socially functioning body of people having common purposes of their organization.

It is also important to distinguish the meaning of the terms 'cosmist' and 'cosmic': the former stresses two points: a) the intrinsic subjective origination of the primary perceptions of man's creative activity; b) the deliberate character of a person's creative activity, aimed at the achievement of the most desirable possible state of adaptation and development on the current level of her or his existence and, simultaneously, the gratifying ascent on the successively higher level of man's entire ontogenesis. In other words, a person performs cosmist creative activity basically on his or her own. In turn, the term 'cosmic' puts a particular emphasis that a subject is ultimately the function of Process. Finally, writing the word 'Cosmist' with a capital letter or in Italics accentuates its reference to the original philosophical system I have proposed.

Finally, the term 'creativity' has no correlation with supernatural factors, but designates precisely a person's inherent natural ability and energy to create: to originate, to design, to invent, to bring into existence, etc. new products, or results, or effects, etc. of one's creative activity.

Original cosmological principles lay the foundation for the advancement of a framework of ontological assumptions - the so-called ACW system: of Absolute (in regard to the all-embracing evolutionary Process), Cosmist (universal, functionally intentional realisation of the ascending ontogenesis of any subject - living organism: biological, personal or societal, including man), Wholism (with reference to universal functional integration of any subject into one whole - self-unfolding and evolutionary ascending - Process). The definition of the ACW system is exhibited in my previous publications.

Cosmist Anthropology: Reconciling Scientific and Humanistic Paradigms

The cornerstone conception of the Cosmist anthropology is the establishment of the three distinct functional macro-orders of man's existence (functioning):

Homo Sapiens animalis (HSA) - the direct function of the Biosphere.

Homo Sapiens sapiens (HSS) - the direct function of Society.

Homo Sapiens cosmicus (HSC) - the direct function of Process.

Both HSA and HSS are always Bio-Social creatures, and not Bio-Social-Cosmist creatures. In other words, man in this perspective is a bio-organism, social actor, and unique person in his adaptation to the society, but he or she is not a Cosmist agent carrying out his personal (functional, specific) contribution to the one common Process. Cosmist philosophy replaces "being" (a basic concept that serves as a starting-point for any serious metaphysician) by "functioning," as a more basic Cosmist concept, which points to the necessity of active evolution for every living subject.

A crucial point is: In recognising the notion of Process we obtain the substance to which all Earth's living subjects can be functionally reduced. Every living subject on Earth is ultimately a function of Process - of the ultimate self-evolving organism of life. Reasonably, then, every living subject on Earth has its/his/her basic (ultimate, cosmist) functionality. The notion of man's basic functionality means that any subject is intrinsically and basically dedicated for the realisation and execution ultimately of the special function.

In light of the Cosmist concept, basic cosmist functionality (BCF) governs human ontogenesis. In other words, basic functionality hierarchically organises man's entire repertory of biological and social needs in one integral order. This order, in principle, repeats the hierarchy of the main stages of biological and social evolution on Earth. Hence, biological and social needs may be considered tools for BCF to implement its self-unfolding and ultimate self-actualisation. In other words, all biological and social needs of human beings conform to the ultimate end of his or her specific functional contribution to wellbeing in the shared Earth life Process. The latter is mainly possible at the high creative level of mature social stability, the culminating point of man's ontogenesis.

In course of this reasoning the fundamental principle of CosmoBiotypology has emerged. CosmoBiotypology may serve as a concrete cosmist law, which states: Every living subject on Earth is a natural (more accurately, cosmic) function of the higher-level congenerous subject and ultimately of Process itself. Thus, every living subject on Earth naturally bears the biotypological traits of this intrinsic basic functionality and naturally relates to the appropriate ecological-social environment. In other words, the principle of CosmoBiotypology establishes the functional identity and thus the universal meaning of the three macro-orders of man's entire wellbeing: satisfying subjective feelings and perceptions; adequate position in the social-ecological environment; and biological constitution or biotype. The latter serves precisely to fulfil the person's cosmist functional assignment. Thereby, the CosmoBiotypological principle aspires to universalise biomedical, social, and human knowledge - to unite rationally man's subjective knowledge with objective knowledge of man and, thus, to reconcile previously incompatible scientific and humanistic paradigms.


Prof. Darryl Macer, director of the Eubios Ethics Institute, distinguishes at least three ways to view bioethics:

1. Descriptive bioethics is the way people view life, their moral interactions and responsibilities with living organisms in their life.

2. Prescriptive bioethics is to tell others what is ethically good or bad, or what principles are most important in making such decisions.

3. Interactive bioethics is discussion and debate between people, groups within society, and communities about 1 and 2 above. (Macer 1998)

In this course I claim the existence of the fourth way - bioethics of individual's health, the essence of which is a person's self-realising his or her inherent route of wellbeing (healthy, safe, satisfactory, happy) ontogenesis. Fundamentally, the proposed universal bioethics of individual's health is truly personcentric, health-centric and of true wholistic subject-subject essence. The subject-subject pattern means that an explorer (a subject: scientist, doctor, specialist in bioethics, etc.) treats any phenomenon of the one common evolutionary process of the life on Earth (Process) not simply as an object of scientific observation or analytical reasoning, but likewise as the equally (in relation to him) integrated - in relation to Process - subject, which (who) has its/his/her own functional assignment and, thus, its/his/her own as past and present as emergent future being and wellbeing. Moreover, relying on Cosmist philosophical fundamentals, I logically claim that: A) exclusively the personalist (subjective) level of consideration is appropriate for the universal comprehension of phenomena of the life on Earth, including the individual health of a man; and B) that exclusively the cosmist functional approach can reach the universal comprehension of the entire living world on Earth: biological, personal, and societal.

Glasa J. 2001. Bioethics: 'A Case for the Future of Man', (
Khroutski, K.S., and Veber V.R.: 2000. 'Health - a central ontological problem ESPMH Conference, Krakow 2000 - Abstracts', Medicine, Healthcare & Philosophy 3 (3): p. 381.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2000. 'Individual Health: New Definition and Ontological Background', Medical Ethics & Bioethics (Bratislava) 7(1-2): pp. 14-17.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2001. 'Introducing Philosophical Cosmology', World Futures 57(3): 201-212.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2001. 'The Doctor of Tomorrow - Physician, Psychologist, Philosopher: Towards the Cosmist-Hippocratic Ethics in Biomedicine', Appraisal 3(4): 135-146.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2002. 'Towards the Bioethics of Individual's Health: Introduction of the Cosmist Philosophical Fundamentals', Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12(1): 2-9.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2002. 'Epistemology of civilised man's diseases', E-Logos (
Khroutski, K.S. and Peicius, E.: 2003. 'Introducing the Emergence-Discourse Method to Philosophy of Medicine and Bioethics: In Search for Rational Comprehension of Individual Health', Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13(1): 15-20.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2003. 'Integrative Mental Mapping Project Under the 'EDM' Processing: The Thesis', Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13(3), pp. 93-98.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2003. 'Introducing the notion of "Civilised Man's Diseases": Philosophical substantiation. ESPMH Conference, Vilnius 2003 - Abstracts', Medicine, Healthcare & Philosophy 6: p. 193.
Khroutski, K.S. 2003. 'The Cosmist Future of Personalism', Appraisal 4(4), pp. 183-193.
Khroutski, K.S.: 2003. 'Bringing Forward the Philosophy of Universal Science: A Cosmist Concept', E-Logos (
Khroutski, K.S.: 2003. 'The Universalist Future of Contemporary Bio-Science', World Futures (in print);
Khroutski, K.S.: 2003. 'Universal Anthropology: A Cosmist Approach', Anthropology & Philosophy (in print).
Lossky, N.O. 1951. History of Russian Philosophy. New York: International. Universities Press, Inc.
Macer, D. R. J. 1998. Bioethics is Love of Life: An Alternative Textbook Christchurch, N.Z.: Eubios Ethics Institute.

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