From the very beginning Irena Nikaj has impresed me with her hunger for knowledge, the range of her cultural awareness, her intellectual abilities and her discipline, blending her creativity with her systematic application to her work. And she has lived up to that promise ever since
Fatos Tarifa, PhD
Director, Institute of Social and Policy Studies
European University of Tirana
Scientific Secretary, Albanian Academy of Arts and Sciences
Former Albanian Ambassador to the Netherlands and the United States
Editor-in-Chief, Sociological Analysis & Academe
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The monograph titled "Albanian Social and Philosophical Thinking of the '30s (Neo-Albanianism)" has not only theoretical, but also, practical value in the treatment and solution of the many complicated issues that are plaguing Albanian society at present. By introducing an excellent and quite visionary theoretical analysis, this book will preserve its theoretical and practical value even in the future.
by Prof. Dr Zyhdi Dervishi
Head of Department of Sociology
Faculty of Social Science
University of Tirana, Albania
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Albanian Social and Philosophical Thinking of the '30s Neo Albanianism
By Irena Nikaj
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Irena Nikaj
All rights reserved.
The historical place of New Albanianism
There is no question that Neo-Albanianism takes a conspicuous position in the intellectual challenge of the '30s in the 20th century. This part of the social, philosophical, aesthetic, artistic (etc.) thought was developed through polemics with the viewpoints of other currents, especially that of the "illustrious dictatorship", the legalists, the communistic viewpoints, and so forth.
In a more generalizing characterization, Neo-Albanianism represents an entirety of viewpoints of a democratic nature, which tend toward the prioritized evaluation of the illuminating role of knowledge, science, and culture.
The National Profile of the Neo-Albanian Trend
As a trend, Neo-Albanianism demonstrates, first of all, elements of a national nature that can be evaluated, and constitutes, in my opinion, the most refined and most complete national viewpoint. Focusing on this aspect, we may say that Neo-Albanianism may be defined as new nationalism, or the nationalism of the 1930s. This conclusion may be attained based on the relations that Neo-Albanianism creates with the past of the Albanian people– a past that is historical, economic, political, cultural, and intellectual.
According to the views of the main representatives of this trend, the periods when Albanian patriotism created its fundamental elements were the age of Skanderbeg and that of the Albanian National Renaissance. While this nationalism was in its infancy during Skanderbeg's time, the National Renaissance period brought more complete components, as well as its completeness. This, in its turn, determined a reasonable and quite positive preface to Albania's future – the declaration of Independence on 28 November 1912 by Ismail Qemali. To support this idea, this trend's main representatives bring forward the argument of the existence of the national ideal during the National Renaissance. In general, the need for the reemergence of such an ideal as the one that appeared during the National Renaissance was considered by them necessary, useful, and indispensable for the Albania of the 1930s.
National Morality — A Synthesis of Values and Norms
Treating the issues of moral as part of philosophical thinking, Neo-Albanianism proponents usually started from the general notion that it is not ideas alone which influence the destiny of a given society, but also its era, as well as the new state of objects, the new conditions of life and its necessities. These, too, exercise a mysterious influence on our ideas and dispositions.
From here, there is a movement from the general sense to the reasoning that all those elements influence a nation's cohesion, where morality holds a special place, according to B. Merxhani: The ideal society was the one that had a lot of spirit and density and, also, the ideal nation was the one that spoke one language, had one morality and used the same kind of tools.
The conception of morality emerges from the notion that, first of all, there has been a collective order that has achieved the immediate functioning of the institution in society and, secondly, this impacted the societal conscience, bringing as a result the achievement of collective action. The notion of this cohesion and its continuity would have positive values, because it would neutralize the elements that disturbed this cohesion and, primarily, the influences as a result of the coexistence of diverse cultures and values, as well as the continual relations that Albanian historically had had with them. In fact, this was so important that only culture and morality created those relations that achieved the nation's existence.
The influence of their beliefs is viewed as a very important action in the moral realm, in the creation of the national morality and education. These were achievable by making a synthesis of the national moral values and norms, but also by deeply appreciating the positive elements of morality and education in their historical development, because this development and these values had created that modern view of morality. Furthermore, the thoughts of R. Descartes, J. Dewey, W. James, and S. Freud are also treated in connection with the moral reflections of their views, as well as for the relations of morality to education. When we speak about education, we see its links to ethics through the concepts of culture and social behavior, elements which tend to review the role of tradition in culture, but also in the realm of morality.
Characteristics of the Ethical Thinking by Neo-Albanians
From this perspective, the main proponents of Neo-Albanianism expressed their position on the theoretical evaluation of ethics, as well as on the evaluation of the moral traditions that characterize the ethno-psychological nature of Albanians.
B. Merxhani treats the ethical thought communicated by R. Descartes as a thought that was not openly revealed. This was related not only to the direct impact of his philosophy on the human moral stance, but also to the fact that his philosophy was not viewed favorably and was not approved by the morality of the time, when religion was still exercising strong control on the human moral stance and on the honoring of moral norms that stemmed from the dogma of accepting God as the supreme value.
Here is how B. Merxhani expresses his thoughts on R. Descartes and his moral views: Descartes has always articulated his moral thoughts in such formulas, articulated with prudence and never openly. We may say that our Philosopher, in his descriptions of moral principles, used the same writing tactics that Persia's philosopher-poet, Omar Khayyam, used centuries before him in relation to the fanatics of his own day, trying always to put the mantel of poetic symbolism on his new ideas. This Philosopher's sorrows, which came from the restrictions of the time that never allowed him the freedom to demonstrate his ideas, are also indirectly expressed in his phrase that ... such ado was made on my poor physical principles that I don't know what they would have done had I dealt with Morality!
What is, according to Neo-Albanians, the indirect view given by R. Descartes on morality and moral values?
B. Merxhani examines the thought pronounced by J. G. Mayer concerning the fundamentals of the Cartesian method and, according to the latter, the axis of this method (R. Descartes's – I. N.) is the criterion of rational evidence. Also, according to J. G. Mayer (cited by the most illustrious representative of Neo-Albanianism), this stance toward inherited truths inaugurates the "critical philosophy", which would be continued by E. Kant. This is exactly the point where R. Descartes cuts his ties to the past, the moldy traditions, the untouchable authority, and the prejudices collected and blindly advocated by philosophers until then.
Further on, J. G. Mayer reveals a classical aspect of Cartesianism from a practical perspective. It is demonstrated, not in the absolute respect for the established authority, but in the hierarchy principle. After a coordination of thoughts, there should also be subordination between people, because these are different by nature – says J. G. Mayer.
R. Descartes himself thinks that the practical value of norms may be illustrated by the example of some travelers who have lost their bearings and, instead of going around in circles; they walk always in one direction. In the same way, when we cannot recognize which thoughts are right, we should follow those that are more likely to respond to our goal. This is due to the fact that the human spirit possesses something divine, where the seeds of useful thoughts have been planted since its inception and, no matter how frequently our efforts thwarted, we nevertheless, bear unexpected fruits.
According to B. Merxhani, R. Descartes considers philosophy the root of the scientific tree, while morality is the flower of this tree. Defining R. Descartes' morality as a provisory morality and discovering its links to Stoical morality, B. Merxhani aims at laying out morality's stable elements that appear as tradition, alongside the changes that occur and that are connected to the tree (namely, philosophy) and to the changes that occur in society that condition change in moral values and norms. From within these changes, the link between morality and education appears. Dh. Shuteriqi also gives an evaluation of this issue by comparing the pragmatist views with the functionalist views.
S. Treska also treats issue in the spirit of pragmatism, while other authors, such as V. Koca, L. Skendo, and A. Xhuvani, tend more toward the treatment of values in a direct relationship with the needs of the country's development and the qualitative progress in this area as well.
Relying on the functionalist views of E. Durkheim, Dh. Shuteriqi writes: We should know that, in order to appreciate the existence of society, education should provide the citizens with an adequate unity of ideas and feelings, without which society would be impossible; and in order that it may yield this result, it should not be left entirely into the hands of specific people. Further on, Dh. Shuteriqi, evaluating what the school should achieve in the moral realm, emphasizes social power and social interest. Basing his reasoning on pragmatist views, he shows the sources that pragmatism has relied on in order to work out its own views.
According to him, J. S. Mill and E. Kant are those who have best defined the essence of education, which aims at developing within each individual all the perfection that he/she is able to acquire. Whatever the importance of specific educations, each of them are based on one common foundation: there are no people without a number of ideas, feelings, and practices–says Dh. Shuteriqi. Education must not fail to instill in all of their children, whatever their social status. Because every society has formed some kind of human ideal in the intellectual, physical and moral sense, this ideal is, to a certain extent, common to all its members. Furthermore, morality is closely related to the nature of societies; it changes when these change; hence, it is the product of communal living. The idea and sense of order and discipline (outwardly as well as inwardly) have been etched in our consciences by society.
According to Dh. Shuteriqi, moral values are related to the society's level of development, as well as to the condition of the society's institutional organization. While the development of these institutions is closely linked to its form of governance, whatever form the governance may assume has great impact on the observation of moral norms by the individuals. This, according to him, is related to the authority and freedom between these two elements that are present in the process of the individual's education and progress. To him, authority and freedom are not two words that stand in contradistinction to each other, but are closely related. Freedom, writes Dh. Shuteriqi, is the daughter of authority, when it is well-understood. However, being free does not mean doing whatever you like, but being master of yourself, knowing how to act on judgments and fulfilling your duty.
Starting from this understanding, we must emphasize that the author is trying to interpret moral norms as imperative norms, which are not a priori norms, and here he departs from the naturalist ethical understanding of norms and tends towards an intertwined understanding of the common norms with their consequences. Further, this is included in the axiological sense, also taking a relative nature, which means that, norms, as well as moral values, have their relativity. In our opinion, this is related to the judgment of the individual and his action, or to the judgments he gives on things outside him, evaluating them from within the moral theory or axiological system as observations or evaluations of specific situations and states.
In his reasoning on morality, S. Treska tends to rely not only on E. Kant's views, but also on those of H. Spencer and the pragmatists; thus, his views also rely on empiricism, which is characteristic of pragmatist. S. Treska also evaluates the moral reflexes of the psychological elements, using as an argument treatises in the realm of individual psychology conducted by A. Adler.
S. Treska notes that even though man is a being with moral principles and education, he is influenced by biological—H. Spencer, however, S. Treska appreciates E. Kant's view that education, viewed as the entirety of man's moral principles and values, has the capability of deeply influencing man; in fact, according to E. Kant, man may become man only by means of education-he is only what education makes him to be.
Reasoning in a pragmatist manner, he emphasizes that a moral principle is right when it leads us into useful directions. S. Treska mentions the role of morality and its values in the practical realm, because, from a pragmatist viewpoint, the only education that is of value and may be properly called "education"–in the sense of morality– is only that education which is rooted in daily life and in the things with which man deals on a daily basis.
V. Koça links morality to ideas and ideals, treating them as spiritual values that influence human activity through the path they choose, the actions they take and the judgments they make on them. V. Koça deems ethics as an element that strengthens national consciousness. In fact, he deems moral tradition as extremely important for Albania, because it is a factor that helps preserve the spiritual and national continuity of nation. Further, moral traditions are a support for evading the danger of Communism. He thinks that it is the heroic spirit of the past that will bring spiritual freedom.
L. Skëndo's views, within the line of relations between moral values and national consciousness, say that tradition has a huge influence; to put it simply, the past is very important since it constitutes a nation's history. According to him, the study of history is ought to be respected just as the sanctity of religious beliefs is respected; it has strongly influenced – and continues to influence – our feelings and emotions. Moreover, he goes on to say that the present, the past and, most importantly, the future of a people depends on its feelings and ideas.
In A. Xhuvani's opinion, moral values are deemed necessary for the formation of man's personality and for his good behaviors. Analyzing his arguments concerning this issue in their entirety, we think that A. Xhuvani is under the influence of the moral theory on personality and the psycho-moral elements as its constituent elements.
B. Merxhani links the need for morality with the ideal and here, he approaches V. Koça's stance. However, V. Koça's position does not consider ethics as part of philosophy. In order to give a general evaluation, B. Merxhani quotes F. Nietzsche, who argues that every people, if it wants to live on and to prove itself, should; first of all, organize chaos into its Ego. Ideal turns man from an egotist into an altruist.
Relying on R. Descartes' views, as well as on those of E. Durkheim, B. Merxhani contends that moral values achieve a sort of homogenization within society, a melting together of spirits, of feeling the same. On the other hand, these moral values and norms create relationships and, moreover, strengthen existing relationships, creating social solidarity and thus helping to create an ideal cohesion. In fact, B. Merxhani considers the influence of moral norms as more potent than the impact of the state, because they put human action into motion, and this is inherent in the Albanian tradition. Through moral rules and norms in Albanian society, the relations between people have been regulated for long historical periods.
In the realm of moral values, B. Merxhani does not hesitate to also provide the qualification that not every moral tradition is valuable. Preserving tradition may be as positive as its avoidance in the name of historical development. The power of tradition may be the power of sluggishness, and nations have preformed miracles exactly when they departed from the old traditions and took on new elements. Bearing S. Freud's opinion in mind, Merxhani sees value, norm, and moral duty as elements that suppress desire and achieve a moral judgment inspired by high spiritual functions, with which man is equipped. Here, moral consciousness, according to him, is identified with consciousness or conscience. For him, moral values function as a protection against outer danger-namely, against foreign colonization.
Albania–Built by "The People of Thinking" and "The People of Action"
According to the definitions provided by the main proponents of Neo-Albanianism, patriotism is related to the developments of the 1930s and the need for progress in the Albanian society of the period. According to them, these developments were related to the values achieved by Albanians throughout their history, but were also very closely related to the Albanian reality of their time. Consequently, the Neo-Albanian stance toward the Albanian state in the 1930s was a positive one. It can be called positive because, generally speaking, they accept the Albanian state in its political and monarchical form, with King Zog I as its head, and, at the same time, they present arguments for such a stance.
According to Neo-Albanians, with the monarchy created by Zog, almost all the Albanian endeavors for independence– as well as the creation and strengthening of their state– were positively brought to successful fruition. The monarchy ushered in the new period of developing a "strong intellectual, civilizing" activity. Furthermore, according to them, Zog's regime and his administration constituted "the people of action." Neo-Albanians referred to themselves as "people of thinking" and wrote that, by cooperating with the "people of action", they would build Albania's future.
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Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Prof. Dr Zyhdi Dervishi, 9,
An excellent Book of contemporary Values, 9,
II. The historical place of New Albanianism, 19,
III. The Main Representatives of Neo-Albanianism on the Philosophical and Sociological Tradition, 36,
IV. Neo-Albanians views on the Nation and State, 71,
IV. Social-Philosophical Views on Culture, Literature, and Arts, 86,
Studies and Books, 106,