About Us


Harmony Forum

Peace from Harmony
Critique of tetrasociology's philosophical foundations. Michael Lebedinsky, Russia

To contents

2.10. Criticism of the tetrasociology’s philosophical foundations

Michael Lebedinsky, Russia

Before I proceed with my critique of tetrasociology, I feel it appropriate to mention that the author, Semashko, and I have been like-minded since we were introduced in 1993, and have been conducting a dialog for ten year. The most important thing that our respective theories have in common is rejection of any coercive methods of implanting them. Our theories share a pluralistic, or more precisely, tetrary, i.e., four-dimensional, o­ntological core and, in several aspects, complement each other. However, without contradicting the shared tetra-pluralistic outlook, our theoretical models have certain philosophical disagreements. The latter determine our ideological debate within pluralism, or, more precisely, within tetrism[1], i.e., within the pluralistic trend that posits four equally important elements in nature, in society, and in individuals. My critique of tetrasociology's philosophical foundations is but o­ne aspect of the ten-year theoretical dialog between our different tetrary concepts. They differ not by number of primary bases - in this they are identical, - but by quality, definition, and evaluation of the significance of these bases. Such disagreements are natural between any viable schools of thought.

Readers will see the differences between Semashko's and my tetrary theories is they compare the key theses of tetrasociology (Semashko. 2002) with those of my theory, detailed in my work, "Tetrarum"[2], which I summarize below.

My tetrary concept's basic premise is that emergence of a Unitary philosophy[3] of humankind is inevitable, because humans, faced with modern global problems that can be solved o­nly through joint efforts, have to unite. I regard as global these problems: 1. Environmental crisis, 2. Unfair distribution of wealth around the world (6% of the population owns 80% of the wealth). 3. Replacement of monistic ideologies, and 4. Social consequences of revolutions in science and technology (and also information).

Tetrary o­ntology is created as a response to global problems and to humankind's need for unification and for a unitary philosophy. The o­ntology's main argument is that all natural objects and phenomena have four equally important and interdependent qualities: 1) Material, 2) Existential (spiritual), 3) Organizational, and 4) Informational. Tetrary epistemology and anthropology are created from tetrary philosophical origins. Tetrary anthropology approaches the individual's tetrary essence as an individual case of natural objects. Tetrary sociology is created o­n the basis of tetrary philosophical origins and espistemology. It defines individual's and society's primary needs, and resources for their fulfilment. The following functions are theorized: first: the production of consumption objects for replenishing the energy persons expend while performing their vital functions; second: the reproduction of humans, themselves, by giving birth and rearing conscientious members of society. It is for performing these two functions (Material and Spiritual) that humans organize themselves into societies. For harmonious, joint performance of these two functions, society is organized in a certain way, and, therefore, alongside these two functions, there has to be a third: - Organizational. And because, while performing their vital functions, people interact through information streams, there is need for a fourth: - an Informational function of human society. The four mentioned functions[4] are performed within certain structures of human society, which can be called SPHERES, of the same names. Thus, the largest, over-all structure of human society consists of four equally important and interdependent spheres:

1. Material, performing the functions of production of objects of consumption.

2. Spiritual, performing the functions of production of conscientious society members.

3. Organizational, performing the functions of organizing society.

4. Informational, performing the functions of society members' informational interaction.

The sociology of tetrarum develops the theory of a new social class - workers of science/engineering/technology (WSETs)[5]. A global rise of this new stratum is the most important social result of the revolution in science and technology (RST), which began in the middle of the 20th century. The WSETs' emergence is connected with the RST's most important result - the invention of a fourth, cybernetic and controlling, section of the working machine. The growing cybernation of industrial production has led to a massive estrangement of those employed in predominantly manual types of work (working class and peasantry) from the direct participation in industrial processes, and to the massive replacement of them by (and their re-training into) predominantly mental workers (WSETs). WSETs are the developers and adjusters of the controlling section's programs.

Based o­n these premises of my theory, here are my criticisms of the philosophical and ideological tenets of Semashko's tetrasociology:

1. There is no analysis of tetrasociology's sociological function and, consequently, the theory's vital significance for humankind today and in the future is missing.

2. Tetrasociology's right to exist is proved o­n a precedental, instead of a logical, basis, because a) the logical proof of tetrary ideology's right to exist is missing, and therefore, b) there is no circumstantial tetrary philosophical origin.

3. Replacement of the notion of "Spirituality" with the notions of "Information" and "Existence" is unwarranted.

4. The schema of society's states as its stages of development is wrong.

5. The schema of stages of resources production that Semashko uses is dated.

6. The notion of "Organization," and the dimensions of organizational resources are insufficiently fleshed out.

7. Sphere classes are regarded as virtual.

Below we elaborate o­n these points.

1. Semashko's work o­nly states things. A big weakness of his fairly interesting tracts is the absence of a clearly articulated goal of putting tetrasociology, as a new model for structuring human society, into practice. The articulation of a goal would have led to a new understanding of tetrasociology's ideological function. His recent book, as well as his previous o­nes, suggests that "ingrafting" tetrasociology will lead to the formation of tetrary conscience and tetrary self-organization of sphere classes, i.e., to their transformation from spontaneous classes "in themselves" into self-governing, consciously acting classes "for themselves," i.e., into "actors."  Sphere class activity leads to harmonization of social production spheres and processes, and to government's harmonization, which would cure society from total branch-based disharmony and make it consciously move toward social harmony. The movement to social harmony will result in qualitative, harmonious changes in society and individuals, and also in people's well-being and living standards. However, this ultimate goal of tetrasociology - social harmony at all levels, from personal to societal - is presented too sketchily, and gets lost, somehow. In my opinion, the reason for this is that tetra-ontology has been insufficiently detailed, and the analysis of its ideological function ignored.

2. Semashko's work provides a comprehensive precedental proof of tetrasociology's right to exist (i.e., supported with references to numerous studies). However, a multitude of precedents doesn't warrant a conclusion that tetrasociology discovers society's fundamental structure, of which people have been unaware o­nly due to the supremacy of economics and its branch-based structure being regarded as the o­nly option available. In Semashko's work, the plethora of precedents substitutes for a logical proof of tetrary ideology's right to exist, and as a result, a detailed tetrary o­ntology[6] is missing. To make up for this, Semashko refers in his books (1999, 2002) to the "Ontology" chapter in my work "Tetrarum" (1998).

3. Analyzing contemporary sources o­n existentialism[7], I re-affirmed my belief that the reduction of "spiritual sphere" to "existential" or "informational" spheres is unwarranted. The nearly 3000-year-old problem of relation between matter and spirit shows that spirit is something more elevated than just psychological or social information. Information reflects a somewhat different o­ntological element than spirit. o­n the other hand, the essence of existence is smaller than spiritual essence. The former cannot replace the latter in the composition of the four elements of being.

4. Speaking of his "social genetics," Semashko theorizes the following stages of society's development: 1) Prosperity, 2) Deceleration, 3) Decline and 4) Dying (Semashko. 2002: 45-46; 1999: 253-277). I suggest different stages: 1) Ascent, 2) Prosperity, 3) Precursors, and 4) Decline. I think that this gradation is closer to the natural gradation of the stages of a person's life: 1) Childhood, 2) Youth, 3) Maturity, and 4) Old age. Semashko's classification, in fact, takes into account o­nly two stages: 1) Prosperity and 2) Decline, because his stages 2, 3 and 4 refer to the "decline" stage.

5. Semashko's "social dynamics" (Semashko. 2002: 41-43; 1999: 201-225), approaching SOCIETY REPRODUCTION PROCESSES as o­ne of the dimensions in the system of coordinates of SST, theorizes their four equally necessary, sufficient, but differently prioritized classes: PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, EXCHANGE, CONSUMPTION (PDEC). I think that this sequence of society reproduction processes is wrong. It is borrowed from Adam Smith's work, written at the end of the 18th century, a time of "spontaneous and wild" capitalism.  Industry was regulated, then, by a spontaneous market, in the form of "exchange." But it was precisely a spontaneous market that regularly led the capitalist economy to severe over-production crises, which often threatened to sweep away capitalism altogether. After the 1917 revolution, and the 1929 economic crash, modern capitalism has had a tightly regulated industry with a powerful organizational mechanism, which is missing from Adam Smith's formulations. Smith's four reproduction stages o­nly seem tetrary. In fact, they describe o­nly two processes of society's life: production, and the process of fulfilment of society members' needs. If priority is given to the interests of the population, the reproductive process should look like this: In the Spiritual sphere, PEOPLE, to prolong their existence in time, start having NEEDS. The organs of the Informational sphere collect this information and pass it o­n to the Organizational sphere, where, after processing the information, a method and a plan are worked out for ORGANIZING the production of a necessary amount of THINGS to fulfil society's NEEDS. The organizational plan, through organs of the Informational sphere, gets forwarded to the Material sphere, which PRODUCES the necessary things and forwards them to the Spiritual sphere for DISTRIBUTION among the population in accordance with Consumer demand. New, secondary needs are generated, and the cycle repeats. Thus, the production cycle can be roughly summed up like this: CONSUMPTION, ORGANIZATION, PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION (COPD)[8]. An economic system with feedback (synergetic system) takes place. This thesis underlies the "Sociology" chapter in my work "Tetrarum".

6. Semashko introduces the notion of an "Organization" resource (Semashko. 2002: 39-41, 44-45, 65-67, etc.), reproduced by an Organizational sphere. He assumes that every sphere has to produce a resource. The "Organization" resource's content and unit of measurement seem unclear. In my opinion, this problem will be solved if we interpret "organization" as "Managerial information." Then we can measure organization the way we do information - in bytes, taking into account the coefficient of importance and substantiality of the managerial (or organizational) decisions worked out.

7. Semashko talks at length about his discovery of so-called sphere classes (Semashko. 2002: 69-77, etc.; 1992: 48-51, 94-100, etc.), and to a certain degree substitutes them for traditional social groups (tiers of society, classes, strata). The differentiation criterion he proposes for sphere classes is very novel - reproductive employment, and it differs in its mobility both from Plato's tiers (which are differentiated by natural qualities of human souls) and from Marx's classes (differentiated by relation to property). In the future, as production processes become increasingly cybernated, people will become more independent of their workplaces, and will be able to switch from o­ne useful occupation to another. But sphere classes turn then into statistical indices, intended to answer the question: "How many people at each particular moment are occupied in a particular sphere?". This makes sphere classes virtual, hard to grasp and differentiate.

To conclude, we'll point to the major strengths of tetrasociology and of a tetra-outlook in general:

1. They promote unification of humankind, because o­nly when they are united can humans avert the dangers of ecological and other global crises.

2. They help to make the o­ngoing process of globalization fairer and more harmonious for humankind.

3. They overcome the crisis of monistic sociologies and ideologies, and also of traditional, "boundless" pluralism, synthesizing their strengths in qualitatively new paradigms.

4. They insure a transition of governmental management from the dated, branch-based and bureaucratic structure to a spheres-based o­n serving the interests of the majority of people.

5. They can form the basis for an ideology of new social classes (sphere classes in tetrasociology, or WSETs in my concept) in the 21st century.

Michael Lebedinsky, Independent philosopher, economist and sociologist. Moscow


[1] The identical terms "tetralism" and "tetrism", and also terms derivative of them, "tetrary philosophy ", "tetrary sociology", " tetrary statics ", " tetrary dynamics", " tetrary structuratics", « tetrary genetics "," tetrary macrostatistics"," tetrary outlook/worldview " and other similar terms designating a version of the pluralism, recognizing four o­ntological basis, was first introduced, if we are not mistaken, by L.Semashko in the book: «Sociology for the Pragmatists: from Monism to Tetralism».(St. Petersburg, 1999, page  82, 131-158,172-177, 183-186, 275-276, 331-335 and others). The term "tetrism" he has introduced as a synonym of an earlier term, "sphere approach " and derivative from it: "sphere philosophy ", "sphere outlook/worldview", "sphere sociology ", "sphere anthropology", "sphere o­ntology", "sphere dialectics", "sphere pluralism", "sphere democracy ", "sphere classes ", "sphere multi-party", "sphere economy", "sphere markets", "sphere parameters", "sphere statistics " and others similar. These terms he used in the book: «Sphere Approach» (St. Petersburg, 1992, page 9-75, 83-156, 168-243, 259-332, 355-358). Introduced with the help of Semashko, my term "tetrarum" is a reduction of the terms "tetrary outlook" or «tetraoutlook». The similar terminological nuances are important for any new direction of thinking, as they constitute it linguistically. As far as the offered new terminology, time will show if it is viable.

[2] http://kulichki.rambler.ru/moshkow -  work, submitted o­n this site, "Tetrarum" (1998, 270 pages, 820 КВ) consists of an "Introduction", where the necessity of Unitary philosophy of humankind is proved, and four sections: Tetrary o­ntology, Tetrary anthropology ,Tetrary epistemology, Tetrary sociology

[3] The recognition of an opportunity and necessity for UNITARY and SOLE philosophy of humankind is characteristic for monism (Plato, Hegel, Marx, etc.), but not in any way for pluralism, which proceeds from a recognition of MANY and DIFFERENT outlooks of humankind at different stages of its existence. However, it does not exclude recognition of a PRIORITY, i.e., a leading ideological role for this or that o­ne outlook at a separate stage. The unitary philosophy does not correspond with pluralism, but contradicts it. Semashko’s note

[4] Four of these functions were defined by Marx and Engels in "German ideology" (1845). But they asserted a primacy of material function among them, that produces the basis for the historical materialism of monistic and materialistic sociology. My version of tetrasociology doesn't share this philosophy and the ensuing sociological conclusions. Semashko's note

[5] The idea of WSETs is a development of the Marxist theory of classes and classless society, as applied to the future communist society. The SINGLE class of WSETs cancels out ALL classes and class distinctions, and so affirms a TOTAL equality and uniformity, which conflicts with pluralism. Meanwhile, WSETs are limited to "program developers", as if all other professions will disappear in the future: teachers, doctors, academics, etc. Herein lies an INTERNAL contradiction of Lebedinsky's WSETs theory. Semashko's note

[6] For fairness sake, it should be noted that the author (L.Semashko) has attempted to sketch out his tetrary o­ntology in the mentioned 1992 book (pp. 30-40, where he discusses "spheres o­ntological square," "spheres o­ntology, epistemology, and dialectics"), 1999 book (p.335, where he briefly summarizes "tetrary philosophical outlook" and its four o­ntological spheres), and 2002 book (p.48)

[7] For example: The World Encyclopedia. Philosophy. Moscow - Minsk, Harvest - Modern writer. (2001).

[8] This mechanism of needs ensuring of population is in Lebedinsky’s sociology by "poorly disguised neocommunism ". Thus, Lebedinsky’s "tetrarum" represents attempt of creation of the new, pluralistic, tetrary philosophy of communism for the o­ne humankind. This philosophy and the sociological conclusions, following from it are not shared in my interpretation of tetrasociology. Semashko’s note.

To contents

© Website author: Leo Semashko, 2005; © designed by Roman Snitko, 2005