Historical and Cultural Heritage as Social Phenomenon
The study of the social nature of historical and cultural heritage, which is one of the most essential goals of a relatively young science – Monument Studies, is presented. It is shown that it characterizes the objects of the material culture of the past which have lost their original utilitarian purpose and have turned into material evidence of elapsed cultural and historical processes. Today, such historical and cultural monuments are the bearers of semantic and axiological information about certain processes, and therefore, being included in the modern cultural context, they contribute to the socialization of the individuals. Because of the specific character of the axiological information, it cannot be obtained indirectly, but only in the process of direct perception of an object in its materiality, that is, in the form of an authentic monument. The key feature of the monument as a historical and cultural heritage is not so much the scientific information that it can give, but the embodiment of the spiritual essence of the ancestors in it, the certain material objectification of their social and historical existence. This provides a kind of immersion in the past, with which the individual connects himself emotionally through the direct perception of an authentic object included in the historical context of a certain time.
The paper draws attention to the fact that all of us, determining the trajectories of our movement in that socio-temporal continuum where we exist, consider the objects of our historical and cultural heritage as some kind of reference points. The monuments of history and culture (both immovable and those which are in museum collections) play a specific role in this process. The main thing is the material perception of the past of society’s social and historical existence. The main prerogative of the museum as a social institution is in achieving this goal, in implementing of which no other social institution can replace it.
It is proved in the paper that to establish the relationship of the individual with the past, the knowledge got from historical sources in the process of analyzing scientific information about the object is not enough. Such information is sufficient if we speak only about the cognition of the past. But, if the task of forming a person as an active member of society is realized, it is impossible to succeed without the axiological information gained directly from the object of historical and cultural heritage, and this defines historical and cultural heritage as a particular social phenomenon.
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