Number 9/2015

Issue Topic: Old age – sociological, pedagogical and cultural aspects

List of abstracts

Old age and aging – causes, conditions and forecasts for the future by Ewa Miszczak

Poland is one of the European countries that has reached the stage of an aging society, meaning the share of older members (over 65 years of age) in the total population is increasing. This phenomenon is characteristic of highly developed countries and is the result of various demographic, economic and cultural factors. Among these, the most important are: a low birth rate, a high and increasing life expectancy, a high level of medical and preventive treatment and the existence of an efficient social security system, pensions and retirement plans. An aging society leads to an imbalance between the young and old populations and produces serious consequences, mainly economic and social in nature. The primary aim of this article is to present the problem of Poland’s aging society, along with its causes, determinants, consequences, forecasts for the future and corrective actions that have been proposed or implemented in the area of social policy.

The aging population in Poland: a twenty-first century challenge by Andrzej Mielczarek

In today’s changing demographic situation, the state must mobilize all available means to meet the challenges of old age in the 21st century. The rise in the number of people of non-working age and longer lifespans result in a greater need for health care and medical services as well as an increased need for social security benefits. In order to ensure a rewarding life for seniors, one must first recognize the problem of discrimination, which often affects older persons, and in its many overlapping forms creates the ideal conditions for marginalization of the elderly, and even their permanent exclusion from society. The fight against social exclusion is a difficult one, and it usually involves institutional support alongside attempts to overcome the causes and effects of such exclusion. Hence the urgent need for systemic changes that would strengthen seniors’ position in demanding their dignified treatment, independence and empowerment.

There is still much to be done in Poland with regard to the implementation of a new, ‘European’ model of retirement. Various limitations, first among them being financial ones, create a feeling of isolation amongst seniors – a sense that they have been pushed into the background of social life and excluded. Paying attention to the quality of extended life is thus a challenge for the government and society as a whole.

Conditions for building a higher quality of life among senior citizens by Aldona Molesztak

The present article reflects on the issue of building social networks that facilitate the creation of numerous and diverse social situations and the establishment of relationships between individuals. A lively social life and activity not only within the family,but also participation in community life and spending one’s freetime actively result in accumulated memories. Such reminiscences arising in late adulthood play a uniquely important role. They find their creative reflection in so-called memory boxes, which I refer to as visual journals. Social networks of seniors and their hobbies and interests, the support they receive, their acceptance of their own old age and the visual journals resulting from those activities are all predictors of a high quality of life.

The importance of stereotypes and theories of aging in the social perception of the elderly by Joanna Hebda

The elderly are often perceived as weak and defenseless. In the coming years, the number of seniors will increase dramatically. This article summarizes and collects knowledge on various kinds of stereotypes and theories that contribute to the negative image of older people. Examples counteracting such stereotypes will also be presented.

Between Epicureanism and ageism – a founder’s reflections on University of the Third Age in rural areas by Antonina Sebesta

In this article the author draws attention to the specifics of Polish Universities of the Third Age (U3A). The first U3A was founded in Poland in Warsaw in 1975 by Professor Halina Szwarc (1923-2002), a gerontologist.

U3A operate in Poland according to the French and English models. In rural areas, they are often mixed models due to economic and political conditions. Local governments often treat U3A as the region’s calling card, yet their main mission is to fight ageism-discrimination based on age-and to provide participants with knowledge allowing them to function in modern society.

The phenomenologist and his shadow: Perception versus experience in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s and Henri Maldiney’s phenomenology of art by Monika Murawska

Two representatives of French phenomenology – Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Henri Maldiney – delineate an area of thought which Husserl did not, or rather did not work out completely, and they explore the potential of Husserl’s philosophy, revealing the significance of art in the phenomenological inquiry. At first glance, their reflections seem to be in opposition to one another, but Maldiney’s phenomenology turns out to be deeply rooted in that which is ‘not well thought out’ in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. Both Merleau-Ponty and Maldiney underscore the significance of our corporeal being in the world. They also radicalize Husserl’s thought. In The Visible and the Invisible, Merleau-Ponty describes the Chiasm – the intertwining of all dimensions of being, and he also describes untamed, innervated being, a living corporeal layer, leading to the very limits of philosophical language. Maldiney, meanwhile, attempts to study absolute receptivity, and thus the passivity of the subject, concentrating on the experiences of a crisis, uniquely understood, which in his view enables subjectivity to be constituted. Moreover, Maldiney criticizes perception as always being objectifying, recognizing experience or sensing (sentir) as the basis of our contact with the world. It is worth inquiring, however, whether the category of perception in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology is not in the end strictly experiential, and thus significantly closer to Maldiney’s descriptions than he himself explicitly admits. We attempt to answer this question, concentrating on two main themes taken up by both French philosophers; on two shadows cast by both of them: the body and art.

The normative value of truth and the problem of the lie by Marta Szabat

The article concerns the normative value of truth in relation to lie. Based on arguments derived primarily from ancient philosophers (Eubulides, Plato, Aristotle), medieval philosophers (St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas), the thinker of the Renaissance – Machiavelli, the main philosopher of the Enlightenment – Kant, the 19th-century author of Beyond Good and Evil(Nietzsche), and contemporary thinkers such as Derrida and Lacan, the author considers here truth as a normative value. Lying is relative to the truth, and it has no ontological legitimacy, even it cannot exist without truth itself.

In the final part of the article, the author concludes that the truth, however, cannot lead to clearly bad effects, be harmful or cause pain disproportionate to the effects caused by a lie. Therefore, it must coexist with the good – the other parent value. Only when both values complement each other can we talk about the normative value of truth. The truth should be correlated with other values on which value systems are based, especially the good of a person or group of persons, avoiding harm towards others and the protection of a person’s health and life. Only then can the truth be appropriate to use. It is not an immovable foundation, but a dynamically functioning value, in which language and the ethical (active) dimensions provide the value of the specified situations. The truth can be a double-edged sword: It may hurt, but it can defend itself. The latter function seems to be the most important type of the normativity of truth.