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A History of Russian Philosophy 1830–1930
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    Scott, Callum D. 2018. Aquinas and Solovyov: Unified Christian ontological-epistemology in critique of epistemic reductivism. Verbum et Ecclesia, Vol. 39, Issue. 1,

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    A History of Russian Philosophy 1830–1930
    • Online ISBN: 9780511712227
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511712227
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Book description

The great age of Russian philosophy spans the century between 1830 and 1930 - from the famous Slavophile-Westernizer controversy of the 1830s and 1840s, through the 'Silver Age' of Russian culture at the beginning of the twentieth century, to the formation of a Russian 'philosophical emigration' in the wake of the Russian Revolution. This volume is a major history and interpretation of Russian philosophy in this period. Eighteen chapters (plus a substantial introduction and afterword) discuss Russian philosophy's main figures, schools and controversies, while simultaneously pursuing a common central theme: the development of a distinctive Russian tradition of philosophical humanism focused on the defence of human dignity. As this volume shows, the century-long debate over the meaning and grounds of human dignity, freedom and the just society involved thinkers of all backgrounds and positions, transcending easy classification as 'religious' or 'secular'. The debate still resonates strongly today.

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Contents


Page 1 of 2


  • 1 - Slavophiles, Westernizers, and the birth of Russian philosophical humanism
    pp 27-51
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter focuses on the complex historical relationship between the Westernizer-Slavophile dispute and the genesis of Russian philosophy. Aleksandr Herzen depicted the two camps of Westernizers and Slavophiles as grown inseparably together, but two-headed like the Roman God Janus. Although their debates eventually touched all the principal domains of their respective worldviews, a few key subjects were always at the center of their polemics: the theme of Russia, of its history and nationality; and the theme of personhood, especially personhood in relation to society. The approach taken in this chapter is to treat Slavophilism less in relation to modern western philosophy and more in relation to Eastern Orthodox religious thinking about the nature of human community and about the relationship between God and human nature. Slavophile tendencies predominated in the philosophical process, in the sphere of creative thought, whereas Westernizers’ ideas were influential in social processes and shaping popular consciousness.
  • 2 - Alexander Herzen
    pp 52-68
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Alexander Herzen is a figure of great importance in the history of Russian thought. He was interested in the historical development of the notion of personhood. Herzen, who from the early 1840s attached particular importance to individual liberty, succumbed to notions or ways of thinking that might be regarded as inconsistent to some degree with his libertarianism. The author pursues this claim with reference to Herzen’s writings in the early years of his emigration, 1847-854, especially his cycle of essays From the Other Shore, since this work is usually taken as the classic exposition of Herzen’s philosophy of history and his thinking on liberty. Herzen’s skeptical attitude toward democracy was not exceptional among western thinkers in his time and that in this respect, as in others, he resembled one of the classical nineteenth-century champions of negative liberty.
  • 3 - Materialism and the radical intelligentsia: the 1860s
    pp 69-89
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Russian radical journalists elevated materialism to the status of a worldview that contained the answers to the country’s most pressing political and social problems. From 1858, the two leading radical journals, The Contemporary and The Russian Word, became synonymous with materialism. Articles by its most famous representatives, Nikolai Chernyshevskii, Nikolai Dobroliubov, Maksim Antonovich, and Dmitrii Pisarev, had an experimental quality and were not free of contradictions. The debate about the relationship between body and mind has always tended to center on two positions. Ideas may be formed in an immaterial soul; or, as materialists insist, they are produced by the body. Pamfil Iurkevich began from an idealist perspective by critiquing Chernyshevskii’s materialist claim that thoughts are produced by matter. Ivan Turgenev showed, then, that materialism did not necessarily heighten respect for dignity in other people; still less did it enable people to manifest the “divine spark” of their own humanity.
  • 4 - Russian ethical humanism: from populism to neo-idealism
    pp 90-108
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter discusses the ethical humanism of the two greatest theorists of Russian populism, Pëtr Lavrovich Lavrov and Nikolai Mikhailovskii. Lavrov's sympathy for utilitarian ethic was part of his genetic account of a humanistic morality. Lavrov believed that the central concepts of ethics were human dignity, development, critical conviction, and justice, concepts that remained at the center of all his philosophical and literary activity. Like Lavrov, Mikhailovskii placed the highest value on the all-round development of the individual. The chapter explores how these figures were themselves eclipsed at the turn of the century by philosophical thinkers of a younger generation, whose critique of positivism took them from revisionist Marxism to neo-idealism in search of the true nature of ethical values. The aim of ethics is neither the happiness of the individual nor even of the species, but the cultivation of the spirit that is the ground of absolute human value.
  • 5 - Boris Chicherin and human dignity in history
    pp 111-130
  • View abstract

    Summary

    As a public intellectual, Boris Nikolaevich Chicherin was Russia's foremost advocate of liberty of conscience. In Russia, no thinker worked more systematically in the defense of human dignity than him. Chicherin's mature political philosophy was an eclectic mixture based on his life-long exploration of ideas: a Russian variant of juste-milieu liberalism, Manchesterite political philosophy, and German metaphysical idealism. In the first book of Philosophy of Law Chicherin outlined the theoretical relationship between the individual and society. He described the individual as the "cornerstone of the social edifice. In the second book of Philosophy of Law Chicherin analyzed the problem of right; that is, of "liberty defined by statutory law". In Book Three of Philosophy of Law he presented his ethical theory. In Book Four, he sketched out a theory of social institutions.
  • 6 - Vladimir Solov′ëv's philosophical anthropology: autonomy, dignity, perfectibility
    pp 131-149
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter focuses on the essential ananism of Vladimir Sergeevich Solov'ëv's core philosophical concept, Godmanhood, which incorporates human dignity as a constituent and inviolable principle. Solov'ëv's method, proceeding up to the divine from analysis of the human, is brilliantly deployed from the beginning of Lectures on Godmanhood. The conception of human nature that Solov'ëv introduced in Lectures on Godmanhood forms the basic philosophical framework of his subsequent works. Critique of Abstract Principles, written concurrently with Lectures on Godmanhood, is an indispensable exposition of the philosopher's whole system. Solov'ëv dealt with ethics before epistemology and metaphysics because he thought theory should explicate what moral experience immediately discloses about reality. Later, in Justification of the Good, he defended this approach as the "autonomy of morality". Human autonomy, dignity, and perfectibility are the conditions of Godmanhood or the Kingdom of God.
  • 7 - Russian Panpsychism: Kozlov, Lopatin, Losskii
    pp 150-168
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Aleksei Aleksandrovich Kozlov, who taught at Kiev University, sought to build panpsychism into a comprehensive philosophical system, as did other Russian philosophers who subscribed to it. Two of them who, like Kozlov, deserve credit for the advancement of academic philosophy in tsarist Russia were Lev Mikailovich Lopatin at Moscow University and Nikolai Onufrievich Losskii at St. Petersburg University. Kozlov's philosophical anthropology draws on his panpsychist metaphysics, with its emphasis on each individual substance as, to use his expression, "a whole individual world in itself". A distinctive feature of Lopatin's panpsychism is that he makes clear, in a way Kozlov did not, that the panpsychist metaphysician is typically relying on reasoning by analogy in his efforts to describe other beings and reality in general. The ultimate goal of the teleological cosmic process for Losskii is victory over evil, which means nothing less than the complete elimination of matter.
  • 8 - A Russian cosmodicy: Sergei Bulgakov's religious philosophy
    pp 171-189
  • View abstract

    Summary

    In his first book, On Markets in the Capitalist Form of Production, Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov introduced himself as a person who "shares the sociological point of view", by which he meant someone "who recognizes the regularity of the development of the forms of society, which cannot be eliminated by any concerted efforts on the part of 'critically minded individuals'". Three seminal essays of 1901-1902 form the dossier on Bulgakov's philosophical conversion from Marxism to idealism. Bulgakov's "sophiology" began in Philosophy of Economy. His The Unfading Light forms a pair with Philosophy of Economy. Both books are Schellingian projects, Philosophy of Economy offering an updated philosophy of nature and culture, The Unfading Light a philosophy of revelation. The Unfading Light continues the Vladimir Solov'ëvian project of justification of the world, or "cosmodicy", as Bulgakov called it.
  • 9 - Pavel Florenskii's trinitarian humanism
    pp 190-204
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Pavel Aleksandrovich Florenskii has established that Truth is intrinsically trinitarian and that it arises from an initial dualism. One of the most important manifestations of the trinitarian principle, especially given the centrality of love in Florenskii's work, is friendship. Florenskii uses a language blending the trinitarian with the explicitly Hegelian to describe the life of the individual mind and extend Hegel's concept of historical development. Philosophy of language lay close to the core of Florenskii's intellectual repertoire, even his worldview, and antinomy lies at the very core of his conception of language. Frank Haney has recently claimed that mathematical discontinuity was the basis for Florenskii's idea of truth and thus for his entire worldview. Florenskii believed that modern science had shown reality itself to be riddled with breaks and interruptions. His notion of truth was founded on antinomy, which implies contradiction and thus breaks and interruptions.
  • 10 - Semën Frank's expressivist humanism
    pp 205-224
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The distinctive vision of life that one encounters in the writings of Semën Liudvigovich Frank might be termed "expressivist humanism". Expressivist arguments representing morality as a matter of deeply personal "states of mind and feelings" sat uncomfortably alongside a neo-Kantian conception of an "absolute", impersonal realm of values. The turning-point in Frank's philosophical development may be said to have arrived when he found a way to bridge the gap between these two conceptions. The point of departure of Frank's social theorizing was the same intuition that grounded his metaphysics generally: the intuition of the individual self as inwardly fused with the total unity of being. Frank's social ethics is distinguished from other doctrines of positive liberty by a kind of historicism. Consistent with the basic tenets of his epistemology, Frank believed that the divine will, like any other spiritual force welling up from the primordial ground, ultimately eludes conceptual thinking.
  • 11 - Religious humanism in the Russian Silver Age
    pp 227-247
  • View abstract

    Summary

    In European history, "humanism" originally denoted an intellectual and cultural movement, based on the study of Latin and Greek texts, that began in the Renaissance. There are secular humanists and religious humanists. The religious philosophers of the Russian Silver Age were humanists. Dmitrii Sergeevich Merezhkovskii was a seminal thinker in the development of Russian religious humanism who posed many of its key themes. Merezhkovskii's search for a new faith began in the late 1880s and was an outgrowth of his loss of faith in Russian populism. The major tenets of Merezhkovskii's Christian humanism were the need for religious faith, the concepts of personhood and Godmanhood, the inadequacy of surrogate religions, and a forthcoming Third Revelation. Most religious humanists advocated an activist Christianity, one that would really transform the world. Many of them also linked human agency with creativity.
  • 12 - Russian liberalism and the philosophy of law
    pp 248-265
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter talks about five thinkers who played a pivotal role in the development of Russian liberal thought after 1900. As public figures, Pavel Novgorodtsev, Pёtr Struve, Evgenii Trubetskoi, Bogdan Kistiakovskii, and Sergei Kotliarevskii, campaigned for a state under the rule of law, one based on recognition of human dignity, individual freedom, and civil or personal rights, and were centrally interested in the fundamental problems of liberal political philosophy. Problems of Idealism, Landmarks, and De Profundis are particularly significant for gauging the evolution of "classical" and "new" liberalism as Russia entered its age of revolution. The initial idea for what is now widely regarded as the second "landmark" of the Silver Age, Vekhi, came from Mikhail Gershenzon, a literary historian and collaborator on Kistiakovskii's journal. The themes of human dignity, justice, and cultural endeavor also drove the arguments that Sergei Kotliarevskii developed in his major work, Power and Law.
  • 13 - Imagination and ideology in the new religious consciousness
    pp 266-284
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The idea of Russian intellectuals opposing radical ideology in the name of religious tradition was still quite novel in 1902, and it is no surprise that these apostates from radicalism made slow headway against the prevailing trends. The Vologda discussions of 1902-1903 manifested the broader confluence of Marxism and modernism in Russian intellectual culture. The politics of the new religious consciousness resembled the "political romanticism" defined by Carl Schmitt, dwelling on antitheses in the phenomenal realm only as "occasions" for the manifestation of some third, absolute power, in which "the concrete antithesis and heterogeneity disappear". The revolutionary convergence between idealists and realists was the difference that quickly emerged between St. Petersburg and Moscow beginning in 1905. Across the ideological spectrum one encounters faith in the untapped potential of human imagination. As a result, intellectual culture in Russia overlapped with the development of a modern image culture.
  • 14 - Eschatology and hope in Silver Age thought
    pp 285-302
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter begins with an epigraph from a poem by Vladimir Solov'ëv, arguably the figure most influential for the modernist thinkers in Russia's pre-revolutionary period. An essay by symbolist writer and friend of Aleksandr Blok, Andrei Belyi, called "The Apocalypse in Russian Poetry" that begins, like Blok's "The Scythians", with an epigraph from "Panmongolism". Belyi's novel Petersburg is replete with apocalyptic imagery. Indeed, eschatological thinking was everywhere among the creative intelligentsia. In the "The Coming Huns", the symbolist poet Valerii Briusov refers not to the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion that Solov'ëv evokes, but to the Huns, the Eurasian tribes which moved from Central Asia to Europe in the fourth and fifth centuries. Solov'ëv's Silver Age heirs inherited a hope for active integration, but succumbed more and more to the despair of disintegration, the dangers of exclusive nationalism, and obsession with the end of time.
  • 15 - Russian Marxism
    pp 305-325
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The emergence of Russian Marxism was preceded by the reception of Marx's and Engels's ideas in the populist movement. The Russian populists saw Marxism as the last word in the socialist theory of capitalism, that is, of the "bourgeois stage" of social evolution. The "father of Russian Marxism", Georgii Plekhanov, a former populist who in 1883 founded in Switzerland the first organization of Russian Marxists, the Emancipation of Labor Group, gave Marxism a somewhat Hegelian flavor, interpreting it as scientific knowledge of the rational necessity of historical processes. The two Russian Revolutions of 1917 changed the entire spectrum of ideological positions in Russia. The analysis of Stalinism from a Marxist standpoint was Leon Trotskii's book, The Revolution Betrayed. The entire story of Marxist communism in Russia can be seen as motivated by the idea of "positive freedom" in Isaiah Berlin's sense of the term.
  • 16 - Adventures in dialectic and intuition: Shpet, Il′in, Losev
    pp 326-345
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Gustav Gustavovich Shpet, Ivan Aleksandrovich Il'in, and Aleksei Fëdorovich Losev characterized their central methodological approaches in terms of some combination of Hegelian dialectic and Husserlian phenomenological intuition. This chapter delineates the respective roles of dialectic and intuition in each approach. The most strikingly Husserlian project in early twentieth-century Russian philosophy is Gustav Shpet's Appearance and Sense, published barely one year after Husserl's Ideas I, in which he provided an exposition and defense of the method of phenomenological reduction, first applied systematically by Husserl in that work. Apart from the notion of the "philosophical act", which is certainly a theme in Husserl's earlier works, Il'in appeared to restrict his appropriation of Husserlian phenomenology primarily to the doctrine of eidetic intuition and the concomitant exercise of eidetic variation. Losev had exhaustively investigated Plato's use of the term eidos and connected Husserl's use with Plato's.
  • 17 - Nikolai Berdiaev and the philosophical tasks of the emigration
    pp 346-362
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdiaev, Semën Frank and other philosophers rejected the idea that the emigration should or even could openly challenge the Soviet regime; they recommended a Vekhist philosophy of inner spiritual development and self-perfection as indispensable preconditions for genuine political change. Post-revolutionary Russia, the ultimate realization of Oswald Spengler's ominous warnings of Europe's collapse, might become the site of its resurrection. Berdiaev noted that in Russia the turn away from the spiritual to the material had reached its apocalyptic conclusion and thus had cleared the way for a spiritual rebirth. The Russian philosophical revival did not end with the "philosophers' steamboats" so much as it underwent an involuntary relocation abroad. The exigency of inner spiritual evolution had a central place in Berdiaev's mature philosophical output. The tasks that Berdiaev assigned the emigration were a religious-spiritual variant on the traditional intelligentsia mission to enlighten and serve.
  • 18 - Eurasianism: affirming the person in an “era of faith”
    pp 363-380
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Eurasianism emerged as an intellectual movement in 1921 with the publication of the almanac Iskhod k Vostoku. The concept of the person was the Eurasianists' principal instrument for translating their general religious expectations of Russia's "era of faith" of the early 1920s into a political program. It emerged between 1925 and 1927 in intensive discussions among the movement's leaders. The most insightful responses among the many reactions to Eurasianism's political ideology belonged to the historian and literary critic P.M. Bitsilli, the philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev, and Georgii Florovskii, all of whom in one way or another had been affiliated with the Eurasianist movement during the 1920s, sympathized with some of its ideas, yet sharply rejected its political implications. The Eurasianism of 1932 also contained clear statements about safeguarding individual rights against the state, against social collectives, and against religious intolerance.

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