Different faces of Byzantium. The attitudes towards Byzantium presented in Ivan Kireevsky, Alexey Khomyakov, and their social circle
I detect a specific attitude to Byzantium (“the Byzantine Enlightenment”) in Ivan Kireevsky’ Slavophile article “On the Character of Enlightenment in Europe” (1852). I qualify this attitude as Byzantinocentrism. I take that as a focal point and, against this background, consider the image of Byzantium in Kireevsky and some thinkers of his social circle. It allows me to trace the most important lines of attitudes to Byzantium in the Russian historiosophical literature and opinion journalism of the nineteenth century. I detect two opposite lines in perceiving Byzantium in Kireevsky’s early social circle: the anti- and pro-Byzantine ones. The first line goes back to an anti-Byzantine message, characteristic of the epoch of Enlightenment. It found its manifestation in G. W. F. Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of History. I point to the traces of the implicit polemics with Hegel’s anti-byzantinism in Kireevsky and identify the context of these polemics in Arist Kunick. As well, I outline how these lines worked in Pyotr Chaadaev and Alexander Pushkin. Then I distinguish between how the image of Byzantium was presented, first, in Kireevsky’s earlier Slavophile article “On the Character of Enlightenment in Europe” and, second, in his last article “On the Necessity and Possibility of the new Foundations for Philosophy” (1856). In the latter article, which sees Byzantium as bipolar, I find another view on Byzantium. I suggest that this view on Byzantium as a bipolar entity goes back to Alexey Khomyakov’s Semiramis. My point is that this difference in the views on Byzantium is paradigmatic and it reflects a division that was present in the Russian Slavophile-conservative milieu of that time. I suggest that this division stands behind another division within the same milieu, which was politically oriented, the one in relation to the Greek-Bulgarian ecclesiastical question. I analyze how both monopolar (Byzantinocentric) and bipolar views on Byzantium were reflected in the Greek-Bulgarian question as it was considered by Alexey Khomyakov and Terty Filippov. I find a context for developing Kireevsky’s attitude towards Byzantium in François Guizot’s historiosophic scheme as well.