Leo Tolstoy’s Moralism is a call for the purification of moral universals as the foundations of culture, in which there is no contradiction between the values of an individual life and the values of the social “world.” A “moralist preacher” must fulfill two main requirements. First, he must personally fulfill the principles of his teaching. Second, he must be absolutely sure that he speaks on behalf of the truth he knows. Otherwise, his preaching will be deceptive and will serve the destruction rather than creation of a moral culture. Lev Shestov rejects this pathos of preaching as incompatible with existential perception of the world. Shestov replaces “absolute morality” with the absolute of human individuality, but this absolute is incompatible with the universalism of cultural values.
This article discusses the varying circumstances of the extensive travels abroad in 1875–1876 of Russian philosopher Vladimir Sergeevich Solovyov (1853–1900). The author devotes particular attention to Solovyov’s time spent in the Italian town of Sorrento near Naples, where, in the old Hotel Cocumella, Solovyov finished his treatise The Sophia (in French) that he had begun in Egypt, a treatise in which he outlined the earliest contours of his great philosophical system. Using a wealth of documentary materials, the author examines events associated with Solovyov’s stay in Sorrento, and later in Florence, Venice, and Genoa
The article considers a fundamental contradiction between a hypertrophied desire to freely pursue one's goals and the insuperability of fate that is inherent in Mikhail Lermontov's novel Hero of Our Time [Geroi nashego vremeni] in which the drive for “freedom” precipitates meaningless rebellion. The collision between thought (awareness contradiction) and the vital impulse (élan vital) causes the identity of the hero to split: thought turns out to be fruitless and life hopeless. This contradiction is symptomatic of cultural degeneration, and of the transformation of cultural values into “simulacra”—the “superfluous man” is a simulacrum of identity.
The author examines the key philosophical problem of theodicy and freedom as it was first formulated by Fyodor Dostoevsky and later developed by Nikolai Berdyaev.
The author analyzes Dostoevsky's ideas about confession and theodicy and shows how they were influenced by Vladimir Solov'ev and St. Augustine
This article outlines the main threads in the reception of Friedrich Schelling’s ideas by Alexei F. Losev as reflected in his philosophical works. The author singles out three main sets of issues where Schelling’s influence on Losev manifests itself especially vividly: the dialectical interpretation of primordial essence, the conditions for the possibility of language, and the theory of the symbol and philosophy of mythology. The author shows that within Losev’s reception of Schelling’s philosophy, there could be observed a tightly woven solidarity with Schelling’s position, an instrumental appropriation of individual Schellingian concepts, productive misunderstanding, and precise hermeneutic penetration into the semantic interrelations of various semantic clusters within Schelling’s extensive corpus of texts.
This article delves into the history of classical philology and the relationship between two prominent classical philologists, one Russian and one German: Alexei Losev (1893–1988) and Bruno Snell (1896–1986). The article shows that both scholars worked at the intersection of philosophy, philology, and history of concepts, and both were interested in the history of ideas, terminology, aesthetics, and mythology and in the language of ancient Greek epics. Unlike Snell, who did not speak Russian and was unable to familiarize himself with Losev’s work on the history of ancient thought, Losev relied on Snell’s work from the mid-1920s until the very end of his life, using Snell to defend his own views on various controversial issues (e.g., reconstructing Homer’s archaic notions of the cosmos, debating the meaning of Heraclitus’ term “ethos,” or discussing the usage of the word sēmainō, and so forth). The subject of analysis is Losev’s 1962 review of the Dictionary of the Early Greek Epic (Lexicon des frühgriechischen Epos), edited by B. Snell, as well as the two scholars’ correspondence in 1959–1960.
This article analyzes the individual projects of Tatishchev and Karamzin 5 as Russian historians. Vasily N. Tatishchev (1686–1750), a civil servant during the Petrine era, spent thirty years creating his Russian History as a set of commentaries on “chronicle records.” Nikolai M. Karamzin (1766–1826) gained entrance to European intellectual culture through his travels around Europe, which served as a source for his Letters of a 10 Russian Traveler and later publication of his journal Vestnik Evropy (1802–1803). The exposure to European intellectual life stimulated Karamzin’s project, the twelve-volume History of the Russian State. This article examines the similarities and differences in the thinkers’ methodologies for constructing history, which relied on European histor- 15 iography and a substantially different set of personal experiences: one the builder of Empire under Peter, and the other an intellectual educator, writer, creator of the Russian literary language, and professional historiographer in the court of Emperor Alexander I.
In this article, the author examines one of the most important issues in the spiritual maturation of Russian culture. Peter the Great brought Russia back to Europe as a military and political power. We could rightly call Karamzin a Russian European who laid the groundwork for the development of a great culture.
The article analyzes the image of Goethe the writer and Goethe the theorist as constructed by Alexei F. Losev in different periods of his career. The author shows that Losev’s own dialectic of artistic form has a complex, dialogical relationship with aesthetic principles central to Goethe’s creative writings.
This article analyzes Nikolai Berdyaev’s (1874–1948) ideas concerning the spiritual origins of the 1917 Russian revolution. The philosopher believed that its sources were “demons” living in the Russian national spirit, discovered and awakened in the works of the Russian classics, such as Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Leo Tolstoy. The main reason these demons were able to take hold of the Russian national consciousness was the collapse of everyday life, and the false orientation of this consciousness toward a violent establishment of a new social order. This order attempted to create a moral of equality and fair distribution of property, while lacking a religious-metaphysical foundation. Berdyaev’s views are compared with the contemporary realities in Russia at the time and the search for a resolution to the deep sociopolitical and moral contradictions inherent in these realities.
In this article, the author considers the main milestones in the development of Russian Enlightenment ideas, using Nikolai Karamzin’s creative output as an example. Karamzin undoubtedly represented a new type of Russian enculturated person, who had traveled a long path to understanding what it means not only to consider oneself an enlightened individual but actually to be one.
N.M. Karamzin’s multivolume work History of the Russian State occupies a special place in Russian culture. It could with good reason be considered a great intellectual and moral feat for the Russian thinker and historian. Karamzin rediscovered Russian history and returned it to the mainstream of national life. Inspired by philosophical ideas from the Enlightenment, Karamzin created a historical encyclopedia of the Russian people. As a heroic poem about Russia, Karamzin’s creation has deep moral meaning. According to Karamzin, by turning towards the events and customs of the past, society fosters in itself the sense of history as a basis for its moral and civic development in the present and future.
This article disputes the possibility and reason for any general theory of revolution (philosophical or metahistorical) that claims to reveal the “essence” of this phenomenon without regard for the context in which any particular revolution occurs. The article describes revolutions as contingent and self-constituting events. Their triggers, but not their causes, are the dysfunctions of existing orders (the incompleteness of the structuredness of these orders). Such events are a special kind of historical and political practice and are characterized primarily as the initiation of a mechanism that Kant called causation through freedom, and the emergence of collective actors possessing the properties of a political subject (as strictly an event, not metaphysical subject). Such events are possible only in the context of Modernity, just as Modernity itself persists until and to the extent that it bears the imprint of these events, both in its institutional organization and in its historical memory (as a belief in the feasibility of an alternative to existing structures of domination, and not as an homage to the “museum of revolution,” which fixes it in a “glorious” but lifeless past).
This article analyzes the work of a distinguished Russian philosopher, historian, and political scientist Alexei A. Kara-Murza. Kara-Murza has been developing unique genres of philosophic study, including philosophical travelology and a local study approach that lies at the junction of the philosophical investigation into the history of Russia and historical examination of local places. The method he is advancing could be called an “intellectual topography of Russian history.” This method of philosophical-historical research pioneered by Kara-Murza assumes an inquiry into the genesis of ideas, images, and artistic and historical associations that have been emerging as the cultural spaces of Russia and Europe meet and mingle: the semantic topoi of cultures that encourage thinkers and writers into creative and philosophical reflection.
An original thinker and an outstanding representative of Russian religious philosophy of the first half of the twentieth century, Berdyaev presented the theme of creativity in the form of a modern spiritual manifesto. In his numerous works he outlined the contours of a new spirituality, distinguishing in it metaphysical and sociocultural perspectives.
The thematization of the "I" in the culture of the late Enlightenment and its ideological opponents is a subject unto itself. The "I," as one of the basic intuitions of the early modern period, enters a new culturological context. As a result, conflict arises between the old concept of the substantial "I" and the new concept of the active, empirical individual. The victorious Romantic model radically demonstrates the principle of unity of the "I."
The article analyzes some key motives of both classical German phenomenology (focusing on Edmund Husserl) and contemporary French phenomenology (focusing on Marc Richir). The theme of sense-formation, a recurring thread throughout Husserl's entire body of work, serves as a discussion starting point.
A special emphasis is put on one of Husserl's posthumously published texts from 1933, in which he distinguishes between the open process of sense-formation [Sinnbildung] and the closed sense-structures [Sinngebilde]. The “phenomenon” to which phenomenological philosophy refers here is not a “pre-given thing” yet, but rather the horizon in which its sense is shaped. This fundamental intuition is crucially important for the project of “nonstandard” phenomenology, which Richir is developing in the context of Francophone philosophy. Drawing equally from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’ phenomenology of language, Richir refers to “the sense that creates itself.” In this way, he is continuing to develop one of the key intuitions of phenomenological philosophy, which Husserl establishes by distinguishing between the living process of sense-formation and the “fixed [static]” sense-structures.
Based on this fundamental distinction, phenomenological philosophy is described as one of the tools of modern humanities rather than a highly specialized philosophical doctrine closed into itself. The author demonstrates that the conceptual pair of Sinnbildung/Sinngebilde may be used for analyzing both philosophical works and literary texts.