7 great Russian PHILOSOPHS to know


1. Piotr Chaadaev (1794-1856)

Chaadayev’s life turned into a nightmare after the publication of his “first philosophical letter” in 1836.

“After reading the article, I find that its content is a mixture of daring absurdities worthy of a madman,” Tsar Nicholas I said. According to Alexander Herzen, Chaadayev’s letter was “a gunshot that rang out in the dark night”. No matter what you call it, Chaadayev was placed under house arrest for a year and banned from posting anything again. The friend of Alexander Pushkin was declared mad by the government for his writings, in which he strongly criticized the reality of Russian life, namely serfdom and autocracy. He had unorthodox views on Russia’s mission, its future, and its cultural identity. Chaadayev saw Europe as a role model and said Russia was a backward country lagging behind others, with inertia, indifference and a lack of creativity to blame. He described the social life of Russia as “a dull and dark existence, devoid of strength and energy”.

2. Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828-1889)

Сhernyshevsky distinguished himself as a publicist, writer, philosopher, scientist, revolutionary democrat and theorist of critical utopian socialism.

Chernyshevsky as seen in an 1888 photo.

The multitalented theorist left a notable mark on the development of social philosophy, literary criticism and Russian literature. Chernyshevsky became the ideological inspirer of the revolutionary group Terre et Liberté which did not agree with the conditions on which Alexander II released the serfs in 1861. Suspected of links to revolutionary underground, Chernyshevsky was imprisoned in the Peter Fortress and Paul, a political prison in St. Petersburg. He has been dubbed “the number one enemy of the Russian Empire”, with an investigation against him that lasted over a year. Meanwhile, Chernyshevsky wasted no time and wrote his famous utopian novel “What to do?” Its publication resulted in Chernyshevsky’s sentencing to seven years of forced labor in Siberia. He was released in 1883, inspiring several generations of Russian revolutionaries, including Vladimir Lenin. “Chernyshevsky’s greatest merit is that he not only showed that every well-thought-out and truly decent person should be a revolutionary, but also something else, even more important: what it takes to be a revolutionary, what are the rules of the game and how it should achieve its goals, ”the Bolshevik leader once said.

3. Piotr Kropotkin (1842-1921)

We could make a film of the life of this philosopher.

After the Bolshevik Revolution, Prince Kropotkin returned to Russia, where he was absent for more than 40 years, due to persecution, and lived the last years of his life in Dmitrov, a small town near Moscow.

Kropotkin met both Alexander Kerensky and Vladimir Lenin, who idolized the “grandfather of the Russian revolution”. Kropotkin’s key work, “The Conquest of Bread,” is a staple of political anarchist literature that still seems to influence anarchists around the world. Kropotkin tried to prove the identity of anarchism and communism. He said that anarchism without communism is arbitrary and anarchism, while communism without anarchism is barracks and deprivation. Therefore, he tried to build a scientific “anarcho-communism”. Kropotkin not only tried to build sandcastles, but looked for examples and trends of horizontal management in real life and in history. According to Kropotkin, revolution went hand in hand with evolution and creation. He was a defender of a decentralized communist society free from central government and based on autonomous communities. Kropotkin’s writings charted a direct path to a humanistic and just social order, along which society could pass without any “transition period”. While what he wrote a hundred years ago is still relevant today, his ideas are likely to remain wishful thinking.

4. Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900)

It is believed that Soloviev was the prototype of Ivan Karamazov in “The Karamazov Brothers” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Soloviev and Dostoyevsky were good friends. The year 1881 is a pivotal year for the philosopher. Russia was shocked by the assassination of Emperor Alexander II. Soloviev condemned the crime of the terrorist organization “Narodnaya Volya”, but called on the new heir to the throne to show mercy and forgive the murderers. This act was dictated by Soloviev’s deeply rooted belief in the need for Christian forgiveness.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why Dostoevsky Is So Awesome

The basis of his philosophical doctrine is the idea of ​​divinity. It was first presented by a scientist in 1878. Its main message lies in the conclusion on the unity of man and God. In his teachings, Soloviev used the term Sophia, or Wisdom, which would become the soul of a renewed faith. According to the philosopher, only a renewed church and religion can fill the ideological void formed at the end of the 19th century, when many radical theories and political movements arose. Long spiritual research led Soloviev to believe that it is only through faith in God that mankind could survive.

5. Vasily Rozanov (1856-1919)

As much as Konstantin Stanislavsky’s ideas revolutionized theater, Rozanov’s way of thinking changed the face of philosophy, becoming a new genre.

It’s based on unfiltered, unedited personal experience, a fleeting teasing feel. “A minute had passed between ‘I want to sit down’ and ‘I sat down.’ Where do all these completely different off-topic thoughts come from? Rozanov, who was often called Dostoevsky’s “Underground Man”, wondered (in fact, Rozanov loved Dostoevsky so selflessly and faithfully that he married his mistress Apollinaria Suslova, even though he was seventeen years old. younger than the bride).

While Leo Tolstoy first tried to introduce elements of the “stream of consciousness” into his classical works, Vasily Rozanov wrote a philosophical trilogy – “Solitaire” and two parts of “Fallen Leaves” using this innovative form of narration. In his writings, Rozanov tried to put his raw and intimate thoughts and feelings on paper. This literary form was at its best in James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

The opinions of the philosopher on many questions are contradictory they were so passionate. For example, on the one hand, Rozanov said that the failure of the 1905 revolution rocked the boat, wreaking havoc, on the other hand, he believed events were bringing Russia closer to a secure future.

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The unorthodox philosopher felt it necessary to describe things from different angles and in different forms: “You have to have exactly 1000 points of view on the subject. These are the “coordinates of reality” and reality is only captured with these 1000 angles. ”

6. Nikolai Berdiaev (1874-1948)

Religious and political philosopher and rare expert on Russian mentality, Berdiaev has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature no less than seven times!

“The Russian aspiration for the meaning of life is the major theme of our literature and this is the real point of the existence of our intelligentsia,” he once wrote. Berdiaev achieved worldwide recognition for his groundbreaking book, titled “The New Middle Ages”. Reflections on the Fate of Russia and Europe ‘, which originated in Paris where he settled in 1924. His life in post-revolutionary Russia, however, was a mess. “Bolshevism is a rationalist madness, a mania for the final regulation of life, based on irrational popular power. Berdiaev reached a boiling point when he was charged with conspiracy, arrested and jailed. There were too many events to cram into the life of the philosopher, complained Berdiaev. “I was imprisoned four times, twice under the old regime and twice under the new one, I was exiled in the north of the country for three years, I was faced with a process that threatened me with an eternal settlement in Siberia, I was expelled from my homeland and will likely end my life in exile. Unfortunately, he guessed correctly. Berdiaev was a key representative of the philosophical school of Christian existentialism which highlights a deep exploration of the human condition and the state of the world within a Christian framework.

In his best work, “The Russian Idea” (1946), Berdiaev articulated the quintessential idea that made his creativity work during the last days of his life. The philosopher believed that a more just system could be created in post-Soviet Russia and that it would be able to fulfill the country’s key mission – to become a unifier of the bases of Eastern (religious) and Western (humanist) history. ).

7. Constantine Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935)

Tsiolkovsky is one of the founders of the philosophical movement called “cosmism” which influenced theology and the physical sciences, as well as the visual arts in Russia and abroad.

A self-taught scientist was born with his eyes raised to the stars and became the founder of modern cosmonautics. In 1887, Tsiolkovsky wrote a short story called “On the Moon”, where he described the sensations of a person who ends up on a terrestrial satellite. A significant part of the assumptions expressed by Tsiolkovsky ultimately turned out to be correct. From 1903, Tsiolkovsky devoted himself fully to space exploration. In the article ‘Exploration of World Spaces by Jet Devices’, he first demonstrated that a rocket could become a device for successful space flights. The scientist also developed the concept of a liquid propellant rocket engine. In particular, he determined the speed necessary for the spacecraft to enter the solar system (“second space speed”). Tsiolkovsky dealt with many practical matters of space, which then formed the basis of Soviet rockets. The rocket pioneer came up with a solution designed to provide options for missile guidance, cooling systems, nozzle design and fuel delivery systems. His work inspired the father of practical cosmonautics Sergei Korolev, prompting the development of the Soviet space program.

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