Russian Philosophy Encounters German Idealism


Intellectuals matter, because intellectuals teach. And a lot of intellectuals teaching the same thing, transforms generations.

—” in 1836 of Chaadaev’s ‘Philosophical Letter’, which posed Russia’s relationship to the West as a central philosophical problem, maintaining that Russia’s historical separation from the culture of Western Christianity precluded its participation in the movement of history towards the establishment of a universal Christian society. Chaadaev’s version of the march of progress was much indebted to French Catholic conservatism, while the nationalist riposte to his ideas drew heavily on the Romantics’ critique of the Age of Reason and Schelling’s organic conception of nationhood: the Slavophiles held that Western culture was in a state of terminal moral and social decline, suffering from an excess of rationalism, which had led to social atomization and the fragmentation of the individual psyche (see Chaadaev, P.I.; Schellingianism, Russian). These divisions could be healed only by religious faith in its purest form, Russian Orthodoxy, whose spirit of organic ‘togetherness’, uncontaminated by Western rationalism, they presented as a model for Russian society and a beacon for mankind. They thereby laid the foundations of a distinctively Russian tradition of cultural and religious messianism which includes Dostoevskii’s political writings, the Pan-Slavist and Eurasian movements (see Dostoevskii, F.M.; Pan-Slavism and Eurasian movement), and the apocalyptic vision of Berdiaev, whose philosophy was highly popular among the Soviet underground.”—

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