Russian Philosophy (From Routledge)


—” ‘Russian Idea’ – … the most distinctive feature of Russian philosophy – can be explained in terms of Russian history. The Mongol yoke from the twelfth to the fourteenth century cut Russia off from Byzantium (from which it had received Christianity) and from Europe: it had no part in the ferment of the Renaissance. Its rise as a unified state under the Moscow Tsardom followed closely on the fall of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, and the emerging sense of Russian national identity incorporated a messianic element in the form of the monk Philotheus’ theory of Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’, successor to Rome and Constantinople as guardian of Christ’s truth in its purity (see Medieval philosophy, Russian). ‘There will not be a fourth’, ran the prophecy: the Russian Empire would last until the end of the world.

Russian thought remained dominated by the Greek patristic tradition until the eighteenth century, when the Kievan thinker Skovoroda (sometimes described as Russia’s first philosopher) developed a religious vision based on a synthesis of ancient and patristic thought. He had no following; by the mid-century Russia’s intellectual centre was St Petersburg, where Catherine the Great, building on the achievements of her predecessor Peter, sought to promote a Western secular culture among the educated elite with the aid of French Enlightenment ideas.

But representatives of the ‘Russian Enlightenment’ were severely punished when they dared to cite the philosophes’ concepts of rationality and justice in criticism of the political status quo (see Enlightenment, Russian). The persecution of advanced ideas (which served to strengthen the nascent intelligentsia’s self-image as the cultural and moral leaders of their society) reached its height under Nicolas I (1825–55), when philosophy departments were closed in the universities, and thought went underground.

Western ideas were the subject of intense debate in small informal circles of students, writers and critics, the most famous of which in Moscow and St Petersburg furnished the philosophical education of such intellectual leaders as the future socialists Herzen and Bakunin, the novelist and liberal Ivan Turgenev, the literary critic Belinskii (from whose ‘social criticism’ Soviet Socialist Realism claimed descent), and the future Slavophile religious philosophers Kireevskii and Khomiakov (see Slavophilism).

As a critic has noted: ‘In the West there is theology and there is philosophy; Russian thought, however, is a third concept’; one which (in the tsarist intellectual underground as in its Soviet successor) embraced novelists, poets, critics, religious and political thinkers – all bound together by their commitment to the goals of freedom and justice.”—

Like I said, russian philosophy is literary, not rational(rousseau), not rigorous (Kant), nor empirical (smith and hume), nor legal ( jefferson ). Russian philosophy is one of LAMENT OF LOSS. But loss of what? Byziantine fall? Why does russia tolerate islam if it is islam that caused byzantine fall?

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