The Problem of Posthumous Existence from Plato to Dostoyevsky: “Bobok,” a Short Story by Dostoyevsky
The article Ideology vs. Poetics: Сommentaries on the Anniversary Edition of Goethe’s Works (1932–1949) examines the instrumentalization of literature in Soviet ideology during the Stalin era. It considers the (im)possibility for humanities scholars in the 1930-s to maintain the balance between poetics and ideology while working with classical material, in particular, to interpret Goethe’s works on the edge between Marxism and bourgeois literary studies, between Engels and Gundolf. The Anniversary Edition of Goethe’s Works, scheduled for the 100th anniversary of the author’s death, illustrates the structure and composition of commentaries in academic publications of foreign classical writer’s collected works, developed by the curator of the project, A.G. Gabritchevsky. His main idea was based on three components: a conceptual commenting introduction, “factographic” notes, and commentaries explaining the principles of translation.
The article discusses Vyacheslav Ivanov’s interpretation of “the Russian Idea” concept. In particular, it demonstrates the philosophical nature of this concept in the context of Vyacheslav Ivanov’s theory of symbolism. This calls into question the “mystical” interpretation of the sociopolitical views of the thinker, which already during his lifetime became one of the arguments of his critics.
Alexei Losev was among those few religious thinkers who remained in the USSR after the revolution. He was an advocate of the so-called onomatodoxy movement in the Russian Orthodox Church according to which the name of God is not something conventional, but God himself. It was Losev who elaborated the philosophical foundations of this teaching and built a sort of synthesis of Platonism (and Neoplatonism) and the thought of the Eastern Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory of Palamas. As an encyclopaedic man, Losev dealt with different branches of philosophy: philosophy of language, music, mathematics, aesthetics, etc. The common denominator of all works was the issue of symbol, which he considered to be an external expression of an internal content. In the context of onomatodoxy debates, it means that the name of God is nothing but His energy (using the term of the Greek Fathers of the Church), or manifestation of His unknowable essence in the world. Therefore, a symbol is primarily of an objective character and at the same time assumes the cooperation (synergy) between God and man.
Using the example of the cycle of Goethe’s poems “The Chinese-German Book of Seasons and Hours”, in which the poet combines motifs from Chinese and German literature as well as his own poetry, the paper suggests a hypothesis in the light of which an attempt is made to consider the influence of Goethe’s natural-philosophical ideas on peculiarities of his concept of the world literature. In particular, this concerns the matter of integrating the individual (das Besondere) into the universal (das Allgemeine), a well as the concept of the Nature as a living whole. At the same time this universal law of Nature creates a mechanism for the functioning of the living stream of the world literature, where separate national literatures are circulating. “The Chinese-German Book of Seasons and Hours”, where the uniqueness of a single day and the constancy of the seasons are combined, where the memories of the past days are embedded in the imaginary space of China, creates “the space of semantic resonance”, with Goethe’s both aesthetic and natural-philosophical visions being are in the mutual reflection.
An Interview with Professor Teresa Obolevitch, Chair of Russian and Byzantine Philosophy at the Pontifical University of Joun Paul II in Krakow
This article discusses the evolution of the cultural-civilizational self-identification of Russia’s greatest twentieth-century poet, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890–1960), the 1958 Nobel Prize laureate in literature. Analyzing an extensive range of materials, the author shows that Pasternak positioned himself as a particular type of “Russian European,” a “man of the North,” a “winter man,” continuing a fruitful lineage in the Russian cultural tradition (Gavriil Derzhavin, Pyotr Vyazemsky, Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Blok). The literary thinker himself repeatedly testified to his own “northernness,” including in his autobiographical works Safe Conduct and “People and Propositions.” The “winter theme” dominates many of Pasternak’s poems, as well as his prose works, including his novel Doctor Zhivago.
When Peter the I at the beginning of the XVIII century "cut a window to Europe" and overthrew the God-chosen Third Rome from its pedestal, Russia abandoned its special path and became an integral part of the European ecumene, a full member of the European "concert of powers". The main drama of the future Russia was thus predetermined. The Byzantine legacy and Peter's plan were now doomed to conflict and co-existence. Neither Peter nor his successors succeeded in turning Russia into a "normal" European country. But the path to the pre-Petrine antiquity was finally closed. Despite the gradual merging of the two parts of the continent that had been split before Peter, neither Russia nor the West was silent on the special nature of Russian civilization, on its non-European essence. The collection of articles is devoted to some aspects of this dispute.
If the concept of “Europe” is currently raising fundamental questions, then at the same time there is also an opportunity to discuss and redefine it. The phase of crisis and upheaval affects both the political level of the European Union and the cultural commonalities and societal binding forces of Europe - and thus the reference to European values, common roots and binding principles play an important role. The contributors to the volume shed light on this challenge from the different areas of experience and approaches in their disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences to journalism and politics.
The article discusses the dominant topic of Russian emigrant historiosophy: discourse on the Russian revolution of 1917 and its interpretation by I.A. Bunin and G.P. Fedotov. The author looks for parallel assessments of the 1917 Revolution that arise from philosophical and journalistic works of Ivan Bunin and George Fedotov. The author reveals similarities in the views of the fiction writer and the religious thinker and ideas of key Russian authors of the Silver Age of Russian culture. The article analyzes the specifics of comprehension of historical events in philosophical and artistic circles of the Silver Age, as a part of historiosophical discourse about Russia. The materials involved show that the purpose and content of historiosophical thinking were not mere reconstruction or chronological statement of facts but were aimed at identifying spiritual causes of the troublesome period in Russia and the hidden cultural meaning of revolutionary events. The scope of this research involves philosophical and literary works of Bunin and Fedotov in which they comprehend the patterns of development of Russia and conceive the logic of collapse of its state, culture, and historical social order. The paper focuses on commonness of the philosophizing trajectory and the shared emigrant fate of these bright representatives of Russian emigration. A special attention is paid to the way of arranging of historiosophical narrative of Russian revolution in philosophical, literary, and journalistic texts of Russian émigrés. The unique value of both thinkers consists in the intense sublimation of their spiritual experience, their fusion with the fate of Russia; and political emigration only increased the productive power of these outstanding talents.
The article examines two texts in which "traces" of Protestant influence are found. The beginning is associated with the first known researchers "textbook on the theory of Russian eloquence", the so-called "Rhetoric" by Macarius of the first quarter of the 17th century. (attribution is still being debated); the stages of studying this text are briefly examined and its place outside the educational system, which by that time had not yet developed in the Moscow kingdom, is determined. A century later, courses in rhetoric and poetics became the basis of education in theological institutions. Rhetorical culture has assumed the function of education, upbringing and social regulation of society. The influence of Protestant ideas, together with the practice of rational evidence, honed in the polemics between Protestants and Catholics in Europe, is found in the works of Feofan Prokopovich. He not only read courses in rhetoric and poetics at the Kiev Mohyla Academy, but also wrote theological works, where the influence of Protestant intellectual culture is evident. The article analyzes one of the "Words" by Prokopovich "Theological teaching about the state of an intact person or about what Adam was like in paradise?" And concludes that over a hundred years the contact of the scribes with the Protestant intellectual culture has undergone qualitative changes. The method of critical analysis of the text became available to Orthodox scribes; polemics and use of the rules of argumentation; addressing the need for "experiential knowledge"; understanding of the authority of the academic community, etc. In these processes, the author sees a significant role of the Protestant "trace" in Russian book culture.
The Russian emigrants, who left their country after the victory of the Bolshevik revolution, became witnesses and victims of the first historical attempt to make a totalitarian utopia a reality. Many of them realized that the events of 1917 were only the first act of a general European break with civilization and tried to warn the public in their host countries against the impending catastrophe. However, they achieved little resonance. Contrary to what is often assumed, this had little to do with the language barriers. Numerous writings of the Russian exile thinkers were translated into Western languages; besides, these authors generally mastered foreign languages perfectly and often wrote their treatises in the languages of their host countries. The weak reaction of the Western public to warnings of the emigrants undoubtedly had something to do with the fact that the "Russia beyond the borders" was much less interesting for the German, French or British public than the Soviet state. Apart from a few exceptions, the Western public was primarily interested in the winners, but not the losers of the internal Russian conflict.
In this article, the author examines the work of Boris Pasternak, primarily his novel Doctor Zhivago, in the context of his Marburg experience and Kantian ideas as the basis of his moral-aesthetic position. Pasternak tried to live and write over the barriers that a totalitarian era had erected in human life. His late novel managed to tell Russia and the rest of humanity about this tragic century in Russian history, using as the basis of his reflections a Russian intellectual who grew up on the pathos of a Christianity rethought in early twentiethcentury Russia. What happened in Russia in 1917 was not only a social pogrom, but also an intellectual one. Pasternak’s novel was a unique attempt to cope with this intellectual catastrophe by relying on Christianity. The very name of the protagonist, Zhivago, has a rhyme in the Gospels. It was not by chance that Pasternak shared with the Christian thinker Fyodor Stepun that he had written about Doctor Zhivago while working on a translation of Goethe’s Faust, that great mysterydrama. He recounted Russia’s historical tragedy through the fate of a single man, a doctor and poet. Pasternak won the battle against the darkness that had engulfed his homeland, preserving a soul capable of grieving for loved ones despite restrictive barriers, for the starry heavens above and the moral law within made the core of his personhood.
The article examines the role and place of faith in the concept of Vladimir Solovyov who is considered to be the creator of the first Russian philosophical system. The purpose of the article is to determine the epistemological and methodological significance of faith in Solovyov’s understanding as a special factor of cognition. In order to study this problem, a synthetic method of reconstruction of the thought of Solovyov as well as a method of philosophical analysis was used. First, Solovyov’s project of integral knowledge or free theosophy is presented, i. e. synthesis of philosophy, theology, and science. The suppositions of this concept are revealed and its polemical context is indicated, namely, Solovyov’s attempt to overcome the abstract or one-sided principles: reason, empirical experience, and faith in order to create an integral system that should unite all types of knowledge. In addition, philosophy as such corresponds to reason, science to experience, and theology to faith. The second part of the article is devoted to the epistemological aspects of faith in the concept of integral knowledge. It lies in the fact that each act of cognition begins with the assertion of the objective existence of its object, which Solovyov describes as faith in a broad sense of the word. Thus, faith has a universal significance as a necessary condition for the cognitive process. The third part of the article discusses the methodological aspect of faith as a key link in the system of integral knowledge. As a result, faith has a dominant role not only in theology, but in all spheres of knowledge, including philosophy and science. Thus, it is possible to conclude that there is no conflict between faith and reason; on the contrary, they complement each other. Solovyov’s position is still relevant nowadays.
The article (written in the genre of “intellectual area studies,” which allows to organically combine careful tracking of a specific human destiny and an accurate understanding of variable cultural and geographical contexts) examines the circumstances of the first visit to Italy in May–June 1904 by Russian artist Leonid Osipovich Pasternak (1862−1945), the father of the poet Boris Leonidovich Pasternak. Unlike the B.L. Pasternak’s “Italian journey” (1912), well known to literary scholars from the poem “Venice” (in two editions: 1913 and 1928) and the “Venetian chapters” of the memoirs Safe Conduct (1931), the details of Leonid Pasternak’s journeys to Italy (1904, 1912, 1923) remain practically unknown to researchers. The author of the article believes that the surviving materials about Leonid Pasternak’s five-day stay in Venice in 1904 make it possible to reconstruct the peculiarities of the self-identification of the artist Leonid Pasternak. The article provides numerous examples of how L.O. Pasternak, a descendant of a Russian-Jewish family from Odessa, in his memoirs and correspondence with his wife, pianist Rosalia Pasternak, emphasizes his “Odessa” identity, which has numerous parallels with the “Venetian” identity. Modern Venice appears to the “Southerner” Leonid Pasternak as an Italian analogue of his native Odessa. The author demonstrated that such self-identification of L.O. Pasternak is explained not only by the fact of his Odessa origin and long residence in a multinational South Russian city but also by the circumstances of his youth studies at the Odessa Art School, whose founders and teachers were, among others, Italian artists and sculptors, who made a great contribution to the cultural history of Odessa.
The article reveals the conceptual attitudes and thematic preferences of the philosopher of the Russian diaspora G. P. Fedotov on the material not only of published works but also of his epistolary heritage. The author emphasizes that appeal to his past, to the historical foundations of Russian culture, was in the center of attention of almost all philosophers-emigrants. Still, each of them saw the path to his culture in his own way. A feature of Fedotov consisted in its historicity, i.e., in the fact that he not only theoretically substantiated a special path for the development of Russian spirituality but himself returned to pre-Christian Russian culture as the source of a special religious worldview. He wanted to rethink the trajectories of Russia's spiritual development to understand how and when there was a gap between the intellectual and the spiritual, what are the reasons for the cultural catastrophe that was unfolding before his eyes. At the same time, the author pays special attention to the sphere of conversation of Fedotov and his methods of expression, revealing the specifics of philosophical communication of that time, key topics, the most discussed problems, and debatable issues. Representatives of the Russian diaspora (philosophers, philologists, historians, art critics) have acquired a special intellectual location on European and American magazines' pages. The topics discussed by Fedotova with colleagues: the discussion of the fate of Russia, Slavic specificity, and spiritual culture have not lost their relevance today.
The book by G. E. Alyaev summarizes long-term research of the philosophy of S. L. Frank and other Russian thinkers. It contains the articles examine the main features of the heritage of Russian philosophers and the results of archival research. Alyaev’s approach combines the aspects of conceptual analysis, reception history and archive work. The main sections of the book demonstrate the practical implementation of research ideas formulated in the introduction. The integrated methodology allows to avoid endless disputes on the ideological question if the Russian philosophy is “better” or “worse” than the Western one. Alyaev admits that the Russian thought, which often interprets itself as closer to real life than the Western intellectual traditions, explicitly sets the task of developing a national idea, but cannot be reduced to it. Moreover, the connection of the ideas of Russian philosophers to practical and political issues reveals its relevance for current intellectual discussions. Alaev’s reflections are close to the approach demonstrated in the works of E. van der Zweerde, who emphasizes that the national dimension of philosophy should not be opposed to the universal one. However, the methodological aspect of Alaev’s book is not sufficiently discussed and can be fruitfully supplemented by contemporary approaches of intellectual history.
The article considers the conceptualization of the Slavic idea by Vyacheslav Ivanov and reveals the main criteria for Ivanov’s understanding of slavism. An attempt is made to show the philosophical nature of the concept of Slavic idea and to find the basis for the philosophical interpretation of this concept by Ivanov. Special attention is paid to the peculiarities of Ivanov’s understanding of the Slavic brotherhood, the discrepancies between his positions and those of the neo-Slavophiles. The article also discusses some of the thinker’s methodological approaches and demonstrates the inclusion of the concept of Slavic idea in Ivanov’s cultural and philosophical system.