The Russian Idea

The Russian Idea

The Russian Idea

The Russian Idea

Excerpt

The crucial importance of the problem of the philosophy of history. East and West. Russia and Europe. Chaadaev. The Slavophils and the Westernizers. The Two-sidedness of Russian Thought. Russian Universalism. State and People. The Russian Philosophy of History. Khomyakov. Ivan Kireevsky. K. Aksakov. Hertzen. N. Danilevsky. Vladimir Solovëv. Narodnichestvo. Nationalism and Messianism

Independent Russian thought was awakened by the problem of the philosophy of history. It had reflected deeply upon what the thoughts of the Creator were about Russia, about what Russia is, about what sort of destiny it has. It had long been a feeling which was native to Russians, (and I prefer to say 'feeling' rather than 'knowledge') that Russia has its own particular destiny, that the Russian people are a peculiar people. Messianism is almost as characteristic of the Russian people as it is of the Jews. Is Russia capable of going its own particular way, without repeating all the stages of European history? During the whole of the nineteenth century and even in the twentieth, there were to be controversies among us about which way Russia was to go and whether it would simply be a repetition of the paths of Western Europe. And our thought about the philosophy of history was to flow on in an atmosphere of profound pessimism in relation to Russia's past and especially to its present, and of optimistic faith and hope with regard to its future. Such was Chaadaev's philosophy of history. It was expounded in the celebrated philosophical letter to E. D. Pankova in the year 1829, which was printed in The Telescope . It was the awakening of independent original Russian thought. The results of this awakening are wellknown. The government of Nicholas I replied to this awakening of thought with the pronouncement that Chaadaev was mad. A doctor . . .

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