Search for Authentic Spirituality in Modern Russian Philosophy

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This book traces the quest for self-realization that inspired the Russian Cultural Renaissance at the turn of the twentieth century, also called the Silver Age, from its fin-de-siècle inception until the present day. Following the historical periods under consideration, the study breaks into three parts: the first is concerned with the quest for transcendence in Vladimir Solov’ëv’s theory of Divine Humanity; the second considers the way in which Solov’ëv’s Silver Age philosophical and poetic followers utilized and developed his ideas about self-realization; finally, the third considers contemporary discussions regarding the possibility of transcendence and self-realization. This book goes beyond mere historical-philosophical curiosity: it is an attempt to understand the idea of self-realization in a global context.


"What I personally find to be one of the major advantages of this book is the natural inclusion of authors and theories from a wide variety of intellectual traditions. Even though there is a relative emphasis on authors with a Russian background, there is not a trace of either philosophical chauvinism ... or any attempt to ‘promote’ it ... This book will surely assist in the much-needed inclusion of the development of Russian philosophical thought in the intellectual history of mankind.” – Dr. Evert van der Zweerde, Senior Lecturer in Social Philosophy, Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

“The most inspiring aspect of this book is its chosen goal: to analyze an attempt at transcending human limits: the Russian Silver Age school (centered on Vladimir Solov’ëv’s seminal idea of Divine Humanity, but continued in the work of all his followers) and to asses its relevance for similar movements today.” – Dr. Andrey Pavlenko, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences

“This book tackles the perennial question of the ‘nature’ of human nature, from the perspective of finity and infinity, and its consequences for an intrinsically meaningful existence.” – Dr. Fons Elder, Professor Emeritus, University for Humanists Studies, Utrecht

Table of Contents

A List of Illustrations
A Note on the Transliteration of Russian Names
Preface by Evert van der Zweerde
I. The Beginnings of Self-Transcendence in Russia: Vladimir Solov’ëv’s Divine Humanity
1. The Historical Roots of Divine Humanity in the Russian Silver Age
2. Divine Humanity and Philosophy of Love
3. Sophia: The Ontological Side of Divine Humanity
4. Divine Humanity and the End of History
II. Self-Realization in the Silver Age: Solov’ëv’s Followers
5. Nikolaj Berdâev and the Meaning of Creative Action
6. Semën Frank’s Existential Ontology
7. Self-Realization in the Silver Age Poetry
III. Spiritual Quest Today
8. Self-Realization after the Silver Age
9. Contemporary Self-Realization: Attempts at a Paradigm Shift
Conclusion – The Quest for Self-Realization: Mirage or Project?

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