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Remarks on Russian Philosophy, Soviet Philosophy, and Historicism

Diogenes 56 (2-3):84-94 (2009)
Abstract
This paper concerns two themes: my personal experience of Russian philosophy and Russian philosophers on the one hand, and historicism on the other. My account of my limited experience of Russian philosophers and philosophy will be mainly autobiographical. My remarks about historicism will concern a single aspect of the philosophical consequences of the Soviet experience for Russian philosophy. When I come to Russia, I am always surprised by the degree of interest in a historical approach to knowledge, an interest that, so far as I know, is unique to Russian philosophy. This difference in perspective as concerns the historical character of cognitive claims needs to be explained. It needs to be explained why contemporary Russian philosophers and contemporary Russian philosophy are so hospitable to a historical approach to knowledge, an approach which has always been rare, even unusual, elsewhere. My hypothesis, which I examine the paper, is that there is a deep link between contemporary Russian interest in a historical approach to knowledge and Soviet philosophy. In particular, there is a link to Marx, who is a historical thinker, and to pre-Soviet Russian philosophy, as distinguished from Marxism, which is basically a-historical
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