Russian philosophy is a cultural phenomenon that emerged in late XVIII century as a reflection on Russia’s abruptly introduced modern condition, its departure from Orthodox tradition, and its future as a part of and/or a contender to Western civilization. The two hundred years that followed saw the proliferation of philosophical debates and programs that tried to cope with the overwhelming richness of Western philosophy and the rapidly changing world, seeking answers to perennial questions, while also developing its characteristic set of problems. Philosophy in Russia was taken seriously from the start, and philosophical ideas were sought to guide the change or to thwart change. Much of Russian modern thought proceeds to advance broad cultural, social or political projects, with systematic theoretical philosophy often becoming only a secondary concern. The pace of history offered little time for metaphysics to come to fruition, and frequent interventions from the outside, particularly by the state, altered or disrupted the flow of philosophical thought. With its comparatively short, yet dense, rapid and often violent development, Russian philosophy is rich with ideas that are relevant to current and prospective discussions.
|Key works||Pyotr Chaadaev, Philosophical Letters (1836) (Chaadaev 1969): the work that started the Slavophiles-Westernizers controversy, which is still going on. Vladimir Solovyov, Justification of the Good (1897) (Solovyov & Duddington 1918): a piece on moral philosophy by one of the most systematic and original Russian thinkers. Pyotr Kropotkin, Anarchism (1905) (Kropotkin unknown): still one of the best introductions to anarchism by one of its classics.|
|Introductions||Two classic expositions of the history of Russian philosophy available in English are Nikolay Lossky's History of Russian Philosophy (1951) and Vasily Zenkovsky's A History of Russian Philosophy (Zen’Kovskiyi 1953; Zenkovsky 2003).|
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