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Articles by Nicholas Berdyaev

Translated by Fr. Stephen Janos

Chronological Coding by Year of Initial Publication and T. Klepinina Assigned #

1930 - 1939

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"The Spirit of the Grand Inquisitor (Regarding Ukaz of Met. Sergei Condemning

   the Theological Views of Fr. S. Bulgakov]" [1935-#404]

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"Concerning the Character of Russian Religious Thought of XIX Century" [1930-#345]

"The motifs of the Russian Christian thought of the XIX century have not been sufficiently evaluated. In it there were unresolved problems passed on to succeeding ages. The XIX Century was for us an age polarized into two; schismatic, disintegrated and restless, an age of the sprouting forth of revolution. But then too it was a great age, an age of the blossoming of Russian spiritual culture, an age of Russian great literature, not merely the equal as regards the greatest of world literature, but in some respects even surpassing it. Only with the XIX Century did we have an age of thought and word. Before it, the Russian nation was a people almost without thought and mute. Our thought was merely in an unexpressed potential, our word was merely inward. Before the time of Peter, ancient Rus’ knew a highly formless plasticity of culture, architecture and iconography, a cultural modus likewise exclusive to a national literature. We had great saints and a cult of sanctity. But thoughts religious, theological and philosophical, we had not, for Rus’ was not yet roused for thought."

"Boehme: Etude I: The Ungrund and Freedom" [1930-#349]

"Jacob Boehme has to be termed the greatest of Christian gnostics. The word gnosis I employ here not in the sense of the heresies of the first centuries of Christianity, but in the sense of knowledge basic to revelation and dealing not with concepts, but with symbols and myths; contemplative knowledge, and not discursive knowledge. This is also a religious philosophy or theosophy. Characteristic for J. Boehme is that he had a great simplicity of heart, a child-like purity of soul. Therefore before death he could exclaim: 'Nun fahre ich in’s Paradeis' {'Now I journey on into Paradise'}. He was not learned, not bookish, not schooled a man, but rather a simple craftsman, a shoemaker. He belonged to the type of the wise-seers from amongst the people. He did not know Aristotle, he did not know Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite, he did not know the Medieval Scholasticism and mysticism. In him it is impossible, just as it is for the larger part of Christian mystics, to discern any direct influences of Neo-Platonism. He found his sustenance first of all in the Bible, and beyond this he read Paracelsus, Sebast. Franck, Weigel, Schwenckfeld. He lived within the atmosphere of the German mystico-theosophic currents of his time."

"Boehme: Etude II: Sophia and the Androgyne; Boehme and the Russian Sophiological Current" [1930-#351]

"Boehme has a most remarkable teaching about Sophia, essentially the first in the history of Christian thought. His was a completely original intuition. The sophiology of Boehme cannot be explained by influences and borrowings. If Boehme in his intuition of the Ungrund tends to see darkness, then in the intuition of Sophia he tends to see light. Boehme’s understanding of Sophia has its own theological and cosmological side, but overall it is primarily anthropological. Sophia for him is bound up with the pure, the virginal, the chaste and integrally whole image of man. Sophia is likewise purity and virginity, the integral wholeness and chasteness of man, the image and likeness of God in man. Boehme’s teaching about Sophia is inseparable from his teaching about androgyny, i.e. the initial integral wholeness of man. Man possesses an androgynic, bisexual, masculine-feminine nature. Innate to man was Sophia, i.e. a Virgin. The fall through sin is also a loss of his Sophia-Virgin, which has flown off to the heavens. Upon the earth instead has arisen the feminine, Eve. Man grieves with longing for his lost Sophia, his lost virginal state, the wholeness and chasteness. Half a being is a being torn asunder, having lost the integral wholeness. In his teaching about androgyny Boehme stands in the same line, which is to be found in the 'Symposium' of Plato, and the Kabbala. The unique aspect of Boehme’s teaching about Sophia is in this, that it is first of all a teaching about the Virgin and virginity."

"In Memory of Prince G.N. Trubetskoy" [1930-#352]

"There has died a most noble representative of old Russia. Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy belonged to the rare type of highly cultured, liberal conservatives. If Russian conservatism had been such, as it was for Pr. G. N. Trubetskoy, then truly Russia would have avoided many a catastrophe. An enemy of extremes, imbued with a gift of balance, he was opposed to the divisiveness of the times. An implacable antagonist against revolution, he was nonetheless never a protagonist of black reaction. He loved foremost of all the Orthodox Church and Russia, and he sought to serve these eternal values. But religious values for him always stood higher than political values, to a degree such as is rarely met within the emotional atmosphere of the emigration. A former diplomat, then an active participant in the White Movement, in his final years he was concerned chiefly with churchly activity."

"East and West (Lecture)" [1930-#353]

"It is possible to posit the existence of two inner emotional types of people — the one shut in upon itself, seeking for perfection within itself and finding it in the end, whereas the other anguishes as regards a different and foreign world and has need of a going out beyond itself and seeking perfection in the infinitude. The culture of the first type is self evident. One of the most refined Frenchmen of our time, a man of extraordinarily broad culture, Charles Du Bos says that the French have not the anguish over other worlds which so vexes the German Romantics, and a foreign world holds interest for them only as something exotic. I might term this type classical. Classicism also is a seeking out of the perfect form within its own self-sufficing world. Classicism has enjoyed great success in art, as well as in all spheres. And its greatest success known to history fell to the lot of Greece. It enjoyed another great success in the France of the XVII Century. But there exists a fundamental law of life which serves as a warning for the classical feel for life — a calling to mind about the inevitable death of every culture."


"On Suicide" [1931-#027]

"The question concerning suicide is one of the most disquieting and tormentive within the Russian emigration. Quite many Russians tend to end their life by suicide. And many, even if not resolved to kill themselves, still bear within them thoughts about suicide. The loss of all meaning to life, torn off from the native land, the shattering of hopes, solitude, want, sickness, the harsh change of social position, whereby a man belonging to the upper classes is rendered a common laborer, and a lack of belief in the possibility to better his position in the future — all this is very conducive to the epidemic of suicide. Suicide as an individual phenomenon has existed in every period of time, but sometimes it becomes a social phenomenon and thus so it appears in our time within the Russian emigration, wherein a very fertile collective atmosphere has been created for it. The suicide becomes contagious and the man, killing himself, commits a social act, he instigates others onto the selfsame path, and it creates a psychological atmosphere of disintegration and depression."

"In Defense of A. Blok" {1931-#358]

"The article about A. Blok by a Petrograd priest already since dead cannot be called a crude theological judgement of the poet. It was written not in the seminary style. The author was a man cultured and refined. In this article there is a great religious truth not only about Blok, but perhaps also about all the Russian poetry of the beginning of the XXth Century. But in this judgment of Blok moreover there is a great injustice and lack of pity. A genuine poet has a different path of justification than does the ascetic and the spiritually enraptured. The article about Blok essentially and from a religious point of view posits the question of the very existence of both the poet and poetry.... This is a very great and tortuous problem that involves poetry: it relates but to a small degree to the Logos; it relates rather to the Cosmos."


"The Spiritual Condition of the Contemporary World" [1932-#377]

"Everything in the contemporary world is situated under the sign of crisis, not only the social and the economic, but likewise also a cultural and a spiritual--everything has become problematic. This is moreso acutely obvious in Germany, and about this much gets written. How ought a Christian to relate to the agony of the world, how ought one to regard it? Is this only a crisis of a world external for the Christian and anti-Christian (having betrayed the Christian faith) or is this likewise a crisis of Christianity? Christians also share in the fate of the world. They cannot purport the view that within Christianity, within the Christian world, everything is just dandy and that nothing in the world irritates it. And upon the Christian world, upon the Christian movement, there falls heavy a responsibility. Upon the world is being wrought a judgment, and it is likewise a judgment upon historical Christianity. The ills of the modern world are connected not only with the falling away from Christianity, with a chilling down of faith, but also with the age-old ills of Christianity on its human side. Christianity is universal in its significance, and everything is situated within its orbit; nothing for it can be fully on the outside. Christians ought rather to perceive the spiritual condition of the contemporary world from within Christianity itself; to define what the crisis of the world signifies as an event within Christianity, within the Christian universality."

"Book Review: La Providence et la Confience en Dieu (Garrigou-Lagrange, OP)" [1932-#378]

"Garrigou-Lagrange, a Dominican and professor of the theological faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, is considered a chief theologian and philosopher of contemporary Thomism. His books are regarded as of great authority. His new book concerning Providence produced on me a very strong impression. At the time of its reading it made me atheistic and furthermore a militant atheist. I have to say, moreover, that the greater number of attempts at theodicy produce upon me a similar impression, and as regards my conviction this appears to be one of the causes of an atheistic consciousness. The fashioners of a theodicy are usually  very reminiscent of Job’s comforters and in this is their condemnation.... Garrigou-Lagrange, in his teaching about Providence, bypasses the solely viable theodicy — a theodicy that is Christological, through the Cross and Crucifixion of God, Himself. Theodicy, i.e. a justification of God, the possibility of faith in Providence in the face of the suffering and evil of the world, such a faith can be possible only in Christ, in the suffering and sacrificial offering up of God Himself."

"The Two Concepts of Christianity" [1932-#379]

"The two concepts of Christianity, which conditionally can be termed the conservative and the creative, tend to differ first of all by this — that the one admits the religious subject as unchanged, as immutable, whereas the other admits it as changeable, as mutable; for the one the religious subject is passive, for the other, however, it is active. With this is connected a basic problem of the philosophy of religion. The referring by conservatives to the absoluteness and immutability of revelation, i.e. of that which issues forth from the religious object, is unconvincing, in that revelation is twofold and presupposes not only the religious object, which is revealed, but also the religious subject, to whom is revealed. Revelation is likewise an event within man, a spiritual experience. And the religious subject herein can have varied an experience, varied a grasp of consciousness, varied a dependency upon the times, from social influences, from collective outlooks, varied a purgation and spiritualness. Revelation cannot in an automatic and mechanical manner act upon man, independent of what he is. Revelation changes man, but it also gets changed by man."


"BookReview: Martin Buber. The Hassidic Books (Die Chassidischen Buecher; Ich und Du; Zwiespreche; Koenigtum Gottes. I." [1933-#385]

"Martin Buber is a notable Jewish religious thinker. But his significance goes beyond the Jewish religious theme. What first of all strikes one is his religious seriousness, his genuineness. He inspires great trust. M. Buber has translated the Bible together with the already reposed Rosenzweig, likewise a very remarkable Jewish religious thinker. In M. Buber are Biblical sources of insight. He has no desire to be an abstract metaphysician and theologian. He seeks to base his religious thinking upon myth. He is therefore oriented towards Hassidic legends. The deathly numbness of the Talmudic religion of law within the depths of Judaism evoked the reaction of the mystical and mythological movement of Hassidism towards the end of the XVIII Century. M. Buber does not translate the Hassidic legends, but he retells them, deliberately modernizing them. And for this they complain about him. But he wants to revive the Jewish religious myth in that which is eternal in it, enabling it to provide spiritual sustenance for the modern soul."



"Polytheism and Nationalism" [1934-#391]

"This fact is strange at first glance, that in our universalistic, planetary epoch, wherein there has occurred a blazing forth of an unprecedented nationalism, which witnesses merely to the polarity of human nature. Unsustainable are all the straight forward and rational explanations of human life. And verymost unsustainable certainly is the Theory of Progress from the XVIII and XIX centuries. Not only the individual man but human society also passes over from one polarity to the other and very easily every human movement passes over into its opposite. Thus, for example, the Communist internationalism in Russia very easily can turn itself around into a Soviet nationalism, and this even is already happening. The political and social events of our era have to evoke astonishment and incredulity amongst people accustomed to judge about everything from the point of view of rational principles, which to them seem unassailable. The principles of an enlightened humanism, which to many seemed universal, have toppled completely in our day. But what is the meaning of the modern nationalism assuming the forms of Fascism, considered from a deeper and more spiritual point of view? It signifies certainly the de-Christianization of society, which moreover began long ago and only at present is fully apparent, and their paganization, the return to a pagan polytheism, hitherto beaten and overcome by Christianity."

"Knowledge and Communion (N. N. Alekseev)" [1934-#392]

The positive critique by N. N. Alekseev of my book, I and the World of Objects [English title: Solitude and Society], demands a response, since it can give rise to misconceptions and to an inaccurate understanding of me. With N. N. Alekseev has transpired what often occurs with those critics of a philosophy foreign to what they have as their own philosophic world-concept, their own themes and trends of awareness. He noted within my book merely what was most of interest to him, himself, and almost failed to note in it the central thought from which only all the remaining can be grasped. First of all is about my attitude to existential philosophy. My 'world-view' is not only very distinct from the 'world-view' of Heidigger and Jaspers, but in much is polarly the opposite from them, particularly Heidigger. This ought to be totally clear from the book. But I regard the very idea of an existential philosophy as the sole correct understanding of the task of philosophy, the sole fruitful path of philosophic cognition. Only an existential philosophy leads out from the impasse into which philosophy has fallen."


"On Christian Pessimism and Optimism (Chetverikov)" [1935-#397]

"I am obligingly grateful to Father Sergii Chetverikov for his letter, occasioned by a reading of my book, The Fate of Man in the Modern World, for he provides me cause very openly and perhaps with greater clarity to express certain of my thoughts. I often am poorly understood and my world-view is given very contrary characteristics. And in this, I myself, actually, am to blame. I explain the misunderstandings by this--that I tend to think in terms of antinomies, contradictions, paradoxes, tragic conflicts. I do this in consequence of my absolute conviction that only an antinomic-paradoxical thinking corresponds to the structure of the world and even the depths of being. And therefore it becomes impossible to think about the world exclusively in pessimistic terms, or exclusively in optimistic terms. I ought also to mention, to avoid misunderstanding, that I am not a theologian; that I am a philosopher and my language is otherwise than the language of a theologian. In my book, however, there is not that ultimate inescapable and gloomy aspect which Fr. S. Chetverikov ascribes to me. I have a very strong and tormentive sense of the evil of life, of the bitter lot of man, but I have still more powerful a faith in the supreme meaning of life."

"Eternity and Time" [1935-#399]

"The problem of history, which interests this gathering in regard to Christianity, is in its philosophic depths a problem of time. In my book, I and the World of Objects, I devoted a special chapter to the problem of time, much which bears repeating. The problem of time is not only a basic problem of the philosophy of history, but also of contemporary philosophy, which has taken a special interest in the problem of time (Bergson and Heidegger posit the problem of time at the very center of their philosophy). The problem of time is at the basis of the creativity of Proust, and he posits it at a very great depth — 'le temps retrouve.' The problem of time can be approached from two points of view: 1) as it is dealt with in a mathematical philosophy, wherein time vanishes mathematically, or 2) as it exists for existential philosophy, where time is not objectivized and is not subject to a numeric category. In this instance, the problem of time is a problem of the inner human destiny. The problem here arises about the relationship between time and change: does change happen because of time or does time exist because change occurs?"

"Personalism and Marxism" [1935-#400]

"The relationship of Marxism to personalism, as also its relationship to humanism, is more complicated than is generally thought. It is very easy to point out the anti-personalist character of Marxism. It is hostile to the principle of person, as also is every purely sociological teaching about man which purports to know merely the social man, formulated as object. Likewise anti-personalist in its understanding of man is the sociological school of Durkheim. Hostile to the principle of person is every single-planed world-outlook for which the nature of man is comprised solely by its belonging to the social plane of being, i.e. man possesses no dimension of depth.... Insofar as Hegel and Marx believed in the attainment of an ultimate harmony, not permitting of contradiction, at the third stage, at the synthesis, they certainly are subject to criticism."

"Further on Christian Pessimism and Optimism (Chetverikov)" [1935-#401]

"In answer to the new rejoinder to me by Father Sergii Chetverikov once more it bears repeating that to me is nowise characteristic that unenlightened pessimism which he is inclined to ascribe to me. My pessimism in any case is active, and not passive. Worldly evil does not exclude for me faith in God, on the contrary, it the sooner indicates that the world is not self-sufficing and that God exists. With this I concluded my first reply. Jesus Christ for me does not exist merely in the past. He is our eternal contemporary. The deed of Christ continues upon the earth and will continue until the end of the world. Being not a theologian, but rather a secular thinker, I speak a language different from that which they employ in the churchly medium, and I recourse to speak specifically about church in differential a sense of this world. But in my book I by no means subject to doubt the uninterrupted existence of the Church of Christ in the world and its inner significance within the historical process."

"The Spirit of the Grand Inquisitor (Regarding Ukaz of Met. Sergei Condemning

   the Theological Views of Fr. S. Bulgakov") [1935-#404]

"The Ukaz-Decretal of Metropolitan Sergei condemning the views of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov has far broader a significance than the mere dispute about Sophia. It touches upon the fate of Russian religious thought. It puts forth the question about freedom of conscience and about the possibility itself of thought within Orthodoxy. Is Orthodoxy a religion of the freedom of spirit or of inquisitional torture-chambers? Since Metropolitan Sergei evidently avows, for both himself and his Synod, an infallibility exceeding the papal infallibility, and wants to introduce the Catholic practice of the Index [i.e. the Index of Forbidden Books], then let him speak out, that Orthodoxy is indeed suchlike. The significance of the Ukaz condemning Fr. S. Bulgakov is not only very much compromised, but also quite totally annuls itself by the very fact that Met. Sergei has not even read the book of Fr. S. Bulgakov and has comprised his judgement on the basis of an interpretation of a certain Mr. Stavrovsky and the communique of the Fotiev brotherhood, i.e. on the basis of a denunciation. If within the scientific or philosophic literature there be constituted a judgment against the views of whatever the author without having read his book, this would then be termed a matter of bad faith and morally reprehensible. But within the administrative-governing literature, be it churchly or state, matters too often are based upon denunciations and spy reports, and there the ethics, evidently, are otherwise."



"The Problem of Man: Towards the Construction of a Christian Anthropology" [1936-#408]

"The problem of man appears indisputably central for the consciousness of our epoch. It is aggravated by the terrible danger which besets man from every side. Surviving with agony, man wants to know who he is, from whence he came, whither he goeth, and to what is he destined. In the second half of the XIX Century there were notable thinkers who in surviving the agony thus introduced the tragic principle into European culture and who more than others set the stage for the posings of the problem of man. And these were first of all Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard. There are two ways of viewing man — from above and from below, from God and the spiritual world or from the unconscious cosmic and tellurgic forces lodged within man. Of those who viewed man from below, perhaps the most significant were Marx, Freud and Proust among the writers of the last era. But an integral anthropology was not created. They looked at this or that aspect of man, but not the whole man in his complexity and unity. I propose to examine the problem of man, as a philosopher, and not as a theologian.... It is interesting to note that up until now theology has been quite more attentive to the integral problem of man than has philosophy. At any rate, theology has an anthropologic part to it. True, theology has always brought into its own sphere a very strong philosophic element, but as it were along a smuggler’s trail and not consciously so. The virtue of theology consisted in this, that it posed the problem of man in general, in its wholeness, and did not investigate man only in pieces, dismembering him, as does science."

"Concerning Authority, Freedom and Humanness (V. Lossky / Chetverikov)" [1936-#409]

"We, evidently, belong to totally different spiritual worlds from V. Lossky; I fear, even to different religions. In vain merely does he think that he fully understands my setting, whereas I on my part do not want to understand the declarations of the Fotiev (Photiev) brotherhood.... Letters to the top church hierarchy concerning the hereticalness of whatever the views in this but instance would not be denunciatory if the hierarchs were not to liken themselves to 'princes of peoples' and 'magnates,' i.e. were not to possess a will to domination and rule, were not a ruling authority, capable of recoursing to repression. But the hierarchs of church quite readily are wont to liken themselves to an army command, since sometimes also they tend to say, 'we are the generals' or 'we are the commanders.' The question about power of authority is basic. V. Lossky belongs to a generation which is fond of power foremost of all. The world at present worships power and hates freedom. I am transfixed with contempt and disgust for this slave-like world and tend not to be shocked that the greater part of mankind were to become such."

"Lev Shestov: On Occasion of His 70th Year" [1936-#410]

"We are old friends with L. Shestov and here already for 35 years we have led with him a dialogue about God, about good and evil, about knowledge. This dialogue often was a fierce, though also friendly, dispute. Dialogue with L. Shestov is difficult, since he is not a man of dialogue. He is a man of monologue. L. Shestov is a man of one idea, a man of a single theme, of a single all-engulfing idea, and he can only with difficulty engage a perspective foreign to him, to immerse himself in a different problematics, in order that a dialogue should ensue on one and the selfsame level. But this trait, an hindrance to dispute and a narrowing down of consciousness, comprises also an unique strength in L. Shestov. It makes his thought focused and concentrated.

"In Memory of Georgii Ivanovich Chelpanov" [1936-#411]

"The sad news about the death of Georgii Ivanovich Chelpanov, with whom I was connected by friendship of old, has evoked in me remembrances of my youth. G. I. was the first philosopher whom I met with in life and with whom I conversed on many a philosophical theme. He was a young lecturer at the Kiev University, and he gave a non-required course devoted to a critique of materialism, set within an overpacked auditorium. From this course later emerged his book, The Brain and the Soul. I was then a young student, a Marxist, yet together with this an adherent of idealist philosophy. I made it to the lectures of but few courses at the University, but I went often to the course of G. I. Chelpanov on materialism. He was an excellent lecturer. I was very open to a critique of materialism, and the scientific philosophic critique at that time was a great service of G. I. It would serve no less a service also at the present time in Russia."

"Lev Shestov and Kierkegaard" [1936-#419]

The book of L. Shestov about Kierkegaard, beautifully translated into the French language, is perhaps the finest of his books. It was brilliantly written, just like the greater part of his books. In it his fundamental thought is expressed with the greatest of concentration, but also with the greatest of clarity, if perchance it be possible to demand clarity of a thinker who negates thought and struggles against knowledge. The formal deficiency of the book is in the fatiguingly frequent repetition time and again of certain of those phrases, expressing evidently great importance for the author. I consider L. Shestov a very remarkable and original thinker and I quite esteem his problematics. I much sympathize with his struggle against the force of the 'general' over human life, the struggle against necessity, and his thirst for freedom. But only his negative philosophy is rich and diffuse. His positive philosophy is indigent and short, and it could perhaps fit on half a page. It cannot be otherwise. That which he is about cannot be expressed in thought and word since this is pure apophatics."


"Ortodoksia and Humanness: The Ways of Russian Theology (G. Florovsky)" [1937-#424]

"The book of Fr. Georgii Florovsky was incorrectly named. It should be named The Waylessness of Russian Theology, or even, in view of the broad scope of the book, The Waylessness of Russian Thought or The Waylessness of Russian Spiritual Culture. The book has a number of qualities: novel themes on which we have no books; it is written with talent, although in a somewhat affected style; it reads with great interest; in it is the agitation and emotion which the author so condemns. In it there are good traits--there is an independence of thought; tremendous knowledge is disclosed; broad erudition; and at the end of the book there is a valuable bibliography, taking up more than fifty pages. Fr. G. Florovsky employs exclusively a methodology of characteristics; he does not give a history of ideas and problems. Such a book could have been written only after the Russian cultural renaissance of the beginning XX Century, but there is no thanks given it. It was dictated not out of love, but out of enmity, and in it predominate negative feelings. This is a book of spiritual reaction, which inflamed souls after the war and revolution. Everything spiritually reactionary for Fr. G. Florovsky essentially gets his approval, but with reservations and the demand of great mental subtlety."

"In Memory of Andrei Fedorovich Karpov" [1937-#426]

"The unexpected and untimely death of Andrei Fedorovich Karpov has produced on me all the more grievous an impression since we saw quite much of him in the last year. He was making my portrait, which we wanted to finish in October. He was a diversely gifted man, and was moreover an artist. He belonged to the most cultured people of his generation (he was 35 years of age), a generation not rich in cultured people. He was attracted to Greece and to Athos, and he wanted to make use of an opportunity to spend time there. He fell a victim of this journey to the East. He became infected with typhus there and returned grievously ill. The dual attraction of Athens and Athos defined his journey. He felt an attraction for ancient Greece, which he especially loved and had an interest in. He dreamt to catch the feel of it through modern Greece, and he was drawn to Athos as an ancient spiritual center of Orthodoxy. In this, that his premature death was the result of his wish to see Athens and Athos, is sensed the irrationality and inscrutability of human fates."

"Concerning Fanaticism, Orthodoxy and Truth" [1937-#430]

"The theme of fanaticism connected with an adherence to orthodox teachings is very relevant. History is rhythmic; in it the shifting of psychical reactions plays an enormous role. And we are entering a cycle when there is prevalent the inclination towards an obligatory orthodoxy for all, towards an arrangement stifling for freedom. This is a reaction against the XIX Century, against its love of freedom and humanity. The mass psychology of intolerance and fanaticism is being perfected. Amidst this, the sense of balance is shattered and man allows himself a maniacal obsession. The individual man is rendered a sacrifice of collective psychoses. There then transpires a strange effect of consciousness--the smothering and erasing of many essential human features within all the complex of the emotional and intellectual life of man. Unity is attained not through fullness, but through ever greater and greater an impairment. Intolerance has an affinity with zeal. Zealotry is a psychosis, amidst which there is lost the sense of realities. The inner emotional life becomes distorted and fixates itself upon a single point, but that point, upon which the fixation occurs, is perceived altogether in an unreal way."


"Essay on the Spirit of Orthodoxy (Essai sur l'esprit d' orthodoxie) Jean Grenier" [1938-#435]

"The book of Grenier mirrors the inner drama of French intellectuals. The title itself can lead to a misunderstanding. The book is written not about religious orthodoxness,  but rather about Marxist orthodoxness, which far more onerously weighs upon the consciousness and conscience of the creators of spiritual culture. The French intellectuals still do not know that terrible tyranny which accompanies the triumph of orthodoxness in life, they know only the ideological preliminaries. Moreover, it mustneeds be said, that every triumphing orthodoxness is tyrannical. The Marxist orthodoxy, after Marx already taking form by means of the myth-creating process, bears a formal affinity with the old religious orthodoxies, but it is more impudently brazen in the realization of its pretensions. The drama of the intellectuals, sympathetic to the social aspirations of Marxism and Communism yet not consenting to accept the tyranny of orthodoxness, was acutely experienced by A. Gide and he with honor left off from the contradiction set before him. A man who strives for truth and values truth cannot accept any sort of a binding social orthodoxness, even though he be sympathetic to the social aims with which this orthodoxness is connected. A man not bereft of his conscience cannot accept lies, obligatory, as a social duty. Grenier is such a man of conscience. He values truth. For him the knowledge of truth has value, irrespective of the social struggle and practical aims. He is an idealist."

"The Fundamental Idea of the Philosophy of Lev Shestov" [1938-#439]

"Several times already I have written in the pages of 'Put’' about Lev Shestov. But here is a demand to speak otherwise about him, and to honor his memory. Lev Shestov was a philosopher, who philosophized with all his being, and for whom philosophy was not an academic specialization but rather a matter of life and death. He was consistent of mind. And it was striking, his independence from the surrounding tendencies of the times. He sought God, he sought the liberation of man from the forces of necessity. And this was his personal problem. His philosophy belonged to the existential type of philosophy, i.e. it did not objectify the process of knowledge; it did not tear it asunder from the subject of knowing; it tied it together with the integral judgement of man. Existential philosophy signifies the remembrance of the philosophizing subject who incorporates existential experience into his philosophy. This type of philosophy presupposes that the mystery of being is comprehensible only within the human existential condition. For Lev Shestov, the human tragedy, the terrors and suffering of human life, the surviving of hopelessness, were all at the basis of philosophy."


"Does There Exist Freedom of Thought and Conscience in Orthodoxy" [1939-#441]

"It has become time already when it is necessary to stop with the double-talk and back-biting and to give a straight-forward and clear answer — does the Orthodox Church recognize freedom of thought and of conscience? Is it equitably just on the part of the Orthodox constantly to accuse the Catholics that they have no freedom, an accusation based on the premise that with the Orthodox themselves there is this freedom. And there arises still another question: is Orthodoxy bound up with some definite political system, e.g. with monarchism, with nationalism, with a class social order, on the sort of the present day with Fascism, or does it permit of varied points of view? Can an Orthodox, having become professor of an Orthodox theological school, be a democrat, a socialist, can he be a defender of freedom, of social justice, of the dignity of man?"

"In Memory of Pope Pius XI" [1939-442]

"The death of the most highly placed people, of tsars, ministers and generals, popes and patriarchs, before the face of God and afront the highest rule has no greater a significance than the death of common people reposed. The first will be last, and the last will be first. The Christian reversal of values lacks comprehension by people. But among the most highly placed people there are people who stand out by their personal qualities, rather than by qualities of hierarchical rank. And therein their death assumes a special significance. And this can be said for Pope Pius XI. Rarely within history has the opinion of the papacy been raised to such a moral height, as with Pius XI. He did not possess an impeccable authority, since no one from among the dead possesses it, but he was imbued with a personal moral authority, acknowledged not only by Catholics. And this was quite moreso greater a thing than any authority of papal infallibility. He happened to live in a very difficult era for the Catholic Church and he came out honorably through innumerable difficulties. Within him there occurred a cleansing of Catholicism from the historical sins of the past, from the sins of the papacy itself. Pope Pius XI defended not only the undoubtable Christian truths, forgotten by the world, but also truths and values of mankind in general, things trampled underfoot by modernity. He defended freedom of spirit, which popes rarely had done. He defended the dignity of the human person. He denounced totalitarian states and dictators, whether they be Communism or Fascism or National-Socialism. He denounced the lie of racism and the anti-Christian character of anti-Semitism. He proclaimed the humanness of Christianity, which for many produced the impression of a revelation."

"The Book of S.L. Frank: The Unfathomable (Nepostizhimoe)" [1939-#446]

"The book of S.L. Frank is remarkable. Within it there is a great effort and concentration of thought. This is a whole philosophic system, but centralized upon the religious problem. And so it ought to be for S. Frank, since philosophy for him is ontology, an ontology which however is first of all the teaching about God, as also with Hegel, but differently from him. The thought of S. Frank moves within the tradition of Platonism and German Romanticism. He is closest of all to Nicholas of Cusa and in regard to him develops his basic thoughts. The German school is much in evidence, for the book itself was produced and written in German. S. Frank is a free and independent philosopher, and the religious element of his philosophy is not within the demands of some authority, but rather of an inner spiritual experience."

"War and Eschatology" [1939-#452]

“'Ye shalt hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled; for it is necessary for all this to be. But this is not the end: for nation shalt rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shalt be famines, plagues and earthquakes.' This is spoken in a small apocalyptic passage in the Gospel [Mt. 24: 6-7]. The Bible is full of narratives about wars. The books of the Prophets, the summit of the religious consciousness of the ancient Hebrews, has as one of its chief themes the reconciliation of the terrors and injustices of wars with an almighty Jehovah, with the Providence of God. And with the Hebrew people namely there was most of all a particularly acute and strong sense of the almightiness of God. Great misfortunes in the fate of the Hebrew people they attempted to explain as the inscrutable ways of the Providence of God, leading His people to a final victory through tribulations, sufferings and chastisements for their falling-away. The problem that was faced is the same as the problem that faces also the modern consciousness. Jehovah was initially a tribal God, a war-God. Only later did there arise the consciousness of the universal God, the all-encompassing God. There occurred a contention between the universal God and a merely pagan-like natural God. And in essence the modern civilized consciousness also, having returned to the ancient paganism, has withdrawn not far off from that ancient pagan aspect of the awareness of God in the Jewish people. Modern Germany stands fully upon that ancient pagan mindset."

"The Paradox of the Lie" [1939-#xxx]

"The lie plays a tremendous role in human life. The world is swallowed up in lies. And to the problem of the lie philosophers have paid too little attention. Not only do people that are by nature liars lie, but also uprightly truthful people. They lie not only consciously, but also without awareness. People live in fear, and the lie is a weapon of defense."

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