11_HegelRussia | Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel | Eastern Orthodox Church

Between East and West: Hegel and the Origins of the Russian Dilemma

Ana Siljak

Nikolai Berdiaev, the eminent twentieth-century Russian philosopher, wrote that the “problem of East and West” was an “eternal” one for Russia.1 Attempting to make sense of the violent upheavals that shook Russia in 1917, Berdiaev believed that the source of Russian troubles lay in the “inconsistency of the Russian spirit” due to the “conflict of the Eastern and Western elements in her.” 2 Russia, he argued, always contained within its wide territory an invisible and shifting border between two continents, and thus Russian society was forever torn between two cultures. Berdiaev insisted that Russia could not discover its true calling or its place in the world until it resolved its internal conflict between East and West.3 Berdiaev was contemplating the course of the nineteenth century, when Russia’s geographical destiny had deeply troubled Russian intellectuals. In the late 1830s Russian thinkers began their minute analyses of cultural and historical sources, hoping to determine the essential character of their nation and believing that their research would enable them to predict Russia’s future. Often, diverse questions of progress and stagnation, tradition and innovation, and the individual and society were all framed within this overarching problem of East versus West. It is tempting to see this Russian dilemma as longstanding and natural, given Russia’s position between two continents. Indeed, many recent scholars have argued that Russian encounters with Asia, taking place within the framework of Russia’s territorial expansion eastward, forced Russians to examine their rela1 Nikolai Berdiaev, Sud’ba Rossii: Opyty po psikhologii voiny i natsional’nosti (Moscow, 1990), 54. 2 Nicolas Berdyaev, The Origin of Russian Communism (Ann Arbor, 1960), 8. 3 Ibid., 116.

Copyright 2001 by Journal of the History of Ideas, Inc.


Ana Siljak

tionships with the Eastern, Asian world.4 It is true that European geographers and historians have debated the location of the border between Asia and Europe since the Middle Ages. But before the nineteenth century this ambiguity hardly troubled Russian minds. The Muscovite state of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, for example, was well acquainted with cultures and lands to its East, engaging in trade and diplomatic relations with Muslim Tatars and others. Yet there is little evidence to suggest that Muscovy was concerned about its position between Eastern and Western countries.5 Even Peter the Great, whom historians have credited for bringing European customs into Russia, was little concerned with the European/Asian divide in Russian culture. For him the most important geographical question was Russia’s place among the northern states, and he was particularly obsessed with Sweden as Russia’s primary military rival.6 After Peter’s reign, educated Russians, as they became increasingly acquainted with Western European culture, experienced their first pangs of envy and self-doubt in the face of perceived European superiority. Nonetheless, throughout the eighteenth century few cultured Russians had trouble embracing a diverse historical legacy and national character—German, Slavic, Asian. After all, Europeans themselves were proud of their barbarian past. Peter the Great’s chief historian, V. N. Tatishchev, wrote with full confidence and little concern that the Russian empire was located “in both Europe and Asia,” noting that though more Russian people lived in Europe, Russia had more territory in Asia. In passing he mentioned that “where the border between these two large and most important cultures is located, no one has as yet determined for certain.”7 According to him, the Slavic people as a whole could be divided into Asian and European branches, thus both cultures were of importance in Russian history.8 The first of the great nineteenth-century Russian historians, Nikolai Karamzin, was proud of Russia’s diverse heritage. Russia, he wrote,

See Mark Bassin, “Russia between Europe and Asia: The Ideological Construction of Geographical Space,” Slavic Review, 40 (1990), 4, and “Inventing Siberia: Visions of the Russian East in the Early Nineteenth Century,” American Historical Review, 96 (1991), 763-94; also Nicholas Riasanovsky, “Asia through Russian Eyes,” in Russia and Asia, ed. Wayne S. Vucinich (Stanford, 1972), 8-9, and “Russia and Asia: Two Nineteenth-Century Russian Views,” California Slavic Studies, 1 (1960), 170-81; and Milan Hauner, What is Asia to Us? Russia’s Asian Heartland Yesterday and Today (Boston, 1990). 5 Edward Keenan, “On Certain Mythical Beliefs and Russian Behaviors,” in The Legacy of History in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, ed. S. Frederick Starr (Armonk, N.Y., 1994), 25-26. 6 Hans Rogger, National Consciousness in Eighteenth Century Russia (Cambridge, 1960), 192, and Alexander von Schelting, Russland und Europa im russischen Geschichtsdenken (Bern, 1948). 7 See V. N. Tatishchev, “Russia ili kak nyne zovut Rossiia,” in his Izbrannye trudy po geografii Rossii (Moscow, 1950), 112 and 114. 8 See V. N. Tatishchev, Istoriia Rossiiskaia (7 vols.; Moscow, 1962), I, 317, 329; Hans Rogger, National Consciousness, 198-99; Mark Bassin, “Russia between Europe and Asia,” 8.


when such casual references to the variegated nature of Russian national character became unfashionable. Karamzin. 11 See D. Andrzej Walicki has provided the best and most comprehensive treatment of German thought in Russia in his The Slavophile Controversy. and some German customs imparted by the Varangians.. 1914). was a natural product of history. M. by our long connection with the Mongols. 1969).. and Russians accepted it as an integral part of their national character. 1938). From Hegel the Russians derived their conception of the world as irrevocably divided between East and West..11 Nonetheless. 11. and especially Andrzej Walicki. and of Hegel in particular. Europe and Asia. Boris Jakowenko. 10-11.10 A transformation in the approach to Russian history and culture occurred in the 1840s and especially in the 1850s. Chizhevskii. Ibid. All the men discussed here at some point declared their opposition to Hegel’s philosophy. Russian intellectuals were no longer content to see Russia as a medley of races but rather anguished over Russia’s essential nature: whether it was Eastern or Western.” he argued. their soul-searching was prompted by careful reading of the works of European philosophers in general. Scholars have long understood the impact of Hegelianism on the development of Russian philosophy. In this sense the Russian dilemma must be understood as essentially modern. Paris. European or Asian. and see N. Zapiska o drevnei i novoi Rossii (St. Gegel’ v Rossii (Paris.9 337 This cultural “mixture. 10 9 . 1975). N. Since then.. this new approach to the question of East and West did not arise from any direct encounters with the Russian East. Petersburg. Most of the early nineteenthcentury intellectuals who wrote on Asia and Europe had only traveled to the latter. In the 1930s a number of intellectual historians traced Hegel’s philosophical influence on the major nineteenth-century Russian thinkers. this literature has not touched upon the question at issue here: the comprehensive effect of Hegel’s historical ideas on Russian thought. so to speak. Moreover.. A new thinking emerged which equated history with destiny and considered geography the arbiter of a nation’s fate. Istoriia Gosudarstva Rossiiskago (12 vols.Hegel and Russia raising its head between the Asiatic and European kingdoms. The Slavophile Controversy (Notre Dame. I. Byzantine customs borrowed by the Russians along with the Christian religion. Instead. Geschichte des Hegelianismus in Russland (Prague. 1939). 3. From him they had accepted the challenge of determining which side of this border they inhabited. brought by the Slavs into Europe and renewed. but none of them were able entirely to rid themselves of his historical world view. VI. M. Karamzin. represented within its civic life the characteristics of these two parts of the world: a mixture of old Eastern customs.

The Incarnation of God: An Introduction to Hegel’s Theological Thought as Prolegomena to a Future Christology. not the least in the study and understanding of history. S. prophetic quality.” in Sergei Solov’ev. Kovalchenko and S. Hans Küng. Petersburg. 1964). Sobranie sochinenii v tridtsati tomakh (30 vols. B.. trans. G. and the Russians joined many Europeans in converting to Hegelianism. 1995). Timothy Bahti. Meaning in History (Chicago. J. 1987).” in the “Encyclopedia. Moscow. 14 Chizhevskii. D. Allegories of History: Literary Historiography after Hegel (Baltimore. 1987). Aufklärung und Emanzipation: Die Bedeutung der asiatischen Welt bei Hegel.. Hegel’s work had a deep and lasting impact on Russians.” Every insignificant pamphlet . and Du-Yul Song.. 1996). smudged. Along with the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling and Johann Gottfried von Herder. 572.. Marx. Gegel’ i vostok: Printsipy podkhoda (Moscow. Dmitriev (18 vols. I. Stephenson (Edinburgh. 36. Gegel’.”14 Hegel’s influence in Russia made itself felt in many fields of intellectual inquiry. “Moi zapiski dlia detei moikh. Aleksandr Herzen. Within the highly educated circles of Moscow and St. 13 12 . XVIII. 15 In a large literature see Karl Löwith.12 Others remembered that in the 1830s and 1840s Hegel “made everyone’s head spin”13 and that the Russians greeted German philosophy as “some kind of newlydiscovered America in the depths of human reason. Herzen. Hegel’s “Lectures on the Philosophy of History” transformed the way in which Russians looked upon history in general and their own history in particular. Sergei Solov’ev. dlia drugikh. describe this fascination in an oftcited quote: [T]here was not a paragraph in all three parts of the “Logic. 50. R. and fell apart in a few days. 1992).” in the two of the “Aesthetic. Moscow.15 Within the first few lectures A. one of Russia’s leading social critics of the time. Sochineniia. 1949) and From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought (New York. For many of Hegel’s students and readers the “Lectures on the Philosophy of History” had an intoxicating. ed.. 1956). Hegel became the source for something approaching an obsessive fascination. People who loved each other parted ways for whole weeks at a time because they disagreed about the definition of “all-embracing spirit” or had taken as an insult an opinion on the “absolute personality and its existence in itself. a esli mozhno. and they particularly cherished German thought. an understanding of the past as destiny. in which there was a mere mention of Hegel was ordered and read until it was tattered. und Max Weber (Berlin.338 The Hegelian Influence Ana Siljak The Russians of the 1830s and 1840s read widely in European history and philosophy. His was a powerful vision of the fate of nations.” etc. I. Shaimukhambetova. which would not have been the subject of desperate disputes for several nights in a row. 18. IX.

who wanted “no petty souls or empty heads for his children.. realizing its true self. the full incarnation of the Spirit would be achieved in the secular state. 90-91.. and these could not be judged according to ordinary moral standards: individual ethics could not be applied to the purposes of the Spirit. “the divine Idea as it exists on Earth. the mind of God. was bringing the world to knowledge and full realization of Himself. In the end he would prove that world history was “the rational.Hegel and Russia 339 Hegel boldly proclaimed to his students that “Reason rules the world” and that the course of history was therefore rational.. Werke in zwanzig Bänden. And in the end. 57. 20 Ibid. the source of Reason in the universe. since the state was the “manifestation of human will and its freedom. In this manner Hegel divided the nations between the saved and the 16 Hegel.20 For his Russian audience Hegel’s most troubling proclamation was that by no means would all people be blessed with the benefits of the state. 22. He famously described history as a “slaughter-bench. In essence Hegel declared that through history one could become acquainted with the plan of Providence. Telling his students that.16 God. Unfortunately. For these reasons Hegel believed that individuals could find true self-realization only within the confines of the state.”19 The path to achieving this state was strewn with casualties. to a lack of real history. 17 Ibid. 25-27.” The state would ultimately replace the Church as the expression of the Spirit. necessary course of the World-Spirit. 1970). and the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth. would fully justify the means. to stagnation. consciousness of human dignity and worth. through his lectures. however.” at which human happiness had been sacrificed. The end. .18 For Hegel. a total history. Providence often chose strange events and odd people to fulfill its ends.” Through human actions this Spirit was unfolding. it was the set of institutions that fully expressed God’s rationality. which would incorporate and render comprehensible this chaotic misery and show why all suffering was not in vain. The others were condemned to mere existence.”17 Hegel conceded that the cursory study of history would yield only a catalogue of human crimes and suffering. Within his philosophical system the state was not merely a superior form of government. a careful and rational study of world history would reveal God’s plan for mankind..” “he explained that this knowledge was commanded by God himself. 20. they would come to “a knowledge of God. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid. 35. But he reassured his listeners that he would provide them with a higher synthesis. only some “historical nations” were chosen to further the progress of the Spirit. the ultimate purpose of human striving. the full self-realization of the Spirit would result in the growth of human freedom. 66. XII: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte (Frankfurt. 22. And since man had access to Reason.

leaving Eastern nations to the realm of the eternally prehistorical. and the family were indistinguishable: the Emperor was worshiped as a God.” Freedom belonged only to one individual—the ruler. religion.” Hegel explained. The proof of Asian backwardness was found in the undifferentiated unity of Asian society and culture.”25 The Western world. Ibid. 233. Hegel’s division between the historical and unhistorical nations corresponded to the geographical division between East and West (he explicitly excluded Africa from consideration).23 Despotism. like the sun. were doomed to remain in “the childhood stage” of history. since it belonged to the “Caucasian.” In Greece racial and cultural diversity made its first appearance.. Ibid. and most people lived in a condition of “slavery. In China.” He had particular contempt for the Hindu culture: Cunning and craftiness are the fundamental characteristics of the Hindoo. the complicated and great civilizations of Asia. for we are in the realm of the Spirit. which allowed no room for individual judgment or individual action. but the divine Spirit journeyed from there into the West. 165. according to Hegel.. to the present day knows only that One is free. who exercised his arbitrary authority over his subjects. stealing. 136-37. robbing. There.. Ibid. Hegel went so far as to call Chinese and Indian society immoral. 21 22 23 24 25 Ibid. For Hegel the light of human knowledge rose in the East. 142. 157. 134-35. the patriarchal family exerted its full power over passive individuals. Morality existed only as external law and custom. Hegel told his students. Ibid. Even China and India. “The East . Humbly crouching and abased before a victor and lord. for example. imprisoning people in a state of “depravity. was born in ancient Greece. “we feel immediately at home..21 Roughly speaking. politics. he is completely ruthless to the vanquished and subordinate. 164-65.340 Ana Siljak damned—those predestined to take part in history and those left out of God’s plan.”22 In Hegel’s scheme unhistorical nations were known by their fruits. murdering are within his ethics. Cheating.” and its men became “the slaves of a weak sensuality.. in turn. 81-85. 198. meaning European race. left Asian culture at the lowest stage of self-consciousness. forbidding individuals to exercise independent moral judgment. Only Persia could claim to make the first steps into history. .. 215.24 Even the Persian culture eventually sank into “effeminacy. and thus Asians were condemned to live under the most primitive form of government—despotism.

”28 This new kingdom took the shape of the state— “a temple of human freedom in the knowledge and will of reality. 275.27 According to Hegel. could not be saved by the spread of Christian teaching—the Byzantine Church exhibited all of the negative characteristics of the East in general: corruption. whether to moral laws. With time. this dry. the Greeks became the source of human progress because of their pursuit of “subjectivity. Ibid. to despots. Instead.” returned Christianity to its true. Nonetheless. as a separate institution. inward. unfortunately. dissolution. After their conversion to Christianity.” resulting in “compulsion and the stake. replaced by the true Christian institution: the secular state. and the church degenerated into mere form and legalism.. morality. 405 405. And when this diversity and individualism in Greece tended to the extreme. and stagnation.Hegel and Russia 341 leading to lively cultural interaction. to proclaim that “all are free.. they infused fresh blood into Christian institutions.. however. and men responded not only by transforming themselves from within but also by transforming the world according to Christian dictates. individual reflection. . the West was saved by the advent of the Roman Empire. rigorous brutality was a necessary phase in human history. the Spirit began to depart from Catholicism.29 The first Western state took an ecclesiastical form–the Catholic Church– which ruled in the Middle Ages. Ibid. men began to permeate the secular world with the spiritual—they began to construct God’s Kingdom on earth. 454-55. Faith became a matter of “external legislation. Martin Luther. was nonexistent in Greece. In this manner. He declared Rome to be the “prose” of the Spirit. the Christian religion effected the fundamental transformation of human history. faded away.” The East. 339. Hegel lamented the severity of the Roman state and its harsh application of a unified code of law upon all of its citizens. Ibid. which united nations by force. Blind obedience. Christianity was the first religion to proclaim the unequivocal worth of every individual. 323.”30 Providence next chose the German barbarians tribes to accomplish the succeeding phase of human history. It unified people in preparation for the advent of the invigorating Spirit in the shape of Christianity. or to the natural world. The Christian church. “States and laws are nothing other than the manifestation of religion within 26 27 28 29 30 Ibid. Ibid. the representative of the “fully preserved depth of the German people..” Christ called men to be perfect. “guided by the requirements of the Absolute Spirit. whose content may itself be called divine. and individual spirit. 386.. leading to the dissolution of Greek society.” 26 This in turn led to a democratic government where the freedom of at least some was respected (despite the persistence of slavery).

Russia. the Estonian nobleman Baron Von Yxkull. possibly they have left the culminating point of their development behind them and they now remain in a condition of stasis.. in a letter to one of his earliest students.35 Those Russians who were enthralled by the prophetic quality of Hegel’s history were consequently deeply troubled by his ambiguous statements on Russia. and some of the Slavs have been conquered by Western reason. of the heritage of the Greeks 31 32 Ibid.. Gegel’.. they have taken part in the struggle between Christian Europe and unchristian Asia.. through the workings of the Spirit in human history man became free.. 133. 526.342 Ana Siljak worldly relations. 35 Quoted in Chizhevskii.”32 Hegel spoke very little about Russia in his historical lectures. as an advanced guard or an intermediate party.34 However. or would it be cast off with other unhistorical nations? To answer this question they first had to make the most important determination: was Russia part of Europe.. because in history we deal with the past. from Russian). . 494. Thus. carries within its depths enormous possibilities for the development of its intensive nature. 422. and the Spirit itself was incarnated in human relations and institutions. Whether they will do so hereafter is a question that does not concern us here. 34 Ibid.” Hegel proclaimed. 33 Ibid. possibly . Ibid. At one point in his lectures he claimed that the Slavic people “perpetuate the connection with Asia. Hegel was much more hopeful for Russia’s fate: It seems that other modern states have already more or less achieved the goals of their development. and what he said left the question of Russia’s place in history entirely ambiguous. and declared to his German students that they themselves were working to develop this Christian state—that they were the witnesses of the triumphant construction of the Kingdom of God. or condemned to languish with Asia? Was Russia essentially part of the West.”33 At another point he was more equivocal: [A]t times. on the other hand.31 In this way Hegel brought his listeners to the modern era. 13 (trans. 497.. because hitherto they have not played a role in the series of forms that reason has passed through in the world.. Yet this entire mass of people remains excluded from our consideration. Would Russia be embraced by Providence. German philosophy in particular could contemplate reality with “its need for Spirit internally satisfied and its conscience at peace..

The Slavophile Controversy. Intellectuals on both sides went through phases of fascination with Hegel’s philosophy. Greek and Roman. something entirely different? In the early nineteenth century the debate over Russia’s geographic and historical destiny was embedded within the larger. they found in Russia traces of both Asian despotism and European diversity. both servility and a desire for true freedom. Hegel’s work caused perhaps the most severe intellectual crisis in Vissarion Belinskii. They anxiously sought signs that would confirm Europe’s triumph over Asia on Russian soil. When they minutely analyzed Russian history. well-known controversy over Russian national character known as the Slavophile-Westernizer controversy. 1952). and what is real is rational” meant that individuals had See Walicki. Having accepted Hegel’s vision of the path of Providence. The Proponents of a European Russia Russian Westernizers had little trouble accepting the Hegelian view of historical progress.Hegel and Russia 343 and Romans. a contrast to the West. Nicholas Riasanovsky. and they longed for a Russian state that would guarantee the full freedom and dignity of its citizens. Sometime in the fall of 1837 Belinskii decided that Hegel’s statement “What is rational is real. highly educated circle of Russian intellectuals who had read and discusses various works of European philosophy and literature. became enamored of Russian folk-traditions and medieval history. 36 . The Slavophiles (as their enemies called them). and his characterization of nations saved and damned. including Schelling.” opposed to the Slavophile fascination with the past and eager to import European democratic principles into Russia. His historical thought permeated their debates and it deeply affected how each side viewed historical development.. and Hegel. or part of the East. following the tradition of the German Romantics. The dispute originated within a tiny. They asserted that Russia would develop a unique. proclaimed that Russia’s true place was in Europe. Both Slavophiles and Westernizers were troubled by the fact that Russia seemed poised on Hegel’s border between East and West. geography. Mass. Herder. Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles (Cambridge. They shared Hegel’s revulsion for the repression of the individual under Asian despotism. non-European national culture. the leading Russian literary critic of the first half of the nineteenth century.36 “Westernizers. Medieval. and most agreed that western Europe had achieved the pinnacle of human civilization. and Modern Christian stages. Most adopted Hegel’s division of history into successive Asian. and the role of culture in society. the Westernizers were often tormented by doubts that Russia would ever be part of the course of the Spirit. waiting to make the fateful choice.

he began to read more of the German Left-Hegelians and French social critics. at times arguing that all Asians remained at the intellectual level of children.” having little conception of the worth of the individual.” V. Belinskii. “In fact. between humanity and barbarism. S.” he wrote. review of Rukovostvo k poznaniiu novoi istorii dlia srednikh uchebnykh zavedenii. in Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (13 vols. “Historical fatalism is blasphemy. for our significance. 369-77. We are as if frightened for our lives. But Belinskii still remained a Hegelian in his historical world view. 1990). between enlightenment and ignorance. as a rational and necessary phase in the progress of history. convinced that this faith was sufficient to assure a benevolent outcome. Russia was in the geographic “middle” between Europe and Asia. Gone was the eighteenth-century belief that Russia was a combination of Eastern and Western. Turaev (Moscow. G. but it simply could not remain in that position. He persisted in his belief that history followed “strict internal necessity.” guided by the hand of God.” he wrote. 1974). 37 In the 1840s Belinskii abandoned his project of “reconciliation” in favor of open advocacy of resistance to oppression. .”38 Belinskii saw that his fellow Russians anguished about Russian history.344 Ana Siljak to accept their society and culture.”39 According to Belinskii. and Victor Terras. it was “hard to imagine the middle between light and dark. European and Asian elements. ed. E.”40 Belinskii accepted. Asian culture was “immobile. 39 “Vzgliad na russkuiu literaturu 1846 goda. V. 9-33. 284. and quickly wish to solve the great question: “to be or not to be. G. Moscow. never has the study of Russian history had such a serious character as it has lately. and even exaggerated. Belinskii i literatury zapada. Belinskij and Russian Literary Criticism (Madison. Illeritskii. Moreover. of reason. hoping to gain clues about its destiny. V.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. 59-69. V. also V. 132.” which in his case meant an acceptance of even the most draconian aspects of Russian serfdom and Tsar Nicholas I’s autocratic regime. and Iu.G. Until 1840 Belinskii persistently advocated a “reconciliation with reality. 1953). He also began to develop a stronger faith in historical progress. 1953). 40 “Rossiia do Petra Velikogo. “living belief in progress and—its consequence—the consciousness of one’s own human worth—these are the fruits of understanding history.. 82. The Asian state 37 See Walicki in Slavophile Controversy. Belinskogo (Moscow. no matter how reactionary or backward. 18. Belinskii argued that it was impossible to have such a mixture. “O istoriko-literaturnoi kontseptsii Belinskogo.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. We question and interrogate the past so that it will explain our present and give us hints about our future. 38 V. Mann. Istoricheskie vzgliady V. for our past and future. X. VIII. Hegel’s characterizations of the difference between Europe and Asia.” “one-sided.

” Christianity gave Europe the power to triumph over the rest of the world. “The question. XI.” and took its first steps into the European world. After having studied aspects of Russian history. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. Asians were condemned to suffer “unlimited despotism and unconditional slavery. 426. from the idea of the equality of all before God’s judgement.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. 44 “Gore ot uma . He had an ambivalent relationship with Hegel’s thought in general and even declared that he never Ibid. and Belinskii marveled that such a geographically small territory could so decisively triumph over the rest of the world. was the pinnacle of civilization.” The answer was no. Belinskii argued. Belinskii agreed with Hegel’s contention that the advent of Christianity was responsible for all that was noble and good in the European character.” “laziness.” For these reasons. “is not whether Peter made us half-Europeans and half-Russians: The question is whether we will always remain in this characterless situation.. Belinskii summed this up in his declaration: “Everything human is European and everything European is human. Though he was not a believer and though he had great contempt for the Russian Orthodox Church.42 All that remained was for Russia to embrace its European destiny and continue on the path of reform and progress.” and “mysticism.” In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Tatar occupation of Russia had brought Asian elements into what was essentially a European nation. During the reign of Peter the Great.. Russian culture simply did not contain Asian “sensuality.” he wrote. despite geographical proximity. Belinskii admitted that before the reign of Peter the Great. but he refused to admit that Russia was essentially Asian. 105..” 144-45.. In the end Christianity would assure Russia’s entry into Europe. on the other hand. 99-105. 129. 1840. Respect for the individual. however. 45 “Rossiia do Petra Velikogo.. from the idea of equal rights to the Father’s love and God’s mercy. “came from the New Testament.” 105.44 Russia was immune to the Asian influence. 42 41 .”41 Belinskii even began to label as “Chinese” everything he considered primitive and backward.. and sought to prove it through his detailed consideration of the Russian past. Letter to Botkin. Chizevskii.45 Sergei Solov’ev. had a similar faith in Russian progress. Russia thrust off its “Chinese-Byzantine monarchism. since the Russian people were already becoming “European Russians and Russian Europeans. 11 Dec.Hegel and Russia 345 was nothing more than an “enormous family.” Europe. 43 “Rossiia do Petra Velikogo. the best known Russian historian of the first half of the nineteenth century. Ibid. because of its Christian faith. 576. Gegel’.. III. Russia was not part of Europe.”43 Belinskii rested his faith on Russia’s Europeanization on his faith in the power of Russian Christianity.

dissatisfied with the quiet life of the clan. A militia.. one found incontrovertible evidence of Asian culture. Even before the Russian state appeared. Building upon Hegel’s notion that Asian culture was dominated by a single principle.47 For Solov’ev the stagnant. 48. Russia’s complicated and difficult history took place on the border between what he termed “European quality. 101-2. Solov’ev believed there could be no middle ground between the two.” In clan-based societies the extended family came before all else and was the primary unit of allegiance for all individuals. A. Unfortunately.46 Nonetheless.” Sochineniia. subordinated all of society to his personal will. Asian societies surrendered all of their freedom to the clans and their ruler and demanded only to be left in peace. 215-39.51 Hence the early period of Russian history was marked by stagnation. according to Solov’ev. Tsimbaev.. Moreover. banded together to form a self-sustaining and independent armed company. 63. Science and Progress in the Work of Sergei M. Within a militia. Solov’ev explained.” in New Approaches to Russian Historiography. Black. 713 . there were no hierarchical relations. These Germans brought with them the very essence of European diversity and respect for the individual in the form of the “militia” (druzhina).. XVII. as Russia was held back by the immobility of clan life. Solov’ev. ed. 1983). ed.50 If one looked at ancient Russian history.” Sochineniia. Levandovskii and N. and he believed the march of progress traveled from East to West. undeveloped. Sanders (Armonk. N. these clans welcomed the appearance of a single ruler. and my “Christianity. 50 Ibid. XVII. but it had to conquer the remnants of Asian culture within.” and “Asian quantity.346 Ana Siljak understood all the excitement that surrounded it.” S.” 220-21. creating a “centralized and all-powerful” government. Solov’ev: Izbrannye trudy.” The consequences of living on this border were grave. 711 52 Ibid. who.” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas. Not only did Russia have to battle the Asian tribes on its frontiers. Salvation came in the form of the early Germanic (Varangian) tribes. 353-80. and amoral Asian culture was a stark contrast to the active and powerful culture of the Europeans. I. 705-35. 101-2. however. I.M. 1999). whom the Slavs had invited to rule over them. Zapiski. A. Slavic tribes had lived in clans. “Christianity. 21 (1973). “Nabliudenie nad istorichekoi zhizniu narodov. L. to live a life of utter passivity and indolence. could only exist when active men. 49 Ibid.. he fully agreed with Hegel regarding the superiority of the West over the East. 47 Siljak. like the patriarch of the clan.48 Like Belinskii. John T. 509-30. 51 “Nachala russkoi zemli. Solov’ev argued that this single principle was the division of society into “clans. Science and Progress. simply a common set of interests and a 46 See J. they could not entirely escape European influence.Y. “The ‘State School’ Interpretation of Russian History: A Reappraisal of its Genetic Origins. Solov’ev i ego nauchnoe nasledie. “S. and N. 48 Solov’ev.52 Luckily for the Russians.M.49 Solov’ev’s historical work presented a detailed narrative of the struggle between East and West in Russia. Tsimbaev (Moscow.

18. XVI. 1812-1855 (Cambridge.. 15-16..54 With the arrival of the Germanic tribes in Russia. the Russians were saved from a life of Asian despotism and backwardness. Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism. 57 “Nabliudenie. Eternal progress was the Christian destiny. v piatnadtsati knigakh (15 vols.”59 Belinskii’s and Solov’ev’s triumphant proclamation of the victory of Europe in Russia was not shared by all the Europe-oriented Russian intellectuals. Solov’ev envisioned the struggle between East and West as bitter. “Civilization had thrown its net upon the Russian people. when a militia settled down and began to govern a territory. on the outskirts of Europe. Aileen Kelly. 47. VII. Russia looked uncivilized. Chekhov.58 Yet. 218-56. and Walicki. for. 58 “Drevniaia Rossiia. Like Belinskii. Aleksandr Herzen. and their faith never allowed them to slip into passivity or contentment. In Solov’ev’s words. VII. and Bakhtin (New Haven. Nonetheless. 55 Solov’ev. 18.” Poor. tattered. Slavophile Controversy. in Solov’ev’s words. 1960). 1961). This struggle between the remnants of Asian culture and the emerging European culture led to the rise of terrible contradictions within Russian society. Moscow. 56 The key factor in Russia’s triumph over its Asian character.” Sochineniia. Views from the Other Shore: Essays on Herzen. Russia eventually acquired the rudiments of a European society and was well on the way to achieving a Western state. Solov’ev believed that the Christian religion was the engine behind European progress. 59 Istoriia Rossii. since the clan and militia principles continued to battle one another throughout Russian history. He firmly believed in the superiority of Europe over Asia.” Christians continually sought to perfect their society. 264. encouraging individuals and societies continually to perfect themselves. Mass. causing “illness in the young [Russian] organism. Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen.” 115. Ibid. 266. Russia’s leading nineteenth-century social critic.Hegel and Russia 347 sense of “comradeship. Christianity held up to man “a being that was perfect and demanded moral perfection.”53 Ultimately. Russia was destined to progress. 56 Ibid. was Christianity.. in the eventual triumph of the West over the East—but where would Russia end up? Hegel’s prophetic declarations had troubled Herzen’s heart. 60 Martin Malia. despite the odds. 102. often leading to discord and civil strife. 54 53 . and respect for the individual reigned. however.60 “Nabliudenie. 135..” 49. 378-88.55 This was not the end of Russia’s battle. 1999).57 Within Russia. was not so sanguine about the inevitability of Russian Europeanization. they easily transformed themselves into a legitimate state in which despotism was unknown.

” 161.63 Almost directly quoting Hegel. Herzen declared that only in ancient Greece did he feel at home: “Entering into the Greek world. 67 “Neskol’ko zamechanii. believed in the importance of Christianity for European progress. Herzen described Asia as a vast.” and knighthood brought into Europe the idea of the respect for the individual.. like Belinskii. as an “antithesis” to the “thesis” of the ancient world. after its conversion to Christianity. to conquer everything through reason. for Herzen. Greek culture. In the introduction to his essay “On the Development of the Revolutionary Ideas in Russia” he put forward the anguished questions about Russia’s history troubling Russian society: “Do those nations that are almost unnoticeable in the past and unknown in the present have any right to a future?” He might agree that Russians had “capabilities” and a good “instinctual desire. 144-45. this is Europe.61 Herzen often criticized Hegelian idealism. 15556. than the Christian German. whether to a ruler or to nature.” in Sobranie sochinenii. “O razvitii revoliutsionnykh idei v Rossii (perevod). 142. Nonetheless. II.” Sobranie sochinenii. and yet he. and he found great solace in the works of Left Hegelians such as Feuerbach. his historical views remained under the influence of Hegel. acknowledging that the quotations from the Greek philosophers in his text were taken from Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy. Herzen wrote that the Asian man was “always either a slave wallowing in the dust or an unrestrained despot.” 143. became the source of history’s final stage.” 220-21. unified mass of people incapable of reflective thought or self-determination.. 64 “Pis’ma. for human dignity.”62 Civilization. 62 “Pis’ma ob izuchenii prirody. in his words. the Eastern world was enveloped in “dead silence. 163.” Sobranie sochinenii. from Asia. gave weight and meaning to what he called the “superficiality” of ancient philosophy. III. 63 “Neskol’ko zamechanii ob istoricheskom razvitii chesti. was unknown in Greece—the Greeks encourage free.” For the most part. sought to “transform fate itself into freedom. “Monotonous repetition” in Asia was only broken by “terrible revolutions.348 Ana Siljak Herzen’s concern for Russia was a kind that could not have been found in previous centuries. Hegel had convinced Herzen that nothing good could come from the East.68 Aleksandr Herzen.” but their essential nature remained unclear. Christianity. was not a Christian.”65 Herzen. VII. began in ancient Greece. 68 Ibid. 66 “Pis’ma. we feel that we are breathing our native air—this is the West. 146.. “Nothing could be more opposite not only to the eastern slave . 61 . too.. but also to the Roman citizen .”64 Subjection. rational thought and personal control of one’s destiny. 65 Ibid...”67 Christian Germans developed the concept of “knighthood.” Borrowing Hegelian phrases.66 Herzen was even ready to accept the fact that the German nation.

. Like Hegel. but it had yet to be seen whether the Asian passivity in Russia could be conquered.. Ibid. encouraging Russia to strive to become “an independent. however.”73 In this sense Peter was a Hegelian “world-historical” man—he had single-handedly lifted Russia out of its “embryonic” state and placed it within the civilized. and ultimately. In essence Herzen lacked confidence in the fundamental.” This aspect of the Russian national character meant they lacked the essential “energy and initiative” found in other European countries.70 Herzen could not share Solov’ev’s or Belinskii’s full confidence that Russia would become a part of Europe. fatigue. Ibid. 162-63. Ibid. Ibid. Russian Christianity had taken the Byzantine. saving factor of Christianity.”71 The Orthodox Church had always sought to turn Russia into a Byzantine state.. allowing little room for individual action.”72 The Tsar Peter the Great had valiantly fought this Byzantine influence.69 Herzen placed his hope on those fundamentally European elements he found within Russian culture.” Europe had taken root within Russia... helping Russia to put some distance between itself and Asia. humiliated. and began to search for a more concrete program of 69 70 71 72 73 74 “O razvitii... 168-69.. a state “obedient to blind faith..” in which the Tsar was deified in a manner very much recalling Hegel’s God-Emperor of the East. Evidence suggests that both men felt the all-encompassing vision of Hegelian history to be too rigid.Hegel and Russia 349 Russians were not so fortunate. Although Herzen agreed that Christianity was basically a Western religion. strong state. Each began to grow impatient with a philosophy that dictated dispassionate analysis of the course of events.74 There were. and that the German Varangians had conquered Russia at an early stage. socialism. passive submission to the throes of death. 154-55. And it had nearly succeeded. leaving Russians “devastated. in Herzen’s words “the Christian Dalai-Lama.” not Asian. deprived of the light of knowledge. It was as if the Russians needed outside help in order to develop into a European nation. It was perhaps this frustration and anxiety that led Herzen and to some extent Belinskii later to seek refuge in Left-Hegelian philosophy. . Ibid. refusing to become. for there was something eternally Asiatic in the Russian soul—“something feminine. calling it “old age. Western world. Eastern form.. including the fact that the Slavic language was “Indo-European..” 154. with no energy to stand up on their own two feet. 170. few Peters in Russia. and only time would tell whether the Petrine reforms would bear fruit or suffocate under the weight of Asian stagnation and despotism. 162. Herzen had only contempt for Eastern Christianity.

In essence theirs was initially an Orthodox Christian protest against what they saw as Hegel’s subjection of human history to the tyranny of reason and against the belief that all was permissible in the path to creating the perfect state. was present for Hegel’s lectures in Berlin in the winter of 1830. . For the latter Hegel’s philosophy embodied everything that was wrong with the West—its excessive insistence on rationality. Nonetheless. the Russian intellectual considered the first of the Russian Slavophiles. the Slavophiles ultimately could not shake the influence of Hegel’s thought. 369-93. the Slavophiles feared the same would occur. 580-601. so the Slavophiles defined Eastern Christian culture in opposition to the Catholic and Protestant West. on the formal character of politics and the state. and most importantly where he praised the West they praised the East. It should be added that they did not necessarily see Russia as an “Asian” nation (with the partial exception of Aleksei Khomiakov. Slavophile Controversy. how75 See Walicki. In essence they attempted to stand Hegel’s historical vision on its head: where he praised diversity they praised wholeness or unity. just as Hegel had condemned Eastern Christianity as foreign to Western progress. and toward the end of his life supported the growth of the European socialist movement.75 The Turn to the East The Russian Slavophiles. who so vehemently protested against what they saw as the continual Westernization and Europeanization of Russia since the time of Peter the Great. discussed below). he wrote home. Their definition of the East was based on a vision of Eastern Christendom. and on its privileging of the individual over the community and the state over society. where he claimed Rome had surpassed Greece they claimed that Greece remained superior to Rome. they borrowed many of his basic concepts. Nonetheless. and even when they criticized him. They no longer wished to wait and see whether Russia was to progress or stagnate—they desired to contribute their individual effort to its transformation. Herzen increasingly placed all his hopes on revolution.350 Ana Siljak action that could allow them to participate in altering fate. Belinskii embraced the Left-Hegelian attempts to create a philosophy fit for practical use. “I am surrounded by the first-class minds of Europe. had their own Hegelian crises. and their alternative philosophy was built on the teachings of the Greek Church fathers and the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Ivan Kireevskii. in the argument that Russian national character should remain unique and undefiled by the encroachments of Western progress. where he praised the individual they praised the community. Later their antiHegelianism became more firmly rooted in Russian nationalism. Whereas the Westernizers hoped that Hegel’s prophecy for Europe would come true in Russia. His initial reaction was that of deep admiration: after dining at Hegel’s house.” Soon.

and Eberhard Müller. seductive. Kireevskij (The Hague.. Russischer Intellekt in Europäischer Krise: Ivan V. Khomiakovu. also Chizhevskii. 77 I.” To protect the individual the West had to invent such safeguards as private property.. he became convinced that Hegelianism was the culmination of the wrong path taken by European thought. 1972).. Thus the Roman state achieved the height of dry perfection. Kireevskii. Individualism in Western history had led to the isolation of people and the fragmentation of society. deceptive. II.” Relationships were as formal. 191. superficial. see Peter K. I. An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Russian Slavophilism: A Study in Ideas.” The external structure of Roman law in particular “was brought to such extraordinary logical perfection. European and Muscovite: Ivan Kireevsky and the Origins of Slavophilism (Cambridge. Moscow. “V otvet A. but after the Greeks the paths between the West and the East diverged. 1966).. II: I. He believed his task was to replace Hegel’s “negative” philosophy with a new.78 Kireevskii fully believed Hegel’s assertion that Western European history was the history of the progress of reason and the increasing freedom of the individual.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. Kireevskij (1806-56) (Köln. Christoff.79 Chizhevskii.. In this sense Hegelianism was the ultimate expression of the greatest sin of the West—its “rationalism. 76 .” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (2 vols..”77 Moreover. 22-23. 21. 1861). 79 “O kharaktere prosveshcheniia Evropy i ego otnoshenii k prosveshcheniiu Rossii..V.76 For Kireevskii the most egregious aspect of Hegelianism was its separation and elevation of the principle of reason from all the other human cognitive faculties. and the primacy of materialism. 242-43. and was marked by an equally extraordinary absence of internal justice. Hegel was wrong to put such emphasis on the importance of the individual and individual freedom. “positive” Russian philosophy. this rationalism was responsible for the growth of atheism in Europe. “superficial rationality took priority over the internal essence of things. a kind of terrible logical perfection that killed all sense of wholeness and spirituality. and lifeless as the rest of the culture. philanthropy based on calculated selfishness. It is interesting that Kireevskii borrowed Hegel’s critique of Roman culture and society to turn it against Hegel himself. for “industrialization. Abbot Gleason. external laws regulating relationships..V. Yet it was precisely this history that caused western Europeans to take the wrong course. and treacherous principle.S. he wrote. In Rome.” 192-93.” Hegel was thus deeply wrong to praise so highly this “one-sided. the ideal of spiritless calculation. the Roman culture so highly valued the individual and “personal logical conviction” that the only unity one could experience in Rome was that of “general interest. 367-75.. 1972). Gegel’.” Moreover. and formal rights that protected the individual from the encroachments by the state. Kireevskii could agree that everything positive had been invented by the Greeks.Hegel and Russia 351 ever.” According to Kireevskii. Gegel’.. Mass. making all relationships between human beings that of “interest. 78 “V otvet..

philosophers and theologians understood that knowledge did not consist of mere superficial conceptions between concepts. the same need for the common Ibid. acting to restore the “internal wholeness of existence. and the Tsar and Church unified society under their authority. the community protected and unified families. where faith.352 Ana Siljak Kireevskii concurred with Hegel that Christianity had broken through this superficial Roman rationalism. “Eastern thinkers. 244.” he argued.83 These theologians had bequeathed to the Russians the understanding that reason alone was not sufficient for comprehending the totality of the world. 83 “V otvet..” According to Kireevskii. encouraging a “negative. one conviction.”80 But just as Hegel believed that Byzantine Christianity had been unable to incorporate the essence of Christianity because of its Eastern character. a true philosophy had to include consciousness of a superior “unity” of faith and reason. so Kireevskii accused the Roman Catholic Church of being unable to shake off its Roman heritage. both the Reformation and the Enlightenment had encouraged atomization into individualism. All of this.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. “V otvet. they understood that it was necessary to supplement rational thought with “higher truths” and “living visions. so distinct from the discord found in Western diversity and individualism. II. rejecting only the controlling authority of the Church.”81 After this the path of Europe was set. seek the internal wholeness of reason . In their rebellion against the Catholic Church both the Reformation and Enlightenment had continued to express and develop human reason.82 The idea of “unity.85 In Russia “the princes and boyars and clergy and people . gave the Russians a real “freedom” different from Western selfishness and willfulness. 289.” 193. in Russia.” 195. In the East. the family incorporated and protected the individual.” 198-99. 84 “O kharaktere.. was reduced to a set of “syllogisms.”84 For Kireevskii the Russian state and society were firmly rooted in this Eastern heritage of unity and harmony.” 234. 258. 82 “O neobkhodimosti i vozmozhnosti novykh nachal dlia filosofii. logical reason” accessible to each individual. Unlike Hegel.” Catholic rationalism reached its height in scholastic theology. In addition.” which Hegel criticized as “Eastern” and condemned for hindering the progress of the Spirit.. in his words. 85 “V otvet. all classes and types of people were permeated with one spirit. 81 80 . “in order to achieve the fullness of truth. of twisting Christianity into nothing more than “logical conviction. he argued. Kireevskii praised and considered the foundations of Russian difference. he wrote.. the same understanding. where the separate activities of the soul merge into one living and higher unity. Kireevskii thought it positive that. Kireevskii emphasized that the influence of the early Greek theologians in Russia prevented Russia from being permeated by creeping Western rationalism..

”86 Reversing Hegel. 89 “O Russkoi istorii. He was initially compelled by Hegel’s claim that he could understand “God’s Reason. He began proudly to proclaim that Russia was content to be an “unhistorical” nation in Hegelian terms.. he rebelled against the supposition that Russia would follow the Western. “Is she now what she was before?”89 Just as Solov’ev and Herzen feared that remnants of Russia’s Asiatic character would prevent the nation from progressing and becoming European. Chizhevskii. “The West has entered Russia. European path to progress.88 Despite his certainty of Russia’s essential distinctness. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (3 vols. and “O Russkoi istorii. Gegel’. 88 K. It was in Peter’s time that Russia abandoned her true path and began slavishly to imitate the West. Moscow. An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Russian Slavophilism: A Study in Ideas. Aksakov shared the anguish of his pro-European contemporaries regarding Russia’s future. 23. He asked questions diametrically opposed to Herzen’s but in the same troubled fashion: had the progress of rationalization and Westernization already gone too far for Russia to turn back? “Has Russia preserved her holy principles?” Aksakov asked.” Aksakov explicitly criticized Hegel’s claim “O kharaktere. 3: K. Kireevskii insisted that unity was the ultimate aim of societies. 90 Ibid.. taken in the eighteenth century. Nonetheless.” 23. The Slavophile Konstantin Aksakov also found Hegel fascinating when he first read him. S. Aksakov was afraid that Europe had gone so far in possessing Russia. 21.87 Aksakov sought evidence against Russian Europeanism within Russian history. true..Hegel and Russia 353 good. Aksakov (Princeton. “O tom zhe” (second draft of “Ob osnovnykh nachalakh Russkoi istorii”). 1861). so Aksakov feared that newly introduced Western principles would corrupt the old. 1982).” which slowly completed its work in the world. Russian characteristics. 7. lives in her . 87 86 . Aksakov..S..” He agreed that what at first might seem as the chaos of human history was in fact the relentless course of “thought. This wrenching step. vol. not the fragmentation into individual liberty. Christoff. so Aksakov declared that European culture was entirely imported by Peter the Great.” in the same volume. Eastern.”90 Aksakov particularly feared that Russia would follow Europe in its Hegelian striving to create a perfect “state. gave Russia its superficial. See Peter K. distorting the Russian people.. I. challenging the views of historians such as Sergei Solov’ev. 167.. European characteristics and deluded people into thinking that Russia would become another European state. In the first place he refused to believe that ancient Russia contained any elements of European culture. however.” 263-64. Just as many of the Westernizers had argued that Asian culture was imported into Russia by the Tatars.

in the Hegelian sense. 95 “Po povodu VI toma Istorii Rossii g. but rather one toward which every nation should strive.. 250n. the West sought to replace “conscience and moral freedom. Russia had no need for parliaments or assemblies. 94 Ibid. and each individual was free to express his true.” If Russia could remain true to its basic principles and refused to be corrupted by European rationalism. The Russian “land” was not an administrative or legal concept but a concept based on moral and spiritual agreement. a path fully worthy of man. also Walicki. By pursuing the development of the state. unified whole.”92 Aksakov firmly disagreed with Solov’ev regarding the eventual development of a strong and mighty Russian state.”95 “Neskol’ko slov o Russkoi istorii. 257. and faith itself with law and political rights. Solov’eva. but Aksakov countered that it was precisely the Western state that perpetuated the confusion of external law and inner morality. Solov’eva. inner nature. which was a “human creation.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. The unified obshchina was not the source of stagnation and immobility but rather the “highest stage of human perfection. Aksakov was proud to proclaim that Russians were. Solov’eva. In his words the obshchina was the “path of internal justice. national and social bonds. 249n.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii.” Aksakov.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. it would preserve its basic and beneficial “wholeness. Slavophile Controversy. I.354 Ana Siljak that the state was the highest principle toward which humanity should strive. the principle which kills life and freedom. the kingdom on earth. a “stateless people. He specifically sought to demolish Solov’ev’s assertion of the basic role of the “militia” in Russian history. 249n. believed that cultural “unity” was not a negative cultural characteristic. The Russian militias. he argued.” but this was the “beginning of slavery.”93 To refute the Westernizer’s arguments regarding Russia’s inevitable Europeanization Aksakov attacked Solov’ev’s history. another form of government grew within Russia. that historians and philosophers should worship the state. conscience and freedom . since the Russian Tsar would never rule without the consent of “all the land. 93 Ibid.94 Russia never did develop into a Western state.” Hegel had criticized the Asian nations for equating morality with law. It was extraordinary. consequently not God’s kingdom. Within the Russian community selfish individualism was nonexistent. since people lived as part of a harmonious. I. were of little historical importance. 52-53. 150-51. rational code of law was unnecessary. Far more fundamental in Russia was the principle of the “community” (obshchina)... vozbuzhdennykh istorieiu g. embodied in the concept of “all the Land” (vsia Zemlia). I. institution. 91 .. Morality was organically integrated into community life. like Kireevskii. the path of truth. Aksakov argued.” which the rest of the world would eventually achieve.”91 It certainly was much easier when “freedom” was simply understood as “a constitution. and an external. he argued. Instead. 92 “Po povodu VII toma Istorii Rossii g.

V. 99 A. one found “a high and pure understanding of the deity. 1900). 101 “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii. V. where races and tribes retained their essential character throughout time and where certain geographical regions could be characterized by the culture of the tribe that predominated within them. Especially in the sphere of religion there was simply no proof that early belief was primitive. and he was proud to trace Russia’s roots back to Asia. Khomiakov disagreed with Hegel’s argument that human history was the history of continual progress.”99 Khomiakov was the only Russian Slavophile who attempted to formulate a detailed philosophy of world history.” Sochineniia (8 vols. 52. Nonetheless. based on two types of religious expression. China. Khomiakov. nor His transcendental quality. claiming that no other Western thinker would be able to follow in his footsteps. I: A. 98 Ibid. Xomjakov (The Hague. “polytheistic” and “idolaSee Peter K.”97 Like the other Slavophiles. 157. in the early history of Asia. in his words.100 His narrative remained in the form of a series of sketches. “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii.”101 He similarly scorned the idea that India. Indeed. 155. Hegelianism.Hegel and Russia 355 The most consistent and radical opponent of Hegelianism and Westernization was Aleksei Khomiakov. 102 “Otvet g. the “degradation. 36 (second pagination). Gegel’. 208-30. and Israel. logical law.” especially in ancient India. which often contained inconsistencies and gaps. 186. 96 Khomiakov had tremendous admiration for Hegel as a philosopher. coarsening of concepts. was built upon a “spiritual chasm.” 98 Hegel’s history had ignored everything “real” and “living. He was one of the first of the Russian intellectuals to declare his deep respect for the cultures of China and India. S. 96 . His “Notes on World History” inverted many of the Hegelian premises and conclusions and replaced them with a historical account that turned out far more favorably for the Eastern world in general and for Russia in particular. An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Russian Slavophilism: A Study in Ideas. as the culmination of Western philosophy. Persia.S. 1961) 97 Chizhevskii. his was quite clearly a non-teleological vision of history..” Sochineniia. with its rich literature. Slavophile Controversy. 187. a prominent Russian Slavophile and Russia’s leading nineteenth-century lay theologian.” Sochineniia. VIII.. could be considered “less developed than the savages of the German forests. 100 Walicki. Moscow. Khomiakov criticized Hegel from an Orthodox Christian perspective. and the barbarianization of life. Certain cultures were. Buslaevu. With the growth of Greek civilization one found actually a decline in religious culture. arguing that through his philosophy one could see “neither the personality of God.”102 Khomiakov divided the world into two cultural types. Nonetheless. Christoff.” until it had become nothing more than a “dead.

Khomiakov believed the Iranian principle to be the superior in all respects. Such were the religious cultures of “necessity. but Khomiakov believed that there was a distinct split between Eastern and Western Christianity. as both cultures were characterized by their primary worship of the state. 105 Ibid. which taught philosophers such as Socrates to seek “higher spirituality. a nihilistic striving for the obliteration of the individual. and Russia to be Iranian cultures. In his view Greece and Rome produced philosophical thought of the most primitive kind—“scholarly theses. whereas he considered ancient China.” he wrote.” which required the individual to submit solely to outward rules and norms. The Kushite principle often degenerated into fetishism. V. 224. and rationalism.” These were the religious cultures of “freedom. 223-24 Ibid. Contradicting Hegel.105 Khomiakov went further than other Slavophiles in rejecting even Greece as a center of human enlightenment.” Sochineniia. China. 235-36. he argued.” “For a long time.104 Both the Asian and European nations could be divided along Iranian and Kushite lines. since it sought the true freedom and self-expression of individuals as well as social harmony.”106 The most lasting achievements of Greek philosophy could only be explained by the influence of the Asian East. “The founders of the Church 103 104 “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii. Rome Khomiakov considered comparable to Buddhist China. Khomiakov wrote that by no means could Europe be understood as the truest embodiment of Christian teaching.. obsession with external rules and regulations. VI. 256.” Sochineniia. 330-31. the Celtic tribes. 252. when taken to its extreme..” characterized by a love of the superficial and external aspects of religion and utterly lacking a sense of inner spirit. He often called this type of culture “Kushite” because he believed that its purest form was found in the Hindu Kush. The purest form of this culture had developed in Iran. 337.. Germany.356 Ana Siljak trous. 106 Ibid. Southern India. or. had to be considered superior. and he therefore called this religious type “Iranian” (sometimes also defining it as “Aryan” or “Indo-European”).. He often classified Buddhist China. and even pre-Byzantine Greece as Kushite cultures. .” prompting believers to free themselves from excessive dependence on the superficial and allowing them to explore their inner selves. 107 “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii. since at least the Chinese saw the state as an expression of higher religious principles... “the light of Eastern teaching battled with the darkness of the Greek soul.”108 Christianity itself was basically an Iranian religion.. Israel. whereas the Roman state was merely the corrupt rule of the higher classes and therefore had the “imprint of their coarse immorality. 108 Ibid. alien to life.103 Other cultures were essentially “monotheistic.”107 On the other hand.” encouraging people to look for a higher spirituality “free from earthly chance. 158. Rome.

remained influential. .” he also sought to undermine the European pride in their “Western” heritage. In his historical scheme Europe turned out to be a product of the worst in the Chinese and Southern Indian civilizations.. and obsessed with externalities. and the later Eurasianists.” Unfortunately.109 Indeed the greatest error of the Roman Catholic Church was its transformation of Christianity from a “living community governed by the free consent of her members” into a “state. In the end the proponents of an “Eastern” Russia were always in the vocal minority. 448.”113 Conclusion By the late nineteenth century Russian interest in Hegelian philosophy had faded. VI. branding it as rationalistic. on the other hand.. 113 “Vmesto vvedeniia. 175-76.. and Marxism. “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii. Their debates over Russia’s true path and essential nature continued to be vehement and polemical.” Sochineniia.Hegel and Russia 357 would be shocked at their creation. 109 110 Ibid. He then took this criticism a step further: by ascribing these negative characteristics to the influence of Eastern “Kushitism. VII. individualistic. the possibility of renewal. preserved “the unity of the Eastern spirit. III.”110 In essence Khomiakov was criticizing European culture on the same terms as his fellow Slavophiles. free from purely logical syllogisms. 111 “Zapiski o vsemirnoi istorii. 139. and Russian intellectuals continued to view Russia as poised on the border between two worlds. fated to choose one and to leave the other entirely behind.” From thence came the Russian “high ideal of human perfection” and “triumphant song of human personality.” Sochineniia. 499.. since it sought “freedom in self-annihilation” within the totality of the state. though they included in their ranks such important figures as Fyodor Dostoevsky.” The Slavic world. 413. Indeed. Nikolai Danilevskii.111 The Slavs and Byzantine Greeks. in one place Khomiakov labeled Hegel’s own philosophy as an expression of Kushitism and Buddhism. Over time the intellectual impulses of the Westernizers fueled ideological movements such as socialism. 112 Ibid. positivism.”112 In the nineteenth century world this meant that the Russians were practically the only people who still guarded the true principles of human civilization. Hegel’s historical world view. in his view.” Byzantium and its Russian heirs had managed to preserve the Iranian respect for the true worth of the individual and “the wholeness of religion. “preserves for humanity . “if they were held responsible for all European history. For this reason Khomiakov argued that the “Russian question is undoubtedly the only universal question of our time.” he declared.” in Sochineniia. however. the Roman Catholic Church was corrupted by the legacy of the Kushite culture of pagan Rome.

one born from a intense engagement with the work of Hegel. forever seeking its essential character in the terms of that vexing dualism. 7. Harvard University. In it he argued that Russian Communism could not be understood by reading the works of Karl Marx. Nicolas Berdiaev perpetuated this misunderstanding in his famous book.. forever struggling with Western elements within. 10. “The Russian people in their spiritual make-up are an Eastern people. 12. developing out of Russia’s uniquely Eastern character. Those who opposed him continued to seek a unique Russian national path in the East. This messianism led to the Russian “search for a kingdom founded on justice. Berdiaev contended that the origins of Russian Communism were found in the East. “Russia is the Christian East. Davis Center for Russian Studies.358 Ana Siljak Revealing the Hegelian origins of the East-West debate in Russia may help to dispel a common misunderstanding of Russia as eternally divided between East and West.” he wrote. Ibid.. Origin of Russian Communism.” and it culminated in the Bolshevik embrace of Marxist doctrine. 114 115 Berdiaev. and he entranced the Russians with this powerful prophecy. Instead. Hegel had declared that the West would build the Kingdom of God. .” born out of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Those Russians who believed him sought salvation in Western thought and culture.”114 In this way Berdiaev restated some tenets of the old Slavophile conception of Russia as an Eastern land. Berdiaev’s insistence on Russia’s Eastern character led him to assert the existence of a uniquely Russian “messianic consciousness. The Origin of Russian Communism...115 But it is possible to see another Russian messianism.

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