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 Nikolay Berdyaev


Born:   March 18, 1874
Deceased:   March 24, 1948

Russian religious and political philosopher, existentialist

      

Nikolay Berdyaev was a Russian religious and political philosopher, one of the most vivid representatives of the Russian religious and philosophical Renaissance. He came to be Russia's first representative of the school of religious existentialism, which opposed the freedom of spirit to the Procrustean bed of objective need.
 

Nikolay Berdyaev was born in Kiev on March 6, 1874. Being the descendant of an old noble family he was admitted to a military school, where he got deeply interested in philosophy. Afterwards he studied at the Natural Science Faculty of the Kiev University, then at the Law Faculty but kept up his studies of philosophy.

Marxism was of particular interest to him. Though an aristocrat by birth, Nikolay Berdyaev was a revolutionary and a rebel in spirit. Participation in students’ disorders cost him being expelled from the university and exiled to Vologda in 1898. His debut article was published in a Marxist magazine in 1899.

Upon return home from the Vologda exile in 1901 Nikolay Berdyaev was imbued with ideas of Orthodoxy. Same year he moved to St. Petersburg and became one of the editors of the religious and philosophical magazine New Way. His political activities resulted in utter disappointment, and he concentrated on education of religious and cultural character.

He was in close friendly relations with representatives of the Russian Renaissance of the early 20th century, such as Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, and Vyacheslav Ivanov. Afterwards Nikolay Berdyaev played one of the key roles in the movement, which laid the foundation to religious and philosophical Renaissance in Russia.
 
The year 1911 saw his first large-scale indepedent work under the title Philosophy of Freedom. The period of the February and October revolutions was the time of hard sincere work for the philosopher.
In 1919 he founded open Academy of Spiritual Culture, which existed till 1922. In 1920 Nikolay Berdyaev became professor of the Moscow University. However, his relations with the new power were not good. In 1920 the disgraced philosopher was arrested and deported from the country.

Nikolay Berdyaev lived in Berlin till 1925 and then moved to France. He stayed in a small inherited house in Klamare near Paris. Representatives of religious and philosophical circles got together for talks and discussions in his house. It was a period of very fruitful creative life and intense intellectual work.

His book The New Middle Ages written in 1923 made Nikolay Berdyaev known all around Europe. In 1925 he becomes the founder and editor of The Way magazine published till 1940. He was one of the major ideologists of the Russian students’ Christian movement.

Nikolay Berdyaev died the study room of his French house on March 23, 1948.
 


Tags: Russian Writers Russian Philosophers Nikolay Berdyaev   








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