Russian thought lecture 2: the Slavophiles and Russian communality

Readings: Aleksei Khomiakov, “On Humboldt” (1849) and “On the Church” (1855); Ivan Kireevskii, “A Reply to A. S. Khomiakov” (1839) and “On the Nature of European Culture and its Relation to the Culture of Russia” (1852); Konstantin Aksakov, “Memorandum to Alexander II on the Internal State of Russia” (1855)

The Slavophiles were a group of thinkers who formulated their common outlook in the late 1830s and 1840s in opposition to the group who became known as the Westernizers (who will be the subject of our next lecture). Their ideas grew from a sense of a crisis of identity engendered in Russia by the process of westernization (see Rabow-Edling 2004, pp. 444-7), a crisis that was also very clearly expressed in the literature of this period, for example in the figure of Evgeny Onegin from Pushkin’s 1833 poem, whose western clothes, attitudes and learning barely mask an empty shell, and the isolated individualist Chatsky from Griboedov’s 1824 comedy Woe from Wit, who returns from Europe to speak out against all the faults and corruption of europeanized Russia. So this was not just the minority concern of a few conservatives, but was a major question for educated Russians more generally. But as we saw, attention was drawn to the subject particularly by Chaadaev’s First Philosophical Letter.

The Slavophiles’ philosophy developed as a response to Chaadaev’s Letter in both a positive and a negative sense. On the one hand, their attempt to construct a religious philosophy continued Chaadaev’s project to unite faith and reason or to find a philosophical basis for faith. As Michelson states:

[Chaadaev’s] letters laid the rhetorical and conceptual foundation for all subsequent philosophies of history in Russia, including the historiosophy of early Slavophilism, that made religion and religious consciousness the sine qua non of moral and historical progress. (Michelson, p. 256)

But on the other hand, the Slavophiles rejected Chaadaev’s contention that Russia lacked any value and in particular any history. Despite their common starting point of a religious conception of history, they came to a very different conclusion of Russia’s position in relation to Europe, and even questioned the very basis of rationalism in their attempt to define a specifically Russian philosophy based on intuitive, non-rational knowledge (Bird, p. 9) for the first time.

Aleksei Khomiakov, self portrait, 1842

Our aim is to examine the early theoretical basis of Slavophilism, not its later political off-shoots such as pan-Slavism. Therefore the writers we will be focusing on are the main theologian of Slavophilism, Aleksei Khomiakov (1804-1860), its primary philosopher, Ivan Kireevsky (1806-1856), and Konstantin Aksakov (1817-1860), who was more political and less philosophical than the other two, as well as being somewhat less nuanced in his ideas. The other figures who made a significant contribution to early Slavophilism are Yuri Samarin (1819-1876), perhaps the most practical of the Slavophiles, who worked on the reforms to emancipate of the serfs, Petr Kireevsky (1808-1856), younger brother of Ivan and a renowned folklorist, and Ivan Aksakov (1823-1886), brother of Konstantin and a famous journalist.

Ivan Kireevsky

Our main figures all came from remarkably similar backgrounds in old gentry families, and indeed their family ties (as demonstrated by the presence of siblings in the group) were important; the idea of kinship played a significant role in their thinking (Riasanovsky, p. 29; pp. 28-59 of this book gives a useful description of the Slavophiles’ backgrounds). They all had strong ties to Moscow, but also to their family estates, where, in contrast to their theoretical work, they were quite progressive. To a great extent their ideas were based on their own experiences of traditional Russian life. Konstantin Aksakov’s father, Sergei Aksakov (1791-1859), wrote a very famous series of semi-autobiographical works depicting life on his estate, including A Family Chronicle (also known as A Russian Gentleman | Russian text). They are a fascinating portrait of the life of the part of the Russian gentry from which the Slavophiles came, as well as being a very enjoyable read.

Konstantin Aksakov

Konstantin Aksakov had rather limited horizons; he studied at Moscow University, but never married and lived with his father throughout his life, and died shortly after Sergei. Kireevsky and Khomiakov, in contrast, had a more cosmopolitan experience – Khomiakov was an inventor and served as a cavalry officer, and Kireevsky started out in the same philosophical circles as his later opponents – and both were in fact very well educated in the most recent developments in European philosophy. And there is a paradox in their attempt to define a Russian identity and destiny, and to articulate a Russian philosophy, because the very notion that such things are important arose out of their engagement with the ideas of European Romanticism. As Walicki says, Slavophilism can be seen as an offshoot of German Romanticism in particular:

there are striking affinities with such German romantic thinkers as Friedrich Jacobi (the concept of “believing reason”), […] Möhler (“unity in multiplicity”), Adam Müller (the harmful influence of Roman civilization on the history of Christianity), and Friedrich Schlegel (rationalism as the cause of the disintegration of the psyche). (Walicki, pp. 106-7)

Boris Groys also notes “the influence of Hegel’s and Schelling’s philosophical historicism,” which led to “an orientation towards a variety of unique national cultures, each of which was described as bringing an original and irreducible contribution to human culture in general.” (Groys, p. 186) This was the ultimate philosophical inspiration behind Kireevsky and Khomiakov’s espousal of Russia’s originality, and in general terms, therefore, as a movement Slavophilism was only in fact mirroring a process that was also going on or had gone on elsewhere in Europe, frequently with similar paradoxes (such as eighteenth-century debates on Finnish language nationalism being conducted in Swedish, because that was the language of the educated elite). As Susanna Rabow-Edling suggests, “Romanticism made them realize that the long-lasting practice of imitation had led to an acute lack of a national cultural contribution” (Rabow-Edling, p. 33-4); in other words it awakened their understanding of the very precarious nature of Russian culture (in this they were perhaps not so different from Chaadaev). But this Western influence notwithstanding, “the fact that both Kireevsky and Khomiakov developed their Russian philosophy in contrast to Western thought is a strong indication of their determination to elaborate their own Russian Orthodox philosophy rather than trying to adapt Western ideas.” (Rabow-Edling, p. 32; my emphasis) Thus the fact that much of Khomiakov’s theological work was originally written in French (Hudspith, p. 8) should therefore not be taken as an sign of hypocrisy, but rather as an indication of the circumstances; some of his work could not be published in Russia until after his death, so writing in another language would more easily enable its dissemination.

The tension between Russia and the West that the Slavophiles perceived led them to focus on the question of national identity, in the context of that identity being eroded by the Europeanization of Russia and Western education and mores of its elite classes. And while the question of Russia’s past came to dominate their solution to this question, as Abbott Gleason stated,

Kireevsky’s Slavophilism, in particular, had almost nothing to do with the systematic investigation of the past, with archives, or anything of that nature, It originated in argument and talk, in relatively restricted groups of beleaguered intellectuals, whose feelings about their present position underlay a great deal of what was being said. (Gleason, p. 157)

And to a certain extent the same can be said of Khomiakov, although he did focus more specifically on history, and indeed wrote Notes on Universal History, on which more below. Slavophilism overall is therefore a response to contemporary Russia in the reign of Nicholas I, but its critique is dependent on a particular interpretation of Russia’s past, and how it differs from that of the West. Riasanovsky shows that the comparison of Russia and the West developed in three stages:

The first assumption was that of a difference in kind, of an impassable gulf between Russia and the West. Next came the belief that this fundamental difference was produced by distinct sets of spiritual principles which lay at the foundations of the two societies and determined their histories. Finally, it was natural to conclude that the true Russian principles were bound to triumph over the false ones of the West. (Riasanovsky, p. 3)

I’ll begin by looking at the opposition of Russia and the West as conceived by the Slavophiles, then move on to examine the historiography that underpins it, then look more specifically at the idea of Russia – and Russian faith – that they propound. I’ll finish with a few observations on the significance of the Slavophiles for later thinkers.

The Slavophiles set up the contrast between Russia and the West as a series of binary oppositions: Russian spirit or faith stands against Western rationalism; Russian organic unity against Western individualism and fragmentation; Russian tradition and consensus against Western law imposed from above. This gave them a framework for pointing out precisely what was wrong with the West. As Riasanovsky puts it:

“They” [the West] were guilty of a multitude of sins. Egoism, communism, rationalism, sensuality, pride, affectation, superficiality, cruelty, bellicosity, exploitation, luxury, deceptiveness, rapacity, treachery, lechery, corruption, and decay were among “Their” attributes. These sins were all related, and could be deduced from a single postulate: the history of the West was nothing but a logical development of the perverse spiritual principles which formed its foundation. (Riasanovsky, p. 91)

So they were markedly critical of the West in a variety of ways. This formulation of the West’s negative qualities and Russia’s contrasting positive value rested upon Khomiakov’s philosophy of history in his Notes on Universal History, which he saw as being driven by two opposing principles: freedom and necessity. He called the principle of freedom “Iranian,” as he claimed it originated in the Middle East, with religions “centred on the worship of a single, freely creating divine entity” (Hudspith, p. 12). He termed the principle of necessity “Kushite,” originating, he said, in Ethiopia (the biblical land of Kush) and in pantheistic religions which identify the universe with God. Hudspith continues:

According to Khomiakov, Iranian societies were characterized by their organic societal structure and by their spirituality and creativity. […] Kushite societies were mechanically constructed and could be broken down and rebuilt without violating their wholeness, whereas Iranian societies, like a living organism, could not be reduced to their constituent parts. (Hudspith, p. 12)

Khomiakov characterizes the effect of these two different principles on the form civilizations take thus:

In Iranianism one find oral culture, verbal writing systems, a simple, communal existence, spiritual prayer and disdain for the body, [...]. In Kushitism one finds artistic culture, writing systems based on symbols, organized state structures, prayer through incantation, and veneration of the body […]. (Khomiakov, PSS, 5: 531, cited in Hudspith, p. 13)

One may justifiably be sceptical about this basis of this in fact; Riasanovsky describes Khomiakov’s History as “a peculiar combination of history, philology, and fantasy, but chiefly fantasy.” (p. 71) Nevertheless its logical development does enable understanding of the differences the Slavophiles perceived between Russia and the West, and that is why it is worth exploring. While one might expect Khomiakov to ascribe a common origin to the two, because of their shared Christian religion, in fact he identifies their pre-Christian roots in the opposing principles. Thus Western Christianity’s roots in pagan Rome ally it to Kushitism or necessity, whilst Russia’s ancient tradition of communality indicates its roots in Iranianism or freedom. This has implications for many areas of life; for example, Kireevsky sees it as underlying different attitudes to property and landownership, and the formation of the law, while for Aksakov it signifies different approaches to participation in political processes – these are elements we will discuss in more detail in the seminar in relation to the set readings. In all things Russia is seen as being governed by custom and community, the West by abstract logic and the primacy of the individual. But it is most significant in terms of the religious faith of Russia and the West, as it is these opposing principles that have dictated the different subsequent development of the two branches of Christianity – and indeed their separation; the rationalism that is characteristic of Kushitism is seen as being not only being the guiding spirit of Catholicism, but was even responsible for the Great Schism of 1054, when the universal church was separated into the Orthodox and Catholic churches, less than 100 years after Rus’ had converted to Christianity.

The thinking behind this is that the dispute which caused the schism revealed the essence of the opposing principles. The dispute was primarily about the form of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – and a change that was introduced into the Latin text, known as the Filioque. This meant that while previously the Holy Spirit had come from the Father alone, with the insertion of this new word, it now came from the Father and the Son (on the schism, see Ware, pp. 50-1):

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum, et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.
(And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.)

Kireevsky connects this insertion into the wording of the Trinity specifically to the rationalism and preference for abstract logic he associates with the West:

the Roman Church, in splitting away from the Eastern Church, displayed the same triumph of rationalism over the tradition of immediate wisdom and inner, spiritual intelligence. Thus, on the strength of a superficial syllogism extracted from the concept of the divine equality of God the Father and God the Son, the dogma of the Holy Trinity was betrayed, contrary to all spiritual meaning and tradition. (Kireevsky, “Reply,” p. 81)

“Rationalism,” as Walicki states, “acts as a disintegrating force because it transforms reality into an aggregate of isolated fragments bound together only by a network of abstract relationships” (Walicki, p. 101) – i.e., everything is arbitrary, and nothing is held together organically. This is what governs Kushite Europe, which will therefore never have unity; the subsequent Reformation and creation of the Protestant churches is seen as evidence of this. In contrast, Russia is governed by tradition – this key term appears twice in Kireevsky’s assessment of the schism above – which for the Eastern church is the very essence of faith and can never be superseded by reason or logic (which are seen as the antithesis of faith; simply put, God is a matter of the spirit alone, and cannot be be found through the workings of the intellect).

The change in the creed and introduction of this additional level (“and the son”) is also seen as evidence of a hierarchical mentality which, according to the Slavophiles, is equally apparent in the primacy of the pope, the other main source of disagreement that led to the schism. In contrast, the Eastern church is viewed as being based on communal principles without the imposition of a hierarchy. Khomiakov calls this communal principle sobornost’. Coming from the Russian word for ‘congregation’ (sobor, sobirat’) and now meaning ‘cathedral’, sobornost’ is a difficult term to translate; Walicki uses ‘conciliarity’, but most critics now leave it untranslated in order to avoid narrowing its meaning. Sobornost’ expresses the idea of free spiritual unity and mutual love, and the absence of individualism, and is generally seen as standing at the centre of Slavophile theory. The notion of freedom is particularly important; this is not a unity that is imposed from above or that depends on material benefits such as security or profit; rather, it arises organically out of bonds of kinship, custom and mutual trust, each individual, guided by inner freedom, contributing to create a greater whole that leads to “the unity of humanity with God.” (Bird, p. 15)

Although it is seen primarily as an attribute of the Orthodox Church, sobornost’ also exists in Russia because of the ancient communal basis of peasant life. As Hudspith says,

The traditional Russian peasant commune, or obshchina, with its regulating assemblies, was organized around the same principle of organic unity, congregation, tradition based on collective decisions and voluntary submission to the whole. (Hudspith, p. 9)

Konstantin Aksakov described the commune as:

a commune is a union of the people, who have renounced their egoism, their individuality, and who express their common accord; this is an act of love, a noble Christian act, which expresses itself more or less clearly in its various other manifestations. A commune thus represents a moral choir, and just as in a choir a voice is not lost, but follows the general pattern and is heard in the harmony of all voices: so in the commune the individual is not lost, but renounces his exclusiveness in favour of the general accord – and there arises the noble phenomenon of harmonious, joint existence of rational beings (consciousnesses); there arises a brotherhood, a commune – a triumph of human spirit (Konstantin Asakov, PSS, 1:291-2, cited in Riasanovsky, p. 135; my emphasis).

It is only in this communal context that the integrity of spirit – tsel’nost’ dukha, another key term for the Slavophiles – can be preserved:

The ideal, untainted personality is an integral structure with an “inner focus.” This “inner focus” helps to harmonize the separate psychic powers and safeguards the inner unity and wholeness, or “integrality” (tsel’nost’) of the spirit. (Walicki, p. 100)

And, vice versa, it is only when individuals are guided by tsel’nost’ dukha that they can form the organic unity of sobornost’. This is possible in Russia, where organic unity has not been lost, but in the West, it has been lost because of the disintegrating force of rationalism; the different spheres of life (such the moral religious, economic, intellectual spheres) have been separated from each other and are in conflict rather than supporting each other (Walicki, p. 101), destroying both the inner life of the individual (their integral personality and knowledge) and the bonds of community (sobornost’).

The idea of unity, therefore, is as pivotal to Slavophile thinking as it was to Chaadaev, but contrary to Chaadaev, they perceive Russia as being characterized by unity and Europe as fragmented and individualistic – and in fact this becomes the standard equation for many thinkers from very different backgrounds.

So if they derive this idea of the opposition of Russia and Europe from their different historical development (even if we might question that history), then how does this relate to Russia at the time of writing, in the second quarter of the nineteenth century? The answer to that relates to the sense of crisis about Russian identity, because the Russia they are extolling, full of unity and spirit, is not present-day Russia, but ancient Russia, and specifically, before the reforms of Peter the Great. Peter is in fact the villain of the piece (again we can see a contrast with Chaadaev here, at least the Chaadaev of the “Apologia of a Madman”), because he was responsible for importing Western ideas and standards, and the rationalism and secularization these entailed diluted the unity and spirit of the Russian people and caused the country to fragment. Most significantly, it caused a split between the peasants, the narod, who retained their Russian essence, and the elite, who became westernized. There are, it should be said, aspects of this argument that we might also question. It is undoubtedly true that the elite became westernized at this time, and that this change in perspective did distance them from that of the peasantry, as well as having wider effects on the development or continuation of Russian culture. As Rabow-Edling puts it:

the educated part of the nation had alienated itself from this Russian way of life through imitating Western culture. The fact that the culture of the educated elite was based on alien Western principles had an immense impact on the national culture, which was not able to preserve its significance. (Rabow-Edling 2004, 451)

But does this necessarily entail that the elite existed in perfect harmony with the peasants prior to Peter’s reforms? Where then does serfdom fit in to the equation? According to the Slavophiles, serfdom was only consolidated by Peter the Great, but most historians contend that it was well established before then – and certainly, we saw that Chaadaev identified the roots of serfdom in the Orthodox church and in the state before Peter the Great: “Why, on the contrary, did the Russian people fall into slavery only after having become Christian, namely in the reign of Godunov and Shuiskii?” (Chaadaev, Letter II, pp. 35-6) So we might accuse the Slavophiles being somewhat disingenuous here, altering history to suit their own purposes. These writers do frequently attract criticism for this reason – there is a lot of very sceptical writing about the Slavophiles. Thus, for example, the accusation that Khomiakov “conceived an ideal of the church as disconnected from the exercise of worldly power” and “invent[ed] the religion he wished to believe in” (Engelstein pp. 144-5), indicates his tendency to ignore the church’s actual role as a centre of authority rather than supporting Russian spiritual unity as he claimed.

But this question, relating to the Slavophiles’ critique of Peter the Great’s reforms, is central to their relationship to the Russian government. Although they were conservative, one should not imagine that their vision of Russia’s greatness was in any way welcomed by the autocracy; “The aggressively conservative Nicholas I […] valued the Orthodox Church as an arm of the state, not as the repository of absolute truth” (Engelstein, p. 138), and because the Slavophiles rejected the “church’s subordination to secular authority” (Engelstein, p. 144), their ideas were in fact seen as dangerous. The official doctrine of “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationalism” notwithstanding, the government viewed itself as a modern western power and had no interest in a return to standards of pre-Petrine Russian life. Moreover, any intervention in politics at this time was forbidden: “Official Nationality meant not only the propagation of government ideology by all possible means, but also a ban on every other form of thought.” (Riasanovsky, p. 11) The Slavophiles were independent thinkers, and as such were deemed as suspicious as any other grouping at the time. They were not subject to arrest, as for example members of the Petrashevsky circle, including Dostoevsky, were in 1849. But they were frequently subject to censorship, despite their general support for the autocracy, which was implicit in many of their works, and explicit in the case of Konstantin Aksakov.

The tension between the backward-looking aspects of Slavophilism and its relationship to government policy at the time is in itself an indication of where they think Russia has gone wrong. So as well as being a critique of Europe, it is also a critique of contemporary Russia, because of its europeanization. This hostility to the present-day Russian state does provide a way of reconciling some of the inconsistencies and inaccuracies apparent in their writing. Thus, the subordination of the present-day Orthodox church to political power is precisely what the Slavophiles perceive needs to be reversed. They can be seen as attempting to “mak[e] Orthodoxy meaningful to those members of educated society tempered by advances in the natural and social sciences and dissatisfied with the existing Church” (Michelson, p. 245) in the face of the (westernized) government that has effectively destroyed the autonomy of the church – this is, they suggest, the very reason why it has become irrelevant to so many members of society. And while their assertions about the origins of serfdom may be unreliable, they were certainly no fans of the institution itself (laying aside the question of historical accuracy, the very fact they ascribed it to western influence should make their opposition to serfdom apparent). Khomiakov in fact saw serfdom as being fundamentally opposed to Russian tradition:

Thus the following things are posited against each other: the retention of an age-old custom, based on the fundamental principle of life and feeling, the right of all to own land and each one to use it, the moral link among people, and the moral, ennobling education of the people in the social sense by means of constant practice in communal justice and administration, with full publicity and rights of conscience, and against what is this posited? Against the violation of all popular customs and feelings, the concentration of property in relatively few hands, and the proletarization or at least the hireling status of all the rest, the dissolution of mutual ties among the people, and the absence of any social and moral education (Khomiakov, PSS, 3:290; cited in Riasanovsky, p. 134).

Thus it is not a sign of inconsistency that they were highly enlightened in their treatment of the peasants on their own estates, and campaigned actively for emancipation (as I said, one of the Slavophiles, Yuri Samarin, participated in drafting the emancipation decree); they saw this as acting in accordance with or returning to Russian tradition, and therefore, on the contrary, as a mark of their consistency. Overall, as Riasanovsky states,

The Slavophile religion and philosophy of freedom was reflected on the political and social planes by a demand of freedom of conscience, speech and the press, and in general by insistence on the complete liberty of “the life of the spirit,” as distinct from the political sphere. (Riasanovsky p. 141)

Whether that sense of inner freedom is compatible with a system of political despotism that they generally seem fairly willing to justify is another question; Riasanovsky is one of many commentators who doubts it, and I would have to agree.

A number of problems are therefore apparent in Slavophile thinking, in relation to their tendency to ignore inconvenient political and historical realities and create a fantasy version of Russia’s past. Nevertheless, they remain very important figures, because, through Khomiakov in particular, they established a tradition of secular theological writing in Russia which continued to develop and produced some of Russia’s most significant religious philosophers, such as Vladimir Solov’ev, at whom we will be looking next term. Moreover, the vision they propounded of Russia, and in particular the significance they ascribed to the commune and the peasantry, had a profound influence on later thinkers.

Dostoevsky certainly shared some of their ideas, in particular on the question of spiritual unity. In fact, in many ways he goes further than the Slavophiles, in his idea of the God-bearing role of the Russian peasantry. But he developed those ideas in the late 1860s and 1870s; he was not a Slavophile at the time their influence was at its greatest, and I would suggest that he should not be categorized simply as a Slavophile – his fictional writing at least is too complex and varied to be subsumed under a single ideological label. Dostoevsky, in his post-Siberian period at least, was a conservative, and therefore might be expected to share some aspects of Slavophile ideology. However, their ideas on the commune and the narod also had a major impact on radical thinkers, contributing to the development of distinctive non-Marxist Russian theories of socialism, as we shall see later in the course in Herzen’s work on Russian socialism, Bakunin’s anarchism, and the populist theories of Chernyshevsky, Lavrov and Mikhailovsky. And I think they had that influence – and continue to be relevant today – because while Chaadaev may have posed the question about Russia’s destiny and what it means to be Russian, it was the Slavophiles who were really the first to articulate a positive and coherent response to the question of Russian identity. Moreover, they did so not merely by constructing an image of Russianness, but by attempting to develop a philosophy of Russianness, one that was opposed to the rational basis of European philosophy. So exploring the opposing values the Slavophiles ascribed to Europe and Russia, and the reasoning behind this, is essential not only in order to understand their own writings, but also the works of subsequent thinkers. For next week’s seminars, we will discuss in detail the different elements of this opposition between Europe and the Russia, including its social, political, legal and religious dimensions, as it appears in the works of Khomiakov, Kireevsky and Aksakov, and this is what you should focus on when you re-read the texts.


Aksakov, Konstantin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 3 vols. (Moscow, 1861-80) | Russian texts

Bird, Robert, “General Introduction,” in B. Jakim and R. Bird, eds., On Spiritual Unity: A Slavophile Reader (Lindisfarne Books, 1999)

Philosophical Works of Peter Chaadaev, ed. R. McNally and R. Tempest (Dordrecht, 1991) | Russian text: Философические письма and Апология сумасшедшего

Engelstein, Laura, “Holy Russia in Modern Times: An Essay on Orthodoxy and Cultural Change,” Past & Present, No. 173 (Nov., 2001), pp. 129-156

Gleason, Abbott, European and Muscovite: Ivan Kireevsky and the Origins of Slavophilism (Harvard University Press, 1972)

Groys, Boris, “Russia and the West: The Quest for Russian National Identity,” Studies in Soviet Thought, 43 (1992), 185-98

Khomiakov, Aleksei, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 8 vols (Moscow, 1900-14) | Russian texts

Kireevsky, Ivan, “A Reply to A. S. Khomyakov”, in A Documentary History of Russian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Marxism, ed. W. J. Leatherbarrow and D. C. Offord (Ardis, 1987), pp. 79-88 | Russian text | other works in Russian

Michelson, Patrick Lally, “Slavophile Religious Thought and the Dilemma of Russian Modernity, 1830-1860,” Modern Intellectual History, 7.2 (2010), 239-67

Rabow-Edling, Susanna, Slavophile thought and the politics of cultural nationalism (Albany: SUNY press, 2006)

Rabow-Edling, Susanna, “The political significance of cultural nationalism: the Slavophiles and their notion of a Russian enlightenment,” Nationalities Papers, 32.2 (2004), 441-56

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V., Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles: A Study of Romantic Ideology (Harvard University Press, 1952)

Walicki, Andrzej, A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to Marxism (Stanford University Press, 1980)

Ware, Timothy, The Orthodox Church (Penguin, 1997)

Leave a comment


  1. Jeffry A. House

     /  October 29, 2012

    The Slavophiles’ terminology certainly reminds of the distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft developed in Germany by Toennies.

    It surprises me that it seems to anticipate Tonnies by forty years or so. Any thoughts about how this happened?

  2. Thanks for this – Walicki’s History of Russian Thought refers to exactly this connection with Tonnies (pp. 108-9), but doesn’t make any suggestion as to how it happened, and I have to admit I don’t know either.

  3. Jeffry A. House

     /  October 31, 2012

    A mystery, then! Walcki looks like required reading for me, nonetheless. Thanks for putting these lectures on line; Language Hat sent me.

  4. Jeffry A. House

     /  October 31, 2012

    A mystery, then! Walicki looks like required reading for me, nonetheless. Thanks for putting these lectures on line; Language Hat sent me.

  1. Iranianism versus Kushitism « XIX век

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