RUSSIAN RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY

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RUSSIAN RELIGIOUS
PHILOSOPHY
ORYNBEK ARUZHAN
SABIT ADILBEK
A unique galaxy of thinkers of the turn of the XIX-XX centuries., V.S. Soloviev, S.N. Bulgakov,
N.A. Berdyaev, S.L. Frank, L.P. Karsavin, P.A. Florensky, V.F. Ern, N.O. Lossky, who developed
their concepts in the thick of the intellectual and political struggle of the era. They achieved
outstanding results in understanding the spiritual essence of the events.
Russian position in relation to religion and religiosity wholly determined by the fact that the
identification of religion defined by cultic relations is illegitimately, since the phenomenon of
religion, the most important attribute of any society, should be considered in a broader aspect,
namely as a value system of other society, stipulating the goals of its development and the
mediating activities of individuals and society in general in accordance with the goal-setting of
this system. Religiousness, therefore, is above all, forms a conviction in the correctness and
necessity of the goal, methods and means of development relying on a specific religious-value
system, and this conviction cannot be fully rationalized, since it is based on unconditional faith
in one or another authoritative sources. Under considering religion and religiosity in this aspect,
it is permissible to assert their universality for any historical and modern communities, since a
concrete developing society is difficult to imagine without an ideological justification of goals,
ways and means of its development or by interpreting Aristotle, without a target reason
mediating the cause, which contributes to the actual design of the social substrate. Therefore,
in fact, any social philosophy can be attributed to religious philosophy.
The peculiarity of Russian religious philosophy
The Orthodox-ecclesiastical position, as follows from its name, is close to many of the ideas of
philosophers of theological academies of the 19th and 20th centuries (V.D. Kudryavtsev, A.I.
Brovkovich (Archbishop Nikanor), V.I. Nesmelov, M.I. Karinsky, M. M. Tareev and others),
however, as V. V. Zenkovsky noted, the philosophers of the theological school thought "not
about the" rapprochement " of Christianity and modernity, but about building a system of
Christian philosophy that proceeds entirely from the foundations of Christianity, but free to
build a system.
Learning works of Russian religious philosophers reveals their common property: behind
various phenomena and events of social life they reveal an inner spiritual meaning, which
makes it possible to further deep analysis of social phenomena and to identify their spiritual
potential on this basis. This is the essence of the approach of Russian religious philosophers to
social life.
The interpretation of social phenomena as carrying a certain objective meaning or idea were
peculiar to Russian social philosophy practically since its inception. P.I. Chaadaev holds the idea
that any historical event contains an idea: “The history of every nation represents not only a
string of facts following each other, but also a chain of related ideas”. Every fact must be
expressed by an idea; through events, a thought or principle should flow through the thread,
striving to come true. This idea, as follows from Chaadaev’s further reflection, is not born in the
head of any personality. Contrariwise, it is external to the individual, objective and acts in
relation to him as a kind of call to action, a vocation.
The search for the meaning of social phenomena, i.e their ideas, the inner spiritual content, is
characteristic to Russian idealistic philosophy.
The question of meaning-values is not posed by the theory of knowledge and goes beyond it,
the philosopher considers. But, exactly knowledge of the meaning-values is able to lift the veil
of secrets of being, including the social one. The fact is that the meaning-value coincides,
according to E.N. Trubetskoy’s opinion, with the purpose of human life. It should be noted that
goal-setting in general, as evidenced by all sociological thought, is a specifically human quality:
among all natural creatures, only human can wonder about the meaning and meaning of being
and set himself meaningful goals.
However, this ability of a person introduces a fundamental contradiction into his existence,
becoming a source of conflict between the individual and society. Nonsense reigns in the
natural world, considers Trubetskoy, a vicious circle of aspirations that do not reach the goal,
returning again and again to their beginning and endlessly repeating, is a bad infinity. A change
of generations, a chaim of births and deaths, devouring each other by living beings is a
demonstration of an unachieved goal, the destruction of illusion of the meaning of life. And the
higher in its development the natural creature rose up, subjected to the law of a meaningless
circle of being , the more tragic its subordination to the fateful necessity of nature. The highest
point of this tragedy is in human existence, in particular, in the life of human societies.
The philosopher considers himself the bearer of the meaning of the individual human spirit:
“Belief in the meaning of life is inextricably linked with belief in human, as the carrier of this
meaning, in the unconditional, royal dignity of human being.” Society for Trubetskoy is a part of
nature, subjected to natural laws and contrary to the realization of higher personality needs.
The contradiction between the human spirit, possessing the ability and the need to achieve
meaningful goals, the bearer of the meaning of life, and the social existence of people
dominated by natural, biological struggle for existence, is the main conflict, the tragedy of
humanity, the philosopher believes.
Semen Lyudvigovich Frank believes that a characteristic feature of social phenomena lies on
their teleological nature, in that their participants set themselves total goals. The goal,
according to Frank, is a category of spiritual life, a willful intention or ideal. Social knowledge
aspires to understand social life, studying the volitional aspirations, the ideals of the people. To
describe or to explain a historical event or process means to show what aspirations or beliefs
had cetain individuls (groups) and how their interaction led to this result. Analyzing the nature
of social phenomena, Frank, claims that they are not only genetically determined by
teleological forces, but in their essence consisted of ideas and beliefs. “Social life is the concrete
life of the human spirit,” he writes. Society, on the one hand, appears as a variety of
phenomena that exist in a certain time and space, i.e. phenomena of material. On the other
hand, it is a manifestation of the ideal beginning of the human spirit. Any social institutions and
interactions, for example, family, state, economic system, group relations, forms of life,
customs, are not just external facts. In their meaning lies the meaning given to them by people;
they are the material expression, the crystallization of beliefs and ideas, the essence of this
society. Hence the characteristic feature of the public knowledge in comparison with the
natural sciences: it is the self-knowledge of the human spirit. The objective meaning of a social
phenomenon, according to Frank, is connected with individual motives: it acts on the human
will as a compulsory idea-force, which is transformed in the consciousness of the individual into
the goal of his actions. According to his words, in social science, living knowledge is directed to
human life in the supra-individually objective form of social being. To know a social
phenomenon means, first of all, to grasp the objective idea underlying it, to understand its
meaning, its ideological content. Since this idea acts on human will, it can only be understood
by experiencing it sympathetically, by feeling this idea. In this respect, social science is in
principle different from natural science: the natural sciences study the world of material nature
alien to the human spirit, but social science is the self-consciousness of the human spirit.
In connection with the above, the question arises about the relationship between the ideas of
individual phenomena and the idea of society as a whole, as well as the question of the
existence of the latter. In the work "The Spiritual Foundations of Society," Frank defines his
position in this regard. In his opinion, any society has some internal basis or “idea”, which is at
the same time a basic tendency of the internal development of this society. The historical life of
the people, its development, in a certain sense, are predetermined by this circumstance. From
this follows a series of consequences of a methodological nature. First, this kind of
understanding of social life implies that the most profound explanation of the social
phenomena of a given society is an explanation that reveals the religious orientation, the
spiritual forces underlying them. Secondly, the scientific knowledge of the idea of society leads
to an idea of what Frank called the normal state, the health of the social organism. In other
words, the development of society should take place in accordance with its inner spiritual
essence. Only such a correspondence will ensure a stable, harmonious social being.
To clarify the ideas of Russian religious philosophers, it is necessary to consider the concept of
faith - the central category for this area. Religious faith in their understanding is a necessary,
essential social property of an individual and a society, which is, as it was, the “starting point”
or “cornerstone” of the actions of the individual and social processes. The concept of religious
faith is most fully developed in the works of S. N. Bulgakov. The basic principle laid by this
thinker in the basis of the analysis of social phenomena is the need to understand the
phenomenon not only in economic, political and other aspects, but also to see in it the
phenomenon of a spiritual order. And that means to determine its religious nature, to find the
“god” it serves. Bulgakov points out that in order to properly understand the actions and
opinions of a participant in social events, it is necessary to identify its leading person, the
religious center of the person, and his faith. The same applies to the collective participants in
the social process, as well as to such social phenomena as ideologies. According to S.N.
Bulgakov, faith is a certain way of comprehending the world, in which a person does not need
rational proofs of his knowledge, clarifying for people those aspects of life that cannot be
learned by reason, scientific or philosophical thinking.
Comparing Bulgakov’s approach to the study of ideologies (a significant part of his work is
devoted to this issue) with V. Pareto’s approach, I will note a number of important moments for
the modern sociologist. Both scholars argue that the basis of any ideology is the irrational
aspirations of its creators and adherents, covered with a network of external rational evidence
masking its inner essence. But if Pareto has some “remnants” - semi-biological, instinctive,
semi-rational (interests) impulses of human nature hidden in the depths of ideological
constructions, for Bulgakov the basis of ideology is a purely human, although irrational,
property, called faith. Hence the negative attitude of Pareto to ideologies and the balanced
attitude towards him Bulgakov, who understands the need for humanity of certain ideologies,
but is aware of the serious social consequences of the spreading ideologies based on false faith.
Faith can be directed to different objects: spiritual and material, absolute and relative, positive
and negative. However, for the results of both personal and social development, the
orientation of faith is not indifferent. The fact is that religious faith can be both true and false.
False faith is like an error of religious judgment, the substitution of real values with imaginary
ones. It leads the individual and society to a dead end, to the pathologies of individual and
social development.
The thinker is convinced that socialism, as an economic and political phenomenon, does not
cause serious doubts about the legality and validity. But as a manifestation of spiritual life (that
is, actually social), is very complex and contradictory, because it can be inspired by a different
spiritual attitude, a different faith, and, therefore, lead to different consequences in public life.
Religious feeling, according to Bulgakov, is an internal property, an integral organic need of the
human spirit. With the abolition or disappearance of specific forms of religious beliefs, religious
feeling persists in a person and in this sense there are no non-religious people are exist.
Atheism, nihilism, socialism, the cult of the superman F. Nietzsche or the theory of the
unconscious E. Hartmann are, according to Bulgakov, a kind of religious faith. Man, by nature,
cannot be guided only by reason; the personality also contains the deeper layers of the psyche
(this is well known to modern science studying the subconscious mind). Religion, believes
Bulgakov, establishes a connection between the mind and the heart of man. He gives her a
definition: “religion is an active way out of the self, a living feeling of the connection of this
finite and limited self with the infinite and supreme, the expansion of our feeling to infinity in
the pursuit of unattainable perfection”. That is, one of the most important postulates of the
social concept of S.N. Bulgakov is the statement of universality, the basicity of the concept of
religious faith. Human always believes in something. Psychological need to believe - in nature
and the individual and society as a whole.
Truth of faith, indicates Bulgakov, distinguished by immediate evidence and indisputability. This
determines their ability to bind the thought and will of a person into a single whole. Thus,
continuing the analysis of Bulgakov, one can say that faith is one of the most powerful
incentives or motives of human actions. In my opinion, the concept of faith should be used by
modern sociology, because it makes it possible to characterize a person and society in their
unity. However, it is necessary to clearly distinguish between the sociological meaning of the
concept of "religious faith" and everyday meaning, - faith in God, the absolute beginning of the
world.
Let us give an example of the use of the category of “religious faith” by Bulgakov in the
analysis of social processes. The new time, he believes, is characterized by the emergence and
spread in Europe of the so-called religion of mankind, anthropotheism, faith in God, replacing
faith in human and society. The fact is striking, Bulgakov notes, that two completely different
thinkers who hardly knew each other, O. Comte and L. Feuerbach, created surprisingly similar
theories in which humanity as a whole was recognized as the highest being and object of
religious worship. Religion as presented by Feuerbach became the philosophical basis of the
materialistic understanding of the history of K. Marx and F. Engels. In addition to Marxism, it is
present in many other teachings of the new and modern history of Europe, the meaning of
which lies in the transition from Christianity to anthropotoism - faith in man, in his personal and
collective abilities, abilities and reason. Democracy, individual freedom, dignity and self-worth
of an individual become the values of this religion. Anthropotheism absolutizes humanity in its
temporary, limited and full of evil, sin and suffering of being. He tries to preserve the highest
values and moral guidelines, discarding the goals of creating a man "in the image and likeness
of God."
Among the most important philosophers, supporters of the radical statist position in Russian
religious philosophy, we should highlight G. V. Plekhanov and A. A. Bogdanov (a pseudonym of
A. M. Malinovsky). The first believed that the accession of freedom in humanity is possible only
if the production will be subject to the will of man; denied the innateness of religious demands,
understanding religious thinking as a phenomenon that manifests itself in the lower stages of
cultural development, thereby separating the religious and moral spheres in the higher stages;
but, unlike many Marxists, he defended freedom of conscience and did not allow contempt for
religious matters. The second argued that the need for conscious human intervention in being,
developed in connection with this idea "tectology" - the study of creative change of being
through organizational processes.
Conclusion
The Russian position in relation to religion and religiosity as a whole is determined by the fact
that the identification of religion and cult activity defined by cult relations is illegal, since the
phenomenon of religion, the most important attribute of any society, should be considered in a
broader aspect, namely as a value system of other society, stipulating the goals of its
development and the mediating activities of individuals and society as a whole in accordance
with the goal-setting of this system. Religiousness, therefore is above all, a conviction in the
correctness and necessity of the goal, methods and means of development relying on a specific
religious-value system, and this conviction cannot be fully rationalized, since it is based on
unconditional faith in one or another authoritative sources. When considering religion and
religiosity in this aspect, it is permissible to assert their universality for any historical and
modern communities, since a concrete developing society is difficult to imagine without an
ideological justification of goals, ways and means of its development or interpreting Aristotle,
without a target reason mediating the cause, which contributes to the actual design of the
social substrate. Therefore, in fact, any social philosophy can be attributed to religious
philosophy.
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