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Politics, Law, and Morality

Politics, Law, and Morality: Essays by V.S. Soloviev

Essays by V. S. Soloviev
Edited and Translated by Vladimir Wozniuk
Foreword by Gary Saul Morson
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Politics, Law, and Morality
    Book Description:

    Considered one of Russia's greatest philosophers, Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900) was also a theologian, historian, poet, and social and political critic. His works have emerged to enjoy renewed attention in post-Soviet Russia, and his concerns echo in contemporary discussions of politics, law, and morality. In this collection of Soloviev's essays-many translated into English for the first time-the philosopher explores an array of social issues, from the death penalty to nationalism to women's rights.Soloviev reacts against the tradition of European rationalist thought and seeks to synthesize religious philosophy, science, and ethics in the context of a universal Christianity. In these writings he reveals the centrality of human rights in his Christian worldview, not only as an abstract theory but also as an inspiration in everyday life. In a substantive introduction and copious annotations to the essays, Vladimir Wozniuk points out distinctive and often overlooked features of Soloviev's works while illuminating his place within both the Russian and Western intellectual traditions.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12837-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword: Soloviev, the Russians, and Ourselves
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Gary Saul Morson

    A key purpose of the Yale series Russian Literature and Thought is to bring to light some neglected aspects of the Russian tradition. During the Cold War, both Soviet and Western commentators tended to see prerevolutionary Russian thought as the conflict between various forms of tsarism and reactionary nationalism on the one hand and a diversity of socialisms on the other, with the Bolshevik triumph as the (perhaps foredoomed) outcome. It is, in fact, remarkable how frequently intellectual historians bought into this Soviet story, even if their values differed.

    The picture has compelling power in part because, to a great...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxxii)

    Vladimir S. Soloviev (1853—1900), once hailed by Nicholas Berdyaev as the “most distinguished representative of Russian religious philosophy in the nineteenth century,” was not well known in the West in his lifetime and has continued to languish in the margins of Western thought ever since his death. Moreover, he was consigned to relative obscurity in his native land for much of the twentieth century as his work remained largely outside the parameters of sanctioned discourse in Russia during Soviet rule. This situation changed in the late 1980s, when new editions of his works began to be issued as glasnost...

  6. 1 Christianity and Revolution
    (pp. 1-5)

    The point of departure of Platonism is the negation of reality as authentic existence, as truth. Plato acknowledges given reality but places in opposition to it a proper world of truth.

    In the philosophy of Plato, as in philosophy in general, this opposition is mainly theoretical. From Plato’s point of view, the improper, abnormal character of reality consists in its irrationality, haphazardness, and inauthenticity. That which he acknowledges as the authentic, proper, rational, and ideal world is accessible to intellectual contemplation—to the speculative activity of intelligence. To be sure, the philosophy of Plato contains a moral element as well,...

  7. 2 Morality and Politics
    (pp. 6-19)

    A complete separation of morality and politics constitutes one of the prevalent errors and evils of our century. From the point of view of Christianity and within the limits of the Christian world these two domains—the moral and the political—although they cannot coincide with one another, should however be in the closest sense connected.

    As Christian morality has in view the realization of the kingdom of God within each man, so Christian politics must prepare for the advent of the kingdom of God for all humankind as a whole, made up for the most part of nations, races,...

  8. 3 On the Christian State and Society
    (pp. 20-31)

    The appearance of a new spiritual man in Christ is the center point of world history. The end, or goal, of this history is the appearance of a Spiritual Humanity. The ancient world gravitated toward the idea of Spiritual Man, the modern world gravitates toward the idea of Spiritual Humanity, that is, towardthe imaging of Christ in everyone. This goal is to be achieved in a dual way: by the path of individual moral perfection and by the path of perfecting societal relations. If humanity were the simple sum of equal and independent parts, then the second path would...

  9. 4 The Social Question in Europe
    (pp. 32-36)

    In the great and increasingly aggravated struggle between revolutionary socialism and adherents of the established order, we see that from both sides the abuse of principles plays a larger role than the principles themselves. Socialists want to overturn the contemporary social order; this is abuse of the principle of equality and not implementation of it in a true sense; militant conservatives struggle for their interests, deplorably abusing the principle of ownership. Thus, in these two points it is necessary first of all to establish the truth, which has been distorted by both parties.

    The principle of equality in its true...

  10. 5 Nationality from a Moral Point of View
    (pp. 37-53)

    In our era, a person’s attitude toward nationality is formed by two opinions:the nationalisticand thecosmopolitan.¹ There can be nuances and back-and-forthing in the realm of taste and the senses, but there are only two clear and distinct points of view before us on this issue. The first can be reduced to the formulationwe should love our nation and serve its good with all our means, but we have the right to be indifferent to other nations; in the event that their national interests clash with ours, we are obliged to treat these foreign nations hostilely. The...

  11. 6 The Significance of the State
    (pp. 54-64)

    Every individual being, by virtue of his absolute significance (in the moral sense), has aninalienableright to existence and perfection.¹ But this moral right would be empty words if its actual implementation dependedentirelyon externalchanceand someone else’s will. A real right is that which includes in itself the conditions of its realization, that is, protection of itself from violation. The first and fundamental condition for this is social intercourse, or community. For man is a solitary creature and obviously rendered powerless against theelementsof nature, against beasts and inhumane people.² However, the protection of personal...

  12. 7 Sunday Letters
    (pp. 65-130)

    “It is not good for a people to be alone.” The pagans understood this truth as well. There came a time when a sternpater familiasappeared in the world with hispatria potestas,gathering the multitude of nations into one family circle.¹ The regime to which the Roman subjected this great family of nations was not an easy one, just as the regime which lay at the foundation of the private Roman family was not easy. But in any event this was a family, and the ruler of the house required only a peaceful common life among its members...

  13. 8 Law and Morality: Essays in Applied Ethics
    (pp. 131-212)

    Law arises in history, to all intents and purposes, side by side with other phenomena of the common life of humanity, such as language, religion, art, and so forth.¹ All these modes of the human spirit’s life and action, without which man, as such, is inconceivable, cannot be sim ply the products of reflection. Obviously, they cannot have their historical origin in the conscious and willful action of individual persons. They all appear at first as direct expressions of an instinctiveclanmind-set which acts in masses of people. For theindividualmind, these intrinsic formations appear originally not as...

  14. 9 Plato’s Life-Drama
    (pp. 213-254)

    Having undertaken a complete Russian translation of Plato, I first of all ran up against a problem: in the absence of a generally accepted order, in what order should the Platonic dialogues be translated and published?¹ In the face of the inadequacy of historical data and the shakiness and contradictoriness of philological considerations, I became convinced of the impossibility of firmly establishing and thus putting them into chronological order. At the same time, I found that squeezing the living image out of Plato’s creations and putting them into the wooden frames of scholarly categories according to abstract themes and disciplines...

  15. 10 The Idea of a Superman
    (pp. 255-263)

    In a review of a recent translation of Nietzsche appearing in the last issue of a Moscow philosophical journal (Jan.–Feb. 1899 ), an expert on this writer, and a fan as well, notes among other things that “unfortunately for Nietzsche, it seems he is becoming a writer in vogue for Russia; at least he’s in considerable demand.”* (Book Review, p. 48)

    The “misfortune” of suchvogue,however, is only the necessary outward reflection of the intrinsic fact that a certain idea really has started to live in the public consciousness: you see, before it became a subject of market...

  16. 11 A Brief Tale about the Antichrist
    (pp. 264-290)

    Panmongolism! Though the name is savage,

    It caresses my ear

    As if it is full with portent

    Of a great Divine Fate . . .

    The Lady: Where is this epigraph from?

    Mr. Z: I think the author of the tale himself created it.

    The Lady: Well, read it. Mr. Z (reads):

    The twentieth century after the Birth of Christ was the epoch of the last Great Wars, civil conflicts, and revolutions. The very largest of the these wars had as its remote reason the intellectual movement ofPanmongolismin Japan at the end of the nineteenth century. The imitative...

  17. Appendix A The Jews in Russia
    (pp. 291-292)
  18. Appendix B Panmongolism (a poem)
    (pp. 293-294)
  19. Appendix C Letter to Tsar Nikolai II
    (pp. 295-298)
  20. Supplementary Listing of Soloviev’s Relevant Philosophical and Historical Writings (Chronologically arranged)
    (pp. 299-299)
  21. Notes
    (pp. 300-320)
  22. Index
    (pp. 321-327)
  23. Index of Biblical References
    (pp. 328-330)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)