List of Russian philosophers

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Philosophers (1917) by Mikhail Nesterov, depicting Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov. Nesterov Florensky Bulgakov.jpg
Philosophers (1917) by Mikhail Nesterov, depicting Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov.

Russian philosophy includes a variety of philosophical movements. Authors who developed them are listed below sorted by movement.

A philosophical movement is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject. Major philosophical movements are often characterized with reference to the nation, language, or historical era in which they arose.


While most authors listed below are primarily philosophers, also included here are some Russian fiction writers, such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, who are also known as philosophers.

Russian literature

Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia and its émigrés and to the Russian-language literature. The roots of Russian literature can be traced to the Middle Ages, when epics and chronicles in Old East Slavic were composed. By the Age of Enlightenment, literature had grown in importance, and from the early 1830s, Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age in poetry, prose and drama. Romanticism permitted a flowering of poetic talent: Vasily Zhukovsky and later his protégé Alexander Pushkin came to the fore. Prose was flourishing as well. The first great Russian novelist was Nikolai Gogol. Then came Ivan Turgenev, who mastered both short stories and novels. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky soon became internationally renowned. In the second half of the century Anton Chekhov excelled in short stories and became a leading dramatist. The beginning of the 20th century ranks as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. The poets most often associated with the "Silver Age" are Konstantin Balmont, Valery Bryusov, Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov, Osip Mandelstam, Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak. This era produced some first-rate novelists and short-story writers, such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin, Leonid Andreyev, Fyodor Sologub, Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Andrei Bely.

Russian philosophy as a separate entity started its development in the 19th century, defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating Russia's following the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as a unique civilization. The latter group included Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the early founders of eurasianism. The discussion of Russia's place in the world has since become the most characteristic feature of Russian philosophy.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Under Tsar Nicholas II, the Russian Empire slowly industrialized repressing opposition in the political center and on the far-left. During the 1890s Russia's industrial development led to a large increase in the size of the urban middle class and of the working class, which gave rise to a more dynamic political atmosphere and the development of radical parties. Because the state and foreigners owned much of Russia's industry, the Russian working class was comparatively stronger and the Russian bourgeoisie comparatively weaker than in the West. The working class and the peasants became the first to establish political parties in Russia, because the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie were politically timid. During the 1890s and early 1900s, bad living- and working-conditions, high taxes and land hunger gave rise to more frequent strikes and agrarian disorders. These activities prompted the bourgeoisie of various nationalities in the Russian Empire to develop a host of different parties, both liberal and conservative. By 1914, 40% of Russian workers were employed in factories of 1,000 workers or more. 42% worked in businesses of 100 to 1,000 workers and 18% in businesses of 100 workers or fewer.

Konstantin Leontiev Russian philosopher

Konstantin Nikolayevich Leontiev was a conservative tsarist and imperial monarchist Russian philosopher who advocated closer cultural ties between Russia and the East against what he believed to be the West's catastrophic egalitarian, utilitarian and revolutionary influences. He also advocated Russia's cultural and territorial expansion eastward to India, Tibet and China.

In its further development, Russian philosophy was also marked by deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, politics and nationalism; cosmos and religion were other notable subjects.

Literature Written work of art

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object.

Society Social group involved in persistent social interaction

A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.

Notable philosophers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyev, Vasily Rozanov, Lev Shestov, Leo Tolstoy, Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Pitirim Sorokin, and Vladimir Vernadsky.

Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher) Russian philosopher

Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov was a Russian philosopher, theologian, poet, pamphleteer, and literary critic. He played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century and in the spiritual renaissance of the early 20th century.

Vasily Rozanov Russian philosopher

Vasily Vasilievich Rozanov was one of the most controversial Russian writers and philosophers of the pre-revolutionary epoch.

Lev Shestov Russian theologian

Lev Isaakovich Shestov, born Yeguda Leib Shvartsman, was a Russian existentialist philosopher, known for his "philosophy of despair". Born in Kiev on February 12 [O.S. January 31] 1866, he emigrated to France in 1921, fleeing from the aftermath of the October Revolution. He lived in Paris until his death on November 19, 1938.

From the early 1920s to late 1980s, Russian philosophy was dominated by Marxism presented as dogma and not grounds for discussion. Stalin's purges, culminating in 1937, delivered a deadly blow to the development of philosophy.[ citation needed ]

Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

Marxism is a theory and method of working-class self-emancipation. As a theory, it relies on a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

A handful of dissident philosophers survived through the Soviet period, among them Aleksei Losev. Stalin's death in 1953 gave way for new schools of thought to spring up, among them Moscow Logic Circle, and Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School.

Major thinkers

Russian Enlightenment

Slavophiles and pochvennichestvo

Russian symbolists


Russian Schellingians

Russian positivists

Russian Machists

Russian cosmists

The cover of the book "The Will of the Universe. Intellect Unknown. Mind and Passions" by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1928 Volition-of-the-Cosmos.jpg
The cover of the book "The Will of the Universe. Intellect Unknown. Mind and Passions" by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1928
Portrait of Lev Shestov by Leonid Pasternak, 1910 Pasternak shestov.jpg
Portrait of Lev Shestov by Leonid Pasternak, 1910


Epistemologists, logicians and metaphysicians


Materialists and nihilists

Socialists and Marxists

Christian philosophers


Orthodox Christian theologians




Historians of thought


See also

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  1. History of Russian Philosophy p. 59 by N. O. Lossky
  2. History of Russian Philosophy p. 81 by N. O. Lossky