Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yes! "On Spiritual Unity: A Slavophile Reader" has arrived

This one was one of my favorites. It's unfortunately been chucked out of print by Lindisfarne and landed in the deep discounts pile at Powells, but on the bright side that means that I can get it for almost 1/3 of the cost. The word "Slavophile" in this context is a little bit misleading. "Slavophile" has come to mean anyone who is pro-Slavic, i.e. people who are either Pan-Slavic, believe in the nationalistic or genetic superiority of Slavic culture, or who are just Russian nationalists. But before the word took on that meaning there was a small group of academics in Russia who sought to reinterpret philosophy, social philosophy, political philosophy, and theology, from the point of view of Russia as being a partially non-Western state who because of its unique historical position in the world had a different way of viewing things than what was common in Western Europe. The Slavophiles sought to reinterpet Western European thinking along Russian lines. There wasn't any sort of racial base to it, and they weren't necessarily nationalistic. In fact, they opposed the Russian state to a certain extent because they felt that it had caved in on Westernization.

And they're smart people. So reading them is a joy. The folks involved are Khomiakov, Aksamov, and Kireevsky, names that probably mean very little to most folks. They meant little to me until I read a thesis that a guy had published about the Slavophiles in 2005.

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