October 13, 2005

Nikolai Berdyaev

N. Berdyaev, one of the leading “Neo-Christians” of modern Russia, prophesies in his book, The End of Our Time, the breakdown of modern civilisation, because he can find no meaning in any life in which the central principle is not a mystic communion with God. He loathes alike the acquisitiveness of capitalist society and the diabolism of communist Russia. [Anilbaran Roy ~108]
Nikolai Berdyaev regarded himself as a religious metaphysician, and even as a Christian philosopher, although hardly an orthodox one, since he believed all orthodoxy incompatible with the freedom of thought essential to philosophical inquiry. Like Kant, whom he regarded as “a profoundly Christian thinker, more so than Thomas Aquinas” (Dream and Reality: an Essay in Autobiography: 1950), he was especially concerned with reconciling human freedom with the determinism of objective nature. His major innovation in pursuing that goal is to suppose freedom to be the primal reality, which, borrowing Jakob Bohme’s term, he calls the ungrund. The ungrund is indeterminate potentiality combined with spontaneity toward definite form, somewhat comparable to Bergson’s élan vital or whitehead’s creativity. [James Dye, Blackwell Companion, 1999~163]

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