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┬ĚNICOLAS BERDYAEVl EGBERT MUNZER BERDYAEV tells us in the first lines'of his biography of Leontyev that "Constantine Leontyev was an exceptional and unique person, and to love and appreciate him would require a &pecial predilection." The' same can be said of Berdyaev himself. His greatest creative strength, 'like Leontyev)s, is prophecy. Prophets are unique and lo~ely personalities; they shun the Schools and are stoned by the herd. Even amongst themselves the modern prophets, like their predecessors of the Old Testament, do Inot form a homogeneous group. The bond between them is esoteric. To assign a place to Berdyaev amongst those men whom he regards as his modern ancestors, , such as Joseph de Maistre, Kierkegaard, Carlyle, Dostoyevsky, Leontyev, Nietzsche, Solovyov, BIoy, and Feodorov, means actually to state that he is of no school and is .not likely to found an Academy. He himself confesses that he ow~s most to Dostoyevsky, to whom he devoted penetrating studies. In a certain sense, it is true, his whole work 1S a profound interpretation of the "Grand Inquisitor,)) the shining ray of genius in The Brothers Karamasov. Yet h~ absorbed so many currents of thought, and developed so many new ideas that this interpretation differs in essential respects .from the visions of his master. Berdyaev is not only a contemporary Jeremiah; he is a theologian arid a philosopher in his own right. He has an explosive and impulsive personality , as he sometimes complains about himself, and there are strongly erratic t'rai ts in his thought. But the plasticity and impressionableness of IThe facts of his life ~ay be briefly set down, Nicolas Alexandrovich Berdyaev, 'born 1874 at Kiev; Orthodox; descendant of nobles and state dignitaries; already us a youth preoccupi~d with philosophy, sociology, historiology; became a socialist of revisionist leanings; co-editor of V~proz Tchishny ("Problems of Life") 1904-5; seceded, with S. Bulgakov , P. Struwe, and others, from socialism after the first revolution of 1905, and justified his secession in essays in J7eslyi ("Landmarks"); co-founder of the Liberal Academy of Spiritual Culture in Moscow (1919); expelled from Russia in 1922 with several, of his spiritual sympathizers as an "upholder of religion"; went to Berlin arid settled finally in Paris in 1924; editor of Put ("The Way") and professor in the Russian Theological Institute in Paris; during the present war there have been rumours that he has been imprisoned by the Nazis or has entered a monastery. Author of numerous books, essays, and articles, the most important of which are cited in the text. The following books by Berdyaev.have been translated into English: The Russian RerJolution (1931), Cllristianity and the Class War (1933), Dostoyeosky (1933), The End oj our Time (1933), The Fate of Man in the Mode'-J/ World (1935), Freedom and Ihe Spirit (1935┬╗) The Meaning oj Hislory (1936), The Destiny of Man (1937), The Origin of Russian Communism (1"937), Solitude and Society (1938), Spirit and Reality (1939), Leontiev (1940), Slavery and Freedom (1944). The first four of 'these books were published by Sheed and Wa.rd) the others by Geoffrey Bles, in each case in London. Some of them have also been published in New York by Charles Scribner's Sons. The earlier works of Berdraev have been translated into French and German, though not into English. 188 NICOLAS BERDYAEV 189 ,his mind and character have moulded a wholly autonomous and spiritually self-contained person, who cannot be gauged by common yardsticks. I Berdyaev is pre-eminently a religious thilJ.ker. In the introduction to Freedom and the Spirit, the most elaborate presentation of his theology and metaphysics, he says of himself: "I regard myself as being a Christian theosophist, in the sense in which Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Ca~dinal Nicolas of Cusa, Jacob Boehme, St. Martin, Francis Baq.der, and Vladimir Solovyov were Christian theosophists." Indeed, Berdyaev is their disciple in theology though these teachers would, at times, be afraid of the dizzy heights to which he wants to take them. In accordance with their basic ideas, Berdyaev arrives at the most fundamental proposition of his theology: the Aristotelian-Thomist conception of God as actus purus deprives...


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