Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher)

Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher)

Infobox Philosopher
region = Russian philosophy
era = 19th-century philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

image_size = 200px
image_caption = "Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov"
name = Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov
birth = 1853
death = 1900
school_tradition = Russian symbolism
main_interests =
notable_ideas =
influences =
influenced = Berdyaev, Bulgakov, Florensky, Frank, Belyi, Blok

Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov ( _ru. Владимир Сергеевич Соловьёв) (1853 - 1900) was a Russian philosopher, poet, pamphleteer, literary critic, who played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century. Solovyov (the last name derives from "соловей", "solovey", Nightingale in Russian) played a significant role in the Russian spiritual renaissance in the beginning of the 20th century. Solovyov is said to have died a pauper, homeless.

Life and work

Vladimir Solovyov was born in Moscow on 16 January, 1853, in the family of well-known Russian historian Sergey Mikhaylovich Solovyov (1820 - 1879).Fact|date=August 2008 His mother, Polixena Vladimirovna, belonged to the Ukrainian-Polish family, having among her ancestors a remarkable thinker the 18th century Hryhori Skovoroda (1722 - 1794).Fact|date=August 2008

In his teens Solovyov renounced Orthodox Christianity for nihilism though later Solovyov changed his earlier convictions and began expressing views in line again with the Russian Orthodox Church. Vladimir Solovyov was also known to be a very close friend and confidant of Fyodor Dostoevsky. In opposition to Dostoevsky's apparent views of the Roman Catholic church, Solovyov has been rumoured to have converted to Roman Catholicism four years before his death. It could be said that he did this to engage in the reconciliation (ecumenism) between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, a reconciliation that Solovyov outspokenly favoured, but Solovyov himself always maintained that he was still a Russian Orthodox believer and that he had never left the Orthodox faith. [History of Russian Philosophy Nikolas Lossky pgs 84-85] Solovyov believed that his mission in life was to move people toward reconciliation or absolute unity or sobornost.


It is widely held that Solovyov was Dostoevsky's inspiration for the character Alyosha Karamazov from The Brothers Karamazov [Zouboff, Peter, Solovyov on Godmanhood: Solovyov’s Lectures on Godmanhood Harmon Printing House: Poughkeepsie, New York, 1944; see Czeslaw Milosz’s introduction to Solovyov’s War, Progress and the End of History. Lindisfarne Press: Hudson, New York 1990.] . Solovyov's influence can also be seen in the writings of the Symbolist and Neo-Idealist of the later Russian Soviet era. His book "The Meaning of Love" can be seen as one of the philosophical sources of Leo Tolstoy's 1880s works, "The Kreutzer Sonata" (1889).

He influenced the religious philosophy of Nicolas Berdyaev, Sergey Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Lossky, Semen L. Frank, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and also on the poetry and theory of Russian symbolism, viz. Andrei Belyi, Alexander Blok Solovyov's nephew, and others. Hans Urs von Balthasar explores his work as one example of seven lay styles that reveal the glory of God's revelation, in volume III of the "The Glory of the Lord" (pp. 279-352).


Solovyov compiled a philosophy based partly on Hellenistic pagan philosophy (see Plato and Plotinus) and also early church Patristic tradition with Buddhism and Hebrew Kabblahistic elements. Solovyov also studied Gnosticism and seemed to be heavily influenced by the gnostic works of Valentinus. [Russian Religious Thought pg 49-67 by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt (Editor), Richard F. Gustafson (Editor) Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (October 1, 1996) Language: English ISBN-10: 0299151344 and ISBN-13: 978-0299151348] Solovyov's religious philosophy was syncretic and fused many of the philosophical elements of various religious traditions with that of the Eastern Orthodox church and also Solovyov's own personal experience of the Sophia. Solovyov described his encounters with the entity Sophia in his works the "Three Encounters" and "Lectures on Godmanhood" among others. Solovyov's fusion was driven by the desire to reconcile and or unite with Eastern Orthodoxy these various traditions via the Russian Slavophiles' concept of sobornost. His Russian religious philosophy had a very strong impact on the Russian Symbolist art movements of his time. [Russian Religious Thought pg 49-67 by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt (Editor), Richard F. Gustafson (Editor) Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (October 1, 1996) Language: English ISBN-10: 0299151344 and ISBN-13: 978-0299151348] Solovyev's teaching on Sophia have been deemed a heresy by certain local churches in the Orthodox Church. [OCA labels Sophianism of Solovyev as heresy [http://orthodoxwiki.org/Sophianism] ]


Solovyov sought through his works to create a form of philosophy, that could through his system of logic or reason, reconcile "all" various bodies of knowledge or disciplines of thought. It was Solovyov's goal to fuse all conflicting concepts into a single systematic form of reason. It was this complete form of philosophy that Solovyov presented as being Russian philosophy. That based on the central components of the slavophile movement, all forms of reason could be reconciled into one single form of logic. The heart of this reconciliation as logic or reason was the concept sobornost (organic or Spontaneous order through integration) which is also the Russian word for catholic. Solovyov sought to find and validate the common ground and or where various conflicts found common ground and by focusing on this common ground to establish absolute unity and or intergral [Dostoevsky and Soloviev: The Art of Integral Vision By Marina Kostalevsky http://books.google.com/books?id=iA0LXMqmg-8C&dq=Dostoevsky+and+Soloviev:+The+Art+of+Integral+Vision+By+Marina+Kostalevsky&pg=PP1&ots=44_SQr05Xy&sig=jbyvBKdXbTPJagipqHjhaKjwqnk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result] fusion of opposing ideas and or peoples. [History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии »(1951) pg 81-134 ]


*"The Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against the Postivists" by V Solovyov Lindisfarne Press 1996 ISBN 0-940262-73-8
*"The Justification of the Good"
*"The Meaning of Love"
*"War, Progress, and the End of History"
*"Russia and the Universal Church"

Further reading

* Kristi Groberg, ‘Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ev: a bibliography’, "Modern Greek Studies Yearbook", vol.14-15, 1998
* Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, ‘Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ev’, "Dictionary of Literary Bibliography", v295 (2004), pp377-386
* Dimitrii N.Stremooukhoff," Vladimir Soloviev and his messianic work" (Paris, 1935; English translation: Belmont, MA: Nordland, 1980)
* Jonathan Sutton, "The religious philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov: towards a reassessment" (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1988)
* Nicholas Zernov, "Three Russian prophets" (London: SCM Press, 1944)
* Nikolai Lossky History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии »(1951)

ee also

*Russian philosophy
*Vladimir Lossky
*Apophatic theology
*Mikhail Epstein
*List of Christian mystics


External links

* [http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/s/solovyov.htm Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900)] - entry on Solovyov at "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy"
* [http://people.emich.edu/wmoss/publications/ ALEXANDER II AND HIS TIMES: A Narrative History of Russia in the Age of Alexander II, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky] Several chapters on Solovyov
*http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/soloviev/biffi.html (address by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi)
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060112121614/http://www.praiseofglory.com/taleantichrist.htm Tale of the Anti-Christ] - excerpt from "Three Conversations" by Solovyov
* [http://www.ru.nl/filosofie/crhs/solovev.html Civil Society and National Religion: Problems of Church, State, and Society in the Philosophy of Vladimir Solov'ëv (1853-1900)] - research project at Centre for Russian Humanities Studies, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

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