The Western Church, faithful to the apostolic mission, has not been afraid to plunge into the mire of history. After having been for centuries the only element of moral order and intellectual culture among the barbarous peoples of Europe, it undertook the task not only of the spiritual education of these peoples of independent spirit and uncivilized instincts but also of their material government…Vladimir Soloviev


The great strength of Russia has always been Orthodoxy. The greatest weakness of Russia has always been Orthodoxy. The schism between the Church in the West and the Church in the East, occurring  when it did between the 11th and 13th centuries, meant that the Russian Orthodox Church remained Augustinian in nature while the Western Church would become Thomistic in its theology. Plato versus Aristotle for students of science and philosophy but in reality the Eastern Church atrophied into ceremony putting most of its emphasis on form while the Western Church spent more time on questions of substance – and occasionally lost its balance in the process – but has developed an ongoing intellectual tradition to examine its fixed moral theology.

Simply put the West – when it examines things properly – starts from a position that a thing is right or wrong and then goes on to examine why it is right or wrong and how the right may be made good or better. Russia had right or wrong and a very elaborate grammar of each. Where the West began to see the rights of man coming from his being created in the image and likeness of God and elaborated those ideas into political philosophy and law by the time these ideas reached Russia their intellectual underpinnings had been stripped and they arrived as man receiving his rights – including his religious rights – from the state.

Even the best of Russian thought – and certainly Soloviev represents the best – has this taint that colors everything that follows from it. That is why secular humanism will never be compatible with Christianity and any system that sees the rights of man as coming from the state will eventually see the state strip those rights and he will be left with an orthodox political catechism and nothing else.

Politics, law, and morality : essays New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2000 V.S. Soloviev ; edited and translated by Vladimir Wozniuk ; foreword by Gary Saul Morson Russian literature and thought Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxix, 330 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 300-320) and indexes. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

Considered one of Russia’s greatest philosophers, Vladimir Soloviev (1853–1900) was also a theologian, historian, poet, and social and political critic. His works have emerged to enjoy renewed attention in post–Soviet Russia, and his concerns echo in contemporary discussions of politics, law, and morality. In this collection of Soloviev’s essays — many translated into English for the first time — the philosopher explores an array of social issues, from the death penalty to nationalism to women’s rights.

Soloviev reacts against the tradition of European rationalist thought and seeks to synthesize religious philosophy, science, and ethics in the context of a universal Christianity. In these writings he reveals the centrality of human rights in his Christian worldview, not only as an abstract theory but also as an inspiration in everyday life. In a substantive introduction and copious annotations to the essays, Vladimir Wozniuk points out distinctive and often overlooked features of Soloviev’s works while illuminating his place within both the Russian and Western intellectual traditions.

 

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