18 Mar, 2021

Nikolai Berdyaev – religious philosopher, publicist

Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev was born (6) on March 18, 1874 in Kiev. His father came from the military aristocracy, and his mother from the nobility. Nikolai studied in the cadet corps, but then left it and entered the natural faculty of Kiev University.

In 1894, Berdyaev was fond of the ideas of social democracy, took part in the work of student circles. For this, in 1898 he was arrested and exiled to Vologda. In 1901, his first philosophical book, Subjectivism and Individualism in Social Philosophy. A critical sketch about N.K. Mikhailovsky “. Berdyaev gradually began to develop the idea of ​​a religious-Christian philosophy; he came to the journal Novy Put.

These ideas are further strengthened in him after a trip in 1907-1908 to Paris and communication with Merezhkovsky. Returning to Russia, in Moscow he takes an active part in the creation of a religious-philosophical society in memory of Vladimir Solovyov. In 1911 Berdyaev published the book “Philosophy of Freedom”, and in 1914 the book “The Meaning of Creativity” was born, which clearly traces his religious and philosophical views.

In June 1917, Nikolai Berdyaev was one of the founders of the League of Russian Culture (together with MV Rodzianko, PB Struve and others). The October Revolution was initially regarded as an insignificant episode.

In 1918 he was elected vice-president of the All-Russian Union of Writers. In the winter of 1918-1919, he organized the Free Academy of Spiritual Culture, where he lectured on philosophy and theology (he was its chairman until 1922).

In 1920 Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev was arrested in connection with the Tactical Center case; was interrogated personally by Dzerzhinsky; was released, but not for long, in the summer of 1922 he was again arrested by the GPU, and in September 1922 he was expelled from the country to Germany along with other representatives of the Russian intelligentsia (on the so-called “philosophical steamer”).

Until 1924 he lived in Berlin, then in Clamart near Paris. Conducted an active social activity, led the religious and philosophical magazine “Put”, the leading publication of the Russian emigration. Arranged interfaith meetings of Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.

In 1947, Berdyaev was elected an honorary doctor of theology at the University of Cambridge. In the West, he became famous as the main exponent of the tradition of Russian religious-idealistic philosophy and the ideologist of anti-communism.

Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev died on March 24, 1948 near Paris.