I begin by making some brief remarks about commonsense particularism. Commonsense particularists hold that we know pretty much what we think we know and hold that some of these beliefs are more reasonable than competing skeptical principles. However, commonsense philosophers often differ about what justifies these particular beliefs. Michael Bergmann holds that that our commonsense epistemic beliefs depend for their justification on epistemic intuitions or epistemic seemings. After a brief description of his views, I raise some questions about the nature and epistemic role of these epistemic seemings.
Debate over the proper management of our relationship with free-roaming cats has escalated based on concerns over impacts on biodiversity and public health, with some calling for their eradication. It is often waged between animalists, primarily focused on the interests of the individual animal, and traditional conservationists, primarily focused on preserving native species and biodiversity. An ethical paradigm that accounts for the interests of all animals and nature to develop a management scheme that promotes interspecies justice is needed. I propose the political theory of animal rights developed in Zoopolis as a fruitful ethical paradigm. Grounded in modern citizenship theory, it defines universal negative rights due to all sentient beings and positive rights due to them based on our relationships to them as citizens, denizens, or foreigners. Application of this political theory in a modern fictional jurisdiction, Zoopoland, is explored to develop a just management strategy for free-roaming cats.
This publication is an introduction to the teachings of I. I. Abramov (1893–1966) as conveyed and interpreted by his friends and interlocutors. Abramov belonged to the generation of martyred thinkers, imprisoned, exiled, or silenced, like Daniil Andreev, Mikhail Bakhtin, Aleksei Losev, and Yakov Golosovker. “Socrates of our time”—this is how his disciples spoke of Abramov. He himself did not write a single work, but expressed his thoughts through oral communication. Abramov was a speaking and—which is especially rare and valuable—a listening thinker. In conversing with him, it was as if riddles and propositions arose everywhere at once, only later to take on grace and form in the hands of his followers, in their treatises and articles. This selection presents some of Abramov’s most fundamental ideas, including his philosophy of all-divergence (vserazlichie), which, according to his intention, served as a challenge to Vladimir Solovyov’s philosophy of all-unity. Abramov’s thought was also highly critical of both the idealistic monism of Hegel and the materialist monism of Marxism, thereby presenting a “neutral monism” for our time. The linguistic and theological aspects of Abramov’s thought are represented in his idea of “theism” as “the–ism,” the philosophy of the definite article as a universal capacity of living Logos to define and articulate all concepts. Hence his deliberately oral way of presenting his philosophy: it had to be modified, increasingly differing from itself as it passed from disciple to a disciple, from generation to generation, branching out into many different perspectives and disciplines. Abramov’s philosophy responds to some fundamental and unsolved problems of contemporary thought and anticipates a number of poststructuralist ideas, including that of Jacques Derrida’s différance.
Along with the crisis in the nineteenth-century ideals of egalitarianism, the early twentieth-century Russian reception of Nietzsche also elicited a negative reaction to a certain model of morality that was, for the most part, linked to Greek intellectualism and Socratic morality. As a result, a whole—and at times hidden—range of “anti-Socratic” sentiments and views spread among those authors who, in various ways and with differing conclusions, lauded Nietzsche’s critique of conventional values while comparing this critique to the Russian tradition of moral rebellion. Aside from the so-called vulgar “Nietzscheanism” (Nitssheanstvo)—i.e. a desire, which was very popular among students, for personal fulfillment and for the destruction of moral standards in the wake of Nietzsche, as divulged in Boborykin’s novels—another response to Nietzsche’s thought emerged, which considered with great seriousness the possibility of developing a new philosophical and moral consciousness, a sort of “virtuous anti-morality” that was in keeping with Nietzsche’s precepts and, often implicitly, at odds with Socrates. Among the Russian thinkers who adopted this viewpoint in the early years of the twentieth century were, above all, L. Shestov, V. Ivanov, A. Blok, and D. Merezhkovsky. This article will explore these “anti-Socratic” Russian attitudes, in particular from a philosophical point of view, i.e. starting from the claim that another morality and another “virtuous code” that differ widely from Socratic intellectualism are equally valid.
Nikolai Vasilievich Bugaev (1837–1903) was a prominent mathematician, the president of the Moscow Mathematic Society, and the founder of the Moscow School of Philosophy and Mathematics. A renown and influential person in his area of expertise, he was also a mighty figure in the autobiographically dense works of his son, Boris Bugaev, known as the Symbolist poet and writer Andrei Bely.
There are three mainstreams within which Bely depicts his father as Socrates. The first one is an ugly albeit charismatic appearance (and here Bely follows Xenophon and Plato). The second one is Bugaev’s behavior: he was an indefatigable polemist, an ascetic in everyday life, and an enthusiast in questions of cognition. This parallel is the most evident and pronounced in Bely’s texts. What is not evident, however, is the way Bely creates the image of his father by turning to Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds, with Socrates as its primary focus. The propinquity between Bugaev and Socrates is also based on the revolutionary change in their philosophies, as compared to their predecessors.
In 1888–1898, Aleksei Kozlov, a Russian philosopher and writer, publishes his main work, “Conversations with a Petersburg’s Socrates,” under the pen name Platon Kaluzhsky. The main character, nicknamed Socrates from Peski, engages the thinkers of St. Petersburg, both real and fictional, in philosophical dialogue. A century later, Edvard Radzinsky, a writer and historian, composes his Conversations with Socrates—and is accused of disguising Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as well as Andrei Siniavsky and Yuly Daniel, under the mask of Socrates, whom Radzinsky regards as a personalized symbol of philosophy, thinking, and doubt. I explore the philosophical dialogue in Russian literary and intellectual thought inspired by Socrates—a philosopher, a historical and literary hero, and, above all, a human being whose ethical and intellectual merits still urge people to set up the highest moral standards. A sage or a prophet, Socrates is addressed as an ideal interlocutor, a dialogue with whom has been much needed in prerevolutionary, Soviet, and post-Soviet Russia.
Since the times of Socrates, whom Aleksei Losev believed to be one of the most mysterious phenomena in classical antiquity, Socrates’ biographers have been trying to solve this mystery, aiming not only at reconstructing Socrates’ thought but also recreating his persona. This chapter considers the figure of Socrates as he reappears in original philosophical and literary biographies, including those of Aleksei Losev, Valentin Asmus, Feokhary Kessidi, and Vladik Nersesiants, and focuses on the image of Socrates as the central character of Kozlov and Radzinsky’s Conversations.
Herzen’s imprisonment, exile, and uncompromising dedication to Russian political thought as an insider-pariah provided an intellectual stimulus that promoted the “new truth” and the “new organic epoch” among those notable nineteenth-century Russian socialists (Stankevich, Belinsky, Bakunin, and Herzen’s close friend, Ogarev) who vowed to each other always to struggle for liberty. Neither a sweeping Westernizer (zapadnik) nor a Slavophile, Herzen’s admiration for Socrates’s craft and revolutionary methods of philosophic inquiry was grounded in his own radical thought, which sought to philosophize the political schisms of the Russian intelligentsia and to synthesize its internal contradictions. Herzen’s philosophical Letters on the Study of Nature (1845) reveals a thinker on the threshold between materialism and idealism, in pursuit of a dialectical structure that would not only protect the individual against the universals of logic but also simultaneously prevent the disintegration of the personality into mere sensations. This presentation will draw parallels between Socrates’s objections in Phaedo to physicists who could allegedly explain “the causes of everything” (95E12) and Herzen’s Letters as protests against materialists who atomized phenomena and claimed to have arrived at final truths. Within the complex matrix of sparring particulars and universals, reason and heart, individual and the whole that is the Letters, stands Herzen’s unwavering dedication to the fight for moral freedom and as he puts it, truth as cognized essence, not as merely essence.
This article presents a new reading of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita by demonstrating that some of the peculiarities of the gospel scenes’ depiction can be explained by the author’s conscious transplantation of several motifs from Plato’s dialogues devoted to Socrates’ trial and death. Concentrating on the early drafts of Pontius Pilate’s interrogation of Yeshua, I hope to prove that the connection between Ha-Notsri and Socrates is not merely typological but bears genetic affinity. Bulgakov, who studied Greek in school and whose close friend, Mikhail Popov, translated several of Plato’s dialogues into Russian, was, without doubt, familiar with Plato’s works. This article argues that Yeshua’s philosophy bears several striking similarities with those of Socrates in Euthyphro, the Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. Considering the theme of dangerous writing as the main philosophical leitmotif of Bulgakov’s “philosophical novel,” this article unfolds the intricate connections between Bulgakov and Socrates. The Socratic intertexts, as it will be demonstrated, infuse the novel with the Socratic philosophical problems of oral and written speech, the fate of a philosopher in a totalitarian state, and, eventually, individual free will and tyranny.