Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher)

Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (Russian: Влади́мир Серге́евич Соловьёв; January 28 [O.S. January 16] 1853 – August 13 [O.S. July 31] 1900) was a Russian philosopher, theologian, poet, pamphleteer, and literary critic. He played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century and in the spiritual renaissance of the early 20th century.

Vladimir Solovyov
BornJanuary 28, 1853
DiedAugust 13, 1900 (aged 47)
Uzkoye, Moscow Governorate, Russian Empire
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionRussian philosophy
SchoolChristian mysticism, Russian symbolism, Russian Schellingianism[1]
Main interests
Notable ideas
Revived and expanded the idea of Sophia, the feminine manifestation of Divine Wisdom in Orthodox theology

Life and work

The son of the historian Sergey Mikhaylovich Solovyov (1820–1879), and the brother of historical novelist Vsevolod Solovyov (1849-1903), he was born in Moscow.[3] His mother Polyxena Vladimirovna belonged to a Polish origin family and had, among her ancestors, the thinker Gregory Skovoroda (1722–1794).[4]

In his teens, Solovyov renounced Eastern Orthodoxy for nihilism, but later, his disapproval of positivism[5] saw him begin to express views that were in line with those of the Orthodox Church.[5] Solovyov studied at the University of Moscow, and his philosophy professor was Pamfil Yurkevich.[6]

In his The Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against the Positivists, Solovyov discredited the positivists' rejection of Aristotle's essentialism, or philosophical realism. In Against the Postivists, he took the position of intuitive noetic comprehension, or insight. He saw consciousness as integral (see the Russian term sobornost) and requiring both phenomenon (validated by dianonia) and noumenon validated intuitively.[5] Positivism, according to Solovyov, validates only the phenomenon of an object, denying the intuitive reality that people experience as part of their consciousness.[5] As Solovyov's basic philosophy rests on the idea that the essence of an object (see essentialism) can be validated only by intuition and that consciousness as a single organic whole is done in part by reason or logic but in completeness by (non-dualist) intuition. Soloyvev was partially attempting to reconcile the dualism (subject-object) found in German idealism.

Vladimir Solovyov became a friend and confidant of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881). In opposition to his friend, Solovyov was sympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church. He favoured the healing of the schism (ecumenism, sobornost) between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. It is clear from Solovyov's work that he accepted papal primacy over the Universal Church,[7][8][9] but there is not enough evidence, at this time, to support the claim that he ever officially embraced Roman Catholicism.

As an active member of Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia, he spoke Hebrew and struggled to reconcile Judaism and Christianity. Politically, he got renowned as the leading defender of Jewish civil rights in tsarist Russia in the 1880s. Solovyov also advocated for his cause internationally and published a letter in The London Times pleading for international support for his struggle.[10] The Jewish Encyclopedia describes him as "a friend of the Jews" and states that "Even on his death-bed he is said to have prayed for the Jewish people".[11]

Solovyov's attempts to chart a course of civilization's progress toward an East-West Christian ecumenicism developed an increasing bias against Asian cultures which he initially studied with great interest. He dismissed the Buddhist concept of Nirvana as a pessimistic nihilistic "nothingness" which was antithetical to salvation, no better than Gnostic dualism. [12] Solovyov spent his final years obsessed with fear of the "Yellow Peril", warning that soon the Asian peoples, especially the Chinese, would invade and destroy Russia.[13] Solovyov further elaborated in his apocalyptic short story "Tale of the Antichrist" published in the Nedelya newspaper on February 27, 1900, in which China and Japan join forces to conquer Russia.[13] His 1894 poem Pan-Mongolism, whose opening lines serve as epigraph to the story, was widely seen as predicting the coming Russo-Japanese War.[14]

Solovyov never married or had children, but he pursued idealized relationships as immortalized in his spiritual love poetry, including with two women named Sophia.[15] He rebuffed the advances of mystic Anna Schmidt, who claimed to be his divine partner.[16]


It is widely held that Solovyov was one of the sources for Dostoevsky's characters Alyosha Karamazov and Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov.[17] Solovyov's influence can also be seen in the writings of the Symbolist and Neo-Idealist writers 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 The Kreutzer Sonata (1889). It was also the work in which he introduced the concept of 'syzygy', to denote 'close union'.[18]

He influenced the religious philosophy of Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergey Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Lossky, Semyon Frank, brothers Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoy and Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoy, the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, and the poetry and theory of Russian Symbolists (Andrei Belyi, Alexander Blok, Solovyov's nephew, and others). Hans Urs von Balthasar explores his work as one example of seven lay styles, which reveal the glory of God's revelation, in volume III of The Glory of the Lord (pp. 279–352).


Solovyov compiled a philosophy based on Hellenistic philosophy (see Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus) and early Christian tradition with Buddhism and Hebrew Kabbalistic elements (Philo of Alexandria). He also studied Gnosticism and the works of the Gnostic Valentinus.[19] His religious philosophy was syncretic and fused philosophical elements of various religious traditions with Orthodox Christianity and his own experience of Sophia.

Solovyov described his encounters with the entity Sophia in his works, such as Three Encounters and Lectures on Godmanhood. His fusion was driven by the desire to reconcile and/or unite with Orthodox Christianity the various traditions by the Russian Slavophiles' concept of sobornost. His Russian religious philosophy had a very strong impact on the Russian Symbolist art movements of his time.[19] His teachings on Sophia, conceived as the merciful unifying feminine wisdom of God comparable to the Hebrew Shekinah or various goddess traditions,[20] have been deemed a heresy by Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and as unsound and unorthodox by the Patriarchate of Moscow.[21]


Vladimir Solovyov 1892 by Nikolay Yarochenko
Vladimir Solovyov by Nikolai Yaroshenko, 1892

Solovyov sought to create a philosophy that could through his system of logic or reason reconcile all bodies of knowledge or disciplines of thought, and fuse all conflicting concepts into a single system. The central component of this complete philosophic reconciliation was the Russian Slavophile concept of sobornost (organic or spontaneous order through integration, which is related to the Russian word for 'catholic'). Solovyov sought to find and validate common ground, or where conflicts found common ground, and, by focusing on this common ground, to establish absolute unity and/or integral[22] fusion of opposing ideas and/or peoples.[23]

Professor Joseph Papin, in his work Doctrina De Bono Perfecto, Eiusque Systemate N.O. Losskij Personalistico Applicatio (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1946) gives insight into the thoughts of Vladimir Soloviev. After teaching at the University of Notre Dame, Papin founded the Theology Institute at Villanova University. He edited publications from the first six symposia of the Theology Institute (1968-1974). The idea of Sobornost was prominent in the VI volume: The Church and Human Society at the Threshold of the Third Millenium (Villanova University Press, 1974). His own indepth scholarly contribution was entitled: "From Collegiality and Sobornost to Church Unity." In volume V of the Symposia, Papin published a profound study on Soloviev in relation to the future development of Christianity, a community of love: "Eschaton in the Vision of the Russian Newman (Soloviev)" in The Escaton: A Community of Love, (ed. Joseph Papin, Volume V, Villanova university Press, 1971, pp.1-55). The Dean of Harvard Divinity School, Krister Stendahl, gave his highest praise to Papin for his efforts in overcoming the divisions separating Christians: "It gladdens me that you will be honored at the time of having completed a quarter century of teaching us all. Your vision of and your dogged insistence on a truly catholic i.e. ecumenical future of the church and theology has been one of the forces that have broken through the man-made walls of partition. . ." [Transcendence and Immanence, Reconstruction in the Light of Process Thinking, Volume I, ed. Joseph Armenti, St Meinrad: The Abbey Press, 1972, p. 5). At the time of his death, United States President Ronald Reagan along with theologians, philosophers, poets, and dignitaries from around the world wrote to Dr. Joseph Armenti praising the life and work of Reverend Joseph Papin. See: “President Reagan Leads International Homage to Fr. Papin in Memorial,” JEDNOTA, 1983, page 8).


Solovyov died at the Moscow estate of Nikolai Petrovitch Troubetzkoy, where a relative of the latter, Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoy, was living. Solovyov was apparently a homeless pauper in 1900. He left his brother, Mikhail Sergeevich, and several colleagues to defend and promote his intellectual legacy. He is buried at Novodevichy Convent.


"But if the faith communicated by the Church to Christian humanity is a living faith, and if the grace of the sacraments is an effectual grace, the resultant union of the divine and the human cannot be limited to the special domain of religion, but must extend to all Man's common relationships and must regenerate and transform his social and political life."[24]


  • The Burning Bush: Writings on Jews and Judaism, Compiled 2016 by Lindisfarne Books, ISBN 0-940262-73-8 ISBN 978-0-940262-73-7
  • The Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against the Postivists, 1874. Reprinted 1996 by Lindisfarne Books, ISBN 0-940262-73-8 ISBN 978-0-940262-73-7
  • The Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge (1877)
  • The Critique of Abstract Principles (1877–80)
  • Lectures on Divine Humanity (1877–91)
  • The Russian Idea, 1888. Translation published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN 1508510075 ISBN 978-1508510079
  • A Story of Anti-Christ (novel), 1900. Reprinted 2012 by Kassock Bros. Publishing Co., ISBN 1475136838 ISBN 978-1475136838
  • The Justification of the Good, 1918. Reprinted 2010 by Cosimo Classics, ISBN 1-61640-281-4 ISBN 978-1-61640-281-5
  • The Meaning of Love. Reprinted 1985 by Lindisfarne Books, ISBN 0-89281-068-8 ISBN 978-0-89281-068-0
  • War, Progress, and the End of History: Three Conversations, Including a Short Story of the Anti-Christ. Reprinted 1990 by Lindisfarne Books, ISBN 0-940262-35-5 ISBN 978-0-940262-35-5
  • Russia and the Universal Church, [1]. Reprinted 1948 by G. Bles. (Abridged version: The Russian Church and the Papacy, 2002, Catholic Answers, ISBN 1-888992-29-8 ISBN 978-1-888992-29-8)

See also



  1. ^ Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998): "Schellingianism, Russian".
  2. ^ Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, The Meaning of Love, 1985, p. 20.
  3. ^ Dahm 1975, p. 219.
  4. ^ Kornblatt 2009, pp. 12, 22.
  5. ^ a b c d Lossky 1951.
  6. ^ Valliere 2007, p. 35.
  7. ^ Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, Russia and the Universal Church, trans. William G. von Peters (Chatanooga, TN: Catholic Resources, 2013).
  8. ^ Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, The Russian Church and the Papacy: An Abridgment of Russia and the Universal Church, ed. Ray Ryland (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2001).
  9. ^ Ryland, Ray (2003). "Soloviev's Amen: A Russian Orthodox Argument for the Papacy". Crisis. Vol. 21 no. 10. pp. 35–38. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  10. ^ Solovyov, Vladimir. The Burning Bush: Writings on Jews and Judaism. Translated by Gregory Yuri Glazov. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 978-0-268-02989-0.
  11. ^ http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13907-solovyev-vladimir-sergeyevich
  12. ^ Kornblatt 2009, pp. 68,174.
  13. ^ a b Eskridge-Kosmach 2014, p. 662.
  14. ^ Kornblatt 2009, pp. 24.
  15. ^ Solovyov 2008.
  16. ^ Cioran 1977, p. 71.
  17. ^ Zouboff, Peter, Solovyov on Godmanhood: Solovyov's Lectures on Godmanhood Harmon Printing House: Poughkeepsie, New York, 1944; see Milosz 1990.
  18. ^ Jacobs 2001, p. 44.
  19. ^ a b Carlson 1996.
  20. ^ Powell 2007, p. 70.
  21. ^ OCA labels Sophianism of Solovyov as heresy
  22. ^ Kostalevsky 1997.
  23. ^ Lossky 1951, pp. 81–134.
  24. ^ Solovyov, Vladimir (1948). Russia and the Universal Church. Translated by Herbert Rees. Geoffrey Bles Ltd. p. 10.

Works cited

Carlson, Maria (1996). "Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev". In Kornblatt, Judith Deutsch; Gustafson, Richard F. (eds.). Russian Religious Thought. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 49–67. ISBN 978-0-299-15134-8.
Cioran, Samuel (1977). Vladimir Solov’ev and the Knighthood of the Divine Sophia. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Dahm, Helmut (1975). Vladimir Solovyev and Max Scheler: Attempt at a Comparative Interpretation. Sovietica. 34. Translated by Wright, Kathleen. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. ISBN 978-90-277-0507-5.
Eskridge-Kosmach, Alena (2014). "Russian Press and the Ideas of Russia's 'Special Mission in the East' and 'Yellow Peril'". Journal of Slavic Military Studies. 27 (4): 661–675. doi:10.1080/13518046.2014.963440. ISSN 1556-3006.
Jacobs, Alan (2001). "Bakhtin and the Hermeneutics of Love". In Felch, Susan M.; Contino, Paul J. (eds.). Bakhtin and Religion. Rethinking Theory. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. pp. 25–46. ISBN 978-0-8101-1825-6.
Kornblatt, Judith Deutsch (2009). Divine Sophia: The Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov. Ithica, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-7479-8.
Kostalevsky, Marina (1997). Dostoevsky and Soloviev: The Art of Integral Vision. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-06096-6.
Lossky, N. O. (1951). History of Russian Philosophy. New York: International Universities Press (published 1970). ISBN 978-0-8236-8074-0.
Milosz, Czeslaw (1990). Introduction. War, Progress and the End of History: Three Conversations, Including a Short Story of the Anti-Christ. By Solovyov, Vladimir. Hudson, New York: Lindisfarne Press. ISBN 978-1-58420-212-7.
Powell, Robert (2007) [2001]. The Sophia Teachings: The Emergence of the Divine Feminine in Our Time. Great Barrington, Massachusetts: Lindisfarne Books. ISBN 978-1-58420-048-2.
Solovyov, Vladimir (2008). Jakim, Boris (ed.). The Religious Poetry of Vladimir Solovyov. Translated by Jakim, Boris; Magnus, Laury. San Rafael, California: Semantron Press. ISBN 978-1-59731-279-0.
Valliere, Paul (2007). "Vladimir Soloviev (1853–1900)". In Witte, John, Jr.; Alexander, Frank S. (eds.). The Teachings of Modern Orthodox Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14264-9.

Further reading

du Quenoy, Paul. "Vladimir Solov’ev in Egypt: The Origins of the ‘Divine Sophia’ in Russian Religious Philosophy," Revolutionary Russia, 23: 2, December 2010.
Finlan, Stephen. "The Comedy of Divinization in Soloviev," Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology (Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2006), pp. 168–183.
Gerrard, Thomas J. "Vladimir Soloviev – The Russian Newman," The Catholic World, Vol. CV, April/September, 1917.
Groberg, Kristi. "Vladimir Sergeevich Solov'ev: a Bibliography," Modern Greek Studies Yearbook, vol.14–15, 1998.
Kornblatt, Judith Deutsch. "Vladimir Sergeevich Solov’ev," Dictionary of Literary Bibliography, v295 (2004), pp. 377–386.
Mrówczyński-Van Allen, Artur. Between the Icon and the idol. The Human Person and the Modern State in Russian Literature and Thought - Chaadayev, Soloviev, Grossman (Cascade Books, /Theopolitical Visions/, Eugene, Or., 2013).
Nemeth, Thomas. The Early Solov'ëv and His Quest for Metaphysics. Springer, 2014. ISBN 978-3-319-01347-3 [Print]; ISBN 978-3-319-01348-0 [eBook]
Stremooukhoff, Dimitrii N. Vladimir Soloviev and his Messianic Work (Paris, 1935; English translation: Belmont, MA: Nordland, 1980).
Sutton, Jonathan. The Religious Philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov: Towards a Reassessment (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1988).
Zernov, Nicholas. Three Russian prophets (London: SCM Press, 1944).

External links

19th century

The 19th (nineteenth) century was a century that began on January 1, 1801, and ended on December 31, 1900. It is often used interchangeably with the 1800s, though the start and end dates differ by a year.

The 19th century saw large amounts of social change; slavery was abolished, and the First and Second Industrial Revolution led to massive urbanization and much higher levels of productivity, profit and prosperity. European imperialism brought much of Asia and almost all of Africa under colonial rule.

It was marked by the collapse of the Spanish, Zulu Kingdom, Napoleonic, Holy Roman and Mughal empires. This paved the way for the growing influence of the British Empire, the Russian Empire, the United States, the German Empire (essentially replacing the Holy Roman Empire), the French colonial empire, the Kingdom of Italy and Meiji Japan, with the British boasting unchallenged dominance after 1815. After the defeat of the French Empire and its allies in the Napoleonic Wars, the British and Russian empires expanded greatly, becoming the world's leading powers. The Russian Empire expanded in central and far eastern Asia. The British Empire grew rapidly in the first half of the century, especially with the expansion of vast territories in Canada, Australia, South Africa and heavily populated India, and in the last two decades of the century in Africa. By the end of the century, the British Empire controlled a fifth of the world's land and one quarter of the world's population. During the post-Napoleonic era, it enforced what became known as the Pax Britannica, which had ushered in unprecedented globalization and economic integration on a massive scale.

List of 19th-century Russian Slavophiles

This is a list of 19th-century Russian Slavophiles:

Slavophilia is an intellectual movement originating from the 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in Poland, Hungary and Greece.

List of Russian people

This is a list of people associated with the modern Russian Federation, the Soviet Union, Imperial Russia, Russian Tsardom, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and other predecessor states of Russia.

Regardless of ethnicity or emigration, the list includes famous natives of Russia and its predecessor states, as well as people who were born elsewhere but spent most of their active life in Russia. For more information, see the articles Rossiyane, Russians and Demographics of Russia. For specific lists of Russians, see Category:Lists of Russian people and Category:Russian people.

Sergei Bulgakov

Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov (; Russian: Серге́й Никола́евич Булга́ков; 28 July [O.S. 16 July] 1871 – 13 July 1944) was a Russian Orthodox Christian theologian, philosopher, and economist.


Sophiology (Russian: Софиология, by detractors also called Sophianism

Софианство or Sophism Софизм) is a controversial school of thought in Russian Orthodoxy which holds that Divine Wisdom (or Sophia) is to be identified with God's essence, and that the Divine Wisdom is in some way expressed in the world as 'creaturely' wisdom. This notion has often been misunderstood as introducing a feminine "fourth hypostasis" into the Trinity .The controversy has roots in the early modern period, but Sophiology as a theological doctrine was formulated during the 1890s to 1910s by Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900), Pavel Florensky (1882–1937) and Sergey Bulgakov (1871–1944).In 1935, parts of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov's doctrine of Sophia were condemned by the Patriarch of Moscow and other Russian Orthodox hierarchs.Thomas Merton studied the Russian Sophiologists and praised Sophia in his poem titled "Hagia Sophia" (1963).Johnson (1993) and Meehan (1996) noted parallels between the Russian "sophiological" controversy and the Gender of God debate in western feminist theology.

Vladimir Solovyov

Vladimir Solovyov may refer to:

Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher) (1853–1900), Russian philosopher

Vladimir Solovyov (cosmonaut) (born 1946), Soviet cosmonaut

Vladimir Solovyov (rower) (born 1946), Soviet Olympic rower

Vladimir Solovyov (journalist) (born 1963), Moscow television and radio journalist, member of the Presidium and the Public Council of the Congress

Vladimir Solovyov (automobile engineer), Soviet automotive designer, first Chief Designer at VAZ

Vladimir Solovyov, a Fabergé workmaster

Concepts in religion
Conceptions of God
Existence of God
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