Russian Leibnizianism

In Lloyd Strickland & Julia Weckend (eds.), Leibniz's Legacy and Impact. Routledge (2019)

Frederic Tremblay
University at Buffalo (PhD)
Leibniz’s philosophy enjoyed a Russian fandom that endured from the eighteenth century to the death of the last exiled Russian philosophers in the twentieth century. There was, to begin with, Leibniz’s direct impact on Peter the Great and on the scientific development of Saint Petersburg. Then there was, still in the eighteenth century, Mikhail Lomonosov, who was sent to study with Christian Wolff in Marburg, and who came back to Saint Petersburg with a watered-down Leibnizian worldview, which he applied to the study of chemistry and physics. Another eighteenth century philosopher, Alexander Radishchev, who studied in Leipzig, displayed acquiescence with a number of key elements from Leibniz’s philosophy. Russian Lebnizianism as a continuous philosophical movement was considerably reinvigorated in the 1870s when the Leibnizian German philosopher Gustav Teichmüller took a position at the University of Dorpat (nowadays Tartu, Estonia), which was then located within the Russian Empire. Teichmüller influenced a number of Russian philosophers into adopting a “Teichmüllerian” version of Leibnizianism. Among these philosophers were Evgeny Bobrov and Alexei Kozlov. In Saint Petersburg, Kozlov influenced his own son, Askoldov, and the latter’s friend — Nikolai Lossky. In the meanwhile, in Moscow Lev Lopatin, Nikolai Bugaev, and Petr Astafiev developed their own Leibnizianism in seemingly relative independence from Teichmüller’s influence and presumably, in some cases, under the partial influence of Vladimir Solovyov. Despite this relative independence, however, the fact remains that there was in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Russia a network of more or less loosely interconnected Leibnizian philosophers who read each other and wrote about each other, who exchanged ideas, and who constituted a movement that we might characterize as “Russian Leibnizianism” or “Russian Neo-Leibnizianism.” In this chapter, I tell the story of the intellectual lineage of Russian Leibnizianism.
Keywords Russian Philosophy  Leibniz  Nikolai Lossky  Semyon Frank  Vladimir Solovyov  Nikolai Bugaev  Gustav Teichmüller  Alexei Kozlov  Evgeny Bobrov  Lev Lopatin
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