Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 65 (4):715-735 (2003)

The Russian philosopher, poet and religious thinker Vladimir S. Solovyov is widely regarded as the most important Russian philosopher ever. The objective of this study is to investigate why this title might be justified. In doing so, it offers a general introduction to the life, thought, and works of Solovyov, with a clear accent onhis philosophical texts, and attempts to assess his status as a philosopher in the history of philosophy. As is shown, he developed a system of 'integral knowledge' on the basis of a wide range of philosophical, religious, and scientific sources. What singles out his endeavour is that he neither subordinates doing to knowing or vice versa, nor either of them to making, but incorporates all three in a philosophy of life that ascribes equal autonomous status to all three while giving pride of place to mystical experience, a form of making next to technical and fine arts, as the ultimate means through which mankind can restore the bond between God and the created world. Influential in many directions, Solovyov has also, almost single-handedly, brought Russian philosophical culture at the same level as that of Europe, thus paving the way for the lively exchange of philosophical ideas in the first decades of the 20th century, after his untimely death
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