The life of Aleksei FedorovichLosev is in many respects a genuine riddle, which we, his contemporaries, will be puzzling over for a long time. "Man as symbol," "man as myth," "a servant of truth," "the last outstanding philosopher of the Russian ‘Silver Age,"’ "the greatest Russian humanist and philosopher of the present era," "an ascetic," "a guardian of intellectual tradition," "a chosen spirit," "a passionate devotee of the dialectic method," "a Russian thinker," "one of the most notable (...) Russian philosophers and philologists of the twentieth century," "a man in whose person Russian philosophical thought revealed such power of talent, such keenness of analysis, and such strength of intuitive speculation" and whose ideas may be called "unquestionably the work of genius"—all these rapturous words of past decades which we have picked at random seem fully to confirm the felicitous destiny of Aleksei FedorovichLosev, who lived out only four months of his ninety-fifth year, after having completed an eight-volume History of Classical Aesthetics [Istoriia antichnoi estetiki] and the major work Vladimir Solov'ev and His Times [VI. Solov'ev i ego vremia], and having left a list of printed works with more than 460 titles and another whole series of writings awaiting publication—scholarly writings on mythology, logic, mathematics, and medieval dialectics, and even novels. (shrink)
The Monk Andronik, in secular life Aleksei FedorovichLosev, was born on September 23, 1893, and was named in honor of one of the Kiev-Pecherskii reverend fathers, Aleksii . He died on the memorial day of the Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas on May 24, 1988.
Aleksei FedorovichLosev did not share the hereditary Russian prejudice that science and philosophy exclude religion . Although he did not leave any specialized works in theology, the history of religion, or the foundations of the Christian worldview, many of his books, lines from letters, and fragments of conversations and, most importantly, his whole way of life and life journey show that all his life he reflected continuously and intensely on themes of the Christian faith and, primarily, of (...) the Orthodox faith that he confessed. Not only did he reflect on them, he lived by them. For Aleksei Fedorovich Christianity was never just an object of knowledge, a preoccupation of the reflective mind, but rather the profound foundation of his relationship with the world and with people. It constituted not only his thought and its foundation, but his very life. Religion, as Aleksei Fedorovich understood it, is first of all a certain kind of life, not just a personal worldview, however religious and mystical it might be. It was not a personal morality, however lofty or religious it might be, nor personal feeling or esthetics, however ardent the feeling might be or however perfectly mystical the esthetics. Religion, in his mind, is the realization of a worldview, the material substance of morality, the real affirmation of feeling; it is the life of the person directed to the persons substantial self-affirmation, to self-affirmation in eternity . In recounting the facts of Aleksei Fedorovichs spiritual biography I shall not follow their chronological order. The basic facts can be found in the works of A.A. Takho-Godi, D. Dzhokhadze, M. Gogotishvili, and others. (shrink)
No sooner had I written these incantational words than I hesitated a bit, as if sensing the skeptical smirks of those who believe that they alone are the true guardians of the legacy of our great contemporary Aleksei FedorovichLosev-an original thinker who said some things that others could not at the watershed between two epochs. A person who was persecuted for the greater part of his life but was never broken, and who drank from the cup of (...) Gulag "reforging" under the "sun of Stalin's constitution," which proclaimed good for everyone but "especially unto them who are of the household of faith". (shrink)
Aleksei FedorovichLosev's first work was published in 1916, and his last writings still continue to be published to this day. Over seventy years of a person's active scholarly work could not but contain substantial shifts and distinct periods, although at the same time they could not turn into a series of completely unconnected stages, separated by historical-biographical circumstances and semantically self-contained. The following is an outline of the initial period of Losev's creative work, with brief accompanying (...) biographical information and points of reference to the substantive and stylistic aspects of subsequent periods. It is superfluous to say that this outline in no way claims to give a full portrait of Losev; on the other hand, however, without an analysis of the initial period of his activity, one cannot pose the question of the general foundations of Losev's thought. (shrink)
The long creative career of Aleksei FedorovichLosev touches on many different spheres, currents, and traditions of world thought. The greater part of this manifold variety is divided between two major domains of culture: philosophy and classical philology, the study of antiquity. But such a division was by no means an insurmountable barrier for Losev. These two domains were linked together by many threads in his world view and in his work. One of the principal links running (...) through the whole of his creative career was the idea or intuition of total-unity [vseedinstvo], which has occupied both philosophers and investigators of antiquity. That this idea came to Losev was far from accidental. Total-unity is one of the dominant intuitions and pervasive themes of Russian religious-philosophical thought. It is at the center of the most important stage of the latter's development, the stage of the metaphysics of total-unity, with which Losev was intimately associated. And one cannot avoid it even now, either in the study of Losev's legacy or in broader reflections on the paths of Russian thought. (shrink)
A valuable gain of our times is that many fables—true, some of the most terrible ones—have become true stories, and many allegories and metaphors have become almost literal. Take this verse: today we hardly hear in it any poetic convention; everything is the commonplace reality of our age—both its brutishness and its blood, and even the gluing together of its vertebrae after various great breaks. Therefore a clear question is posed; and surely the age is coming to an end and (...) an answer is needed. So then, who was able to do it? Who managed to glue things together? Among the few names and fates that may be given in reply, one of the most indisputable is the name of Aleksei FedorovichLosev. Yes, he had occasion to do so. (shrink)
Only now can we consider that the question of genuine mythical detachment has been fully clarified. We remember how difficult it was to find the true root of this detachment. We compared mythical detachment with general material detachment and poetic detachment but could not find a satisfactory answer anywhere. All the time we have faced a difficult task: to synthesize the sensuousness, extreme con-creteness, and purely material corporeality of myth with its otherworldly, fabulous, and generally acknowledged "unreal" character. After many (...) attempts we have only now finally found this genuine synthesis in the concept of miracle. Miracle is thus an absolutely necessary dialectical synthesis by which mythical consciousness lives and without which myth itself would not exist. From this point of view, myth's relation to other areas of human creativity also appears in a new light. (shrink)
Nietzsche''s The Birth of Tragedy, andearly 20th century Russians'' interpretationsand embellishments of it, informed Losev''stheories of music and myth and his studies ofthe religions of Apollo and Dionysus. Hiscomplex musical aesthetic includes the ideathat music is the expression of a fundamentallyDionysian reality structured by Apollonianelements. In The Dialectic of Myth, heargued that myth is a dialectical necessity(not just a necessity), attacked the secularmythologies of the Enlightenment and Marxism,and upheld ``Christian mythology'''' (his term). In The Mythologies of the Greeks andRomans, (...) he traced the religions of Zeus,Apollo, and Dionysus from paleolithic Crete tothe end of the Roman Empire. (shrink)
A. F. Losev, one of the most important Russian philosophers and historians of ancient aesthetics and culture in the 20th century, develops in his ‘Dialectics of the Myth’ (Dialektika mifa), 1930, a personalistic ontology by using elements of neoplatonic philosophy and Orthodox Christian belief. According to Losev reality in all its different expressions and ontological strata must be understood as “mythical”, i.e. as “living mutual exchange of subject and object”. The subjective and personal aspect of reality is not (...) grounded in man’s epistemic relation to it alone; reality in itself has to be characterized as personal and subjective. The main philosophical opponent is Descartes, the founder of “modern rationalism and mechanism”. (shrink)
Die Philosophie des Mythos, imwesentlichen eine Aktualisierung deraltrussisch-byzantinischen Seinsauffassung undeines Verständnisses von Philosophie alsTheologie, spielt im Kontext sowjetischerKultur die Rolle eines sowohlmodernekritischen, als auch antimodernenDenkansatzes. Durch ihn wird kulturkritischnicht bloß die sowjetische Moderne, sonderndie gesamte europäisch-neuzeitlicheEntwicklung, als deren Quintessenz diesowjetische Moderne aufgefaßt und als derenAusgangspunkt die Renaissance angenommen wird,prinzipiell in Frage gestellt.
This article is devoted not only to Losev''sphilosophical works, but also to his fiction,which he created during 1930s and 1940s.Losev''s eight books of the 1920s (his``octateuch'''') combine into a single whole thatamounts to his philosophy of life and historydepicted in expressive images. At the same timeLosev''s ``octateuch'''' strikes one as having beenwritten at a single sitting and in a singlestyle, in a genre that can be identified as the``philosophical novel'''' having as much right asSpengler''s opus to be called (...) an ``intellectualnovel.'''' In his prose of the 1930s and 1940sLosev tries with artistic methods to resolvethe philosophical problems which he raised inhis works of the 1920s. Losev''s ``octateuch'''' andhis fiction are directed against thosecontemporary materialists who seek to embodyPlato''s Republic, whom he christens``soil-less nihilist idealist utopians.'''' All ofthis leads to the conclusion that Losev''sintellectual novel belongs to a definite andmore specific subgenre. It is undoubtedly ananti-utopia, full of the grotesque. In additionto its scientific and social orientation,Losev''s anti-utopia is also religious innature. Thus Losev not only depicts the realconsequences of utopian dreams, but also turnsto the ``life of the artist,'''' which is far fromany technological or social utopias but isfilled with another, no less terrifying ornihilistic utopia: that of the non-religiousexistence of the human person. Losev preservedhis anti-utopian and anti-nihilist viewsthrough his late period (1950s–1980s), despitethe care he took not to cross Sovietcensorship. Losev''s anti-utopia is the kind ofChristian realism to which he appealedthroughout his life. (shrink)
The essay juxtaposes the intellectualpreoccupations and fraught careers of two great20th-century Russian philologist-philosophers,Aleksei Losev and Mikhail Bakhtin. AlthoughLosev''s is the more crippling case, theexternal trajectory of their lives develops inrough parallel (bold, prolific productivity inthe 1920s; arrest and deportation in the1930s; slow reintegration in thepost-Stalinist era; recent revivals, cults,booms, and scandals connected with theirlegacy). What is more, the subject matterthat fascinated them often overlapped (theClassical world, the status of the Word,Dostoevsky). Still, differences overwhelm thesimilarities. The essay concludes withspeculation about (...) these two types ofphilosopher-king squandered, martyred, andelevated by their home culture. (shrink)
The two names most closely associated with phenomenology in early twentieth century Russia are Gustav Špet and Aleksej Losev. However, is that judgment warranted with regard to Losev? In just what way can we look on him as a phenomenologist? Losev himself, in the mid-1920s, employed the expression “dialectical phenomenology,” seeing phenomenology as an initial descriptive method to ascertain essences. He was sharply critical of its self-limitation in disavowing all explanation as metaphysical. Yet, earlier that decade (...) class='Hi'>Losev approved of Husserl’s opposition to reductionism and of his focus on essences and senses. In this way, the record is unclear: In the short span of a decade he moved from a position of qualified sympathy with phenomenology to an overtly unqualified insouciance. Looking at Losev’s criticisms, however, from the late 20s and early 30s, we find a logical anticipation of Husserl’s own move from a static to a genetic phenomenology. (shrink)
I identify the main underlyingcomponents of Losev''s philosophy(phenomenology, Neo-Kantianism, symbolism,onomatodoxy/imjaslavie) and undertake acomparative analysis of their similarities (theprinciple of the priority of pure sense) anddistinctive features (i.e., whether logic andnatural language are accompanied by an eideticlevel of pure sense, and whether the principleof correlation or of expression is dominant).On this basis I define the pivotal concept ofLosev''s radical project as ``eidetic language.''''The general contours of Losev''s radical projectand its neglected potential for the philosophyof language are described by means (...) of ananalysis of the relationship between eideticlanguage and logic, dialectics, myth, naturallanguage, and exterior ``reality'''' (in the worldof ``referents''''). (shrink)
In the course of his collaboration with GAKhN, whose task was to create a systemic ‘scientific’ theory of art, Losev undertook a systematic interpretation of German classical aesthetics as the historical presupposition for his own Christian, Platonist doctrine of art conceived as a dialectical universe comprising totalizing connections at all levels. This interpretation was concealed in a masterful way within the ‘Commentaries’ to Dialektika khudožestvennoj formy. Independently of the significant results achieved by this revival of the classical tradition, (...) class='Hi'>Losev’s mythologized theory of art called forth a critical reaction on the part of his GAKhN colleagues and brought to light some of the broader theoretical attitudes present among GAKhN’s collaborators. (shrink)