Mezhuyev Boris: The Russian Idea as a Russian Pseudomorphosis: Spengler, Berdyaev, Tsymbursky

Speaker: Mezhuyev Boris, Moscow State University, Russia, PhD in Philosophy, Assistant Professor at the History of Russian Philosophy Section, Department of Philosophy

Topic: The Russian Idea as a Russian Pseudomorphosis: Spengler, Berdyaev, Tsymbursky

One of Spengler's salient achievements was his concept of pseudomorphosis. He used this geopolitical term to describe a culture developing in the shadow of another more powerful culture, but striving to get rid of outside influence. Russian culture, Spengler claimed, is different in its pseudomorphism, it is constantly dependent on Europe but, adopting its outer shapes, it tries to express its own substance. Europe itself is pseudomorphic to some extent, but it borrows from antiquity.

In Russian philosophy, Spengler's concept influenced two thinkers: Nikolay Berdyaev with his «Russian idea» and Vadim Tsimbursky with the theory of Russian civilisation. Both were trying to reinterpret the idea of pseudomorphosis according to their theoretical views. For Berdyaev, it was importan to stress the eschatological character of the Russian culture which makes it closer to the eschatological quest of the Middle East.

For Tsimbursky, it was critical to prove that the «insular» pattern of Russian geopolics should be supplemented by some indigenous cultural concept, free the pseudomorphosis. But is seems reasonable to approach the subject from a third viewpoint, i.e. to look at pseudomorphosis as a permanent feature of Russian cultural consciousness from which there can be no escaping.