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Philosophical Thought

Comparative analysis of the philosophical and historical views of S.L. Frank and V.V. Zenkovsky

Chzhen Yan

Graduate student of the Department History of Philosophy, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia named after P. Lumumba (RUDN University)

117198, Russia, Moscow, Miklukho-Maklaya str., 10/2

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Abstract: The purpose of the article is a comparative analysis of the historiosophical views of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky, which were based on specific ontognoseological concepts about the essence of being and the possibilities for a creative person to comprehend it. Based on the ideas about the place and role of man in natural and socio-historical processes characteristic of Christian personalism, thinkers, interpreting the concepts of creation and the Fall in different ways, came to dissimilar conclusions about the practical meanings of the cognitive and transformative activity of the individual. When conducting the study, comparative analysis methods were used, which involved a reasoned and consistent identification of the similarities and differences in the historiosophical positions of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky, as well as hermeneutical methods used to better understand the semantic content of their texts. The author of the article, having consistently examined the views of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky on evolution, social utopianism, conciliarity, on the place and role of the Church in the socio-historical process and on the eschatological perspective of humanity, comes to the conclusion that, despite the fact that both philosophers have significant disagreements regarding their solution to the problem of theodicy, the theme of overcoming evil in the world is fundamental for their philosophical and historical constructions. However, due to the incompatibility of their ideological approaches, the difference in the ontognoseological ideas of philosophers about the types of connection between the Absolute and the created world (essential and beneficial) and about the cognitive capabilities of man affected their understanding of both the goal of historical development and the methodology for achieving it.


Semyon Ludwigovich Frank, Vasily Vasilievich Zenkovsky, historiosophy, ontognoseology, eschatology, theodicy, panentheism, transcendentalism, utopianism, evolution

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.



The subject of the article is the philosophical and historical concepts of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky, the formation of which was significantly influenced by their ontognoseological ideas, primarily the peculiarities of the philosophers' interpretation of the Christian concepts of creation and the fall. The difference between panentheism and transcendentalism as fundamental worldviews affected the specific understanding of the human soul, spirituality, creativity, semantic guidelines in the life of an individual and in social history by thinkers. If Frank's answers to life-meaning questions, while remaining generally in the context of the Christian tradition, were nevertheless conditioned by the concepts of "personal revelation" and the essential similarity of the Absolute and the world, including man, which was dictated by the influence on the thinker of a transformed, but persisting pantheistic worldview, Zenkovsky's anthropology and historiosophy were they are centered on the concepts of original sin and creation, which were originally characteristic of the traditional Christian understanding of the relationship between God and the world/man, emphasizing the otherness of the Absolute of both the created world and the human personality, capable of multidirectional creative activity, but discovering true freedom only "in the light of Christ", and not by independently diving into the depths of absolute reality, even if it is carried out with the gracious help of God. In his teaching on "spiritual life", S. L. Frank argued that the human soul is not just involved in absolute reality, it is this reality, concretely and actually limited, but at the same time not limited in any way potentially, "merging" in its depth with the absolute unity in which spiritual life opens to it [1 V. V. Zenkovsky noted the inherent impersonalist motives of this doctrine, which is a direct consequence of the concept of unity, best expressed by Frank [2, p. 189]. If for Frank the spiritual life of a person represents the potency of his spiritual being, otherwise, the spiritual is implicitly embedded in the soul, then for Zenkovsky such a connection is not logically necessary: he believes that the soul can, consciously or not, and not join the spiritual life, understood as the realization of the original connection with God, broken at the fall.

The fall, understood in the traditional Christian aspect, is in V. V. Zenkovsky the second fundamental concept of his ontognoseology after creation, in S. L. Frank we see the denial of the dogmatic doctrine of the original sin of mankind, as a result of which sin becomes quite a "normal" phenomenon for empirical life, and it is characteristic that sin itself does not contradict It is considered by the thinker as a necessary element neither for empirical existence nor for absolute reality, it is present only in human consciousness, being a "disease" of personality [3, p. 353]. Thus, Frank closes the way for himself to an adequate solution to the problem of theodicy: by refusing to understand sin as an immanent element of objective reality, he, solving the problem of the origin of evil, is forced to deduce it not from sin as an improper state of man and the world, but from nature itself – this means understanding the Creator himself as the source of evil the world, which has not been completely overcome by the thinker. To get out of the emerging complex cognitive situation, S. L. Frank offers an original conceptualization of creative activity, considering the creativity of God by analogy with human creativity. The essence of creativity, in his opinion, consists in the disclosure of form in the material, in the endowment of the spiritual with flesh, and this process has a dramatic character. God creates not only the world, but also creators, people who participate with him in the realization of the creative process that takes place in time. The difference between the creativity of God and man is only that in the first case the material is "assumed" by the Absolute from itself, in the second this material is already given for creative transformation. The philosopher finds the origins of evil in this material for creativity (in the "pure potentiality of being"), in its "spontaneous dynamism" and "chaotic disorder" [3, p. 426]. The resistance of the material gives the creative process a tragic character, Frank even thinks that the "first sketch" of God's creativity on earth, in which man participates, may not succeed here, and further actualization of pure potentiality may be transferred to another place in the universe. Thus, the philosopher's "responsibility" for evil in the world is extrapolated from free subjects to the spontaneous dynamism of the material, and the very meaning of responsibility is lost: evil "dissolves" in the world itself, there is no one to ask for it. Moreover, God implicitly becomes the source of evil, assuming material from himself, and He also opposes him in the dramatic creative process, shaping the material, spiritualizing the flesh with the help of "kindred" "created creators" [3, pp. 343-344]

As the reason that S. L. Frank did not adequately understand the idea of Christian anthropology about original sin, and the concept of evil was considered by him in isolation from the concept of sin, V. V. Zenkovsky rightly pointed to the monism of his philosophical system, which does not disappear even due to the introduction of the concept of "monodualism" [4, p. 468]. Monistic systems are characterized by the search for evil in the very foundation of the universe, accordingly, evil is substantialized in them, and Frank did not escape this. Zenkovsky himself does not substantialize evil, but also does not subjectivize it, does not try to present it as only a human invention; evil in the philosopher is quite objective, having its own specific carriers, the most important characteristic of which is the presence of freedom, and this approach to the theodicy as a whole fits into the framework of the Eastern Christian tradition.

In order to conduct a comparative analysis of the philosophical and historical views of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky, we first consider the general features of Christian religious and philosophical personalism, then compare the views of thinkers on evolution and the resulting attitude to socio-utopian theories, as well as on the phenomenon of conciliarity, on the place and role of the Church in socio-historical the process and the eschatological perspective of humanity.


         Human Salvation as a "Transistorical" Goal in Christian Personalism


In his work "The Meaning of Life", written for Russian emigrant youth, S. L. Frank poses, perhaps, the main philosophical question for every person, regardless of his social status: "Is it possible to renew a common life without knowing for yourself what you are living for and what eternal, objective meaning has life in its entirety?" [5, p. 16]. Being, like V. V. Zenkovsky, a prominent representative of religious and philosophical personalism, the thinker, when analyzing social realities, always proceeded from the premise of the interdependence of the social and personal. The most important feature of any personality is its ability to creative activity, which is impossible without its freedom, because creativity is nothing more than the realization of its inner motives, ideas, desires in an external socio-natural environment for a person, a realization that leads to the transformation of this environment, to the introduction of a new one into it, which was not previously. The personality is called upon to creatively assimilate and process the "material" directly given to it, and it is on the realization of this vocation that the socio-historical process is based. What is significant here is that, on the one hand, individuals in the process of their creative activity form what we call society, on the other hand, it is impossible to imagine the formation of a personality outside of society, providing conditions for its formation, i.e., a person's continuous perception of the socio–cultural tradition, conditioning its meaningful inclusion in "common life", renewal which, indeed, is impossible without a clear awareness of the meaning of a person's own life.

         According to G. V. Florovsky's apt remark: "... history in its essence is the history of people in their creative communication and interaction" [6, p. 11]. V. V. Zenkovsky expresses full ideological solidarity with him, arguing that: "The historical process is primarily a process of spontaneous crystallization in humanity as a whole and in individual peoples of various creative phenomena" [7, p. 217]. The characteristic of the crystallization of creative phenomena as a "spontaneous" process is noteworthy. It would seem that what significance can a person's understanding of the meaning of his own life, necessary for purposeful social development, have if the historical process, the essence of which is the integration of personal creative efforts, is ultimately elemental? The philosopher explains the difficulty that arises, and thus, it seems, justifies the most important position for religious personalism. He writes: taken purely empirically, the philosophy of history is, of course, a simple mixture of facts unrelated to each other, and this shows the "indifference" of the historical stream to what is happening in it, but it follows that history "does not exist by itself and for itself, its "meaning" is somewherethat is from the outside" [7, pp. 222-223], and he reveals himself to us in the "Sacred History", which provides guidelines for understanding earthly history through Craft. From the point of view of Christianity, the meaning of the peculiar content of the historical process lies in the fact that humanity, united before God, is "moving towards salvation" [7, p. 218]. We find full compliance with this idea of "Sacred History", the most important for Christian personalism, which guides the course of eventful history, even if we are not fully aware of it, in M. Eliade's work "Sacred and Secular", written a little later. The Romanian philosopher, criticizing the "historicism" that has developed as a product of the decomposition of Christian teaching and based on the utopian idea of social progress, which attaches decisive importance to a historical event in itself, opposes Christian historiosophy to it, unlike the "historicist" philosophy of history, which results "not in any philosophy, but in the theology of history, since interference The introduction of God into History, and especially the Incarnation of Jesus Christ into a historical person, has a transhistorical goal: the Salvation of man" [8, p. 306].

         However, historiosophy, which interprets the historical process based on the presence of moments of epiphany ("theophany") in it, faces an intractable problem: how can history combine the actions of God that give it meaning and human freedom, without the affirmation of which religious and philosophical personalism is impossible? If human creativity is nothing more than a spontaneous process of crystallization of individual creative efforts, even if guided by Providence, does personality generally affect the course of history? Is there at least a particle of human goal-setting in the latter and, accordingly, the goal-realization carried out by society? It should be noted that this problem is not at all new to Christian theology, and not the worst minds of mankind have been making efforts to solve it for centuries, often falling under fatalistic "temptations". There is no unambiguous answer to the questions initiated by this problem, and there cannot be, since here we are dealing with antinomy, which implies the possibility of a well–founded choice of opposite answers, depending on the "angles" of consideration of the problem.

         Generally recognized in solving the problem of the correlation in the eventful history of human freedom and divine necessity should be considered an indication of the illegality of mixing the categories of historical time in which man acts and eternity, in which God really foresees the future, even the final state of humanity, but such as it will become as a result of the free, creative activity of an innumerable multitude of personalities. According to the fair remark of V. S. Solovyov, made by him in the article "The first step towards positive aesthetics", a concrete and real idea of the final state of humanity is not available to us, since "the very concept of an absolutely final state as the conclusion of a temporary process contains logical difficulties that can hardly be eliminated." However, such an idea, in general, is not necessary, because in order for a person to participate quite consciously and meaningfully in the socio-historical process, it is enough for her to develop a general concept of its direction, "about that, mathematically speaking, the limit value, which is undoubtedly and continuously approaching the variables of human progress"; at the same time, the philosopher optimistically stated: "... the resultant of history goes from cannibalism to humanity, from disenfranchisement to justice and from the hostile separation of private groups to universal solidarity" [9, pp. 550-551].

         We see that Christian personalistic historiosophy precisely gives an ideal idea of the "ultimate magnitude" expressed in the eschatology of "Sacred History" as the transformation of the world, overcoming its sinful state, and therefore as the salvation of man, as both V. V. Zenkovsky and M. Eliade pointed out. But after all, you may not know about the weighty logical arguments cited by V. S. Solovyov, or you may not pay attention to them, and then try to determine the ultimate goals of history with the efforts of your own mind – this is how all social utopias arose, and some of them found their fanatical fans who began to change the world according to purely human plans. Frank, who fundamentally rejected utopianism as the antipode of Christian realism, understood it as "a kind of heresy, a way of distorting truth and peace" [10, p. 14], and wittily wrote about "utopian self-will": "The heresy of utopianism can ... be defined in the closest way as a distortion of the Christian idea of saving the world through the intention to carry out this salvation by the coercive force of the law" [11, p. 79]. The philosopher had to go through severe trials associated with direct experience of life in the conditions of practical implementation of social utopias, however, according to the correct observation of F. Bubbaier, for all his distrust of socio-utopian projects and in the absence of illusions about the state of the world, Frank, firstly, "reminds again and again how important it is to keep unconditional devotion to the good," and, secondly, which is very remarkable, he does not lose his conviction that "the laity should first of all rebuild the world on truly Christian grounds ..." [12, p. 236]. Thus, on the one hand, he irreconcilably condemns "utopian self-will", on the other hand, he sees the source of beneficial and necessary changes for the world not so much in the Church, but, again, in the bearers of reason prone to error, however, Frank clarifies that the function of the laity should be prophetic, based on on Divine revelation.

         It is significant that all utopian teachings present themselves as exceptionally humane, but if a historical chance for their realization falls, they end up with widespread "dehumanization of man." Let's try to figure out why this is happening? Let's agree with V. S. Solovyov that the "resultant" of history really goes "from cannibalism to humanity." Is this due to the conscious addition of the creative efforts of all the personalities involved in the historical process, or was V. V. Zenkovsky right when he insisted on the spontaneity of the crystallization of individual personal efforts? L. A. Tikhomirov, who also adhered to personalistic beliefs, wrote that the activity of a set of approximately equivalent people develops "as some resultant of this multitude of constituent forces," as a result of which the social environment inevitably becomes "very, on average, low compared with the aspirations of its best people. And this circumstance is absolutely inevitable, forever inevitable." It is caused by the fact that: "In society there is no single personality that would merge in itself, as separate parts, the psychological forces of all individuals, giving them an ideal order of relations" [13, p. 68]. No matter how talented the author of another utopia may be, due to the great variety of personal manifestations in society, he will always express only the interests of a certain group, but not the whole of humanity, as a result of which the final realization of social utopias becomes simply impossible: the initial theory will necessarily be corrected by the practice of social life, being distorted at the same time and gradually discrediting himself. This means that the real source of the historical "resultant", if there is one, of course, should be sought not in empirical reality itself, but beyond it, in the metaphysical field – about this logic, as it seems, was guided by representatives of religious and philosophical personalism.


         The specifics of understanding evolution by S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky


         However, despite the common ideological roots and ideological attitudes of personalistic historiosophical concepts, their conceptualization took place in various ways, often generating irreconcilable contradictions, and the philosophical and historical work of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky becomes a good illustrative example of this. The divergences of thinkers begin already in their understanding of the essence of the evolutionary process as such. According to Frank, evolution "is not a movement in a straight line into some previously unknown distance, but as if the deployment in a temporary order of what is already primordial in the plan of eternity" [3, p. 243]. This understanding of evolution differs somewhat from both traditional Christian theological views and Zenkovsky's ideas, in which what we call evolution is the gradual realization in the created world of the "divine plan" related to it (providentialism) - the plan that exists in the thoughts of God, and in this, it would seem, there is no contradiction with Frank's reasoning. A contradiction arises about, if I may say so, the methodology of implementing this plan: in Frank's case, an "object-free", non-personalized absolute reality "creates itself" [3, p. 243], although it is difficult to imagine how an impersonal Absolute can set goals and achieve them. A pantheistic trend is clearly visible here, and the synergy of the creative process, which necessarily presupposes conscious human participation in the implementation of the divine plan, is either not taken into account at all, or at least is put out of brackets, especially when it comes to the evolution of nature.

         Meanwhile, the traditional Christian worldview is characterized by the conviction that a person is given the opportunity not only to change his own consciousness (as indicated by the Greek term "metanoia", which is not semantically fully translated as repentance), but also to transform his inner nature, thereby influencing the external natural environment. V. V. Zenkovsky, for example, for this reason divorced the concepts of human nature and his personality, arguing that the type of person manifests itself precisely in his nature, and not in personality. This happens "because of the decisive uniqueness, uniqueness, and irreplaceability of the personality as such, rooted in the metaphysical sphere." Human nature is a typically empirical expression of it, conditioning individuality. Although personality and its nature do not exist without each other, however, it is illegal to identify them; personality is free in relation to its nature, representing an inner core in a person, potentially containing the possibility of changing its nature (type). Biological heredity and social traditions, of course, affect the type of person, however, we ourselves "more or less" make ourselves – nature changes when a person seeks its changes" [14, p. 178].

         It should be noted that S. L. Frank does not at all accept the firmly established understanding of evolution as a progressive movement "from the lowest to the highest", he substantiates the idea according to which: "In contrast to the logically untenable attitude of ordinary "evolutionism", it must be remembered that the highest cannot flow from the lowest, as such, and that Therefore, it is necessary not to explain the higher form from the lower, but, on the contrary, to understand the lower as a rudimentary and vague state of the higher" [15, p. 641]. Of course, this is not an infrequent "involutionism" found in natural science discourse, which turns traditional evolutionist ideas "upside down", rather, we are talking here about the application, if possible, of "entelechism" to the theory of evolution: higher forms are not given initially in empirical reality, but they are still present as The "plan" for all developing subjects is absolute in reality. The subjectless nature of this reality does not allow the interpretation of a multitude of entelechies as elements of the totality of "God's thoughts about the world", according to V. V. Zenkovsky, the life of the world should be understood as "a combination of creative efforts "from below" with what guides this life from above. ... it is enough to think about the general picture of living existence in order to feel with irresistible force a certain guiding principle in the evolution of the world" [7, p. 253]. This guiding principle is personal and active for him, and it expects the same personal activity from people, as a result of which evolution acquires a completely meaningful character for the philosopher, not only in the absolute aspect, but also from the point of view of human relativity and limitation. If Zenkovsky's historiosophy can rightfully be characterized as theistic eschatology, then Frank's historiosophy, despite the philosopher's self-alienation from the traditional understanding of evolutionism, can still be designated by the term "pantheistic evolutionism", in which eschatology is also present, but the goal is not only given in it "from time immemorial", it is, importantly, a priori consisting in a multitude of entelechies, it is immanent to the world, to describe the "unfolding" of which the thinker prefers to use the category of emanation, "expiration", which occurs in accordance with an a priori and well–defined task, while making significant changes to the historiosophical sequence "creation – fall – Incarnation/redemption - transfiguration", traditional for Christian theology.  


         Conciliarity: a social category or an attribute of church life?


For S. L. Frank's historiosophy, the concept of conciliarity is important, while he resolutely "secularizes" it: if A. S. Khomyakov and I. V. Kireevsky, like most Russian metaphysicians, preserve the semantic connection between conciliarity and church life to one degree or another, then in Frank's case we can talk about almost complete "the "worldliness" of the meaning of this concept. Thus, he characterizes conciliarity as "we are a worldview", which represents the "organic unity of the human community" [16, pp. 179-180]. At the same time, the philosopher points out that genuine conciliarity is feasible "only in a religious understanding of life and religious will, since the unity of universalism and individualism required by such a worldview is based on the last depths of spiritual existence and on their living comprehension" [16, p. 160]. However, the individualistic accents of his own philosophical system do not allow Frank to think about the possibility of implementing conciliar "unity in diversity" only in the Church; he insistently and in many ways rightly repeats that "the most adequate definition of the Christian faith is that it is the religion of the individual" [15, p. 576], but at the same time does not attach a fundamental the importance of the Church in the functioning of this, in his words, deeply personalistic and anthropological religion. Moreover, it can be argued that if ecclesiology is one of the most important ontognoseological, anthropological and historiosophical topics for V. V. Zenkovsky, then S. L. Frank almost ignores it, although, of course, he does not avoid it at all, which would be unthinkable for a Christian philosopher.

Arguing that the generally accepted terminology that distinguishes such concepts as the "visible" and "invisible" church is rather vague, S. L. Frank prefers to talk about the "empirically real" church and the "essentially mystical" church, and the nature of the first church is determined by other, often opposite signs than the nature of the second: "It is not it is comprehensive, but limited ..., it does not possess an essential, inseparable and indestructible unity ..., it is not holy, but, on the contrary, like everything purely empirically earthly, it is burdened with sinfulness" [15, pp. 699-701]. This, we must admit, is fundamentally different from the dogmatic, patristic and canonical ideas about the Church, from the understanding, the validity of which was argued by many Russian metaphysicians. When a Christian expounds the Symbol of his confession, he, among other things, speaks of faith in the "one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" [17, p. 6], by which he means not only the "essentially mystical" Church, but also the "empirically real" one that realizes in the world, steeped in sinfulness, ideals of unity and holiness. This is indicated by V. V. Zenkovsky, introducing into his discourse the concept of the "general historical projection of the Church", meaning by it a living and effective force emanating from the mystical organism of the Church, but at the same time embodied in the "fabric of history" as a defining principle for it, which can be called the "spirit" of a particular historical Church. He writes that if we really want to comprehend the action of the Church in history, we must, first of all, "capture the very spirit of this or that historical Church, capture and understand those common historical principles that manifested and embodied the mystical fullness of the Church. The mystical Body of Christ, created in history, the mystical organism of the Church is one and integral, but the historical forms of individual Churches are diverse and dissimilar primarily and most of all in their "spirit"" [18, p. 88]. Conciliarity as unity in a variety of private manifestations for Zenkovsky is not a common property of social organisms, but an integral attribute of the Church, both "invisible" and "visible", this is its "catholicity" (integrity, universality) manifested in history. In affirming this thesis, the philosopher is very categorical, because for him, outside the historical Church (including the pre-Christian Church), a person cannot be realized at all, because: "... a person outside of direct connection with Christ, with the Church is empty," and there is a certain mystery in human freedom, "which is solved only through life in the Church" [19, p. 437]. In the context of Frank's reflections, the "empirically real" church appears only as a structure that effectively promotes a person's perception of grace and preserves the experience of such perception developed over the centuries. The emphasis here is shifted to the "personal revelation" of the Absolute to man, therefore the importance of prophetic activity increases enormously and becomes decisive in the history of mankind. Referring to the principle of universal priesthood, characteristic of traditional Christianity, according to which all its participants officiate in the liturgy, the thinker argues that it "includes the principle of universal prophecy", because "God tells each person something new that has not yet been said to others"; therefore, the soul living in one universally recognized, "positive revelation", and "deaf to the call of God addressed to her personally, she would already be disobedient to God, would no longer perform the service to which she was called" [15, p. 698].

Thus, in S. L. Frank, conciliar unity turns from an integral characteristic of the life of the Church into a general category of social philosophy, which determines the "vital content of the personality itself. It is not an external environment for her, objectively perceived and standing in relation to external interaction with a person. It is not an object of abstract objective knowledge and utilitarian-practical attitude, but rather a kind of spiritual nourishment, which the personality lives inwardly, its wealth, its personal property" [20, p. 61]; and if the effect of conciliarity is diminished, then this is perceived by the personality as impoverishment of itself, as some kind of "deprivation". Note that such an understanding of conciliarity is dictated by the ontognoseological ideas of the philosopher, according to which: "Being is an all-unity in which everything particular is and is conceivable precisely through its connection with something else – ultimately with something else" [21, p. 218]. Personality is only a part of the totality, and it must be thought of in ontological connection with the entire absolute reality. Conciliarity is such a connection, "spiritual nourishment", through its perception it is possible to elevate a person to the Absolute, to acquire knowledge, which is also "essentially conciliatory, it can only be possessed by humanity as a collective whole, and every individual is a participant in this collective knowledge" [15, p. 542].

As N. V. Motroshilova rightly notes, S. L. Frank makes one of the grounds for determining social existence the "fact" that "society is real and alive, that is, it exists only because individual individuals are alive, act and interact," however, he resolutely rejects theoretical individualism based solely on this a fact and neglecting other aspects of social ontology: "For there is another fact: social reality (and it was created and animated, of course, by concrete living people) also exists in numerous non-individual, super-individual forms" [22, pp. 366-367]. Therefore, conciliarity has a special meaning for the philosopher, it is understood by him as "the ontological, inner essence of human communication, which does not coincide with the external, empirical picture of social life" [22, p. 358].

According to S. L. Frank, conciliarity is rooted in the most absolute reality, therefore it becomes the foundation of social life; the "spiritual nourishment" of the individual is carried out, therefore, not only in the Church or through the Church, it is available to her as her own ontological foundation. This view, which is not typical of traditional Christian ideas, was sharply denied by V. V. Zenkovsky, who directly linked conciliarity with the Church and believed that the development of the "potentiality of conciliarity" entirely depends on the realization of human freedom: "Conciliarity, enclosed in the Church, is the living fullness of the multitude and its concrete unity – everything can be saved through The Church, that is, to find its place in eternity. But this salvation through the Church is impossible without free appeal to it: there is no conciliarity if there is no freedom... but there is no freedom if we are completely separated from each other..." [23, p. 178]. Freedom, he wrote, could not have arisen in the order of evolution, it is a real gift from God, "it is non–derivative and unconditional, but it becomes a real force in us only in unity with the Deity" [24, p. 279]. From Zenkovsky's point of view, conciliarity, of course, is gradually actualized in social life, but only to the extent that society connects itself with the Church, more precisely, to the extent that it becomes a Church, becomes a Church.


The eschatological perspective


A comparative analysis of the historiosophical constructions of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky would not be complete without comparing their eschatological concepts, because eschatology is the central element of the philosophical and historical system, conceptualizing its author's attitude to historical goal-setting, conditioned, first of all, by one or another vision of the goal – the ultimate point of natural and social development, "eschaton"(translated from Greek – "the last thing"). This attitude directly determines the semantic content of all other elements of the system, both the selection of methods for achieving the desired goal, the development of strategies and tactics for guided and conscious socio-historical development, and the formation of an appropriate system of values that are really necessary for a person and society to move in the right direction depend on it.

It would seem that the eschatological views of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky should not differ much from each other, because they were conditioned by the Christian worldview common to thinkers, however, when detailing these views, a strong influence of significantly different ontognoseological ideas is revealed on them, which predetermined significant discrepancies. Thus, in full agreement with the traditional understanding of the "eschaton", S.L. Frank writes: "The Christian consciousness rightly assumes that this final victory (of good over evil – Ya.Ch.) will be rather unexpected and sudden, following the apparent defeat of God's forces in the unbridling of the forces of evil and chaos." But he further clarifies that such an assumption is true in the aspect of the temporality of the world, but in the metaphysical plan, "this ultimate goal of universal existence must be thought of as supermodern, which in our human language, subordinated to the category of time, is expressible only in the form that this victory has already been accomplished in the metaphysical depths of being and only has to bear fruit, to open up in an empirical way" [3, pp. 431-432]. There is still nothing in this reasoning that contradicts tradition, and, apparently, Zenkovsky would agree with Frank here, believing that: "In the metaphysical change of the universe that came with the Incarnation of God, there is already the beginning of a "new earth"" [7, p. 275]. Indeed, for the eternity of the Absolute, the "eschaton" is already an accomplished phenomenon, moreover, the empirical nature of humanity, according to Christian dogmatics, was transformed by the fact that it was perceived and subsequently ascended to eternity by the incarnate God, and thus a free path to salvation by grace was opened for every person.

However, S. L. Frank, thinking of the ultimate goal of being supermodern, as a result of the "immanentization of the transcendent" characteristic of the philosopher, represents its gradual realization (as we found out earlier, realization not in the evolutionary sense, but, if possible, in the "entelechic") in the empirical world as a long and tragic creative process, in which God and man participate in, while, according to his point of view, we can only be sure of one thing – the final victory of good is assured, but how and when this happens is an unsolvable mystery for humanity: "In an eschatological perspective, an alarming consequence can be deduced from the differentiable unity of God with creation in the face of the atrocities of world history: although the final victory of God over all opposing forces will be realized only "after a long and difficult struggle full of dramatic vicissitudes," God the Creator himself still follows this "difficult, suffering path" up to his final triumph" [25, p. 206], participating in the world being in its perfection. It is characteristic that Frank had a negative attitude to the literal understanding of the dogma of God's judgment, he preferred to say that: "... man judges and condemns himself, but God is concerned only with his salvation. Or, what is the same thing, the verdict of the God-judge is pronounced inside the human soul itself through the voice of his own conscience, but from this inexorable verdict a person can still appeal to the God of mercy and salvation, and this highest, last instance responds to this call with forgiveness, love and salvation" [15, pp. 581-582]. Thus, the culmination of Christian eschatology, the Last Judgment, was completely rejected by him, moreover, the "eschaton" itself, according to Frank, can be thought of as not having been realized due to the failure of God's creativity and transferred to another point in the universe.

Thus, it can be argued that in S. L. Frank's eschatology we are not talking about God's direct participation in the transformation of the world and the achievement of the ultimate goal of history, but only about His participation in this process, which does not detract from human freedom. Humanity, the philosopher believes, must "grow to heaven" quite independently, although not without the help of grace, and this is possible only when it is "rooted in this heaven from the very beginning, through the depths of the spiritual and historical soil" [26, p. 136]. Of course, only the denial of the dogma of the original sin of mankind and a specific understanding of the dogma of the creation of the world, bordering on its rejection, can lead to such conclusions, as V. V. Zenkovsky repeatedly and rightly pointed out from a Christian point of view. For the latter, not only human freedom and God's help in the form of grace play a decisive role in history, but also a miracle as a direct intervention of the transcendent Absolute in the course of world events; he expands the concept of grace, through the "currents" of which direct participation (and not complicity) is expressed God in the life of the world, arguing that it "embraces in its breadth both the gracious influence of God, which gives life to the world, determines the creative power of the creature, and those special, i.e. outside the "order" established from time immemorial by the Lord, actions that are embraced by the concept of a miracle" [7, pp. 269-270]. Zenkovsky, fully accepting the dogma of original sin, considers it as a "tragic disharmony" introduced into the created world, "which entered the world in acts of freedom first in the angelic and then in the human world" and must be eliminated at the end of history: only then "another existence will come ("a new heaven and novaya zemlya”)..." [7, p. 301]. Without the tragic ordeal endured by the world and man, "freedom would not be freedom" [7, p. 302], and, importantly, humanity itself cannot overcome the consequences of the fall, this requires God's direct intervention in history, in which not only evil multiplies, but also good increases, as noted in the Gospel parable of the Sower and His harvest.




Thus, despite the existence of significant disagreements between S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky about their understanding of the problem of theodicy, for both philosophers the theme of overcoming evil in the world is fundamental to their philosophical and historical constructions united by the spirit of Christian personalism. The eschatological perspective of Russian metaphysicians is conditioned by the final goal, which they understand as the salvation of man and the transformation of the world, however, if Frank considers the process of achieving this goal in the aspect of evolutionary "entelechism", which presupposes the presence of a goal in potency already at the beginning of the process of historical development, then Zenkovsky tends to understand this process as a combination of creative efforts "from below" with a guiding, a guiding force "from above".

The most important difference between the historiosophical concepts of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky is their understanding of the role of the Church in metaphysical ("Sacred") and empirical history. Firstly, Frank refuses to recognize the unity and sanctity of the "empirically real" church, thereby decisively separating it from the "essentially mystical" church; Zenkovsky firmly connects the historical and mystical Churches, considering the former a "common projection" of the latter. Secondly, Frank "secularizes" the concept of conciliarity, making it predominantly social, moreover, asserts the rootedness of conciliarity in the most absolute reality; Zenkovsky, on the contrary, tends to apply this concept only in the context of church life. And, finally, thirdly, Frank gives the historical church, first of all, the function of protecting traditions, and understands its sacraments as an effective means of receiving gracious help from God, while emphasizing the role of "prophets" based on personally received revelations; Zenkovsky does not think of a way to save humanity outside the empirical, earthly A church inextricably linked in unity with the Church of Heaven.

When comparing the eschatological views of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky, it turns out that the first philosopher thinks of the ultimate goal of being as supermodern, entelechically realized in the empirical world in a long and tragic creative process in which God and man participate, and we do not know the vicissitudes of this process, but we can be sure of one thing – the final the victory of good over evil; the second believes in the coming of the "end of history" only after the parousia, the second coming of Christ, after God's direct intervention in the course of earthly events, as a result of which the "tragic disharmony" introduced into the world by original sin will be eliminated.   

So, despite the obvious similarities caused by the common Christian worldview of the philosophers, significant discrepancies are revealed in their historiosophical constructions caused by the difference in their ontognoseological views. This vividly reflects the important principle of building any philosophical system, according to which all its parts must be mutually conditioned, together forming an organic whole.




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The reviewed article is devoted to the works of S.L. Frank and V.V. Zenkovsky, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to define the subject of the article more precisely. The author himself does not explicitly speak about either the subject or the objectives of the study, while the wording "ontognoseological foundations of historiosophical views" in the title is extremely vague. What are the "ontognoseological foundations", and how exactly do they influence the formation of the "historiosophical views" of thinkers? Although nominally there is an introduction in the text, but it does not fulfill its functions, the author immediately puts forward the position about the "influence" of the mentioned elements of the teachings of Russian philosophers as something taken for granted. It should be said that despite the presence of subheadings, the reviewed material is an unstructured text, since it is impossible to detect any plot in the presentation, and it seems that nothing will change if arbitrarily selected fragments are swapped. An even more significant disadvantage is the uncertainty that arises due to the fact that the author either considers the two thinkers as a single whole, trying to say something about them as representatives of a single line of thought that stands out against the background of Russian religious philosophy, or suddenly begins to describe the differences that appear in their teachings. The only way to overcome these shortcomings is a clear formulation of the subject and objectives of the study, only in this case the author would be able to arrange the material he collected in such a way as to see a naturally developing storyline. But what the plot of the article should turn out to be depends only on the decision of the author himself, on the basis of the presented material it is difficult to understand exactly what he was trying to say (unfortunately, the conclusion is also written extremely indistinctly, it is difficult to understand exactly what results were obtained). Perhaps the author should try to highlight in the introduction the main assessments that have already been given by other researchers on the issues he has raised, and this would help him understand how to "organize" the material he has collected. It should be noted that the author cites quite a lot of sources (however, only domestic and translated ones), but does it "chaotically", the reader, based on the quotations and remarks given, will not be able to understand exactly how the studied thinkers are evaluated in domestic, especially foreign literature. Stylistic remarks also arise in the process of reading, but they recede into the background before the shortcomings regarding the organization and structure of the text. Based on the above, it has to be stated that in the presented form the reviewed work cannot be published in a scientific journal, the author has collected significant material, but this material must be thoroughly thought out, summarized and structured, only in this case it can become a scientific article. I recommend sending the reviewed material for revision.

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The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The subject of the article "Comparative analysis of the philosophical and historical views of S.L. Frank and V.V. Zenkovsky" is the views on history, man and the Church of S. L. Frank and V. V. Zenkovsky. At the very beginning of the article, the author expresses the thesis that the formation of these views was significantly influenced by the "ontognoseological ideas" of philosophers. By this not entirely successful term, the author means "the peculiarities of philosophers' interpretation of the Christian concepts of creation and the fall." The research methodology used in the study by the author himself is defined as comparative, however, it would be fairer to call it comparative-descriptive, since the main focus of the article is on clarifying the nuances of Christian-personalistic attitudes of Russian philosophers, whose positions are quite close. The author does not use a historical approach to the consideration of the worldview positions of Frank and Zenkovsky, the evolution of their views or the socio-historical context of their formation. He is confident that the understanding and interpretation of the philosophical ideas of these philosophers can be carried out based on the divergence of "ontognoseological views", since the most important principle of understanding any philosophical system is the interdependence of its parts, which "together form an organic whole". The relevance of the study is not obvious. The author does not explain either his interest in the topic of comparing the historiosophical constructions of Frank and Zenkovsky, nor the reasons why today's reader may be interested in the peculiarities of understanding by philosophers of a century ago the issues of religious interpretation of history. The scientific novelty is also not obvious, especially since the author does not fit his research into the experience of studying the philosophical heritage of Frank and Zenkovsky. Russian Russian Philosophy, Russian religious philosophy, and the philosophy of the Russian Unity, the author mentions only the study of Motroshilova N. V., which is obviously not enough. The style of the article is typical for scientific publications in the field of the history of philosophy, it focuses on reproducing the views of the studied personalities and minimizes direct citation. The structure and content fully correspond to the stated problem. The structure of the article is based on the rondo principle. The author begins by stating a hypothesis about the dependence of Frank and Zenkovsky's understanding of history on "ontognoseological attitudes" and ends with the same. There is no significant increment of theoretical thought in the text of the article. But there is a fairly detailed unfolding of this thesis through a comparison of philosophers' reflections on human salvation as a "transistorical" goal of history, the interpretation of conciliarity as a social category or attribute of church life, and the vision of an eschatological perspective. The author sees the source of the philosophers' differences in the fact that Frank leans more towards an individual interpretation of Christianity, whereas Zenkovsky adheres to a traditionally Christian position. At the same time, one cannot agree with the author of the article who claims that Frank mistakenly interprets evil as an element of world ontology, and Zenkovsky is right in recognizing it as the result of human fall, since the problem of evil has no unambiguous solution either dogmatically or theoretically. The bibliography of the article includes 26 titles of works, mainly by the analyzed authors themselves. There is no appeal to opponents in the article, which seems to be a serious drawback. Perhaps the article will be of interest to researchers of Frank and Zenkovsky's work, historians of Russian philosophy.?
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