Philosophical thought of pre-Petrine Russia



Philosophical thought of pre-Petrine Russia

V. V. Zenkovsky, one of the most authoritative historians of Russian philosophy, put forward its anthropocentrism in the first place: “Russian philosophy is not theocentric (although a significant part of its representatives is deeply and essentially religious), not cosmocentric (although questions of natural philosophy very early attracted attention of Russian philosophers), – it is most of all occupied with the theme of man, his fate and paths, the meaning and goals of history” [4, p. sixteen]. Russian philosophy, in its own way reflecting the anthropocentrism of Russian culture, is carried away by the tragic attraction of man to two polar principles – to a temporary fluid being and the eternal world of higher values.

Every culture not only develops in time, but also localizes in space. Philosophy, being the “quintessence of culture”, is in a certain dependence on the spatial vectors of cultural existence. Formed in the ninth century Kievan Rus was geographically located in the basins of large water arteries (Volkhov, Dnieper, etc.), which were part of the main waterway from the Varangians to the Greeks . Both Varangian , and Greek elements have long been present in her culture; the first – in the political sphere, the second – in the spiritual sphere, to which philosophical thought belongs. The adoption of Christianity by Russia in 988 according to the Greek rite contributed to the enrichment of Russian culture with the achievements of Byzantine and ancient philosophical thought. At the same time, the main canonical and liturgical texts were translated into the Old Slavonic language, which from the very beginning “distanced” Russian religiosity from its spiritual “ancestral home”. Constantinople did not become for Russia what Rome was for medieval Western Europe – the center of spiritual power, the city where “all roads lead.” It remained a distant overseas epic Tsargrad, largely separated from Russian cultural realities. In the famous “Legend of the Test of Faiths” it is said that the Greek land, in fact, does not fully belong to earthly geography. With regard to the confessional , “men sent” from Vladimir Svyatoslavich, could not understand, having arrived in Greece, where they were, “in heaven or on earth”, for “God dwells there with people.” Politically , the Byzantine Empire was perceived much more realistically, as a power whose interests did not always coincide with those of Russia.

With the adoption of the world religion, Russia became one of the civilized European states, and itself became the center of Christian culture and education. At the same time, as in other medieval Christian countries, the contradictions of feudal society were reflected in the spiritual sphere through the confrontation between church orthodoxy and various heresies , both pagan and Christian (strigolniks, “Judaizers”, etc.) sense. “There is nothing surprising here,” notes A.F. Zamaleev, whose “Lectures on the History of Russian Philosophy” are widely used in this chapter, “for the baptism of Russia was carried out by force, “with fire and sword.” The people remained with the old faith for a long time, seeing in the newly arrived Christianity the religion of princes and boyars. The pagan-Magician opposition served as a social base for the penetration of general Christian heresies into Russia, which constantly accompanied the church from the first centuries of its existence” [3, p. 28].

Among those who stood at the origins of Russian philosophy, the most prominent scribe thinkers were Hilarion of Kyiv, Nikifor the Greek and Kliment Smolyatich – all three Kyiv metropolitans: one associate of Yaroslav the Wise, the other – Vladimir Monomakh, the third – Izyaslav Mstislavich.

Hilarion (end of the 10th – mid-11th centuries) was a priest at the princely church in the village of Berestovo near Kiev, then the Kiev metropolitan; after his removal from office, his further fate is unknown. He was elected metropolitan without the sanction of Constantinople, therefore, after the death of Grand Duke Yaroslav, he was removed and replaced by a protege of Constantinople.

Only one work of Hilarion has survived to our time – “The Sermon on Law and Grace”. It is dedicated to the theme of the greatness of Russia, the choice of God by its rulers – “Kagans”. According to the canons of Byzantine patristics, Hilarion developed his views on the basis of allegorical methodology, highlighting for this purpose the key concepts of the Christian religion – law and grace , the Old Testament and the New Testament. Contrary to the church scheme, which interpreted grace as the fulfillment of the law, Hilarion considered them absolutely opposite and opposed to each other. In the Bible, the law is allegorically personified by Abraham’s slave-concubine Hagar, grace is his wife Sarah, who, according to heavenly prophecy, gave birth to Abraham the son of Isaac, the father of the progenitor of the God-chosen people of Jacob-Israel. Law is alien to the idea of the highest good – freedom, it is completely immersed in everyday life, in the bustle of earthly passions. He does not ennoble, does not purify, but only breeds envy and lawsuits, anger and crimes; gives little, not knowing the eternal. For Hilarion, it is obvious that grace, by abolishing the law, leads thereby to the destruction of slavery. The Old Testament is replaced by the New, slavery is replaced by freedom. This is the essence of the development of human history. Thus, in the interpretation of Hilarion, Christianity became the doctrine of freedom as an organic state of mankind. This was contrary to the official postulates of church ideology, but it was in full accordance with the moral principles of early Christianity. Hilarion opened before Russian philosophy a wide path of original searches, defining its historiosophical (that is, related to the search for the spiritual and moral meaning of history) orientations.

Another prominent representative of pre-Petrine philosophical thought was Nikephoros , an Asia Minor Greek who led the Russian Church in 1104–1120. Following the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, Nicephorus singled out three parts, or forces, of the soul: reason (“verbal”), feeling (“furious”) and will (“desired”). The mind is older and higher than all, and the possession of it distinguishes man from the animal, endowing him with the ability to know the sky and other creatures. At the same time, one must know how to use reason correctly: it can both elevate a person to God and bring him down to the devil, who was also reasonable, but fell due to his pride. Pride led the ancient Greeks to idolatry and the deification of animals and the elements. This predisposition of the mind to good and evil is due to the action of the sensual forces of the soul, which are just as dual and contradictory as the forces of the mind. Jealousy for God, and revenge for His enemies, and envy, and malicious vanity reside in them. Nikifor saw the reason for this in the unequal reliability of the “recollections” delivered by the senses. All of them – hearing, and sight, and touch, and smell, and taste – are faultless in one respect, and burdened with “sins” in another. Only sight is most true, hearing is another matter; it is most difficult to control the mind, since it perceives both the visible and the invisible. That is why many delusions are generated by hearing. Without trust, one should also treat other (besides the two named) feelings.

Therefore, according to Nicephorus, the will is especially important. It helps the mind to get rid of unnecessary “recollections” and focus on virtuous “thoughts”, primarily about the Creator, the creator of all things. In other words, it depends on the person himself whether his soul will become the image of God on earth or, falling into sins, will cast him into the underworld.

The doctrine of Nicephorus about the soul is dualistic; for him, the spiritual is in principle identical with the rational, which at the starting point, at the moment of its very birth, he completely subordinated to the will of man, to his feelings. Mental life in the understanding of Nicephorus is divided into two spheres – divine and created, heavenly and earthly. However, there is no impassable line between these spheres; they communicate with each other, complementing each other. Therefore, his non-strict dualism is quite compatible with various worldviews, both idealistic and materialistic.

The fate of Hilarion was paradoxically repeated in the fate of Kliment Smolyatich (end of the 11th – mid-12th centuries). He was also elected to the metropolitan without the permission of Constantinople and therefore was subsequently forced, after the death of his patron from power, to leave the post. Clement was the author of many “words” and teachings, but only one of his works has survived – “The Epistle to Prester Thomas.”

The ideological views of Clement were characterized by the fact that he distinguished between two kinds of knowledge of God: “graceful” and “inflow”. The first follows from faith and is available only to “saints”, the second is given by the “understanding” of divine commandments (“parables”) and is open to all mortals. Recognizing the need for philosophy to comprehend the Holy Scriptures, Clement referred to the Church Fathers, in this he was close to Hilarion. His philosophizing consisted in the allegorical interpretation of biblical images. Among them, Clement emphasized the image of Wisdom, symbolizing the Temple in Jerusalem, built by King Solomon. The Temple of Wisdom is an allegory of mankind. Divine wisdom abides in humanity, which essentially meant the anthropologization of the knowledge of God. Human knowledge in its development is capable of rising to divine wisdom. According to Clement, “inflowing” knowledge of God is revealed through “consideration” and “understanding” of the nature of things: as soon as the world was created by God, then the knowledge of the world is at the same time the comprehension of the glory and majesty of the Creator.

For this reason, the scribe-thinker focused primarily on sensory knowledge, on the connection of the soul with sensations. The soul is smart (“verbal”), but everything it possesses gives it feelings. Feelings are the support of the soul, the mind is its leader. Clement here resembles Nicephorus. For him, too, reason and feelings are not equivalent: reason is higher than feelings. In the mind, the human soul finds its unearthly existence and strives to the knowledge of the wisdom of God, hidden in the “creature”. Clement put the last point in solving the problem of the godlikeness of man, posed by the previous religious and philosophical thought of Russia.

Religious and philosophical ideas go beyond the church and book sphere. Thus, the Grand Duke of Kiev Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125) in his “Instruction” linked together religious-moral and military-political issues. As academician D.S. Likhachev noted, “a huge political topic – to reinforce the new political system with moral discipline – was resolved in the “Instruction” with amazing artistic tact”[6]. “Bishops, priests and abbots…,” says the Teaching, “with love accept their blessing and do not shy away from them… Most of all, do not have pride in your heart and mind, but let’s say: we are mortal, today we are alive, and tomorrow in coffin; this is all that you gave us, not ours, but Yours, entrusted it for a short time. <...> Going out to war, don’t be lazy, don’t rely on the governor, don’t indulge in drink or food, don’t indulge in sleep, dress up the guards yourself, and at night, having placed the soldiers on all sides, lie down, and get up early, and take off your weapons take your time… Beware of lies, and drunkenness, and fornication, because the soul perishes and the body from that. Wherever you go hiking in your lands, do not let the youths … harm either dwellings or crops, so that they do not curse you. <...> And here is the end of everything for you: have the fear of God above all.

However, princely pride, as history has shown, was not at all overcome by religious and moral preaching, no matter who it came from. Horizontal bickering between the princes prevailed over the vertical – both imperious and directed to heaven. The tragic story of the 1185 campaign against the Polovtsy, poetically depicted by the unknown author of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign , prophetically warned of the inescapable dangers threatening Russia from the southern open steppe spaces – in the absence of internal unity in the power elite. As long as the warlike princes with their retinues are preoccupied, for the most part, with the conquest and division of glory and trophies, the situation is inevitable when “poor things from all countries come with victories to the Russian land.” The expression “from all countries (i.e. sides)” is a hyperbole, an artistic exaggeration. In fact, the most threatening were the southern and southeastern directions. According to A. I. Herzen, the Varangian (“Norman”) element after Vladimir, the baptizer of Russia, completely “drowned in the Slavic element” of culture [1, p. 69]. One cannot agree with this; the Varangian element was preserved, of course, not in a linguistic or narrow ethnographic sense. The chanting in the “Word” of princely exploits in the battle, in which “hot arrows fly, sabers grimly on helmets, spitting spears crackle”, whether to understand this in a pathetic or ironic way, is akin to the poetics of the North European skalds. Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich ( Saint according to the Christian faith of the Greek rite) with his political and spiritual authority only temporarily muffled this Varangian element. That is why the author of the Lay expresses regret that “that old Vladimir cannot be nailed to the mountains of Kiev” (that is, to have forever on the throne of Kiev).

The drift of the power center and population in the northeast direction was a kind of response to this threat. This historical movement in space ultimately led to the actualization of not longitude (North-South), but latitudinal (East-West) coordination of the civilizational life of Russia.

The Russian writer and religious thinker N.V. Gogol regarded this drift as a tragic turn in the history of Russia, when the heavenly dimension of cultural space was sacrificed to earthly dimensions. Gogol in the article “A Look at the Compilation of Little Russia” emphasizes the openness of the border areas of southern Russia: “A terrible nomadic people was not far off: they were separated, or, better, united, by one steppe” [2, p. eighteen]. Gogol throws a rigorous historiosophical reproach not only to the authorities, but also to the people for the manifestation of a kind of geographical agoraphobia (fear of open space), for the cowardly abandonment of the primordially Slavic, fertile and varied in terms of landscape, but open lands. The Russian people, “as if realizing their own insignificance, left those places where diverse nature begins to become an inventor … They left these places and crowded in that part of Russia where the location, monotonous, smooth and even, everywhere is almost marshy, pitted with sad firs and pines, showed not living life, full of movement, but some kind of vegetation … As if this confirmed the rule that only people strong in life and character are looking for powerful locations, or that only bold and striking locations form a bold, passionate, characteristic people ”[There same]. Such rigorism is hardly appropriate in the face of a choice: either die in the steppes or survive in the forests.

The Mongol-Tatar invasion and the Horde yoke that followed it finally consolidated the division of the formerly united Russia into Little (that is, primordial, original), White (that is, free, in this case, from the Golden Horde) and Great, whose spatial base was vast forest areas of the interfluve of the Upper Volga and Oka. Lesser and White Russia came under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then the Commonwealth, that is, the Catholic West. Great Russia, with its center in Moscow, faced a historical task of unprecedented difficulty: to preserve its own cultural identity under the pressure of the East and West, overthrow the Horde yoke and return the lost lands on the scale of a renewed centralized state formation. It took incredible spiritual and physical efforts of many, many generations to solve this problem.

The formation of political centralization in Russia, as in the countries of Western Europe, met with an ambiguous reaction from clerical circles. The interests of ecclesiastical and political centralization may not coincide. Indeed, the weaker the sovereign, the easier it is for the high priest to force him to “go to Canossa,” that is, to bend his secular power to spiritual power. The interests of specific separatism objectively coincided with those of church centralization. However, there is also a movement of “pilgrims of the tsars of Moscow”, who blessed the centralized state. This is how Josephianism appeared, the ideology of Moscow “Byzantism” (i.e. Caesarism).

The founder of this movement, Joseph Volotsky (1439–1515), was the hegumen of the monastery, which was persecuted by the specific prince and therefore came under the jurisdiction of the sovereign of Moscow, which fundamentally affected his ideas. Joseph was the successor of the direction set by Hilarion and Kliment Smolyatich with their allegorical rationalism. His views were distinguished by political pragmatism, which he justified by his interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, giving preference to the Old Testament. It is in the Old Testament books that the sacred history is set forth, which Joseph needs to echo with the present. He developed the concept of “deceit” of God, which, in his opinion, was an expression of the wisdom of God and, in a providential way, leads to the triumph of good. The idea of “divine treachery” is transferred to the interpretation of the grand-princely, in fact, royal, power. The Sovereign of Moscow, Joseph argued, is only like a man in nature, while in his power he is like God. All Christians, including the clergy and specific princes, must obey him. Realizing that the Old Testament forms of theophany, adequate to his concept, do not fully correspond to the Gospel Christ with His preaching of love for one’s neighbor, Joseph creates a new Christology, proceeding from the dual (divine and human) nature of Christ. The omnipresent God-sovereign of the Old Testament bears little resemblance to the gospel Christ. In Joseph’s teaching, only God is whole and indivisible, while the human (which is also inherent in Christ) cannot be impassive, immutable, homogeneous. Christ is only one of many manifestations of the one God. As a result, the famous maxim of Joseph is born: not everything that Christ created is befitting for us to do, and not everything that Christ did not create is not befitting for us to do. Of course, such an interpretation of Holy Scripture opens up wide opportunities for political practice in the spirit of Machiavellianism .

The extreme form of exaltation of the sovereigns of Moscow is associated with the activities of the elder Philotheus of Pskov (first half of the 16th century). After the fall of Byzantium under the blows of the Ottoman Turks (1453), Russia remained the only major power with an Orthodox state religion. Philotheus interpreted this historical fact in a providential spirit. Here world history is interpreted as the history of kingdoms succeeding each other in the order of succession of peoples chosen as instruments of divine Providence. The very providential idea of translatio Imperiei (transition of empires) is not a Russian offspring, it’s all about historical specifics. According to Philotheus, the old Rome and the new (“second”) Rome fell as a result of the rejection of Orthodoxy. The Moscow kingdom is the center of the true faith – “the third Rome, and there will not be a fourth.” With the end of the last kingdom, the Last Judgment and the end of the world will come. Until that time comes, the sovereigns of Moscow have a special responsibility for the fate of Orthodoxy throughout the world. Modern Orthodox theology, recognizing in principle fruitful the very idea of the state – the political base of Orthodoxy, denies the eschatological part of Philotheus’s formula: “there will not be a fourth.” It is seen as “too bold prophecy” [5, p. 236–237]. In the refusal to understand the current times as the last , is expressed, according to V.V. Zenkovsky, “historiosophical agnosticism”, which, of course, did not appear in modern times. Already in the XVII century. it became clear to ecclesiastical and secular rulers that it was impossible to go into modern times with medieval eschatologism (expectation of the end of the world).

The spread of the concept of “Moscow – the third Rome” further muted the significance of the Greek element in Russian culture, just as the formation of a centralized Muscovite state muted the militant Varangian element, associated with the traditions of a bygone military democracy and encouraging princely self-will. (It is symbolic in its own way that the Rurikoviches (counting their families from the legendary Varangian Rurik), who traditionally stood at the helm of Russian power for many centuries, were replaced by the Romanov boyar dynasty at the beginning of the 17th century.)

However, as noted above, the significance of Byzantium for Russia was not limited to the political sphere, even if this policy was ecclesiastical. There was an ideological influence of Byzantium, which did not stop with its political fall. A special place in this influence belongs to Byzantine hesychasm . In hesychasm (from the Greek word meaning peace, detachment) the main attention is paid to the spiritual world of a person, practical methods of its improvement in the direction of achieving direct contact with the divine reality. The path to God lies through silence (“hesychia”), which is “leaving the mind and the world, forgetting the lower, secret knowledge of the higher.” The vertical of the power and church hierarchy in such a teaching is much less significant than the vertical that connects a person with the heavenly world. The ideas of Byzantine hesychasm became widespread in Russian non-covetousness , the most prominent representative of which was Nil Sorsky (1433–1508) – the “great old man”, the founder of his own monastery on the Sora River. At the council in Moscow in 1502, he expressed a strong protest against the agricultural rights of the monasteries. The monks must live by their labor, “not just not having an estate, but not wanting to acquire it.” Neil was an opponent of any appearance, excessive luxury of temple decoration; should be limited to the necessary, there should be “everywhere acquired and conveniently bought.”

Neil was the author of The Tradition to the Disciples, which dealt with monastic self-improvement. Monasticism, according to Neil, should not be bodily, but spiritual and requires not external mortification of the flesh, but internal improvement. This work, the elder taught, should begin with “philosophizing”, reasoning, in order to free the mind from worldly sensations. Through philosophizing comes understanding – the revelation of a divinely revealed mystery; understanding is closely connected with prudence – silence, recognition of the incomprehensibility of this mystery. Prudence, as it were, balances the mind, freeing it from the verbal shell. Therefore, it is identical with silence, hesychia.

Another preacher of non-acquisitiveness, Maxim the Greek (1470–1556), lived in Italy in his youth, communicating with prominent figures of the Renaissance; then, under the influence of the harsh sermons of Savanarola, he accepted monasticism, first Catholic, then – on Athos – Orthodox. Subsequently, he ended up in the Moscow State, where he experienced severe trials; decades, as a non-possessor persecuted by the Josephites, he spent in monastic prisons. Maxim denounced the way of life of the Russian clergy, their exploitation (“milking”) of peasants and the system of support for state authorities. However, the spiritual authority of the monk was not disputed even by his opponents. Maxim the Greek created the doctrine of the four virtues: courage, chastity, hope and love. Their observance is associated with an orientation towards the heavenly and with ascetic self-restraint regarding the earthly . He associates courage with the free will inherent in man, i.e. with the choice a person makes. To prevent the choice from leaning towards sin, free will needs to be based on faith , not on reason . At the same time, however, Maxim did not deny the certain significance of reason in the system of spiritual values.

Spiritual life in the Orthodox territories, temporarily ceded to the Catholic West, moved in the direction of Europeanization and secularism. The so-called “Moscow leakers” – emigrants who, for various reasons, left the limits of the Muscovite kingdom, also poured into it. Among these, the most famous is Prince Andrei Kurbsky (1528–1583), a defector voivode during the Livonian War (1558–1583) and a resolute “opponent” of the absolutism of Ivan the Terrible. In exile, he was intensively engaged in philosophical self-education and creativity. In his reasoning, he put the question of the mind in the first place. In his opinion, the divine part of the mind, “thinking about Bose” is divorced from feelings and real life practice. On the contrary, the productive part of the mind, connecting feelings and deeds, is the basis for the emergence of the mind – “mental”. Therefore the origin of reason is natural ; thanks to him, a person has free will, directing his actions and deeds. In his justification of the naturalness of the mind, Prince Andrei relied on the Aristotelian treatise “On the Soul”, while making significant adjustments to Aristotle’s understanding of the naturalness of the mind. Here the naturalness is not biological, but rather anthropological . In Kurbsky, the mind arises through autocratic human action, while, which is indispensable for the Christian position, the spiritual is not identical with the rational . Thus, Kurbsky in his scholasticism developed the nominalist thesis of two truths , asserting a certain autonomy of human thinking.

Kurbsky paid much attention to school education, he organized a school in Ostrog, on the model of which many educational institutions of White and Little Russia were later created. In addition to literacy, the teaching of languages (including ancient ones), as well as rhetoric, poetics, dialectics and theology, were introduced into the educational program. Metropolitan Petro Mohyla (1597–1647), the founder of the Kiev-Mohyla Collegium (1631), later transformed into a theological academy, studied at one of these institutions.

Western Russian spiritual and practical educational experience subsequently came in handy for Muscovite Russia, but much later. At the end of the 16th – beginning of the 17th centuries. the state faced a whole tangle of difficult economic (lean years), social (enslavement of the peasantry through the abolition of the “old St. George’s Day”), political (suppression of the dynasty) and spiritual and moral (people’s distrust of power as a favorable condition for the emergence of impostor mythology) problems. Together with the unfriendliness of the Western neighbors, all this resulted in many years of Troubles , which brought innumerable disasters to the people and almost destroyed the state.

In memory of the end of the Time of Troubles and the expulsion of the Polish invaders, in Moscow, on Red Square in 1818, a unique monument was erected in its own way, where statues are based on a single pedestal – the personifications of the people (Minin) and power (Pozharsky). It was the spiritual and military unification of the two social poles that allowed Russia to come out of another historical test with honor.

After overcoming the Time of Troubles and defeating external enemies, the question of reunification with the Lesser and Belarusian lands was on the agenda. This historical work needed, among other things, religious and philosophical preparation. Entry in the second half of the XVII century. in the composition of the Russian state of the eastern regions of Little and White Russia “brought” Russia closer to Europe not only geographically: both the social and religious life of these territories has been significantly modified over the centuries of being in the orbit of Western civilization. The cultural space of the Orthodox state turned out to be largely discrete. The task of a certain “Europeanization” of the entire Russian cultural life became on the agenda. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov (whose protocol title “The Quietest” is often mistaken for a psychological characterization of his personality and a political assessment of his reign) pioneered the pro-Western transformation, starting with the religious sphere. Western Russian Orthodoxy has long been under the spiritual care of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Therefore, the Russian “path to Europe” again, as in the tenth century, began with Greece. During the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich, the Church reform of Patriarch Nikon took place, the essence of which was the establishment of the Greek canons of religion on Russian soil. The reforms aroused dissatisfaction among some of the clergy and the masses, who in a significant number were finally enslaved, with the abolition of the statute of limitations on the search for fugitives, the Council Code of 1649 and connected the new faith with the new order. Thousands of peasants left their homes and took refuge in deserted places in the North and Siberia. Society found itself in a deep split .

Archpriest Avvakum Petrov (1622–1682) was an ardent opponent of church reforms. He was a stern and inflexible man; largely due to his intransigence, private innovations in religion (three-fingered instead of two-fingered, writing “Jesus” instead of “Jesus”, etc.) turned into symbols of fateful significance for the Orthodox world. For such a fanatical shepherd, the choice is obvious – either to burn at the stake himself, or – “take you Nikonians, Latins, Jews, / Yes, burn them – lousy dogs” (poetic arrangement by Maximilian Voloshin). Finally the first thing happened…

According to Habakkuk, there are only two “places” in the space of being, one – “in the city of sunshine, / In heavenly Jerusalem”, where the Lord dwells with the righteous; the other is “in hell”, where the devil is with sinners. Only the “little flock” will be saved, the rest will perish, indulging in the vanity of the world. He attributed church reformist events in the spirit of Constantinople to the bustle. Avvakum’s “anti-Byzantism” naturally led him to the camp of adherents of the concept of Elder Philotheus. For the Constantinople “teachers of piety,” the archpriest has a ready answer: “Rome fell long ago and the Lyakhs perished with it. / Orthodoxy is variegated with you / From Turkish violence – / From now on, come to study with us yourself! The vertical organization of space is complemented by an appropriate eschatology; the last times have come: “the time of suffering has arrived.” At the same time, Avvakum did not share the concept of the “sensual” Antichrist, whose coming should mark those very last times. This was common among schismatics: there is a great temptation to personify the Antichrist in one particular person or another. Nikon for Avvakum is too insignificant a figure – “a rogue”, “shish of the Antichrists”. Aleksei Mikhailovich, the “cute Christian tsar,” could be Nikon’s “helper,” could execute and torture a truly Orthodox man out of his ignorance, but he certainly could not be the Antichrist. In his opinion, the Antichrist should not come from the Russian land. Despite his persistent aversion to earthly existence (“outer abyss”), he made a certain exception for his native land.

The church schism weakened the religious bonds that bound the power and the people together. In the face of the historical challenges facing Russia, the need to modernize Russia in a European manner has intensified even more. The son of Alexei Mikhailovich, the famous reformer Tsar Peter, took up this business.

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