1874 - 1948
Philosophy ... is the creative perception by the spirit
Compared with most philosophers, Berdyaev's thoughts and writings are vibrant, fresh, alive. From the way he writes I get the sense he struggled with his ideas as Jacob wrestled with the angel. Although his home was more in the realm of spirit than of ideas, he knew that domain well and entered it with passion. He saw it as the arena where the struggle is actively being waged between freedom and determinism, creativity and passivity, noumena and phenomena, and so on.
Philosophy was an urgent matter to him -- how to live one's life, what to base it on, how to reconcile God and the world or the individual and society, what it means to be a person, coming to terms with the anxiety and alienation that accompanies freedom, the meaning of history and the destiny of humanity, the importance of creativity in our lives. All of these topics he thought and wrote about and contributed to significantly. For these reasons he sheds much light on our contemporary situation, not only illuminating present ills, errors and wrongs, and giving us a surer footing, but also guiding our way out and challenging us to embark on the difficult road to freedom and creativity.
I find it intensely life-affirming how Berdyaev weaves the concepts of creativity, freedom, the person, and history into his concept of the Third Epoch, which he also refers to as the "Eighth Day of Creation". This is the age which we are about to enter, he maintains, where the task will be to collaborate with God to re-create the world to its original state. This will also bring about the healing of persons and the world -- the unification of subject and object, individual and society, heart and mind.
Copyright © 1998, Dirk H. Kelder
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