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Kozlov, Aleksei Aleksandrovich (1831–1901)


Aleksei Aleksandrovich Kozlov, the Russian personalist philosopher, was the first major Russian exponent of a pluralistic idealism derived from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In his youth Kozlov studied the social sciences and was attracted to the ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach and François Marie Charles Fourier. His socialist views led to a short prison term in 1866 and the loss of his teaching position in a Moscow secondary school. He began to study philosophy seriously only in the 1870s, when, after an initial interest in materialism, he came successively under the influence of Arthur Schopenhauer, Eduard von Hartmann, and Immanuel Kant. In 1876 he became professor of philosophy at Kiev University, where he published the first Russian philosophical journal, Filosofskii trekhmesiachnik (Philosophical quarterly), and began to formulate his own mature position under the influence of Leibniz and his followersnotably Gustav Teichmüller. When illness forced Kozlov to retire in 1887, he moved to St. Petersburg and expounded his views systematically in a private journal, Svoe slovo (A personal word), published occasionally from 1888 to 1898.

In Kozlov's metaphysics, which he called panpsychism, there is a plurality of conscious spiritual substances, or monads. Each is an agent whose being consists not only in its substantiality, but also in its (psychic) activities and the contents of these activities. (Thus, Parmenides erred by considering substance alone, Johann Gottlieb Fichte by considering activity alone, and other philosophers erred similarly.) Together, these spiritual substances form a closed totality which is grounded in a Supreme Substance, God, and within which these substances (unlike Leibniz's monads) interact. The human body is a collection of less conscious spiritual substances with which our ego interacts until death. Kozlov suggested that after death the ego is reincarnated by interacting with other spiritual substances to form a new body.

The "material" aspect of the body, as of all supposed "material" entities, is produced by thought in our interaction with other spiritual substances, and is symbolic of these substances. Space and time (to which Kozlov devoted much attention) are likewise products of the thinking subject. Neither is objectively real, but each is symbolic of reality: Space is symbolic of the fact that real substances exist in connection, and time of the fact that within this connection there is variety and activity. Thus sense perception, which purports to show us objects in space and time, does not penetrate to the essentially timeless and spiritual reality. Kozlov developed an intuitivist epistemology, in which knowledge is based upon "primitive consciousness"primarily consciousness of one's own ego. Primitive consciousness, however, being simple and immediate, is nonconceptual and ineffable. Knowledge, on the other hand, is complex and mediated; the mind constructs it by relating the elements of primitive consciousness. Thus we are directly conscious of God. Acquiring conceptual knowledge of God, however, is a difficult intellectual enterprise.

Kozlov did not develop his views fully in other areas, but his metaphysics and epistemology influenced many Russian philosophers, including his son, Sergei A. Askol'dov, and Nikolai Losskii.

See also Losskii, Nikolai Onufrievich.


additional works by kozlov

Filosofskie etiudy (Philosophical studies). 2 vols. St. Petersburg, 18761880.

Filosofiia kak nauka (Philosophy as a science). Kiev, 1877.

works on kozlov

Askol'dov, S. A. A. A. Kozlov. Moscow, 1912.

Lossky, N. O. "Kozlov: ego panpsikhizm" (Kozlov: His Panpsychism). Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii (Questions of philosophy and psychology) (58) (1901): 198202.

Zenkovsky, V. V. Istoriia Russkoi Filosofii. 2 vols. Paris: YMCA Press, 19481950. Translated by George L. Kline as A History of Russian Philosophy. 2 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1953.

James P. Scanlan (1967)

Bibliography updated by Vladimir Marchenkov (2005)

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