Berd[symbol omitted]ev, Nikolaĭ Aleksandrovich

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Apocalyptic and existential-personalist philosopher; b. Kiev, March 6, 1874; d. Clamart, France, March 24, 1948. He was the second child of a military family dating to Louis VI of France. He entered Kiev university (1894) where he met L. Chestov and engaged in Marxist activities, was arrested, and finally exiled (1898) to Vologda. With S. Bulgakov he edited (1904) a social-religious periodical, Novy Put' (The New Way). After serving two years as professor of philosophy at Moscow, he was deported by the Leninists (1922) and established the Religious Philosophical Society in Berlin but transferred its activities (1924) to Paris; there, as leading Russian emigré spokesman and critic of communism, he edited the religious-philosophical review, Put' (192540). He also organized interconfessional meetings of Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic figures, but he himself tended to the "left" of Orthodox positions. Cambridge awarded him an honorary doctorate in divinity (1947).

Berd[symbol omitted]ev's mature philosophy, combining Alexandrine-Cappadocian gnosticism, medieval exemplarism, Rineland mysticism, German idealism, and Russian religious thought, is designated "eschatological metaphysics," a term that represents "the maximum experience of human existence" as revealed by the Christian promise of an ultimate transfiguration of creation. Discontent with the given world and hope for its renewal prompted Berd[symbol omitted]ev to forswear logic for a prophetic and mystical language. He held that man's destiny is to create his personality as a unique and universal theandric image, despite the objectivizations of legalist ethics, culture, and society. Creativity is realized in "existential time" that ultimately prepares the human community (Sobornost ) for the coming of God's Kingdom. As the Philo of his age, Berd[symbol omitted]ev speaks a "profoundly Christian" language employing many Catholic elements, but he has been inaccurately described as a Manichaean and, possibly because of an anti-Thomistic bent, an opponent of Christian philosophy. see existentialism.

Bibliography: Works. Dream and Reality: An Essay in Autobiography, tr. k. lampert (New York 1951). The Divine and the Human, tr. r. m. french (London 1949). The Beginning and the End, id. (London 1952). The Destiny of Man, tr. n. duddington (New York 1960). Literature. b. schultze, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 2:213. l. mÜller, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 1:104142. d. a. lowrie, Rebellious Prophet (New York 1960). m. spinka, Nicolas Berdyaev: Captive of Freedom (Philadelphia 1950). e. porret, Berdiaeff: Prophète des temps nouveaux (Neuchâtel 1951).

[d. a. drennen]

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Berd[symbol omitted]ev, Nikolaĭ Aleksandrovich

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