Florenskiĭ Pavel Aleksandrovich
FLORENSKIĬ PAVEL ALEKSANDROVICH
Russian philosopher, theologian, and scientist; b. Tiflis, 1882; place and date of death unknown. After studying mathematics and philosophy at the University of Moscow, he declined an offer to teach mathematics there. Instead he studied at the Moscow Theology Academy, taught philosophy and history there from 1908, and was ordained an Orthodox priest (1911). Florenskiĭ impressed contemporaries as a mathematician, physicist, philosopher, theologian, poet, historian, musician, archeologist, astronomer, engineer, polyglot, and mystic. Most of his writings could not be published because of the closing of the theological academies after 1917; but his dissertation, The Pillar and Foundation of Truth: An Essay on Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Chapters, was printed in 1914 and attracted wide attention. After the revolution Florenskiĭ accepted a post in the main office of the electrical industry. In 1927 he invented a noncoagulating machine oil called dekanite. Also he wrote a standard textbook on dielectrics. His refusal to renounce Holy Orders caused his imprisonment several times. Because of his scientific reputation he dared in 1929 to address a meeting of engineers in Leningrad dressed in cassock and priest's cap. This act greatly displeased the Communists. In 1935 Florenskiĭ was sentenced to ten years in a concentration camp. Rumors of his death reached Sergeĭ bulgakov in 1943 and were heard by Russian refugees in 1946, but they were never verified.
In his metaphysics and in his theology of the Trinity Florenskiĭ applied the notion of consubstantiality. He divided all philosophical systems into rationalistic (homoiousian ) and Christian (homoousian ). The former, he believed, recognized generic likeness only, whereas the latter admitted consubstantiality, since it is the philosophy of ideas and of reason, the philosophy of personality and creative achievement. Florenskiĭ's repetition of the doctrine of khomiai[symbol omitted]kov on sobornost (togetherness) as the principle of Church organization evoked sharp criticism from berdi[symbol omitted]ev. Florenskiĭ's natural theology was based on living religious experience as the sole method of knowing dogmas "in a personal encounter with God." Following solov'ev he defined "Sophia" (Wisdom) as a precosmic hypostatic concentration of divine prototypes. Thus in his outlook the cosmos, purified in Christ, becomes with Sophia a part of the Absolute merging in a total unity. Without the metaphysics of the Incarnation, however, the connection between the "two worlds" remains obscure and the concept of Sophia can result only in a philosophical incompleteness.
Bibliography: b. schultze, Russische Denker (Vienna 1950). n. o. losskiĬ, History of Russian Philosophy (New York 1951). v. v. zen'kovskiĬ, History of Russian Philosophy, tr. g. l. kline, 2 v. (New York 1953).