Russia is a colossal country, and philosophy has played a major role in forming its culture. Fortunately, philosophy has not become a mere academic discipline or a game of the intellectual elite, but is more along the lines of a common interest of a civilised citizen. As a matter of fact, this explains why Russian universities are crowded with philosophers. For example, the St Petersburg State University has fifteen philosophy departments, with numerous teaching and research staff in each department. Philosophy is alive in Russia. Yet, Russian thinkers have kept a bad Soviet habit: namely, they tend to write exclusively in Russian. Hence, the ideas that Russian philosophers are preoccupied with remain inaccessible to us. This course has been designed to rectify a small fraction of this issue.
The purpose of the seminars is to introduce the audience to two intriguing figures, both unknown in Australia. Of course, everyone is familiar with Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. A few of us have some understanding of the striking parallels between these two giants of thought. A Russian Nietzsche and a Russian Dostoevsky, however, are novel subjects of study. By these two figures I mean Nietzsche and Dostoevsky considered by Russian philosophers interested in their influence on the formation of Russian culture and the fate of humanity in light of the vibrant Russian history.
Our course focuses on philosophy of art, aesthetics, metaphysics, as well as philosophical psychology and is divided in three parts:
1. Dostoevsky and the Russian Renaissance and Silver Age: Symbolism, Mysticism, Tragism
2. One Hard Way: Dostoevsky on Human Spirit
3. Nietzsche and the Russian Renaissance and Silver Age: Eroticism, Futurism, Symbolism
4. Your Hard Way: Nietzsche on Human Spirit
5. The Philosophers of Tragedy: A Comparative Analysis and Discussion
The course draws from the wealth of Russian philosophical literature devoted to these questions. To prepare for the seminars, we shall read some primary texts in English, but only articles and books written in Russian are used for composing the seminars. All translations are mine.