Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №1(47)

S. I. Hessen and the history of Russian Neo-Kantianism


This article attempts, on the one hand, to inscribe the works of the Russian philosopher Hessen into the Neo-Kantian tradition and, on the other hand, to emphasise the originality of his philosophical position in the framework of Neo-Kantianism. The author identifies two important aspects in the analysis of the Russian thinker’s works: his attention to the philosophical practice and the evolution of his philosophical views towards Platonism. As to the problem of philosophical practice, when analyzing Hessen’s works — unlike the works of other Russian philosophers, one faces the acute problem of separation between the concepts of practical philosophy and philosophical practice or ‘concrete philosophy’. If practical philosophy is ethics, philosophical practice is pedagogy. Thus, the Russian philosopher spares no effort to develop a pedagogical theory criticizing, at the same time, Natorp’s position for reducing pedagogy to ethics. The author believes that the later works of Hessen set an example of the evolution of the understandingof the key importance of religion for the solidity of a philosophical position, which leaves philosophy and religion isolated. The stimulus for this evolution was his interest in the philosophical ideas of Solovyov and Dostoyevsky. Hessen found the foundation for the religious perspective of his position in the Platonic tradition.

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