Kantian Journal

2014 Issue №4(50)

Reception of Cohen’s ethics in Russia


This article focuses on the perception of the ethical constructions of the founder of the Marburg school of Neo-Kantianism Hermann Cohen by Russian philosophers abroad. The author identifies three approaches, characteristic of this perception: from the perspective of Russian philosophy of law, from that of Russian religious philosophy, and that of Russian followers of the Marburg Neo-Kantianist.The first two approaches are characterized by a non-systemic perception with an emphasis on critique. The key features of the third one are the system nature and the attempt to stress both the progress and the shortcomings of H. Cohen’s ethical constructions.When analyzing Cohen’s ethics, Russian theorists of law focused on the correlation between law and morals. In this connection, the central issue was the legal orientation of the Marburg philosopher’s ethics.The main drawback of H. Cohen’s constructions emphasized by a proponent of V. S. Soloviev’s all-unity concept, E. N. Trubetskoy, is the absolutizing of method.One of the Jewish-Russian followers of H. Cohen, Aaron Steinberg, identifies three main premises of the philosophical constructions of the Margburg Neo-Kantian — the system nature, cultural unity, and finally, Jewishness or “ethical monotheism” (messianic monotheism).Only jurisprudence, another follower of Cohen, Sergey Rubinstein argues, considers a human being as a holder of rights and responsibilities rather than a being affected by emotions and passion as from the psychological perspective or that guided by their own interests as from the economic one.The Russian philosopher also stresses the evident positivity of the definition of ethics in Cohen’s principle of the law of truth that can be correctly perceived only within a combination of the logical and the ethical.

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