Kantian Journal

2016 Vol. 35. No. 4

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Kant’s fundamental idea of state and law in Pushkin’s Boris Godunov

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2016-4-1
Pages
7-23

Abstract

The tragedy Boris Godunov occupies a unique place in A. S. Pushkin’s oeuvre. It was a turning point, when the author needed the whole power of his poetical genius, when a work beyond traditional literary and aesthetic styles, which interchange and establish a canon of a new style that transforms its predecessors in an act of creativity, appeared in Russian culture. Boris Godunov marked the birth of an individual author’s style in Russian art. A unique literary world — the world of Pushkin — manifested itself in a work of art. This article sets out to prove the influence of Kant’s philosophical and legal ideas on A. S. Pushkin during the poet’s work on Boris Godunov. Kant’s thought that the people is the only monarch and that legislative power is vested in it in a rule-of-law state is the central idea of the tragedy. When working on Boris Godunov, Pushkin not only studied the Critique of Judgement but he also read Kant’s works on epistemological theory. In his tragedy, Pushkin was guided by Kant’s ideas of state and law and strived to make it obvious that the people is the only monarch and source of political and legislative power. The tragedy of the people is that it does not know it and the mission of the educated class is to make the people aware of its powers and educate it. Law cannot exist beyond the people’s consciousness — everything else is despotism and a tyranny.

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