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Between Kant and Trendelenburg: On the Genealogy of Kudryavtsev-Platonov’s Theory of Cognition



Viktor D. Kudryavtsev-Platonov is one of the most prominent representatives of Russian religious-academic philosophy of the second half of the nineteenth century whose theory of cognition bears an imprint of the Kantian theoretical philosophy. Kudryavtsev was not only thoroughly familiar with the Königsberg thinker’s work, but offered a critically reinterpreted version of Kant’s teaching on space, time and categories of understanding. But was the Russian philosopher original in his reading and critique of Kant? In his later works Kudryavtsev often cites the works of Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg whose works turn out to be very close to the Russian philosopher. Could it be that Kudryavtsev read Kant through Trendelenburg’s optics? To answer this question consistently I give outlines of Trendelenburg’s and Kudryavtsev’s theories of cognition and compare their views on the basis of the sources. I then draw on archive materials to characterise Kudryavtsev’s acquaintance with the works of Kant and Trendelenburg. It turns out that Kudryavtsev was well-versed in Kant’s philosophical ideas already in the early years of his teaching activities — but not from primary sources, but largely through German historical-philosophical renderings. I establish similarities between the teachings of Trendelenburg and Kudryavtsev on space, time and the categories of understanding and their critique of the relevant Kantian teaching. Finally, Kudryavtsev’s early manuscripts attest to his acquaintance with Trendelenburg’s ideas. I conclude that Trendelenburg influenced Kudryavtsev’s own theory of cognition, a fact that should be borne in mind when reading the Russian philosopher’s epistemological works.


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