“The Philosophy of the Common Task”
“Philosophiya obschego dela”
of N. F. Fedorov

(1915 – #186)


“An amazing, rare, and exceptional man has passed away. About the lofty mind of Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov, about his varied and extensive knowledge, about his conscientiousness in work and about the moral-ideal purity of his lasting impression on people, such as knew him, it is needless to speak: they do with one accord declare: “This was a man wise and righteous!”; and those even closer to him add: “This is one of those few good men, by which the very world is upheld and sustained!”1  [Thus begins V. A. Kozhevnikov his book about Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov, a thinker of exceptional originality, boldness and power.]  The name of Fedorov is known by few, as were even those knowing him, or having any special interest that Fedorov ever even lived. And indeed it would have been difficult to learn of him. With all the intensity of his being Fedorov refused personal recompense for his ideas and published works. He not only did not want to receive money for what he had written, but he also did not want to inform the world of his personal creativity. With him there was not that tormenting and joyful thirst to imprint upon the life of the world one’s own individuality and unrepeatable mystery begotten in thought. He not only was bereft of ambition and love for glory, as bad passions, — he was bereft also of any wearisome wish to consider his own individuality, not only in himself, but also in the world. He was not afflicted with the problem of the fate of the individual. Fedorov was not a writer by temperament, writing for him was not a matter of personal creativity, of the innate need to express oneself, to as it were overflow into the objective world. Writing for him was but for the common task, the universal task. He wrote only of this task and about this task. [This was almost altogether unliterary.]  Fedorov expounds on his universal task projects, he jumps across from the Holy Trinity over to the arrangement of the museum, over from meteorology to the resusciative resurrection of the dead, he repeats himself endlessly, he combines the wildly fantastic together with stark realism. But all the same, Fedorov writes with an original and strong language, and its forms are extraordinarily acute. The first tome of his “Philosophy of the Common Task” {“Philosophiya obschego dela”) was gathered together from separate fragments by his friends, V. A. Kozhevnikov and N. P. Peterson, and published in the year 1906, offered not for sale, gratis. The second tome appeared in the year 1913. Very little has been written about Fedorov. 2  And indeed here yet to this virtually unknown man, to this modest and unassuming librarian of the Rumyantsev Museum, Vl. Solov’ev wrote:  “I have read through Your manuscript voraciously and with delighted a spirit, having devoted to this reading the whole night and part of the morning, and the following two days, Saturday and Sunday, and I have thought much over what I have read.  Your “project” I accept unconditionally and without any objections… Since the time of the appearance of Christianity, Your “project” is the first movement forward of the human spirit on the path to Christ. From my end, I must acknowledge You as my teacher and spiritual father (italics mine. — N. B.) … Be well, dear teacher and consoler”.3  L. Tolstoy said about Fedorov: “I am proud, that I live at the same time with such a man”.4  And then too (the poet) A. Fet[-Shenshin] adds in for himself: “One mustneeds possess much spiritual capital, to merit such references, since I know not any man, knowing You, who would not have bespoken himself about You in like manner”.5  Dostoevsky also had a very high opinion of Fedorov, which he wrote to Peterson: “He (Fedorov) has been quite of interest to me… I am essentially in complete agreement with these thoughts. I tend to read them through as though they were my very own”.6  Fedorov likewise exerted a strange influence upon Vl. Solov’ev, and it is especially reflected in the article, “Concerning the Decline of the Medieval World-Outlook” (“Ob upadke srednevekovogo mirosozertsaniya”). What is it with this strange thinker, with this extraordinary man, so held in high regard by the greatest of Russian people? (In Russia at present after the Revolution the ideas of Fedorov have become popular and there has formed a Fedorov current of thought. He answers to the instincts for action, community and a radical restructuring of the world.)

Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov — was a man of innate genius, original and quaint. This was a characteristically Russian man, a Russian seeker after universal salvation, knowing a way to save the whole world and all mankind. In the bosom of Russia, in the depths of the life of the people there are but few such, and in the person of Fedorov this Russian type found its expression with genius. This is indeed truly a characteristic feature of the Russian spirit — to seek after universal salvation, to bear within oneself a responsibility for all. Western mankind readily reconciles itself to the perishing of many. And Western mankind holds in esteem values, other than of an universal salvation. But for the Russian spirit it is difficult to become reconciled not only with the perishing of many, but even of several, or even of one. Each is responsible for the whole world and for all mankind. And the Russian soul seeks after ways of universal salvation, it works out plans and projects of salvation, here social, there scientific, then moral, then religious and mystical. In this Russo-Slavic working out of projects of universal salvation there is a curious combining of the fantastic with the practical and the real, of the mystical with rationalism, of the visionary with stark sobriety.

N. F. Fedorov leads up to the ultimate acuteness and to the limits of extremity with this Russian consciousness of the universal responsibility of all for all and the subsequent obligation of universal salvation. He totally repudiates every personal and individual perspective of life whether temporal or eternal, as being immoral, inhuman and ungodly. To live morally, humanly and godly is possible only with all and for all, not for some, but for all without a single exception. Fedorov — is a radical thinker, everything is pushed to the limits, and permits of no sort of quibblings nor compromises. In him there is neither flexibility nor plasticity. This also is a characteristically Russian feature in him. Such a radically bold project of universal salvation, as envisioned by Fedorov, has it would seem never yet been bespoken in the human tongue. The faith of Fedorov in his idea is absolute, and knows no doubt nor wavering; it makes bold to stand in opposition to all the world, to every movement in the world hostile to this idea, to all the generally held human opinions. Fedorov — is a man of a singular idea, and he does not want to know much else in the world. The idea of Fedorov — is the polar opposite to every individualism, it is for all and with all, in the name of universal salvation (it is an unique form of collectivism). And this idea is in opposition to the consciousness of all mankind, to the stirrings of all mankind. This disturbs Fedorov not at all. An unprecedented utopianism, fantasticism, a visionary dreaminess is combined in Fedorov with practicality, sobriety, common sense and realism. Fedorov declares himself the enemy not only of every idealism and romanticism, but also of every mysticism. Fedorov believes in the possibility rationally to regulate and direct all the life of the world, without any irrational residue. He does not want to acknowledge a dark and irrational wellspring in the life of the world and human life, of a groundless will to evil, with which it is impossible to justify any sort of light of knowledge and consciousness. In this, his soul is not modern. For the modern consciousness, at its highest degree, it is impossible to believe in the full and ultimate rationalisation of life, in the utopia of a rational good, — it is the sooner voluntaristic, rather than intellectualistic and rationalistic, it beholds a dark font, an abyss, subject to neither rationalisation nor moralisation, a wellspring of eternal stirring and struggle, an irrational residue for every rational and moral norm. Fedorov is closer in his spirit to the thinkers of the XVIII Century and to the utopianists akin to Fourier (to Fourier especially). He infinitely believes in the possibility of establishing a natural and just world-order, he believes in the directive power of reason. But he transfers the centre of gravity from the sphere of the existing to the sphere of the ought, to his project-building. The fantastic and the utopian for Fedorov are bound up namely with is realism, with his materialism. These bold projects are directed particularly at this material and empirical world, and they are attempts to transform and manage it. He is hostile to the contemplation of other worlds, he demands actions in this world. He employs the word “mystical” always in a negative sense, and it means the same for him as tat which is unreal, the idealistic, the fantastic, although his own fundamental idea outside of mysticism is bereft of all meaning. Fedorov was of a balanced nature and he was endowed with an integrated consciousness, but objectively he was torn by contradictions. He is quite monstrous a duality of the religio-conservative and the revolutionary-progressive. The use particularly of a positivist-rationalist style and positivist-rationalist approaches towards mystical matters also renders Fedorov an utopian fantasist. The mystical resuscitation of the dead, as though for him of no account, in any case cannot be bound up with utopias or fantasies. But the scientific-positivist resuscitation of the dead is an utopian fantasy. The fundamental religious and moral motif of Fedorov was the impossibility and refusal to be reconciled with the eternal perishing and torments of hell, even though it be of a single being upon the earth. The irreconcilable hostility to both death temporal and to death eternal was wrought by Fedorov into his life’s task. To resurrect for eternal life every being, mown down by death in time, — here is the great idea, with which he was totally taken up. Universal salvation and resurrection depend not only upon God, but also upon man, upon his own personal activity. The brotherly unification of mankind for the common task, the active regulation of human nature should avert the Terrible Last Judgement and perdition, should lead to the universal Resurrection and eternal life. For Fedorov the apocalyptic prophecies about the end of the world are conditional, they — are but threats for man. The Christian idea of the resurrection-voskresenie of the dead is transformed for Fedorov into an idea of resuscitation-voskreshenie as the duty of mankind, as a deed of its activity. In this idea there is the daring of genius, and this consciousness — is one of the most lofty, as ever a man ascended to.

Fedorov — is a final manifestation of Slavophilism, but in his person the old within Slavophilism has died out, and there is born something new, something not previously existing. [But] much remains in him from the old Slavophilism, and even in an exaggerated guise. He had a great hostility towards the West and towards Catholicism, moreso than the Slavophils had. He even accused the Slavophils and Dostoevsky, that they were insufficiently Russian, that they were people too much Western; he likewise could not forgive Khomyakov for having termed Europe “the land of holy miracles”. In Catholicism he sees only hell, perishing, revenge; in Orthodoxy — universal salvation, and grieving sorrow over the departed. He very much dislikes Dante: in Dante’s “Inferno” he sees the expression of a Catholic vengefulness, a disdain for universal salvation. But indeed in (official) Orthodoxy also there is not the idea of universal salvation. And there is a greater human activeness in the West, in Catholicism, than in the East, in Orthodoxy. Fedorov received from the Slavophils an idealisation of the Russian patriarchal way of life as the moral basis of life, the idealisation of our peasant-farmer roots, the peasant-commune, etc. To quite great a degree, and moreso than the Slavophils, he confesses an ancestral religion. He — is a populist and a democrat, the enemy of everything aristocratic and culturally refined. With Fedorov there is the characteristically Russian dislike towards the cult of the great, the exaltation of the person. He is totally into the populist and national collective and does not see the person as a principle of value per se. He has not at all lived through the problems of individuality, of the individual destiny. He does not understand the mystery of the individual. The individual’s tragedy did not torment him. For Fedorov, as also for many Russians, there is weakly expressed the moral and religious principles of freedom and the dignity of worth of the person. Likewise foreign to him was the aristocratic attitude towards life. He had no love for artistry, as a principle of talent rather than of toil. He came to his faith neither through the freedom of the person, nor through rebirth in spirit [He remained in the first birth, in inherited tradition.] Fedorov is always for health, for sobriety. He does not understand sickness, spiritual crisis, complexity and refinement. Foreign to him was the experience of evil, the path of dissolution. The striving towards complete rationality and moralisation is always connected with a denial of the mystery of life, of the individually unrepeatable. In him himself there is no sense of personal drama, of the dark principle. He was an ascetic in life, he lived on mere kopecks, he slept on a trunk, but his asceticism came readily and naturally by disposition. And yet in his consciousness he denied asceticism. Fedorov — was an enemy by nature of any Dionysian drunkenness, of satiety, of innate tragedy. He was to substitute everything of talent with work. The exclusively toilsome consciousness of Fedorov leads to a denial of everything, of everything involving the play of creativity, of everything over and above. Talent — is aristocratic and artistic; it is repugnant to the moral consciousness of Fedorov, in his imposing upon himself the burden of world responsibility, the active task of universal resuscitation and salvation — involving not personal perfection, but as an universal task. The truth about the toiling activity of man obscured for him another truth — about the redemptive Divine grace. The whole philosophy of Fedorov — is not creative, but economic, not light but burdensome. This is a philosophy of toilsome care. The Gospel lack of care for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field was foreign to his consciousness. And in this there is something characteristically Russian, the Russian lack of joy, the stifling by the moral consciousness, not permitting of a free and talented creative abundance, the Russian searching for a common task, the task of salvation. The Russian soul cannot joyfully create culture; it is anxious for the world and for all mankind, it thirsts to save all. Fedorov was at the antipode-opposite to L. Tolstoy, he had sharp criticism for Tolstoy’s “non-resistance”, but something typically Russian in aspect brings him close also with Tolstoy. The sickness of the Russian conscience, the grieving over people departed and people perished, the thirst for the salvation of mankind and the Kingdom of God here, on earth — all this was expressed by Fedorov with an extraordinary intensity, without any sense of strain or quibbling. Fedorov — was exceptionally healthy, sober, and wholly integrated in spirit. He did not belong to that type of people, so widespread for us, who eternally dream about great deeds and are incapable of doing anything even small. Within the quite small, he knows how to see the great and worldwide. In the unassuming work of a museum librarian, which Fedorov fulfilled wit extraordinary conscientiousness, he caught sight of the principle of the universal task of the resuscitation of the dead. He was both an utopian given to fantasy, and yet he was a man of work, of practical toil. In Fedorov’s character there is sensed something severe, almost vexacious and very impassioned. He was demanding towards himself and demanding towards others, he was not given to festivity and merrymaking, he expected maturity from people, an industrious maturity. His severity towards people — is the reverse side of his thirst for universal salvation, for universal resuscitation. Everyone ought to be resuscitated, but everyone also ought to be a resuscitator. The common task ought to be done for all, but all also ought to work at the common task.

The life of Fedorov was austere, and the first memories of his childhood, having seized hold in all his soul, were difficult. Here is what he says about these memories: “From my childhood years three memories have been preserved for me: I saw black — the blackest bread, which peasants were wont to eat in years of certain famine. I heard in childhood an explanation of war, which left me terribly perplexed: “in war people shoot at each other!” And finally, I learned not about this, that there are also non-kin and strangers, but rather about this, that those most akin — were not kin, but strangers”.7   His soul in childhood was struck by the irrational loss of people and the tormentive question about the daily bread of sustainance. Fedorov was the illegitimate son of the nobleman of note, Prince Gagarin, and was born from his liaison with a common woman. Through a stupid caprice he was forcefully separated from his mother and removed from all kin. The tasks in life for Fedorov became the investigation for the reasons for lost people, of their non-brotherly conditions and the search for ways to the brotherly and kindred reuniting of people for a common task. He did not know the joys of kinship and yet he arrived at a religion of kinship, in kinship he saw the basis of all truth. Fedorov was a fiery optimist, unwaveringly believing in his “common task”, in the Kingdom of God upon earth; pessimism seemed to him a matter of contempt. But his optimism was austere and pure. And he had occasion to taste of despair from solitude. He expounded his thoughts “under the influence of a total helplessness, knowing, that to no one were these writings needful, that the teaching about an active relationship to nature with all its consequences would be repudiated by some, as a diatribe from times of personal incivility, and by others — as incredible. From it, this is nigh to despair amidst such complete hopelessness, amidst such a complete spiritual solitude of 74 years”.8  But all the same, Fedorov believed, as no one else had yet upon the earth, in a full and ultimate victory over evil and darkness, in the submission to reason of everything throughout the world. He did not at all want to reckon with a dark will, with the infinite complexity of life. Everything evil and dark was for him but a lack of knowledge, ignorance, a deficiency of awareness. Consciousness and knowledge are already things good and moral and victorious. He — is an utopian rationalist, a peculiar enlightener. He did not want to know of the falling-away of mankind from Christianity. Fedorov was bereft of the irrational sense of evil, such as is unconquerable by the light of consciousness. [He totally had no knowledge of an apocalyptic dread.]  In the consciousness of Fedorov there are combined completely incompatible and irreconcilable principles: the positivism of the XIX Century, a faith in the boundless power of science and knowledge, faith in the miracle of technology, directing the blind forces of nature, and a faith in Christianity, a faith in Christ Risen, in the Holy Trinity, as the model for a community of kinship. Within him there live two souls — the rational and the mystical, the scientific and the religious, the technical and the theourgic, — they live all mixed up together. We shall see, that the two poles of thought, possessing different sources, were mechanically jumbled together in the world-outlook of Fedorov, rather than organically transformed into an unity. Fedorov resolved the problem of evil as would a rationalist positivist, and he wanted to regulate nature, like a learned technician. Therefore also the religious idea of resuscitation devolves for him upon levels of thought, not having between them anything in common. But never has positivism with its technical might reached such boldness, as reached by Fedorov. What was Fedorov’s teaching about knowledge?


The philosophy of Fedorov — is the philosophy of the common task, a philosophy of action. He was a radical pragmatist. Knowledge for Fedorov — is not contemplation, but rather action. He is hostile to all gnosticism, as being a passive-contemplative knowledge, he despises all theoretical metaphysics as the begetting of a breaking-away from the learned state of life, as the sick product of a rupture between the theoretical and the practical reason. The pragmatism of Fedorov is quite more radical and consequential, than the pragmatism of James or Bergson (and is akin to that of Marx). His pragmatism situates itself in an irreconcilable hostility with science as learned with the professional specialists of knowledge, with everything of an academic, professorial, theoretical knowledge. Knowledge is action, the common task of all people, of all mankind; knowledge is based upon the experience “of all, always and everywhere”. Philosophy ought to be projective, an active-doing. The division into learned and non-learned is a maturation of mankind. Fedorov writes a memorandum from the non-learned to the learned under the guise of learning, to the philosophers he proposes the singular worthy task — the investigation of the causes for the non-brotherly, non-kinly, unpeaceful condition of the world and a search for the means of establishing kinship. The learned ought to be transformed into a commission for the investigation of the divergences. The task of philosophy and science is pragmatic, and not gnostic; practical, and not theoretical. Philosophy ought to be an active transformation of actuality. Fedorov does not recognise the existence of abstract truths, passively assimilated by the intellect. The istina-truth is inseparable from pravda-truth, from that which is good. The gaining of truth is to be defined also as a will to action, to the active good. Fedorov does not allow for knowledge through pure thought. Knowledge is attained by the activity of every human being.  “The transforming of the world in its apparent representation is the final word of the learned condition; being begotten of frivolity, of an outward inactivity and individualism, the transforming of the world in its apparent representation is an ultimate childish frivolity, as the mother of vices, and solipsism, as the father of transgressions”.9   Science — is a child of the gentry, of leisure. The university Fedorov considers to be a finishing school, pandering in servility to individualism. “Only with disciplines based on faith is there a separation from the deed, with instead a positing of an apparent representation”.10  “Philosophy is an immature pursuit, an imaginary preoccupation, without a real deed”.11  Fedorov in essence proclaims the end of philosophy and the beginning of the deed. “Between the thought (only) and the (already) existing, as also between the Subjective and the Objective (henceforth) there ought to be inserted the Projective”.12  In this demand for the replacing of philosophy by the deed, Fedorov in a strange way is in proximity with Marx and Engels, who likewise proclaimed the end of philosophy. Fedorov had no tolerance for the Marxists, but with the Marxists he possessed formally common features. Knowledge, according to Fedorov, proves itself by deed. Thought — is from activity, and in activity only is there known truth. “Only the doing, the realising in deed makes possible understanding”.13  Thus, for example, are established the working conditions of the understanding of the Tri-une Being: “We shall catch hold of Him only then, when we ourselves are rendered multi-une, or said more precisely, an all-unified being, and when the unity will not be expressed in dominion, but when the self-sufficiency of persons will not be manifest in hostility, when there will be a full mutuality, mutual-understanding”.14  (The mindset of Fedorov is essentially social). Fedorov constantly stresses, that dogma is projective. The task — is not in a proof of the existence of God, but in the attainment of a worthy condition. “Contemplation, visions, thoughts ought to be replaced by projects, or said more precisely, by participation in an All-universal project”.15  The question about the verisimilitude of being and thought is resolved by Fedorov in a completely pragmatic way: thought and being will be identical, when the thought will have been realised. “The philosopher — is not the ideal of man, but rather an onesidedness, a monstrosity; philosophy — as thought without deed — is absurd, a vice”.16  “The common property of all the categories of action — is immortality. Here is why reason receives significance not subjective and not objective, but rather projective; and in this projective capacity also there are united the theoretical reason  and the practical”.17  Philosophy is a consciousness of the downfall of man. “The investigation of the causes of the non-brotherly condition can only be a matter that is brotherly”,18  collaborative, collective and not individualistic. “People in separation cannot be wise seers”.19  “Knowledge is wrought by the holy, by the religious obligedness of all; this sacred obligation however demands knowledge from all and of all, i.e. that all should become cognitive and all become the subject of knowledge, and that science should be deduced from an observation not somewhere, by someone and some-when, but from the observation produced by all, everywhere and always”.20   For Fedorov not only metaphysics, but also “positivism is grounded likewise upon a theoretical reason separated from the practical. The impotence of the theoretical reason is explained by its non-action or the absence of the common task by way of proof. Positivism — is only a modification in appearance of metaphysical scholasticism, which also is a way itself of suchlike a modification deriving from theological scholasticism; positivism therefore is also scholastic, and the positivists comprise a school, but not a commission”.21  In his teaching about cognition Fedorov is a very Russian thinker: he accepts and continues the tradition of Russian thought, which always strives towards the knowledge of that, which ought to be, which always was essentially projective and pragmatic, always turned off by purely contemplative metaphysics [and gnosticism].  Fedorov himself furthers the teaching of the Slavophils about cognition by the integral spirit, rather than by abstract intellect, but he is more radical than the Slavophils, and his philosophy is more active. The Russian Westerniser-radicals in essence also always strove towards the unifying of istina-truth with pravda right-truth, and they saw the goal of knowledge in its service of transforming reality. In cognition, moral motifs for Russians always predominated over metaphysical motifs, and the thirst for a religious transfiguration of the world supplanted mystical contemplation. But for the Russian soul what is characteristic is not so much the action itself, as rather the thought about action. [His philosophy of the common task — is not soborni-collaborative, not collective, not fraternal, but rather a singular and non-active practicality.]

With his theory of cognition, Fedorov is decisively opposed to the antinomy of “know for thyself”. One who starts from the knowing of himself, has already renounced himself from kinship, from sonship. “Know for thyself — means, be not faithful to the fathers (i.e. tradition), and trust not brothers (the witness of others), but believe only thyself, know only thyself (“I consciously know — means I exist”)”.22  To this individualistic and egoistic theory of cognition Fedorov contrasts the principles of Sobornost’-communality, brotherhood and sonship in cognition. Know one another — here is what Fedorov first of all demands. Dwell in the deed of cognition, as in everything, sons of one’s fathers, mindful of kinship. Man is unable to know truth, cannot as an autonomous person, starting out the path from himself, but rather only as an human son, having accepted tradition, the covenant of the forefathers, knowing with all and for all. In the Cartesian “cogito — ergo sum”, Fedorov sees a vile individualism, a refusal of kinship. Descartes starts from an unique autonomy of thought, depending upon nothing and connected with nothing Fedorov is doubly opposed to the Cartesian initial point of view: he is opposed to Descartes having persuaded himself of his existence through thought and not through action, and opposed also, that this was done via an individual discontinuity, in self-affirmation, and not in a kindred brotherly unity. Fedorov is thus impelled to see the Fall into sin at the very foundation of European philosophy. All modern philosophy has been created by prodigal sons, having betrayed their fathers and having forgotten kinship. “From the egoistic cogito – ergo sum there is born a soulless knowledge, and thereupon as from a “I sense a loss”, from the sensation of orphanhood, there is born a striving towards union, towards the expectation and knowledge of the effects of non-kinship and death… Amidst the closest union of people, amidst the unity not only of sense, but also of action, the “I am conscious” would mean “I resuscitate”, I would participate in the common task of resuscitation”.23  For Fedorov, cognition is born from the sense of the loss of ancestors, from the demand to resurrect, and cognition — is from mourning, from the necessity to return life, and not from freedom of spirit, not from the self-worthy striving towards the revealing of the mystery of being. At the basis of the gnosseology of Fedorov there lies a Russian grieving, an awareness of the people’s mourning, the burden of responsibility for all, the demand for help. Cognition is a struggle with death. It is not a joyful supra-abundance of creative energy that has led Fedorov to cognition, but rather the black peasant bread, lack of kinship, alienation, the hostility of people. Fedorov — is the opponent of every immersion within oneself, within the depths of spirit for the cognition of the world; he does not believe in this path. “In order to become immersed within oneself, there mustneeds be distance and division, an alienation from one another, and there is not the slightest need for unifying in the orientation towards oneself. Expressed otherwise, it would be but necessary that there be demanded the command “Know thyself!”, i.e. “Know only thyself!” — from whence emerged the philosophy of Sokrates and Plato. Another indeed similar (primal) command: “Wander not outside oneself, return to oneself, since in the inner man is truth!” — from whence emerged Augustine and all Medieval philosophy; from whither indeed — also Descartes with his “I know — therefore I am!”24  Fedorov no less than the positivists is hostile against “the inner man”, he sees in this inward path only but an egoistical self-immersion, a resigning of oneself from the burden of responsibility for all, a fleeing towards freedom from kinship. He always prefers materialism over idealism. Hidden from Fedorov was that path of the inner revealing of the cosmos, the cognition of the spiritual activity of the inward man. [Completely foreign to him was the awareness, that man is a microcosm, that within him is revealed all the fullness of being. He was quite entirely indisposed towards that great truth, which had been revealed for Paracelsus, and for J. Boehme, which Liebnitz knew, and which again was revived by Baader and Schelling.]  He was oriented towards the external world, like a positivist, a naive realist and naturalist. He bitterly attacked Vl. Solov’ev for preferring a mystical reality. “Solov’ev saw the highest good not in the restoring of the real, but in the order of the mystical; he did not by accident quit the physics-mathematical faculty on account of “words” and philosophy, for the active power conveyed to man by physics seemed to him completely insignificant in comparison with the imagined power, bestown by mysticism, by magic, by the Kabbalistic… Mystical means can be acknowledged, only while the actual means are not apparent, and such actual at the present time are still few, although they ought to be incomparably greater: attempts at regulation of the meteorological process, of rain, hail, polar radiance; attempts to avert underground threats, earthquakes; attempts at eradication of epidemic sicknesses, counteracting the decline of the organism, and finally, attempts of resuscitation at the last… Herein the real path is not through the abolition, but rather towards the perfecting of the material world and towards its real, not mystical, rendering of the spiritual and resuscitation. If Solov’ev has preferred over the real means of world-betterment means that are Kabbalistic and suchlike, then is it not perhaps because, that they give a greater power (although only imaginary) not for everyone, but only for the chosen?”25  [“Solov’ev all his life wanted to be a superman: at one point a medium, then a Kabbalist, and then finally, a prophet”.]  Here Fedorov opposes the mystical to the real, like a very proper positivist, like a man of rationalistic consciousness, not believing in spiritual experience, in the revealing of an other activity quite more authentic, than that which is discerned in external experience. Knowledge for him — is always positivistic and scientific. [He was always for positivistic science and against occult science.]  He sets off against Vl. Solov’ev not only a positivism of knowledge, but also a democratism of knowledge. Everything that is accessible but to the few, revealed to the chosen, evokes in him repugnance and unbelief. The miraculous, the mythic he considers to be illusory. In his teaching about knowledge Fedorov remains a typical man of the scientific-positivistic and technological XIX Century, formed in his consciousness prior to that spiritual crisis, which the XX Century has revealed to people, though howsoever yet few, of other worlds and other manners of cognition, which has given rebirth to mysticism and an orientation to that, which Fedorov with such contempt terms “the Kabbalistic and magic”. Fedorov confesses an extensive, a boundless, a bold positivism. “The teaching about resuscitation can be termed positivism, but it is a positivism that relates to action, since as regards the teaching about resuscitation there is no knowledge-mythic in place of the positive, but rather a mythic fictitious activity is replaced by a positive activity, i.e. by action; and amidst this, the teaching about resuscitation does not posit arbitrary limits to action and it has in view action in general, and not each in separation. Resuscitation, as an action, is positivism in the sphere of final causes… The positivism of action in its antecedents possesses no mythology, no mystical art, since mythology is the product of an especial class of pagan-priests — the people however have a cult and sacrificial offering which also is a mystical art, and the resuscitation is a transforming of it into something active. Positivism of action is not a matter of class, but of the people”.26  Fedorov believes in the unbounded power of positivist knowledge, he believes it, like no other positivist ever believed it. For him knowledge is more basic than the will. Death itself for Fedorov depends ignorance, and the victory over death — upon knowledge and enlightenment. He poses a dilemma: “enlightenment or death, knowledge or eternal perishing, — there is no other outcome”.27  The brotherhood of people depends upon knowledge, in its depth and breadth.28  And this knowledge — is not mystical, is not gnostic, but rather a positive and scientific knowledge, democratic, a natural-knowledge amongst all peoples. Fedorov accepts the object-materialist realism and constantly upon it he bases his projects of the regulating of nature through knowledge. The problem of matter and of the material world is neither posited nor resolved by him; he constantly proceeds from an objective material reality within the context of a naive realism. With this, as will be apparent, is connected his vagueness regarding suchlike a material resurrection. Fedorov attributes a colossal significance to the Copernican astronomy. “Spiritualistic, dualistic philosophy is a continuation of the Ptolemaeic or world-edifice as it appears, in which the heavens are allotted to spiritual beings, and the earth — to the corporeal”.29  “The Copernican system turns man from a contemplator into an activator, but in the world he sees a blind power, he acknowledges the world with a blind power… God, according to the Copernican system, is the Father, not only doing everything  for people, but also through people, demanding, as the God of the fathers, from everyone alive an uniting for the resuscitation of the dead and for the settling by the resurrected generations of worlds for the governing of these lastly”.30  It is apparent, that Fedorov ascribes tremendous significance to the external-empirical position of man in the world-edifice, he accepts a naive realism and a naive materialism of he astronomical world-view, and he sets human life within the perspective of experience that is outward, and not inward, with its revealing of the spiritual centrality of man within being. The idea of regulating nature by man ought to be valued very highly, but it possesses deep meaning only in being subordinated within the self-consciousness of man, as a microcosm, in truth, as it is revealed within spiritual experience. Fedorov mechanically however conjoins naturalism with Christianity.

Fedorov much dislikes Kant for his division of two forms of reason. Kant for him is an ideologue of the teaching class, a preacher of a passive philosophy. The separating off of the theoretical reason from the practical — is the taproot sin of Western philosophy. Kant — is like a jailer, putting obstacles in the way of human activity, of active cognition. The philosophy of Kant — is a last judgement for philosophy, the end of philosophy, after which there ought to start action. In Russian philosophic thought there was always opposition to Kant. But with Fedorov the critique of Kant takes a very peculiar form. His criticism is completely pragmatic, active. In the essentials of the world-concept of Fedorov, with him there cannot be a theoretic-philosophic critique, he denies such an approach. Very characteristic for Fedorov are suchlike words: “if all the world became a matter of direction by all the reasoning beings, then also the judgements about all the world would already be synthetic judgements a priori”.31  In these words, which remain incomprehensible for the man of Western thought [for the German], there is expressed the essentially moral and practical character of Russian philosophic thought. The Russian mind does not start out from thought, as does the German mind, but from life itself it proceeds on to thought, as towards a tool for life. Fedorov, as a mind purely Russian, does not want to know the self-worth of thought, he does not strive towards pure cognition, free of any practical considerations. Knowledge is always but a means of practical-life considerations. Fedorov does not want to acknowledge even the negative mission of Kant and critical philosophy, through which the European consciousness had to pass. Fedorov stands firmly upon the initial wholeness, the organicity of life and he does not allow for any disintegration and division, nor of any sort of criticism, nor of any sort of liberation of spirit from the racial ancestral legacy, he does not allow for any sort of autonomy of the person. He sees the punishment of all Western philosophy in Nietzsche. Nietzsche — is the result of the whole of Western philosophy. In him was the dissociation of Western thought, and abstract thought passed over into the will for the ultimate eradication of the fathers, of the past, of tradition. Fedorov was more sympathetic to scientific positivism, than to philosophy.

The teaching of Fedorov about cognition is torn by a certain contradiction and already in any case it suffers a fatal vagueness. Fedorov believes in the boundless power of knowledge and he sets before knowledge the active task of the regulating of all nature, of the transforming of the world. But does cognition, according to Fedorov, possess an active, a creative nature? What is cognition? Fedorov inclines towards the understanding of cognition as a means towards practical ends, as a pragmatic tool. Cognition — is instrumental. But as to the nature of cognition itself Fedorov indicates nothing at all. He even denies, that cognition itself changes anything in the world-order. Brought up upon a purely positivist understanding of knowledge, he does not posit any question, whether knowledge itself is a creative act within the world. Knowledge is a tool for the active ends of man, but it itself is not active. But there is indeed possible a creative understanding of the act of cognition itself. The act of cognition itself is already a creative act, it itself unmediatedly changes the world, it brings light into being. For suchlike a consciousness there is necessary the knowledge itself to understand how being, how within the laws of being it is wrought. Knowledge in this instance is actively within being, it creatively transforms being, if it does not set being opposite as something external in position, but rather is immanent for being. Fedorov considers however as active not knowledge itself, but rather the techniques, based upon knowledge. Knowledge is not active, does not enlighten the world; it but prepares for the possibility of techniques, which regulates nature. Amidst this knowledge can be understood passively. [Knowledge itself is active, is light-bearing not for Fedorov’s pragmatism, but for gnosticism.]  With Fedorov likewise there is not explained, what action is. He understands action in a very narrow sense, in a practical-realist sense. He is therefore compelled not to regard cognition itself as action. He stands beyond the conditional and relative setting in opposition of action and contemplation. But contemplation itself can also be active, light-bearing, transfigurative. For Fedorov, in essence, there is no philosophy of cognition. But in his demands for a transition from passive philosophy to an active philosophy there is truth. What however is the philosophy itself of the common task, which he sets in opposition to the whole of European philosophy, in opposition to all human thought prior to him?


At the basis of the “Philosophy of the Common Task” rests an original teaching about kinship. The teaching of Fedorov about kinship, without which for him the common task is impossible, is a very consequential and radical patriarchal theory of social, world and Divine life. Not only at the basis of human life and the life of the world, but even at the basis of the life of God Himself lies kinship — fatherhood, sonship, brotherhood. The Tri-une God of Christianity — is the perfect model of kinship. The relationships of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit — are kindred relationships; this — is family, united in kindred love. Human relationships ought also to be organised on the model of these Divine relationships. For Fedorov a dogma is a commandment. The dogma of the Holy Trinity is a commandment of kinship, of kindred unity. “When a commandment was turned into a dogma, the fulfilling of the commandment became deadly, and not a living ritual; the ritual however, rendered only sacramental, ceased to be educational; and in this relationship, as regards form, Christianity became Judaeic, although the content, the forgotten sense of the ritual was Christian; and then life itself, activity, becomes cut off from the commandment, not positing itself the goal of fulfilling the obligation of gathering for resuscitation, and is turned into a pagan error, is rendered idolatry”.32  For Fedorov it is not a moral explanation of the Trinitarian dogma, but rather one that is projective. The kinship of the Divine Trinity is for mankind a project, a commandment, a task, and not a moral task of the individual person, but rather an universal task of the organisation of life. It is necessary to be saved not in isolation, but all together, in kinship. Arianism, as with every heresy, was the expression of an intellectualistic mindset, of a sundering of the kinship. The kindred unification of mankind would put an end to all heresies. The dogma of the Trinitarian God also only then would be grasped, when mankind is united into a kindred community. Kinship is both a natural and a Divine basis of life. Only kinship makes life organic. Kinship is he community of the sons of men, remembering their fathers, and it is the opposite to citizenship, as a community of prodigal sons, forgetful of their fathers. Brotherhood is impossible without sonship. It is only in regard to a father that people can be brothers. The category of sonship runs deeper roots, than the category of brotherhood. Fedorov regards humanism with hostility particularly because that humanism preaches a brotherhood without sonship, a brotherhood of prodigal sons, and not the sons of men. [Fedorov denies man and acknowledges only the sons of men.]  He took from the Slavophils the idea of familial kinship as a basis of community, but he very much deepened it, he revealed a whole metaphysics of patriarchality. The moral for Fedorov is also organically-natal and kinly. “Only the love of a son and daughter towards their parents, having itself no semblance in the animal kingdom, can serve in a certain semblance of likeness to the love of the Son and the Spirit for the Father”.33  The love towards fathers, towards forefathers is an higher thing in man, a resemblance of him to the Holy Trinity. The cult of the forefathers — is the sole true religion. “The true religion — is one, this — is the cult of the forefathers, and moreover it is a worldwide cult of all the fathers, as one father, not divided off from the Tri-une God and not blended away into Him, in Whom is made Divine the inseparability of the sons and daughters from the fathers and their non-confusion with them”.34  The love of children towards the fathers is higher than the love of the fathers for the children, which often becomes egoistic. Fedorov denies man as being whole of self and of value in himself, as a person, and he acknowledges only the son, i.e. a member of a kindred group. Brotherhood in regards to fatherhood he posits higher than equality and freedom. The maturity of the sons of men will start, only then when mankind passes over from the raising of the children by the fathers to the resuscitation of the fathers by the children. In opposition to the cult of eternal femininity, Fedorov wants to affirm a cult of eternal childhood. Fedorov — is a strict and implacable foe of the love for women. The prodigal sons abandoned their fathers and attached themselves to women, and for women they create culture. The whole culture of capitalistic society is based on the love for women and denies the love for the fathers. The whole of contemporary culture is created for the gratification of the feminine, and has a sexual origin. The cult of the feminine spurred the development of industry. There is depth to this idea of Fedorov about the connection of industry to the love for woman and the worship of the feminine. [The bourgeois culture of France confirms the truthfulness of this idea.]  The opulence of bourgeois-industrial society is created in the name of the feminine, and in it perishes the masculine spirit. It is not the cult of the feminine, but rather the cult of the childly that forges the masculine spirit. Fedorov despises the contemporary femininity and feminine-worship of society, bereft of manly courage. Fedorov wants to believe in the child-likeness of the Slavs and upon this he finds the basis of their high calling.

“The teaching about the Holy Spirit is expressed on the plane of common action, in which the obligation of the sons and daughters of man towards the common fatherhood assumes an ultimate preponderance over that of the society of sexual selection”.35    With the duty of resuscitating the fathers Fedorov wants to extinguish the sexual passion: the power, which goes into the begetting of children, ought to be directed to the resuscitation of the fathers. He wants a reverse movement in natal life. All the natal energy ought to be reversed from the children to the fathers. With this is connected Fedorov’s remarkable teaching about the daughters of man. A woman ought first of all to be a daughter. First a daughter, and then later still a mother. The daughter — is a resurrectress, the woman — a world-bearer. In the teaching of the Holy Trinity given as a model and example for human life, in It there ought to be both son, and daughter. “If in the teaching about the Trinity the Spirit were not to present a model for the daughter, then the Trinity Itself is but turned into something lifeless, monadic, Platonic or Platonistic; if indeed the daughter were not in the likeness of the Holy Spirit, there would be no spirit of love, and then would pervade a spirit of dissolution, of nihilism”.36  The Holy Spirit — is daughter. The daughter of man possesses the image of the Holy Spirit, similar to how that the son of man possesses the image of God the Son. In the revelation about the Holy Spirit there is included the revelation, that “woman, having become a mother, does not cease to be a daughter; she is a forever-daughter. And this is in accord with another command, but with far more definedly an expression, if the Mother of God be accepted as a model for us. In accord with this command a woman, having become a mother, ought to remain a virgin, an ever-virgin”.37  Fedorov foresees, that his teaching about the Daughter-Spirit will be disturbing to very many, and will seem like heresy. “Very many, actually, would be upset and distressed by the teaching about the Daughter-Spirit, although indeed they are not distressed by the teaching about the Son the Word; but ultimately the relationship to the Trinity is missionary; it is indeed a matter of missionary-apostles to be followed out to the end. The teaching about the Daughter-Spirit relates to the Trinity as regards the common task, which is resuscitation and for which only now the times do ensue; the teaching about the Son the Word relates to the unification of the living, the teaching about the Daughter-Spirit to the revivification of the dead… In the Trinity as common task the Holy Spirit is revealed … in the guise of the “Daughter of Man”, signifying not alone virginalness, immaculateness, i.e. a personal negative virtue, the absence of defilement, but also a positive chastity, the replacement for the begetting of resuscitation… In regard to deceased parents the daughter is world-bearer”.38  With his teaching about the son and daughter, Fedorov wanted to conquer not only the love for sensuality, the love for women, the sexual passion, but also the love for power, the will to might. “Before something can strive, it mustneeds be born; and to be born — means to become a son, to be manifest first of all as a child, which is still then already, when there are not yet discerned sexual distinctions, when there is still not yet engendered the vice of love for power. The renegade of filial duty has forgotten, that the son’s love for father takes precedence over the love for power”.39

The teaching of Fedorov about kinship, about the son and daughter as principles, having its archetype within the very bosom of the Divine Trinity, is very original, bold and remarkable. But in the very primary foundations of this teaching there lies a confusion of various planes — of the new, the prophetic, the forward orientation, mixed up with the unsurmounted old naturalism, with naive realism and materialism. Kinship and sonship are bound up with begetting, and in it only do they appear. But what of birth from a Christian, from a religious point of view? The Christian mystics always distinguished a second birth in relation to the first birth. The first birth is a birth into the natal-kindred, within the natural order, a birth in regard to flesh and blood. Fedorov seeks to extend the natal naturalism even into the nature of the Holy Trinity, he wants to make the spiritual birth identical with the natural birth. Fedorov deifies the natural natal kinship, he does not want to know a second birth of man in the spirit: kindredness and childliness for him are inseparably bound up with the sexual act, with natural natal kinship. But he himself acknowledges however the birth by sin and he himself thirsts to transform the sexual passion, with its impulsion towards natural birth, into a power for resuscitating the dead. But the religious naturalism throws him into a vicious circle. In the natural natal kinship, the eternal cycle of birth and death is irreversible, it is predestined to a bad infinity and a bad multiplicity. In the natural natal kinship there is still no person, no personness, no man, there is no freedom. The whole teaching of Fedorov about kinship is indicative of a confused mixing up of Christianity with paganism. The cult of ancestors — is a pagan religion. In this natal kindred religion of the forefathers there is no place for the words of Christ about this, that it is necessary to hate father and mother and that the enemies for a man be of his own household, and there is not Christ’s mystery of the birth of the human person in spirit, there is not freedom. For the Christian consciousness, cleansed and free from every paganism, it is impossible to return to the aboriginal natural kindred relationships, to the religion of kin and ancestors, — there mustneeds be a passage through a new, a second birth of the human person in God, and not in the world, and there mustneeds be a distinction of spiritual relationship from the natal relationship. Christianity is the revelation about man as person, and not man as the son of his kin after flesh and blood. But Fedorov does not accept the freedom of the person [the autonomy of man]  as a self-sufficing religious and moral principle in connection with Christianity. He declines having the “proud” name of “man”. It is only the son of man that he accepts, the son, born in kinship and connected with the fathers by flesh and blood. Fedorov is compelled at the same time both to negate and to deify sexual begetting, and the resusciative power is chained fast to the death-bearing power. He naturalises and materialises Christianity so radically, as no one before him had ever done. And therefore the genuinely new and regenerative aspects of his teaching are enslaved to the old, to the suppressing of every free stirring. Very characteristic for his naturalistic religion of kinship is a complete lack of understanding of erotic love. [This is not only in regard to him individually, but is also something characteristically Russian.]  He does not accept the splendour, the vitality, the freedom from the world, the intimate individuality of every love, with its contrast to the race and everything racial.

The patriarchal kindred relationship in the theology and metaphysics of Fedorov is based upon a patriarchal natal kindred sociology. A patriarchal theory of sociality is characteristic for Russian thought. The familial kindred conception of social relations provides the inspiration for the social philosophy of the Slavophils, and in Russian Populism there can always be detected this patriarchal element. Many a time there have been attempts to base the great superiorities of Russia in contrast to Europe upon this positivist materialist basis, that we have preserved still the kindred social relationships, the patriarchal aspect of life down on the land, i.e. upon our social backwardness. The populist-Slavophils and the populist-positivists both alike adhere to this materialism. A task of Russian Marxism has been in the revelatory unmasking of the materialist nature of the populist illusions and the material similarity in the social evolution of all peoples. Howsoever strange it may seem, but the invoking of materialism ultimately enabled an emancipation from spiritual materialism, from the chaining down of spiritual life by religious and moral ideas in regard to the social matter. Marxism has realistically unmasked the historico-traditional, and was a negative religious truth in this unmasking of ideologies, in which the spirit was chained down to matter. After the negative criticism of Marxism, it became no longer possible to have a materialistic populism, and there became impossible the illusions, binding spiritual life to social matters. Marxism served only indirectly to this liberating of the human spirit, since it itself denies everything of spirit; the positive and non-mediated freedom of spiritual life has been won by the religio-philosophical works of the last decade, by the revival of mysticism.

The teachings of Fedorov, actually, are a final attempt at the constructing of a patriarchal kindred relationship of sociality — an attempt, nigh close to Slavophilism, but more radical and consequential. The Slavophils did not approach to such an idealisation of autocracy, for Fedorov bases the Russian autocracy not upon the national historical, — he instead infers it from the kindred relational nature of the Divine Trinity, from his religion of kinship and cult of the forefathers. The fantastic aspect as regards autocracy reaches for him colossal dimensions. The Russian autocrat is represented by him as a governor and regulator of all nature, the executor for all the dead forefathers, standing “in the paternal place”, raising up mankind into its maturity. He expands autocracy to the meteorological elements and the vaults of heaven. The autocrat — is vicar for all the fathers, the representative of the entire race, the executor for all the departed generations gone before. He is established by the fathers, whom he must resurrect, and therefore he cannot be removed by the sons. The power of one, who stands in the place of the fathers, is not dependent upon the will of the sons. The theory of autocracy for Fedorov — is naturalistically ancestral. At its foundation indeed lies all this religious materialism, this materialisation and naturalisation of the Holy Trinity, and the materialisation and naturalisation of the human spirit. The fantasies of autocracy, stretched out to the vaults of the heavens and to the resuscitation of the dead, comprises in itself nothing real, nor has it any sort of connection with history or concrete life. The Slavophils had, to an extreme measure, a tendency towards realism, and they had a feel for the national historical traditions. But with Fedorov, autocracy is simply a grandiose utopia [completely illusionary].  “For the restoring of brotherly unity, for the gradual extension and preservation of it within humankind, and likewise also for the directing by the brotherly union of sons of the dead fathers in the common fatherly task — in a task, evoked by those lost, it demands a vicar, an executor, standing in place of the father; this is the autocrat”.40  This philosophy of autocracy — is purely projective. And this project of the autocracy has nothing in common, with what autocracy has been [and is].  There has never [up to the present]  been discovered a resusciative power in autocracy; it has lived and acted in accord with the law of this world, and not in the spirit of Christ, and it was brought about by the demands of this world, by pagan needs, and to the life of the spirit it has had no relationship. According to Fedorov, autocracy is a dictator, called forth by the necessity to contend against the blind forces of nature and death. Autocracy is “a rearing and nurturing power, i.e. leading forth to maturity”.41  “Obligatory universal education is a Christian duty of the godfather-tsar, consisting in this, that all be rendered worthy of an attestation of maturity, witnessing that those having received it have gotten beyond the age of pranks and mischief, have gotten beyond the age of attraction to games, , and as participants in the great common task, that they have no further need of overseers, nor governesses, nor reform schools”.42  That the autocracy instead factually corresponds in particular to the immaturity of people, this troubles Fedorov not at all. “The duty of the autocrat consists in this, that all ultimately be rendered like to himself, i.e. responsible only before God and their own conscience, capable to live without oversight and incapable of transgression of duty, incapable also to leave they duty unfulfilled; consequently, the image for the monarchic domain can only be one of complete maturity”.43  This maturity for Fedorov is decisively contrary to every demand for rights, for the freedom of the person. He considers the demand for rights a sign of immaturity. The Russian people, called forth in their vocation of the common task, demands not liberation, but rather service, and therefore he is for the autocracy. Service to the tsar, as a positive deed, he sets in opposition to privileges and rights. As a democrat and populist, he is especially hostile to the privileges of the nobility. Fedorov — is resolutely and extremely anti-state. He is the enemy of everything regarding the state, including the juridical and the economic. Everything juridical and economic is a sign of immaturity. He denies the state, the economy and rights, in the name of the patriarchal kindred relationship. True Christianity is not slavery and it is not the gentry, but rather kinship. Sociality ought to be familial, and social relationships — to be familial relationships. This is purely a Slavophil idea. But Fedorov even accuses the Slavophils of having a Western outlook (on the monarchy), and he does not forgive them, in that they taught about the origins of the Russian autocracy as deriving from the people’s will. He is sharply critical of constitutionalism. “The constitution — this is a turning of the sons of men into prodigal sons, it is a substitute for a life that should be for the past, possessing and needing to have a future, while being a life for the present with an exalting of the sons before their fathers, as compared to an aimless existence”.44  The constitution — regards the rights of the living. The autocracy — is the duty towards the dead: “Orthodoxy demands such a society, in which there would be no need for punishments, nor oversight, and justly it would reckon as immature those societies, which have need for drill-maters, i.e. those societies, at the foundations of which lie juridical and economic principles, since everything juridical and economic is an abomination before the Tri-une God and the multi-une human race. For the multi-unity in the image of the Divine Tri-unity, the autocracy also leads the human race. The autocrat himself — is in a religious and moral capacity and is foreordained for the gradual setting-aside of everything juridical, as being immoral and anti-religious”.45  For the social philosophy of Fedorov, there appears to be a basic opposition between kinship and citizenship. Citizenship is an unbrotherly, an unkinly state of prodigal sons. Only prodigal citizen-sons are capable of demanding rights and freedom. “The desolation within the cemeteries is a natural consequence of the decay of kinship and its transformation into citizenship”.46  The kinship community of the sons of man ought to be carried over to the cemeteries, to the graves of the fathers. “The whole morality of the first three Gospels consists in this, to be converted into children, to be born a son of man, completely ignoring earthly distinctions and, on the contrary, deeply conscious of inward kinship, wanting to serve, and not to lord it over… The child, as criterion, is a denial of non-kinship, of ranks and orders, of everything juridical and economic, and is instead the affirmation of universal kinship”. Between the Christian and the citizen there exists the deepest contradiction and incompatibility. Fedorov here senses an undoubtable truth, but he attaches it to something false. He denies not only the constitution, citizenship, freedom and rights, as being an immaturity, an incapacity for the “common task”, — he likewise denies also socialism. Socialism wants to affirm brotherhood while denying the fatherland, it wants the brotherhood of the prodigal sons, and not the sons of men, — a citizen brotherhood, and not a kinly brotherhood, — a mechanistic, and not an organic brotherhood. But Fedorov acknowledges the power and significance of socialism, he sees in it a remembrance of the Christian world concerning the universal task. “The appearance of socialism can be considered a punishment for Christianity in its hypocritical worship of the Trinity, acknowledged but as a dogma, and not a commandment”.47  “Socialism at the present time does not have an opponent; religion with its transcendent content, “not of this world”, with the Kingdom of God only but within us, cannot stand in opposition to it. Socialism can even seem to be the realisation of Christian morality. But particularly needful is the question about the unification of the sons in the name of the fathers, in order that the unification in the name of progress, in the name of comfort, be shown forth in all its immorality”.48

Fedorov sees the great preeminence of Russia in its social backwardness, in its undeveloped degree of the personal principle. “All our preeminence consists but in this, that we have preserved a very close to original form of life, that with which human existence started out, i.e. a kindred way of life.  At its foundation rests five commands”.49  In the declining and dying-out remnants of the Russian lifestyle, connected readily moreso with Russian paganism than Russian Christianity, Fedorov saw a guarantee that the “common task” was starting in Russia. More than once already had messianic hopes been connected, not with the potentials of the Russian spirit thirsting for the City of God, but with the peculiarities of the Russian way of life, with the peasant obschina-commune, with patriarchal power, etc. Thus also had done the Slavophils, who had made a jumble of the Christian religion of the person, of brotherhood in terms of spirit and freedom in spirit, mixing it up with the pagan religion of kinship and a natural kindred way of life. This jumbled hodgepodge reached extremes with Fedorov, indeed the utmost limits. The making absolute of the natal-kindred way of life by Fedorov is also [a monstrous] religious materialism and naturalism, a jumbling of Christianity together with paganism, a tying down of spirit to social and natural matters. The agricultural lifestyle, the village peasant obschina-commune, the patriarchal family — these are all transitory and passing phenomena of this world, which possess no direct relationship to Christianity; these are all — but moments of a natural social evolution, wrought out of the loins of “this world” and in accord with its laws. The Absolute cannot be appended to anything relative, spirit cannot be enslaved to matter, Divine freedom is inadaptable to worldly necessity. In its metaphysical essence, the racial kinship is a material burden, making for necessity. The messianic hopes, the forward orientations for new life, for the transfiguration of the world, — all have to be cleansed completely and freed from the burden and necessity of the natural racial-kinship. Fedorov in essence is not free from the mixing all together of the spiritual with the juridical and the economic, even though he rebelled against this. For it ultimately has to be exposed without any sort of quibbling, that be it the patriarchal family, or autocracy by birth, or the village peasant obschina-commune, and everything comprising the agricultural way of life — all this is “worldly”, “juridical” and “economic”, though in an undeveloped and elementary form; all this — is but a backward “citizenship” under the compulsion of necessity, and all this is incompatible with the Tri-une God, with Christ, with the Spirit, with spiritual rebirth, with spiritual freedom and spiritual brotherhood. The familial obschina-commune is situated on the same plane, as for a capitalist economy or a socialist economy, and autocracy is on the same plane, as it is for a constitutional state or a socialist republic. For the Russian trend to fantasy on this theme, that the Russian organic manner of life, bound up with the old, somehow manages to escape the natural social necessity, deriving from an evolutionary process common to all the world, — there has to be stated a scientific, a moral, a religious limit. And this limit is there already in thew workings of the consciousness, in life itself. [The concepts of Fedorov are totally archaic.]  No one can support such an outlook as his racial theory. Even the old Slavophil concepts about the statelessness of the Russian people is so inconsistent with Russian history, with the facts, that it demands a serious reviewing. The Russian people have created a tremendous, an unprecedentedly immense state and they have expended upon this task as much strength, as they were able. The Russians have become exhausted by the hugeness of their state, by defending their own position in the world. Smothered by the expanse of the Russian state, which served to have its own guard-sentry mission in the world, they gave rise to a peculiar state parasitism and vampirism, dictating various deceitful ideologies. The Slavophil ideology, demanding the lack of power for the people and for society, was begotten by this peculiar state vampirism. To the grief of the Russian people, the state was transformed from a means into an end in itself and it received the wherewithal to lead a self-sufficing, almost fictitious life of its own. From this there was the unprecedented growth of the bureaucracy and the weak development of self-initiative in society and the person, both in the past, and at present. Even the Church was transformed into a tool of the vampire-like state bureaucracy. And the non-statist Fedorov, loving only kinship. Was also in the grip of this vampirism, which forces the Russian people to deny the independent meaning of freedom, and which lulls into a stupor every spontaneity of the human will. This fatal characteristic of the Russian state (carried over into the Soviet order) forces us down into a condition of eternal immaturity. The Russian people have tended so readily to confess the ideals of statelessness, especially because the Russian state has smothered them by its self-sufficing existence. Fedorov also was smothered, and his religion of racial kinship was a peculiar expression of this smothering.


The genuine greatness and authentic originality of Fedorov, compensating for his reactionary and old kindred ideology, mustneeds be sought in his exceptional and unprecedented awareness of the active vocation of man in the world, in his religious demand of an active, regulative, transformative relationship to nature. If the teachings of Fedorov about the patriarchal and kindred social relationships be but a replay of the old Slavophil motifs [now having lost all vital significance], then his teaching about the activeness of man, about the regulating of nature is however of a new consciousness, going beyond the limits and boundaries of historical Orthodoxy, an orientation forward, calling for the transfiguration of the world.50  Fedorov introduces into Christianity an active anthropologism. He radically revolts against that passivity of man, which within Orthodoxy had been elevated almost to a dogma. The tremendous significance of Fedorov is that man truly occupies a standing position. This defensive stance is a sign, that man is called to an active struggle with nature and to the directing of its elemental forces. Man ought not to passively lay down on his belly. He — is an active struggler, everywhere by his toil introducing an expedient conformity to his purposes. Fedorov considers a passive attitude to nature to be something pagan. Only man conveys into nature a purposive expediency. Nature itself is lacking in awareness and purposive expediency. In this unconscious aspect of the blind elementary forces of nature — is the source of all evil. “In the regulative, in the directing of the forces of blind nature there is comprised also that great task, which can be and ought to be a common task”. This common task ought to be extended not only throughout all the earth, and into the meteorological weather aspects, but also into the heavenly expanses. Man is called to regulate purposively the whole universe, to bring consciousness into the whole manifold of being. Fedorov says quite colourfully, that “our spacial-capacity serves to the passage over to the expanses of space, to a new arena for great efforts”. Who is our enemy? — asks Fedorov. “This enemy — is nature. It — is a power, as long as we are powerless, as long as we have not brought it under our control. This power is a blind power, as long as we lack the intellect, as long as we do not constitute it with reason. Caught up in constant hostility and mutual destruction, having to do things against our will, we take no notice of this common enemy and even we bow the knee before the power hostile to us, the beneficence of which for us is both harmful, as well as hostile. Nature is our temporal enemy, but our eternal friend, since there is no eternal hostility, and the removal of the temporal is our task”. God does not Himself create purposiveness and consciousness in nature; He entrusts that deed to man, and through man He completes the creation. “God — is the Tsar, Who does everything not only merely for man, but also through man; wherefore also in nature there is no purposiveness, so that man himself has to be included in it, and in this is included the utmost purposiveness. The Creator through us recreates the world, He resurrects all that are perished”. In this idea of Fedorov there is the conception of a completely original cosmology, which regrettably was not explored nor developed by him, by virtue of his disdain for speculation. The creation of the world truly indeed was not finalised by God — it is continued by man. The religious justification of man’s activity is seen by Fedorov to be in the fundamental Christian dogma of the two natures of Christ, which therein ought to be understood practically, as a command. An exclusively Monophysite tendency leads to the denial of human activity, to the swallowing up of the human nature by the Divine nature. “The spelling out, that Christ was not only God, but actual man also, as such proves also the necessity of the activity of man himself in the deed of resuscitation, and which is not only moral, but also mental, and physical, and material. The union within Christ of two natures, of two wills, of two activities, as such gives credence to necessity in the matter of the redemption or resuscitation of the two wills, acting in full harmony. But the teaching about the two wills, acting in harmony, has remained only a dogma, a theory, lacking expression in actual life; but in such a falling-away of the theory from actual practice they have failed to see a falling-away from Christianity, the setting aside of the actual deed of redemption and resuscitation, they have failed to see therein the renunciation of the Redeemer, the Resurrected One”.51  There remains only the uncertainty in what, according to Fedorov, is the source of the unconscious, the dark and death-bearing elementalness of nature. With him there was no trace of the developing of a cosmology or anthropology. It would be difficult to search out an anthropology in Fedorov, a teaching about man, a justification of the exclusive activity of man. The projective character of his philosophy does not permit of such an anthropology or cosmology. The gnostic-mystic teaching about man as a microcosm was alien to him. But amidst all this, his projective philosophy of a common deed sets before man an extraordinarily daring task, presupposing an exceptional self-consciousness in man, of his microcosmic and Divine nature, present for all the natural order. The naturalistic teaching about man is quite unsuitable for the justification of man’s activity. Only the liberation of man, of his Divine image from the natural racial-kinship makes man to be active, to be a creator, a transfigurer of the world. A member of racial-kinship dwells still wholly within the natural cycle.

Fedorov does not want to accept grace as something freely bestown. For him everything bestown has to be transformed into earned. The elemental, unconscious, death-bearing power of nature has to be subjugated by human toil, and not by miracle. Fedorov does not want, that something  be granted man as a gift, without toil and effort. “The task of man consists in the changing of everything natural, bestown, into a product gotten by toil, by work”.52  And the festive, the resurrectional Sunday ought to be a day of work, a day of toil. “Nirvana — this is an unconditional, an absolute Sabbath… For Christianity the feastday ought to be a day of work”.53  Fedorov glorifies the “ungifted”, as being the poor in spirit, who stand higher than the very “gifted”. For him, the Gospel evangelists — were quite lacking in talent, yet amidst this, were very much geniuses. Everything gifted — is bestown, and not by toil, which is repulsive for Fedorov. Completely foreign to him is a Carlyle-like cult of the great, of people with a vocation; rather, he — is a spiritual democrat, a populist, he does not want to know any exalting of persons. Work for him is not a matter of qualification, not individual, but rather a collective, universal, imperial service. The predicted perishing in the apocalyptic prophecies is given but for the spurring on of the energies of man. In his project of the common task, Fedorov ascribes very little significance to Divine action, to mystery, and he ascribes no sort of significance at all to mystical contemplation. The workings of scientific technology for him are more necessary than any graced mystery. Mystery and contemplation have been too misused by the gifted in Christianity, in denying the activity of man. Fedorov wants a toiling Christianity. He does not accept a salvation freely gifted. Yet with him there is very deep thought about liturgy outside of the Church, Pascha outside of the Church. “Until there is an extra-churchly liturgy, an extra-churchly Pascha, i.e. an everyday and throughout the year deed (meteorologic, tellurgic), until that time also resuscitation will remain only a ritual, and will not be an accord between the churchly and extra-churchly deed”.54   Fedorov wants to render the liturgy and Pascha immanent to man, an inner deed of human activity. The exclusively transcendent acceptance of liturgy and Pascha transforms the deed of resuscitation into a ritual. Fedorov wants to transform the scientific-technical activity of man, in regard to nature, into an extra-churchly liturgy. “Liturgy ought to embrace the whole of life, not the spiritual only and inward, but also the external, the worldly, the mundane, transforming it into a deed of resuscitation”.55   Fedorov does not want a paradise, something not created by people and other-worldly. He “demands paradise, the Kingdom of God, not something other-worldly, but this-worldly, a transfiguration, stretching throughout all the coelestial worlds in the sky… Paradise and the Kingdom of God are not only within us, not conceptual only, not spiritual only, but also visible, tangible”.56   The extra-churchly deed — is not miraculous, it issues forth from man, and not from God. Fedorov ascribes a great significance to ritual, but in ritualistic Christianity he sees an immaturity. Ritual should have been replaced by the deed, and the transcendent become immanent. Fedorov does not call for the exploitation of the powers of nature, for a greedy and despoiling attitude towards nature, always laying waste to it, but for its regulation, for the governing of nature, for the transforming of the unconscious into the conscious, the mortal and the deadly into the living and the immortal. He was hostile to the spirit of XIX Century technology, a spirit of exploitation and greed. He is completely negative towards capitalist industrialism. (He is by far more radical an enemy of capitalism, than are the Communists.) But he expects the change in human life and human relationships from the change in attitude towards nature. Poverty and death — are from the unconscious in nature, from the slavery of man to nature, from a passive attitude. “Regulating, in contrast to exploitation and utilisation, i.e. in contrast to the plundering of it by the prodigal sons on account of women, leading to waste and death, — regulating leads to the restoration of life”.57  In the passive following out of the course of nature Fedorov sees the source of aging and death. “In the rule “follow nature” — is enclosed the demand of subordinating a rational being to a blind power. To follow nature — means to participate in the sexual and natural struggle, i.e. to struggle for mates and to lead a struggle for existence, and to acknowledge everything consequent upon such struggle, i.e. old age and death; this means to bow down and to serve a blind power. Old age is however a downfall, and the old age of Christianity will ensue, if the preaching of the Gospel fails to lead mankind to an uniting in the common task”.58  Fedorov radically criticises all the social teachings, which see in poverty the source of all misfortunes. Poverty — is a derivative manifestation. Poverty — is derivative from death, and death is from a passive subjection to unconscious nature. “As long as there has been death, there has also been the want in poverty; when however immortal life ensues, discovered by toil, then it will not be possible to speak about any sort of poverty”.59  Fedorov proposes “to replace the question about wealth and poverty by the question about death and life, or about the universal restoration of life”.60  The power, exerted in the mutual destruction of people, ought to be directed to the conquest of nature, to the mastering of the expanses of space, to the readying of the habitation of the resuscitated forefathers. The question about property ownership will be resolved only after the mastery of nature. The social question can be decided “not by socialism, but only by nature-knowledge”. “Only nature-knowledge can lead to a peaceful resolution of the question. The matter of resuscitation issues forth not from sympathy for oppressed slaves, and not from hatred for oppressing capitalists, but from natural weakness, a natural imperfection of human nature, in common one with another, i.e. from the propensity to death”.61  Fedorov sees the root of evil not in the relationship of man to man, not in the dark will of people, but in the relationship of man to nature. Fedorov here in a strange way crosses paths with his antipode — Marxism, although the actual active relationship to nature he tends to understand altogether differently, than does Marxism. Concerning the approach to industrial production for Marxism, he says: “Speak, that these stones be made bread, — says Satan: this also is exploitation, utilisation, demanding a manufactured product and leading to depletion. Regulating however is a sacred deed, both human and Divine”.62  Regulating is connected with the village, and not with the city, with the land, and not with industry.

Fedorov — is a very ardent and extreme exponent of Russian religious populism. He subjoins Christianity to farming and to the agricultural lifestyle. “Just as nomads are by nature — Mahometans, so also city-people are by nature — pagans, and only farmers — are by nature Christians. Though in the West the peasantry is comprised of the sons of pagans, but this is because, that there Christianity is only an inward, personal matter for each one; with us however the peasants are the sons of Christians”.63  In the agricultural religions “are included all the instincts of true Christianity, since for the farmers, living in a kindred, patriarchal lifestyle, in God also would be understood a kindred love relation… The Eucharist and the resurrection of the dead likewise have instinctive traits in the agricultural lifestyle”.64  Fedorov confesses a peasant religion of the village. For him, as for many in Russia, Christianity is a religion of the peasantry. Russia is a Christian land, since it is a peasant land. (In actuality, and historically, Christianity was a city-folk religion, whereas the peasants, the farmers, were pagans.) Fedorov naturalises and materialises Christianity. He wants to see the basis of genuine Christianity in purely natural conditions. He does not accept and does not understand Christianity as something supra-natural, supra-mundane, a spiritual fact. His religion is too dependent upon an external lifestyle and is subject to the danger of change and decline of the lifestyle. For him “the city is incommensurable with Christianity”.65  The development of the city, of urban industry and culture is ruinous for the kindred peasant-Christian religion. For the city — is a betrayal of the fathers, a pandering to the women. The village — is fidelity to the fathers. The common deed of the sons of men can only be started in the village, with the dust of the forefathers, close nigh to the land. The whole originality of Fedorov is in this, that from the village and the farmers he demands the utmost knowledge, the development of active power in relation to nature and the regulating of nature through knowledge. The farmer has to direct not only the land, but also weather events and the whole solar system. The idea of meteorological weather-regulating, the skillful calling down of rain was a central, almost obsessive idea for Fedorov. The meteorological weather-regulating would also represent an active relationship of the farmer to nature. City industry is occupied with the readying of unnecessary things, trinkets, items of luxury. In it there is not the fulfilling of the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”, there is no genuine deed. Industry is always an exploitation, and not regulation. Farming is the pledge of a true regulating, of an authentic deed, the realisation of the prayer about daily bread. We mustneeds pass over from the city to the village. Fedorov did not want to take into account the inevitability of industrial development, the impossibility to hold back the growth of city culture, the dissolution by capitalism of the village way of life with its natural economy. He — is an utopian populist. He did not want to admit, that within the loins of the city itself, amidst the industrial orgy there could be developed and strengthened another spirit, neither bourgeois nor capitalist, not positivist-utilitarian, that the creativity of life is not so slavishly dependent upon the material conditions of life. City culture tended to present itself to Fedorov as hopelessly lacking in kinship, as something greedily egoistic, capable only of a plundering relationship to nature. Only from the village could there come that active regulating, which would transform solar power into economic power. Fedorov in his projects come close to wild visionary dreamings, which upon some might produce the impression of folly. “The Copernican setup has a closest similarity with the primitive village prototype of architecture — the “khovorod” choral circle-dancing, as a mimicked solar-orbit: it would be a whole series of circle-dances, choruses of resuscitated generations, of which first would be the actual earth-coursing, and all the other total planetary-coursings, likewise actual. All these orbital-coursings together would moreover in motion comprise a temple-church, the parts of which in total would actually be ships, “etherozotoi” or aethereal points of life, electric discharges, swimmers of the aethereal expanse, freely moving about in it, but not sundering communion with the centre, with the home-hearth, but with everything being drawn towards the central body, they regulate its course, and with it also the course of the whole solar system, of the whole chorus, of all the squadrons of the universe, of the fleet of the worlds — the stars. These are those choruses, the reality of which was presupposed by Pythagoras and his school — predecessors of Copernicus within the ancient world. Only the Copernican arrangement, based upon coelestial mechanics, can attain an architectural perfection. God the Creator creates man in accord with a creative image, that of being a re-creator. Consequently, the artistry is initiated together with man upon earth and is perfected in heaven”.66   (There is here an affinity with Fourier). There is a beauty and majesty in the worldly rhythm, coinciding with the rhythm of the agricultural manner of life. Fedorov wants to erect an universal cosmic temple-church, which would be inhabited not by artistic likenesses, not by icons and pictures, but by living resuscitated ancestors. “Christianity is not only a commemoration of life, but also a deed of redemption, which also is comprised throughout all the expanse and extent of all the world… If from the beginning of the world there has started also its end, its downfall, then together with man is begun its restoration. The vertical position of man himself is already a counteraction to the downfall”.67  Fedorov wants this vertical position of man to reach to the very heavens, to a capacity to direct the whole worldly system. It is impossible to deny this idea as at the heights held by spirit. But upon what sort of powers does Fedorov reckon to regulate?

In the matter of regulating nature Fedorov most of all awaits an army, which in no case ought to be abolished, but which ought to be transformed from a power for the mutual destruction of people into a power of struggling with the elements of nature and for directing nature. Universal military conscription ought to be transformed into a duty obligatory for all to participate in an active struggle with the unconscious forces of nature and in an active regulating of nature. The army ought to occupy itself with an investigation of nature. “The salvific organisation already exists; this organisation — is the army… It requires merely, that in the army, besides its defense from others like itself, there should now be imposed the obligation of investigating also all that which would serve for defense against the blind forces of nature… It is a matter not of the abolition of the army, that great force, which also is impossible, but rather its transformation into a nature-investigative force which would render the army indispensable”.68  The army and its troops ought not to be replaced by the manufacturing business, as would tend to happen under the bourgeois spirit so despised by Fedorov; they ought to be turned against the sole enemy, the source of death and every evil, against the blind and unconscious forces of nature, whilst preserving their military spirit. In this project of Fedorov, as in everything with him, what is striking is his rationalistic optimism, his not wanting to take into account the evil will of people, the dark and irrational in human life. There is a natural evil element even within man. The army and military forces are begotten from the evil hostility of people, from the irrational in life, such as is incommensurate with human reason. Fedorov wants to make rational the army and military forces, to transform them without residue into the purest good. He believes, that people therefore would not only direct all their power towards the common task, but that they would know in what the common task consists, that they would have a true awareness of this. Fedorov here is at one with L. Tolstoy, who likewise did not want to reckon with the darkness of the will, and who believed that it is sufficient for people but to be aware of the Divine law of life, in order for universal salvation and good to ensue. But indeed within man himself is the stirrings of chaos. Fedorov likewise does not want to reckon with this, that the growth of human activity in regard to nature is brought about in directions, directly contrary to that which he desired. The technical dominance over nature, which each day brings more extraordinary conquests, is destructive to the organic kindred life, it leads t the triumph of mechanism over the organic. In the growth of the might of man over nature there is a victory of “futurism”, which is mercilessly inimical to anything involving kinship. Every day industry and technology strike blows at the remnants of the kinship-patriarchal structures of life, which Fedorov considers to be eternal, the solely right, and the very wellsprings of which he attributed to the Holy Trinity. There remains either in effect the hopeless pessimism of having to admit that the human spirit is doomed to shameful ruination, or else to acknowledge the human spirit and the eternally-Divine as being independent from the material conditions of life, the material lifestyle and the disintegrative structures of this world. It mustneeds openly, bravely and intrepidly be admitted, that the old organic synthesis of life, the synthesis of the material world, the kindred body is becoming dismembered and in decay. The spirit of man, the human countenance has to not only survive this tormentive process, but also to strengthen itself in utmost freedom.

There remains to be considered what nature itself is for Fedorov, whether it possesses its own inner life? Fedorov is repelled by the contemplation of nature and of the knowledge of its mysteries, and he does not want to penetrate into the life of nature. He postulates, that nature is something unconscious, blind, death-bearing, and that it — is the enemy of man and the source of evil. And the impression remains, that for him nature — is not alive, lacking inspiration, deadly and mechanical. For him it is impossible to have any sort of union or communion with nature through a contemplation of its inner life of mystery, its spiritual essence. Towards nature there is possible only a practical and active, economic relationship. Regulating — is the sole aspect of a relationship to nature. Fedorov looks upon nature with the eyes of the practical economist, the organiser of life. For a disinterested contemplation, mystical and aesthetic, there remains no place. Fedorov does not see within nature a living organism (the hierarchy of spirits). And any demonology is unacceptable to him, as a remnant of paganism. And all the while there is here within him a sense of the inviolate positivism of the XIX Century, subject to a mechanistic nature-knowledge. With Fedorov there was a purely positivist hostility to anything magical. “Having acknowledged demons within the power of nature and being as such a remnant of paganism, Christianity considered it necessary to struggle with them and in this was a true Christianity; but it struggled with them only in signs, by symbols (as for example, the Sign of the Cross), in which there was an avowed magic power. The most modern Christianity, having repudiated demons, most especially so at the highest levels, by this has reverted to Christianity, but at the same time it has acknowledged the dominion of natural forces over man and by this has again become pagan!” With Fedorov there was a true awareness that Christianity ought to liberate man from the power of the demons of nature, to which the pagan world was subject, that Christianity ought to give an uplift to man. Through this process of liberation from the pagan terror afront the spirits of nature and the domination by natural elements, Christianity ultimately mechanised nature, and a secondary result of this process was a scientific nature-knowledge and scientific technology. The scientific consciousness stands upon this, that man can have dominion over nature as a living hierarchy of spirits. As regards his education, Fedorov remains a positivist in his outlook upon nature. Even faith in the might of the Sign of the Cross over the powers of nature was repulsive for him, an Orthodox Christian. He did not want to recognise, that the task posited by him regarding an active relationship to nature cannot be exclusively scientifico-positivist, that it is unresolvable by nature-knowledge and techniques, that this is a spiritual task. A naturo-scientific regulating of all the solar system, of all the coelestial expanse, is a fantastic utopia. But a magical understanding of the regulating of all the cosmos, based upon the self-consciousness of man, as microcosmos, is not a fantastic utopia and ought to be accepted or rejected on other grounds. Utopian must be considered attempts to attain mystical ends by positivist-rational means, but already it is no utopia — in the attainment of these ends by mystical means. Fedorov did not believe in the restoration of great Pan, nor did he want, that nature again should be alive for us and that anew and within freedom we might receive the possibility to commune with the spirits of nature. The inhabiting of nature by spirits was for him but pagan superstition. He did not sense that within science itself there is occurring a deep crisis, which has led to the crash of the mechanistic world-concept. He was not aware, that the power providing man the possibility to regulate nature, is something double-edged and fraught with danger. Technics itself imperceptible tends to degenerate into a sort of magic… We now come nigh to the very heart of Fedorov’s philosophy of the common task, to his “project” of resuscitation.


What indeed is behind this project of Fedorov, which Vl. Solov’ev regarded “as, since the time of the appearance of Christianity, a first movement forward of the human spirit along the path of Christ”? Fedorov had his own sole and central idea, with which he was wholly consumed, for which everything was but a means, and which he was always repeating. With his name always will remain connected the spirit of the captivating idea of the resuscitation of the dead. (The most profound thing of all in Fedorov is his attitude towards death and his hope for the victory over death). The problem for Fedorov is not the resurrection of the dead, but in the resuscitation of the dead. The whole teaching of Fedorov, both concerning the kinship of people, and also about the active relationship of people to nature, was necessary for establishing the conditions of the active resuscitation of the dead by mankind itself. For the resuscitation of the dead there was needful a cessation of discord, a moral unification of people in kinship and the active regulating of nature by way of knowledge, science and technology. Each man, or more precisely, — each son of man, lives at the expense of his ancestors and he ought to repay his debt. Birth brings with it death for the parents. Each generation is guilty in the death of the generation preceding it. “We live not only at the expense of others, not only at the expense of blind nature, but also of others like oneself, even the closest, replacing and supplanting them; and such an existence makes us not only unworthy, but also transgressors… The consciousness, that this debt is not repaid, is a consciousness of its dependence, slavery, constraint, morbidity, in a word, non-brotherhood. In the unrepaid debt there is included a punishment by slavery, by death. The repaid debt is the restoration of life to one’s parents, i.e. the debt to one’s creditors, and through this — one is made free”.69  People have died, because that between them there was no love. The grief of a son over the death of a father is a thirst for a victory over a dead nature. “In the torments of the consciousness of death was also born the soul of man”.70   Fedorov lays bare the vileness of progress, wherein each generation is transformed into a means for the one following. “Biologically — progress consists in the swallowing up of the old by the young, in the displacing of the fathers by the sons; psychologically — it is a replacement of love for the fathers by a cold-hearted extolling over them, by a contempt for them, this moral, or more accurately, quite amoral, displacing of the fathers by the sons… Progress is the true hell, and the truly Divine, the truly human deed consists in the saving of the sacrificial victims of progress, in bringing them forth from this hell”.71   “Progress is the direct opposite of resuscitation”.72  Resuscitation is the reverse movement of mature-age sons. “Resuscitation is the fullest expression of maturity, of going beyond the school; it demands a community of independent persons, of sons, participating in the common task of resuscitating the fathers. With the upbringing is completed the task of the parents, and there begins the deed of the sons — as resurrectors. In birth and in the upbringing the parents give up their own life for the children, but in the deed of resuscitation there begins the restoration of life to the parents, in which also is the expression of maturity”.73  The apocalyptic prophecies were a conditional threat for the immature. “The Dread Last Judgement is only a threat for the immaturity of mankind”.74  Death also is an expression of immaturity, of a lack of self-sufficiency, of the incapacity to restore life.  “People are still immature, half-grown”.75  The transcendent understanding in the beyond of resuscitation and immortality reflects an immaturity. For the mature, resurrection ought to become immanent, i.e. resuscitation. The human race ought not to await the natural end of the world and a supernatural resurrection. Fedorov regarded with hostility the passive apocalyptic expectations. Foreign to him was any chiliasm, the mystical faith in the revelation of a thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. The Divine revelation is finished, and there ought to begin the human task. If mankind were to unite itself for the common task and set about to an active resuscitation, then it would avert the end of the world and the Dread Last Judgement and thus immediately pass over into eternal life. And then for life eternal would be saved not the few, but all. It would shatter the boundary, separating this world from the other world. The command of Christianity “encloses within an union of the heavenly with the earthly, of the Divine with the human; the indeed universal resuscitation, the immanent resuscitation, with all the heart, with all the mind, with all the doings, i.e. with all the powers and all the capacities of all the sons of men being accomplished, there is also the fulfillment of that command of Christ — the Son of God together also the Son of Man”.76  A transcendent resurrection would be on the order of a judgement over mankind, a condemnation for not desiring an immanent resurrection. Resurrection is “an act as yet unfinished; as Divine — it is already decided, as human — it is not yet produced”.77  “Religion is the deed of resuscitation, only in appearance incomplete, in its appearance as mystery”.78  The Creator of the world cannot be one that swallows it up. The salvation of all, of all the world for Fedorov is not only a justification of man, but also a justification of God. “If the resurrection be wrought not in accord with our good intent, then it will be wrought on the side, contrary to and against our will; and in this case all things will not arrive in true reason, universal unification and universal repentance there will not be, but rather there will be the inexorable and dread Last Judgement”.79  The project of Fedorov is a project also of averting the Dread Last Judgement. His understanding of the apocalypse is as a threat, a foreboding, on the order of a parable and conditional, rather than unconditional, i.e. dependent not only upon God, but also upon man, — this is something quite profound in Fedorov, a mark of genius. The passive understanding of the apocalypse is a result of immaturity. Citizenship is but a mimicked maturity. True maturity is the unification of the sons of men for resuscitation, for the victory over death. “Having refused the filial deed of resuscitation, they substitute for the only direct path one that is roundabout, very long, if only the blindness of man be not eternal; but if it be eternal, then the world would not be eternal, i.e. the end of the world would ensue. Having renounced the filial task, i.e. of resuscitation, they replace the actual resuscitation with a mimicked one — in knowledge, non-active, or only in semblance — in art, in an idolatry — in religion, in the sense of ideo-latreia [i.e. worship of an idea], or idolo-latreia [i.e. worship of an idol], and only in the final view (in the view of idolatry) is resuscitation meanwhile allowable for all, whereas in the first two but for few”.80  “If the unification of the living for the universal resuscitation be not accomplished consciously, then the unification of the sons is transformed instead into civilisation, into foreignness and hostility, into destruction; and in place of resuscitation there appears culture, i.e. degeneration, deterioration, and finally extinction”.81  Resuscitation is contrary not only to progress, but also to culture, to civilisation, which is but a mimicked resuscitation. “The funereal teachings in our time are about resurrection, as a transcendent action, but in that one resurrects, this is an immanent action”.82  “For the Immortal Being did not happen to withdraw from the world, leaving behind a dead world… The task consists in this, that it is also in nature itself, to convert the powers of nature into a tool for the universal resuscitation and through the universal resuscitation to bring about an union of immortal beings”.83  In the resemblance of the Trinity within human life there can be only the “Church of the Resuscitated”. The Church of the Resuscitated is created not only by God, but also by man. The revelation of the Son — “this is a most great revelation on the part of God and a most great revelation on the part of man”.84  The Gospel — is an unfinished book; man himself will complete it.

What sort of paths does Fedorov indicate for the realisation of his tremulously bold project of the resuscitation of the dead? For people, resuscitation is situated at the mythic stage, wherein people as yet lack knowledge. A real resuscitation will be based upon knowledge. Everything results by learning. Science will be actively practical. The activity of mankind in the universal task of the resuscitation of the dead is conceived of by Fedorov as religious and grounded in his teaching about the Tri-une God, but the paths and the methods of this activity for him are first of all naturo-scientific and positivist-technical. “To the Slavonic tribe belongs the revealing of thought about universal unity”.85  Fedorov sees in Russia the pledge for the plan of resuscitation — in its kindred lifestyle, in the obschina peasant-commune, in classlessness, in service to the realm, in the consciousness by Russians not of rights, but of guilt and duty, etc. These are patriarchal-ancestral, kindred, moral preconditions of the plan of resuscitation. But when Fedorov speaks about the resuscitation itself, then he is almost exclusively relying upon scientific positivist methods. Quite unexpressed by him is any question about the borderlines of actions that are positivo-realist and technical, and those that are mystico-theourgic and magical. In his understanding of resuscitation there is sensed the influence of positivism, of the scientific education of the XIX Century, and of an extraordinary over-estimation of scientific knowledge.

“The returning of dust to life, the consciousness of soul, is an utmost step, or step of ability, of knowledge and will, of management and self-management. It is the returning of the dead to life and the bestowing of the immortal and indestructible to beings; wherefore only then, when it becomes not only possible, but proven, i.e. actual, the production of a lifeless thing to life, only then will life also receive the utmost guarantee… And the antagonism betwixt the human and the Divine will come to an end”.86  For Fedorov, “immortality cannot be acknowledged as subjective only, nor as objective: it is projective”.87  An almost painful impression remains, when Fedorov says, that “just as with natural science, so also its application, medicine, ought to come from the cabinets, from the apothecary-therapeutic experiments produced in clinical hospitals, and transfer over into useage of a solar-tellurgic and psycho-physiologic strength, regulated by knowledge, and it ought to transfer over into the eradication of sickness altogether”, and he proposes by these means to begin “working on corpses in view of an investigation and even, perhaps, the expectation, whether this might not be a first step on the path towards resuscitation”.88  It is necessary to set about the psycho-physiologic experiments of resuscitation under the guidance of physicians and priests, i.e. in an unification of science and religion. “Insufficient for resuscitation is the sole discipline of the molecular ordering of particles; but, since they are dispersed within the expanse of the solar system, within perhaps other worlds, it is yet necessary to gather them; consequently, the question concerning resuscitation is tellurgic-cosmic”.89  “We propose the possibility and the necessity to attain through ultimately all people the learning of and the directing of all the molecules and atoms of the external world, so as to gather the dispersed, to reunite the dissociated, i.e. to reconstitute the bodies of the fathers such as they had been before their end”. Fedorov wants the natural resuscitation of all, and not a miraculous resurrection under the wrath of God, in which but few might rise up. Resuscitation removes the sickly source of mysticism. “Mysticism, if also it should allow of an uniting for resurrection, would have this uniting to be wrought mystically, i.e. by means incomprehensible, not subject to investigation… And the resurrection itself in this case is accomplished not through the knowledge of nature and the directing of its blind power, not by the way of experience, by experiential knowledge, knowledge of the mundane, but by the way of mystery, of the obscure, which perhaps can assume the guise of magic… Mysticism is the attribute of yet immature peoples, weak in the knowledge of nature, or else of peoples having worn themselves out, despairing of reaching the path of the knowledge of nature by the deciding of the question “of life and death”, i.e. mysticism does not grant actual means for the deciding of the question about returning the dead to life”.90  Here Fedorov speaks about mysticism such as some Marxist materialist might tend to speak. The religiously bold and new idea of resuscitation is transformed through the activity of man himself into a materialist utopia, into a fantasy of positivism (reminiscent  of Saint-Simon and Foure). This is an unprecedented mishmash of religious prophesies and mystical presentiments with the fantasies and utopias of an erudite materialism, bereft of the awareness of any borders, separating the naturalistic from the mystical, the material from the spiritual. The conscious and open avowing of magic would be less fantastic and more sober, since everything of the fantastic and utopian is based upon an hodgepodge of various spheres, on the absolutising of the relative. The task of the resuscitation of the dead presupposes the reality of mystical powers. Fedorov indeed naturalises even the concept of the oecumenical council, which is transformed for him into an international congress or high commission.91

There is a very profound teaching by Fedorov about the opposition between the power of begetting and the power of resuscitating. Here he touches upon a great mystery, and if he did not have a disdainful contempt for everything mystical and gnostic, he would then have gotten down into the depths of the knowledge of this mystery. Fedorov teaches, that in Christian marriage “begetting is but a temporal condition, a remnant of the animal condition, which will cease, when the deed of fatherly resuscitation comes about”.92  In the consciousness of Fedorov “the only truly moral thing is a full turning of the blind power of begetting into a conscious action”.93  Begetting is evil, the result of the blind power of nature; its obverse side is death. “A distinguishing feature of man appears to be two senses — the sense of mortality and the shame at begetting. It can be possibly surmised, that from man all the blood ought to rush to the face, when he learns about his beginning, and how he ought to turn pale with terror, when he beholds the end in the face of one in likeness to himself”.94  The animal-like begetting of man is a punishment. “To the natural increase within Christianity there corresponds negatively — chastity, i.e. the denial of begetting, but in a positive sense — universal resuscitation, i.e. reproduction from that over-indulgence, which is squandered on begetting, and from the ashes, produced by the destructive struggle, of formerly living generations”.95  But “the negative virginity — is still not an heavenly virtue, chastity — is still not an active wisdom, not to beget still does not mean to liberate man from death, to resuscitate: it is needful, that the unconscious begetting be replaced by the deed of resuscitation”.96    A primary paragraph of the project of Fedorov — is “the converting of the begetting power into the reconstructive, and the deadening — into a revitalising”.97  The daughter, as bearer of the Holy Spirit, ought to replace the wife. The profound truth about the antagonism between the power of begetting and the power of resuscitating and about the non-sunderance of birth and death for Fedorov is not connected with the mystical erotic, as it was for Vl. Solov’ev. He denies marital love. Marriage for Fedorov is a task, all work. Here he is quite lacking in insights. He — is a prosaic tedious thinker to the very end. The task of man — is not to rival the lilies of the field and the rays of the sun, but rather to bring consciousness and will into a blind force, to be at work. And erotic love — as a sexual lily and ray of the sun, in it there is nothing of toil. Fedorov does not set the person in opposition to racial kinship, as does Vl. Solov’ev. Erotic love — is outside the racial, is in the person. The teaching of Fedorov about resuscitation cuts both ways. On the one hand, it conquers the racial, the begetting power, but on the other hand, it remains within the racial and the racial is forever strengthened. The idea of resuscitation is deeper than the racial principle, since all of mankind — are our fathers.

There remains still to point out another side of the teaching about the resuscitation of the dead. The project of Fedorov demands, that the life of mankind be centred upon the graveyards, around the dust of the fathers. In the graveyards also ought to begin the common task of resuscitation. All the church temples ought to be in the cemeteries, and upon the graveyards ought to be centred science and technology. “Temples outside the graveyards — this is an expression of being complaisant and wanting to forget about death… Outside the cemetery — the connection of the universal resuscitation with the resurrection of Christ is altogether imperceptible”.98  “To look upon the earth as a dwelling place, and not as upon a cemetery, — means to cleave to a wife and forget the fathers, and to convert all the earth into a comfortable habitation, i.e. this means — to look upon it as an earthly, and not as an heavenly body… To look upon the earth as upon a graveyard — means to convert the powers, received by the earth from the heavenly bodies, into a returning of life to the fathers, into a conversion of the heavenly bodies into an habitation and into the uniting of the heavenly expanses”.99  In burial there is already the principle of resuscitation. Man is a being, which buries, — here is an essential definition of man. With this is connected Fedorov’s love for museums, as seeds of resuscitation, and his dislike for exhibitions, as a betrayal of the fathers and self-exalting. Just as with the church-temples, museums ought to be cemetery-like. “Only a cemetery can be transformed into a complete museum, rather than museum cabinets of only the rare, such as with present-day museums. Only the cemetery-like museums are memorials for all the people without exception, rather than of merely some of the great; only cemetery-like museums make all an object of knowledge and for all to be known, if they be not separated from the schools”.100  The resuscitation of the fathers in the graveyards, around the cemetery church-temples and museums — Fedorov opposes this to culture, as representative of “extinction” and “deterioration”. “Culture is the product of an epoch, which has renounced immortal life, and consequently, has not recognised evil in the dying of the person and the extinction of the kindred. It would prefer to live, to enjoy life and squander its capital, rather than to create and to restore it. Whosoever is desirous of a refined, an intensive life, that one ought not to lament the ephemeral; in general moreover, whosoever sets not their whole life to work, and moreover especially the work of restoral, that one has not the right to grieve over death… If one is wont to acknowledge culture as a dying-out, then there is no basis to wonder, that a goal of life should be a salvation from culture… Culture expresses itself in a self-eradication, in exhausting the powers of nature”.101  It is impossible to deny this truth, that culture is based upon a devouring of the past by the future, of the fathers by the sons, that it does not conquer immortality. But Fedorov forgets, that culture is an intense work. Culture — is the tragic and antinomic path of man. In its great failure to reach eternal being there is a positive meaning. And the path from the naturo-racial life to life eternal, to spiritual freedom lies through culture. Fedorov considers the final fruition of culture to be Nietzsche, whom he calls the philosopher of the Dark kingdom, the “Black prophet”. Fedorov does not at all understand the ills of development, of the tragedy and antinomy of history, he — is a forthright apologete of health. He never catches sight of this, that both death and destruction can be the path to an other, a higher life. He has a determined hostility to the Dionysian (towards anything orgiastic or drunken); he demands sobriety, a sober remembrance of the fathers. But creativity possesses its own Dionysian wellsprings, and Fedorov is compelled to deny creativity.

It is difficult to say, whether Fedorov believed in the immortality of the soul. When he speaks about death and resurrection, he all the time then has in view the body, bodily death and bodily resurrection. The question about the fate of the soul and the spirit is not even raised by him. He never speaks about the multiple composition and complexity of man. It is possible to surmise, that for Fedorov man is primarily a bodily, a material physical being and with the body a spiritual life is impossible. Resurrection for him is always a resurrection of the body, and it is attainable by bodily means. Fedorov does not at all offer any explanation to the question about matter and the material body. For the philosophy of Christianity this is a very complex question. Hardly would it be possible to support the idea of resurrection merely in the material, physical body. The body, in which Christ was resurrected, could not be a merely material physical body, — this was a luminous and transfigured body, more refined, having conquered every bodily burden, indeed a spiritual body.102  Fedorov however demands a physical, coarsely material resuscitation of the dead. He — as a believing Orthodox Christian — philosophises like a pure materialist. The Achilles’ heel of Fedorov — is in his religious materialism, which is totally naive. He conjoins contrary in nature two dualisms — a religious materialism and a scientific materialism. Thus he blocks off the light from the seed of the great and daring idea of resuscitation, in which there is an enduring spiritual truth. Fedorov draws constantly from two different sources. The manner of his thought is twofold. At times it would seem, that he acknowledges neither spirit, nor an other world, but rather only this world, chained down to a physical corporeality. If Fedorov were more oriented to the spiritual life, then he might therein see the sole and exhaustive aim of life in the resuscitation of the fathers. There is a value in itself in the life of the person, its individual fate, its spiritual life — a positive-creative life. Fedorov very much narrows down the meaning of the mystery of redemption. Redemption for him is completely replaced by resurrection. But redemption is likewise a new birth of man; it is both immanent and transcendent all at once. And the resuscitation itself is dependent upon spiritual birth and regeneration — the birth of the new man in Christ. Fedorov quite understates the significance of Christ’s grace in the deed of resuscitation. His truth is in this, that he emphasised the activity of man and the immanent character of resuscitation, but this truth cannot be torn asunder from its other side, from the power of the grace of Christ, in which and through which only there is also possible for man both resurrection and resuscitation. Resurrection can only be mystical, in a mystical flesh.


Fedorov said: “The path of self-realisation and criticism shows, that the place, bereft of light, i.e. hell, is also the whole world, nature as a blind power, and we ourselves in our singularity”.103  We also thus live in hell. We ought actively to emerge from this hell, to give help also for all to emerge from hell, and not in terror to bow down before the perspective of an eternal hell. This awareness of Fedorov ought to be acknowledged as very lofty, far exceeding the consciousness typical of the Orthodox and Catholics. Fedorov thought, that even the most extreme of materialists could anticipate within the Kingdom of God what remained of the true principle of Christianity. All our vices he considered to be but distorted virtues. “Even a ponderous power, caught up in its sensuality, can find itself an equivalent expression in its reconstitution”.104  Fedorov was never one to hurl anathemas, but he grieved over discord and death, he thirsted for restoration and resuscitation. He was mercilessly harsh and severe in his estimations of ideas and thinkers; in this regard he acknowledged almost no one, not even the Slavophils close to him. But his religion was a religion of absolute life for all, which could not tolerate condemnation and perishing. And with this was connected his unbelief in the devil, his unwilling reluctance to recognise a dark will towards evil, an irrational chaos. He was obstinate and did not want to see, that mankind had forsaken its inherited Christianity, and that the contradictions and antagonisms would further still grow. There was a certain blind-spot in Fedorov, and his inflexibility and stubbornness was strengthened by his infinite and unbounded will for the good. His own particular will was not complicated by any dark vice, pouring forth from the abyss. He was given to an ignoring of everything irrational, dark, abysmal, of everything thoughtlessly passionate. The extraordinary height of his moral consciousness set in him his limitations  and rendered him an utopian rationalist. This — is one of the antinomies of life. To him was not granted the knowledge of evil. And essentially, Fedorov scarcely understood the mystery of Golgotha, the mysteries of the Cross and the Crucifixion. He had an aversion to that mystical path, upon which there is inwardly inevitable the passage through voluntary death, through the sacramental sacrifice, through crucifixion and resurrection. Golgotha is an eternal path of the human spirit, it — is an everywhere transpiring, always and for all an inward mystery, without which resurrection is impossible. But for Fedorov, Christianity ought not to be a sacrificial mystery of redemption, of the inner mysteries of spirit, the overcoming for oneself of the contradiction of grace freely gratis and the human actively-earned. For Fedorov Christianity ought, first of all, to be the common task, to be toil, a moral and technical activity. He is decisively hostile to the understanding of Christianity as a mystery of spirit. He is given to an objective sort of view, a materialistic understanding of religion. He objectifies and materialises the Christian mystery even moreso, than do Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and ultimately he is compelled to base it upon nature, upon the natural. He mixes up the concept of spiritual Sobornost’-communality with a natural kinship. It is unclear, what exactly for him is “kindred” and “material”. The rebirth in Christ, about which all the mystics teach, is an emergence from kinship and racial necessity, the surmounting of racial materialism, which is always esoteric. The true path is from a primordial natural kinship to a free citizenship for communion in the Spirit. But Fedorov himself wanted to stay and have everything remain in the racial and the material. To base morality upon natural kinship — means to subordinate spirit to matter. Herein is concealed a basic contradiction in Fedorov: kinship is based upon the sexual act of begetting within material nature, which leads to death and ought to be overcome, yet at the same time however this kinship for him is the sole basis of all truth and good. Fedorov does not see the disintegration of the natural kindred relationships and the demise of the old orderings of life. Eternal childhood, in which Fedorov sees the purest essence of Christianity, is not at all identical with the racial, with a kinly sonship and daughterhood. The Gospel childliness is not something natural, as Fedorov would wish, but spiritual rather.

We arrive at a final and deep-rooted question, which the religion of resuscitation presents. Fedorov appeals to the exclusive activity of man, he believes, that man can direct the universe. But does Fedorov acknowledge the creativity of man? The resuscitation of dead forefathers in itself is still not a creative deed — it is too much oriented backwards, and not forward. The creative task of life cannot be organised around resuscitation, the recreation of a being that has perished. Many places in the “Philosophy of the Common Task” suggest, that Fedorov did not permit of the creativity of man. “To create we cannot, but to recreate that created not by us, though it has been destroyed by us or destroyed on account of our ignorance or our fault, — that we ought to”.105  “The very highest degree of directive governance is not creation, but rather re-creation”.106   “Man — is the administrator, the assistant, the reconstructor, and not the Maker and Creator”.107  The basic thing for Fedorov appears to be the work, and not the creativity. For the toiling consciousness of Fedorov, creativity presents itself as something of a luxury and an excess, something gratis. He does not accept the mystery of redemption, which through sacrifice sets free the creative energy of man. The reconstruction of perished life, the victory over death and over evil is a deed of redemption, it presupposes Divine grace. Human creativity, human activity, the creating of the new and hitherto non-existent, lies along this side of the redemption of evil, it presupposes the traversed path of redemption — the path of the Divine sacrifice. The new birth of man is the birth of a creator, creating; it presupposes an egress from the race and racial necessity. (Only for an esoteric Christianity is there disclosed the mystery of the creativity of man, of his creative vocation in the world.)

There is great significance in the human self-awareness of Fedorov, the consciousness of the active vocation to give direction to the world, to save and to resuscitate all and everything in the world. This is a truly new religious feeling within man. The religious and moral truth of this consciousness, which implies the onset of the maturity of man, transcends the temporal trappings of naturalism and materialism. The protest of Fedorov against passive inaction, against Buddhist-like tendencies within Christianity has tremendous significance. Fedorov profoundly and rightly sensed, that Christianity cannot be merely a religion of personal perfecting and salvation. Beneathe the positivist-materialist guise of Fedorov’s philosophy there are hidden the prophetic expectations of a new religious era. The “project” of Fedorov in this regard and the manner in which he developes it, is completely inadequate: this is but an utopia and fantasy, begotten of an ugly naturalism and materialism within religion, a mishmash of various planes. But beyond this “project” is concealed the rightful will of man, ripened for the maturing of life, a new religious consciousness, a consciousness that is — immanent. All the contradictory thoughts of the XIX Century spoke of a philosophy of the common task, all mixing up in it the old with the new and that to come. And in the XX Century the future philosophy will work at extracting the true kernel of the “philosophy of the common task” and toss away the old trappings. In any case, the appearance of Fedorov has to be acknowledged as remarkable for the spirit of Russia, for its hidden strivings and expectations. (Fedorov was a characteristically Russian thinker, boldly expressing the Russian sorrow over the grief, the suffering and death of people, of Russian searchings for universal salvation. He — is a great lover of mankind, whose outlook is oriented not only towards the future, but also to the past, to the sufferings of the past.)

Nikolai  Berdyaev


©  2002  by translator Fr. S. Janos

(1915 – 186 – en)

RELIGIYA  VOSKRESHENIYA (“Philosophiya obshego dela” N. F. Fedorova).  Published in Journal  Russkaya Mysl’,  July 1915,  p. 76-120.

Article reprinted and included by YMCA Press Paris in 1989 in the Berdiaev Collection: “Tipy religioznoi mysli v Rossii”, (Tom III),  p. 242-301.

Translator Note: Fedorov’s “Philosophiya obshego dela” was reprinted in 1985 at Lausanne by l’Age d’Homme, in 2 Tomes. These seem to be direct offprints of the 1906/1913 original texts, and the footnotes of Berdyaev’s present Fedorov article remain accurate for this edition. Several of the footnotes, that I have not found in a random scan of the Fedorov text, may represent a typo mistake on Berdyaev’s part.