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Russian materialism: an investigation of the pre-revolutionary materialist tradition

Chant, Colin

Russian materialism: an investigation of the pre-revolutionary materialist tradition Thumbnail


Colin Chant


The principal aim of this thesis is to take a step towards a fuller coverage in this language of the history of Russian materialism and atheism« It is divided into Three Parts« The first discusses the transition from German idealism in the 1830s to materialism and atheism from the l840s onwards amongst the intelligentsia; particular attention is given to the vogue for Feuerbach, and it is suggested that his appeal for the Russians lay in a materialism which admitted the mental but debarred the spiritual, i«e., allowed for a moral critique of Tsarism not only outside of, but in opposition to, religion« The first part ends with an analysis of Lenin*s Materialism and Empiriocritisism« both to compare his own stance with that of Feuerbach, and to understand the presuppositions of the historiography of the 'materialist tradition*, which provides a framework for Parts Two and Three« These parts seek to establish when it makes sense to speak of the origins of a 'materialist tradition' in the sense that materialism and atheism are connected with antagonism towards the political order« Part Two is a brief rebuttal of the view of Soviet historians that the tradition originates with Lomonosov and is continued, amongst others, by Radishchev« Part Three claims that the tradition may be said to have begun with the Decembrists, and discusses the extent to which their materialism and atheism can be seen as a response to Alexandrine educational policy and attitudes towards religious u organisations and groups, as a result of contact with the West, and as a function of their own political ideas. This Part forms the bulk of the thesis, and in so doing, evinces its most important secondary aim, to attempt as far as possible to explore the historical significance of Russian materialism and atheism.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1977


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