Volume 18, Issue 2, Autumn 2013
Freedom and Kenosis
A Reading of Nicolas Berdyaev’s Philosophy of Freedom
This article proposes to look at the concept of freedom formulated by Nicholas Berdyaev in his early work, Philosophy of Freedom, through the prism of kenotic Christology. The kenotic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, as it was described in the St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and developed later by the
Christian tradition, was connected with His renunciation of his own infinitude—adopting the “form of a servant” and embracing the limits of the human body. It was an absolutely free act of the divine Person, who revealed to man his own divine model and opened up for him the possibility of its implementation, i.e., the way to becoming a person. For Berdyaev, this possibility is conditioned by the ability to engage in a free act of kenosis, involving the renunciation of the compulsions of reason that have entangled us in natural forms of necessity and that reduce us to mere cogs in the machinery of nature. According to Berdyaev, this way of human kenosis is faith. The act of faith, understood as a rejection of the tendency to seek security through compelling evidence, constitutes a person in his / her uniqueness, and performatively realizes the similarity to God potentially present in every human.