Volume 18, Issue 2, Autumn 2013
Peter Ehlen’s Christian Reading of Frank’s Russian Religious Philosophy
This paper analyzes the problem of Western perceptions of one of the most original branches of the Russian Philosophical Renaissance that occurred at
the beginning of the 20ᵗʰ century: namely, the so called Russian Religious Philosophy. This problem still possesses contemporary relevance, owing to the fact that
Russian philosophy continues to be engaged in a search for self-identification in respect of Western philosophical contexts. The paper shows that “Russian Religious Philosophy” is perceived by Western thinkers not only as “an exotic cultural phenomenon,” but also as an equal partner in a dialogue: it is considered a
significant philosophical achievement, meeting all generally accepted criteria of philosophical creativity. The German Catholic philosopher Peter Ehlen’s monograph on the subject of the religious philosophy of Semyon Lyudvigovich Frank will furnish us, here, with an example of just such an approach. The author of the monograph approaches his subject as something which he himself stands in an essential connection to—something which he, as a researcher, is in a peculiar spiritual communion with. A common spiritual experience of the religious perception of reality determines both Ehlen’s interest in Frank and the specific
character of the research undertaken by him. The position of researcher, expected to maintain a certain distance from his or her subject matter, is replaced by that
of a co-thinker, engaged in co-experiencing and understanding in depth the ideas of the particular philosopher under examination. The result of this approach is a new synthesis created by Ehlen on the basis of Frank’s philosophy.