Social Imaginaries

Volume 2, Issue 2, Autumn 2016

Trajectories of Modernity

Maxim Khomyakov
Pages 165-181

Mastering Nature
A Russian Route into Modernity?

The paper is devoted to the analysis of Russian ‘experience and interpretation’ (P. Wagner) of the situation of modernity. The author considers the time of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as especially important for understanding Russian modernity and chooses to demonstrate complexities and contradictions of this understanding by the example of Nikolay Fedorov’s Philosophy of Common Task. The paper starts with a characterisation of modernity (according to Castoriadis) as the double signification of autonomy and rational mastery of the world. Then it proceeds to the description of the circumstances of Russian society of the nineteenth century, which, according to the author, were defined by the opposition of ‘the people’ (narod) and ‘intelligentsia’. It is in this situation, he argues, Russian society had to autonomously interpret its position in the world. In the majority of the cases, according to the author, it chose precedence of the mastery and control over autonomy and freedom. The author analyses Fedorov’s projectivist philosophy of resurrection as one of the most striking interpretations ever given to the ideas of autonomy and rational mastery of the world. He argues that Philosophy of Common Tasks incorporated the trends and ideas inherent in Russian understanding of modernity. These features made it an ideology equally popular both among Orthodox Christian thinkers of the time and among communists of the 1920s.