Nikolay Berdyayev (byihrd-YAH-yihf), also frequently spelled Berdyaev, was a prolific and widely read writer on idealism, philosophy, and religion. He was born in Kiev in 1874. During his youth, he was profoundly impressed by the writings of Fyodor Dostoevski; he attributed his early interest in philosophical problems to Dostoevski’s influence upon him. Having challenged the Russian political system as a young man, Berdyayev was exiled at the age of twenty-five from Kiev to Vologda, a town in North Russia east of St. Petersburg. During that period of exile, he studied the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Immanuel Kant, and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Berdyayev’s first book was published the following year.
Berdyayev was again threatened with exile shortly before the Russian Revolution of 1917, when he questioned certain philosophies of the governing synod of the Orthodox Church. Following the revolution, he was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the University of Moscow and then imprisoned for two years; in 1922, he was expelled from Russia as a supporter of religion. In Germany, he founded the Academy of the Philosophy of Religion, later directing it from Paris, where he had settled by 1934. In Paris, he associated himself with a group of scholars interested in the philosophy of the spirit and edited a review, Putj (the way).
Although Berdyayev always considered himself a member of the Russian Orthodox Church and never renounced...
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