Lev Isaakovich Shestov (Russian: Лев Исаакович Шестов), born Yehuda Leyb Schwarzmann (Russian: Иегуда Лейб Шварцман), variously known as Leon. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche (The Good in the Teaching of Tolstoy and Nietzsche: Philosophy and Teaching & Dostoevsky and Nietzsche: The. An introduction to the Russian-Jewish existentialist philosopher Lev Shestov, Leon Chestov.

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The search box on the TOC pages table of contents will directly search the contents of that particular section. Why forever speak of “total unity”? He did not believe that he had created any clearly defined, positive body of philosophic or religious thought that could simply be handed on to shdstov, to be expounded and taught.

Lev Shestov – Introduction

Here he became part of a circle of talented young writers and artists, including Dmitri Merezhkovsky, Vasily Rozanov, Nikolai Berdyaev, David Levin and Sergei Diaghilev, the great creator of the modern Russian ballet.

Petersburg but never practiced the legal profession and later lost most of his interest in the law. None of the ironic facts or ridiculous contradictions that depreciate reason escapes him. One of the fruits of these labours was the publication of Great Vigils and Penultimate Words. Faith, he claims, gives man absolute freedom. Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky published First published in in a French translation, this is an account of Shestov’s encounter with Kierkegaard who proved both a challenger and a brother in arms.

Many saw in Shestov’s work a renunciation of reason and metaphysicsand even an espousal of nihilism. European man, according to Shestov, [18] has languished for centuries in a hypnotic sleep induced by the conviction that the entire universe is ruled by eternal, self-evident truths such as the principles of identity and non-contradiction discoverable by reason, and by an everlastingly unalterable and indifferent power which determines shestovv events and facts.

There are two authors whom I make propaganda for: Its narrowness, its lack of imagination, its preoccupation with “objectivity” and its wish to extrude from thought all human emotion, its conviction that there is nothing in the world that is essentially and forever mysterious and rationally inexplicable, its refusal even to entertain the possibility of a universe in elv the rules of traditional logic such as the principles of non-contradiction and identity do not hold sway – all this condemns lve to sterility.


January 31, KievRussian Empire.

Lev Shestov

Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and Luther, the renegade monk, both have testified – may, through faith, direct his eyes toward ultimate reality and see the true God who will restore to him the limitless freedom with which he was created and again make all things possible for him.

Shestov, Rosenzweig, Buber, with selections from their writings editor,History of Judaism in collaboration with Daniel J. Scripture itself, he pointed out, does not demand faith; it presupposes it. Some of these have not been translated into English to my knowledgethey are marked with a triple asterix.

Despite centuries of attempts, Shestov writes, philosophy cannot be combined with faith. It is not nihilism.

The summer of was spent in Chatelguyon which had been Shestov’s much loved vacation home for a number of years, but he went there a tired and sick man and returned to Paris in the fall already mortally ill. During the war years Shestov remained largely indifferent to political controversies. Like Kierkegaard, he recognized that faith can no more be destroyed by logical impossibility than it can be created by logical possibility.

As soon as man feels that God is not, he suddenly comprehends the frightful horror and the wild folly of human temporal existence, and when he has comprehended this he awakens, perhaps not to the ultimate knowledge, but to the penultimate. Since the “invention” of faith, in the Judeo-Christian sense of the word for God all is possiblethe man who has left the horizon of archetypes and repetition can no longer defend himself against that terror except through the idea of God.

The fruit of Shestov’s study of the founder of modern religious existentialism was one of his finest works, Kierkegaard and Existential Philosophy: Has this notion of radical, unlimited freedom, this conception that all things may become possible for man, any validity or significance?

The despair which an awareness of the terror of history entails can be overcome, he concluded, only through faith. Though the classic simplicity of Shestov’s language and his stylistic brilliance evoked widespread admiration, the Russian public by and large saw in the book mere libertinism and sarcasm.

In the shesrov years, Shestov continued to develop into a thinker of great prominence.

One thing only interests him, and that is the exception, whether in the domain of the heart or of the mind. Creation from the Void On Anton Chekhov, published Lawrence and John Middleton Murry in England.


In his next volume, The Apotheosis of Groundlessnesspublished in St. Only a reappropriation of the faith of Scripture – which proclaims that man and the universe are the creation of an omnipotent, personal God and that this God made man in His own image, endowing him with freedom and creative power – could, Shestov came to believe, liberate contemporary humanity from the horrors of existence.

The prophets and apostles cry in ecstasy, “O death, where is thy sting? The most natural thing would be to suppose that it happened at the foot of the scaffold when sentence of death was read out to him and his companions. The systematic presentation of ideas, however, was growing burdensome to Shestov. Shestov maintains that we should continue to struggle, to fight against Fate and Necessity, even when a successful outcome is not guaranteed. He returned to Moscow inand in this year his son Sergei died in combat against the Germans.

It may also be considered a form of personalism: He has served as an army chaplain in Japan and as a rabbi in Champaign, Ill.

Views Read Edit View history. The friends are horrified at Job’s words: Shestov contributed articles to a journal the circle had established.

Petersburg inhe turned to the aphoristic style which remained one of his favorite literary forms throughout the remainder of his life. Nevertheless, he would find admirers in such writers as D.

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In faith man, to employ the terminology of Nietzsche, moves “beyond good and evil. Although on the surface it is an shdstov of numerous intellectual topics, at its base it is a sardonic work of Existentialist philosophy which both criticizes and satirizes our fundamental attitudes towards life situations. Through the Dostoevskian experiences of the condemned man, the exacerbated adventures of the Nietzschean mind, Hamlet’s imprecations, or the bitter aristocracy of an Ibsen, he tracks down, illuminates, and magnifies shestpv human revolt against the irremediable.