Sunday, June 27, 2010

Readings: Wisdom As the Artist of the Human

I have now finished Part I “Who Is Solovyov and What Is Sophia?” of Divine Sophia: The Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, a text to which I was introduced in comment boxes at Vox Nova linked to in this post, and first mentioned here.

In learning a bit of Solovyov’s biography, I was struck by several similarities between this Russian poet-philosopher and French philosopher, Simone Weil. And I was subsequently struck again by certain similarities that I saw between Solovyov’s thought and the ideas expressed by graphic artist J. E. L. Eldridge concerning his massive mural Vision Out of Golgonooza.

I took some notes as I read Kornblatt’s book, and I also scanned the table below, from Solovyov's Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge. His sets of priorities are worthy of note:

Then I scanned two pages of a chapbook on Eldridge’s mural, the first bearing the words to which I referred above, and the second showing a detail from his huge (1,370 sq. ft.) mural.

And now a glimpse of the mural:

I offer all of the above for you to compare and contrast. Below you will find a selection of the notes from my reading of Kornblatt, as referred to above:

p.40: In his life drama, Plato presumably fell into dualistic pessimism immediately after Socrates’ death. He could see “no connection between the perfect fullness of the gods’ ideas and the hopeless wilderness of mortal life. There was, indeed, no rational connection. But something irrational happened. An intermediate force between gods and mortals appeared—neither a god nor a human, but some powerful daemonic and heroic being. His name is Eros, and his task was to build a bridge between heaven and earth, and between those two and the underworld. Solovyov thus writes of love as a mediating force that can bridge alienating dualism and create a new whole, as he says, “in beauty.”


p.41: Perhaps the best way to understand this ongoing, nonrational process is to see the third element, or mediator—whether the daemon Eros, immaterial light, or Sophia—not as a thing, being, or even a state, but as a force or action that enables the potential for wholeness to emerge from the interaction of two opposing beings, things, or states. Solovyov uses the term podvig (heroic feat) for this activity; a word that typically refers to the action of saints and martyrs. The third member of the triad makes possible the interpenetration and transformation of the first two. …Recognizing the potential for transfiguration, Eros affects a union between two beings and through its divine-human podvig affects a divine humanity.

pp. 45-46: He calls the World Soul (WS) “the principle of humanity” – “the ideal or normal human” which is the “unity to which we give the mystical name Sophia”... “the universally human organism as the eternal body of God and the eternal soul of the world.” Here Sophia is identical to the WS, which itself is identical to the clearly paradoxical body of God.


Henry Karlson said...

I'm glad you are seeing the connections between Solovyov and other thinkers. I believe he has had more indirect influence on the West than people realize, because of his influence on religious philosophy in Russia, which then spread to the symbolists on the poetic-literary side, philosophers like Berdyaev, and theologians like Florensky and Bulgakov, many of which found an audience in the West.

I think I forgot to tell you that the translated edition of his Meaning of Love was introduced by Owen Barfield, though I'm not sure how many of the other Inklings knew of him.

Rodak said...

All of these connections are very interesting. That's the thing about reading--there's no end to it, other than death.

Rodak said...

The interesting thing about the comparisons that can be made between Solovyov and Weil is that there is no indication in her books that she knew his work. Each followed their sometimes parallel paths by following what they felt certain was divine guidance.

Henry Karlson said...

Another person Solovyov has been compared to was Teilhard de Chardin. Henri de Lubac pondered whether or not Teilhard had read any Solovyov -- he seemed to doubt it, but didn't think it impossible.

Rodak said...

I found it interesting that Solovyov and Weil each died maladies worsened by self-inflicted malnutrition. Kornblatt's observation of Solovyov that "he was known to utterly disregard his own needs in favor of those of others" also reminds me of Simone Weil.
It was Weil's biography--her absolute insistence on living her thought, regardless of the consequences--that put her writings into such sharp focus for me, and rendered them so very profound.
Is there a standard bio of S. that you recommend?

Henry Karlson said...

Sadly, I do not know of any great biographies of Solovyov. Most of what I have read have come through the introductions to all his works, some of which have been good, but the biographies I've seen have all looked rather bad (like the "Russian Newman" one). for example, does an overview which contains elements of biography, but I think you are also getting many such elements in the book you are reading now.

Nonetheless, Solovyov influenced Dostoevsky, and Aloysha was based, in part, on his friend.

Rodak said...

Ah, well. It seems odd that a colorful and important figure such as S. did not inspire a great bio.