The paper discusses several issues of Solovyov’s ontology and theology including the metaphysics of all-unity ; original but contentious doctrine of creation ; the problem of the Fall and the restoration of all-unity ; the problem of the omnipresence of consciousness.
Cet article discute de plusieurs questions relatives à l’ontologie et à la théologie de Soloviev, dont la métaphysique du tout dans l’unité, la doctrine originale mais contentieuse de la création, le problème de la Chute et de la restauration du tout dans l’unité, ainsi que le problème de l’omniprésence de la conscience.
The question of the one and the many is one of the most important metaphysical problems that many philosophers have attempted to solve. One of the most impressive efforts is a lesser known attempt, through many of his works, by one of the greatest Russian philosophers, Vladimir Solovyov. The solution he proposed is interesting and impressive in its own right, but it is also important as an attempt to find a rational explanation of Christian dogmas. He was a firm believer in the reality of Christian truths which he tried to derive from a metaphysical system that explains the world, society, and individual human being.
I. All-one and atom
If we are interested in truth, said Solovyov, we are interested in what exists, and what exists — is the all (K 295). But there is nothing beyond all, and so, truth is the one. Being one, truth cannot have multiplicity outside itself, it is unity of multiplicity, and, being at the same time all, truth is unity of all (K 296). Consequently, truth — being the existent, the one, and the all (сущее, единое, все) — is the existent all-one (сущее всеединое). Truth includes everything that exists and the rationality of what exists (K 297), that is, reason or meaning (ratio, logos) of what exists. Because reason is a certain relation of things (L 167) and the rationality of a fact represents its relation to and unity with everything that exists (K 277, 299), truth’s reason represents the relations of the components of truth’s all. At the same time, because the absolute is a being which is free from any connections, because the absolute is complete, perfect, and whole (L 45, K 308), it is the same as the all-one (K 309), that is, God (K 322-323).
However, Solovyov makes an unjustified identification of the absolute and the all-one. By definition, the absolute is perfect. Is the all-one perfect ? It includes everything that exists along with relations between its components. But these relations can be far from harmonious. The relation of conflict between entities is a relation and as such it would be included in all-one’s ratio, but hardly conflicting, harmful, and bellicose relations between components justify considering the whole perfect just because they are relations. More needs to be provided in the definition of the all-one to identify it with the absolute. This is particularly important when Solovyov by the power of a mere pun is going to identify all-one’s ratio, i.e., logos, with Logos, the second Person of the Trinity.
An existent is not being, being belongs to the existent (K 306). A stone is not its color, the color is its property, it belongs to the stone. Therefore, the all-one, which is an existent, possesses all-unity (всеединство), which is the all-one’s being (K 316). This is reality from the highest level. What does reality look like from the lowest level, the level of fundamental reality ?
We see the world through sense perception. The world is a set of phenomena. The sensations are ours, but the cause of sensations — things in themselves, we can say — are not. The basis of material reality is reality which is not material, which is not perceptible. The basic, independent, and indivisible elements of this basic reality are atoms. And because matter is only a representation, atoms are not material (L 48). They cannot be of physical or psychic nature because matter is infinitely divisible (L 116). Atoms are eternal and immutable (L 48). Atoms are elementary forces and everything is the result of the interaction of these forces (L 49). Forces act on other forces and receive actions of other forces, whereby other forces become real one to another, but also a force itself, when acting, becomes real to itself, which means, forces are conscious and, as such, they are living entities or monads (L 50). Each atom has an eternal and immutable quality, an idea, which determines all the actions of the atom (L 50-51) and is its specific characteristic, the atom’s true essence (L 52).
Solovyov’s world of ideas is not exactly the same as Plato’s. Solovyov defined an entity as a synthesis of an atom, a monad (a living force), and an idea (L 55). An idea requires a bearer, a force (L 63) for its actualization, therefore, there exists a world of entities, the world of living atoms with specific characteristics (ideas). The atomicity of an entity by itself makes the ideal world grained, discrete, noncontinuous, and thus defined. Activities of entities by themselves would apparently be blind and their effects chaotic. A collection of entities active with no apparent purpose would hardly be considered harmonious. This purpose seems to come from ideas which are dead without active atoms that submit their forces under their supervision. Therefore, Solovyov’s eternal world is the world of entities where atoms actualize their forces under control of immutable ideas. Plato’s inert world of ideas is merged with the world of active atoms into the world of entities.
In his introduction of the concept of atoms, Solovyov made very rapid and yet not quite justified transitions. It appears that an atom is a living entity because it is a force, because it acts. Clearly, equating life with the action of a force makes everything that acts endowed with life. Is a stone alive ? Stone, as we perceive it, is just a configuration of sensations. However, the forces which cause these sensations make the stone alive. We do not know whether there is a one-to-one correspondence between sensations and atomic forces. Is there an atomic force responsible for the perception of hardness ? Maybe just for a particular level of hardness ? Such levels of hardness should not be infinitely divisible since, after all, the fundamental reality has atomic structure. Or maybe there are many atomic forces which only together render a sensation of hardness ? If we take Solovyov at his word when he said that each natural being has a corresponding idea, then each stone has an idea : there is an immutable and eternal idea of this stone and the stone which was here yesterday but was pulverized today and the stone which will be formed tomorrow from a stone which will be broken into pieces. Each such stone idea defines hardness, weight, shape, etc. of its counterpart in the natural world. It would make the stone idea compound, which does not seem to be impossible in Solovyov’s world of ideas. He said that, like between concepts, there is a relation of greater and lesser generality between ideas, and because more general concepts are said to include more specific concepts (L 53, 57), such a relation of inclusion may be assumed to hold also for ideas.
Solovyov seems to vacillate on the problem of the composition of the ideal world. On the one hand, he stated that there is a hierarchy of organisms of entities (ideas), each organism with its own idea and entities forming organisms on the lowest level. The organism on the highest level has the most general idea, which is the idea of absolute goodness, or rather, absolute love. Absolute love is the ideal all, all-integrity, the content of the divine principle (L 53). However, Solovyov also stated that all ideas are unified within one all-embracing idea of absolute love and these component ideas must be atoms (L 63). Therefore, among ideas there is only a two-level hierarchy of ideas : atomic ideas and the all-one idea with, apparently, no ideas of intermediate complexity. This would indicate that compound beings in the perceptible world are represented by atomic ideas, each such idea being a blend of inseparable and indistinguishable traits characterizing specificity of natural beings. To a particular stone, then, corresponds an idea which imperfectly can be described 15-pound-weight-and-gray-color-and-etc. Our perception of gray color as an apparently separate characteristic would be unjustified on the level of ideas where grayness apparently may not exist as an idea. But, it may be claimed that the world of ideas is richer than the natural world and it may include ideas which correspond to no natural being : there may be the idea of grayness with no grayness existing in the natural world. And yet again, although Solovyov used terms entity and idea interchangeably, they are not the same since idea constitutes an entity ; it is not identical with it. It could be said that ideas, when extracted from entities, make two levels, basic ideas, and an all-idea, but in the world of entities, there are organisms of different level of complexity and even a complex organism could be expressed by a basic idea.
Solovyov required of each ideal entity to be a living being. However, he did not stop here. He assumed that every force must be real to itself (not only for another force), which is possible when this force is a consciousness (L 50). A bearer of an idea, an argument states, must possess a reality of its own, be an independent entity for itself and thus be self-conscious (L 64). But this seems to be too fleeting an argument for too strong a statement : self-consciousness determines the reality of entities. Why would that be ? It seems that a stone would be less real if it required a statement of its existence and reality by a conscious subject. With its own consciousness, the stone becomes independent and thus more real than without being conscious. Granted that such an independent statement of reality is enhanced by endowing all entities with consciousness, the world which results becomes rather uncanny through this proliferation of consciousness. When I perceive a stone, I am conscious of my perception. However, is a stone really conscious of its passing through the air on its way to the ground, or rather, is the entity corresponding to this falling stone conscious of itself only because it is an entity ?
It is worth mentioning that an approach similar to Solovyov’s allows for tackling some problems in philosophy of mind. The most difficult problem is, how is emergence of experience from nonexperiencing entities possible ; a problem equally vexing for materialism as it is for dualism. One solution is given by Whitehead’s panexperientialism : every thing is able to have experiences where consciousness, thought, and perception are but components of experience.
Oversaturating reality with self-consciousness allowed Solovyov to make a simple transition to theology. The all-one idea is a living God who — because of the possession of self-consciousness — is a person. God is all (L 64), the unity of all things constitutes God’s content (L 78), and the content of the all are entities (L 50). The whole fullness, the totality of all being is God’s essence.
II. The first fall
If atoms are eternal and immutable and if everything is just a manifestation of the interplay of the forces of atoms, then it appears that our perceptible world is also eternal. Eternity of the world is acceptable in a peripatetic worldview, but Solovyov must account for the act of creation if he wants to build metaphysics that accounts for elements of Christian doctrine.
Before the act of creation, entities exist in God, the all-one, in two ways. They exist as pure spirits united by God’s will in love. Their being is determined by their wills, but these wills are identical with the all-one will of God ; that is, their wills are not really theirs, they are in full harmony with God, but they are also fully dependent on God and His will and, as such, they exist in God only potentially. Entities also exist as pure minds united by God’s Logos. They, as minds, contemplate God and themselves are contemplated by God, but, apparently, they have no will of their own. Neither pure minds nor pure spirits can act on God — the former, because their wills are God’s will, the latter, because they have no will at all. Individual entities in God are not independent, whereby God is all-one. However, God’s love is not actualized to the fullest ; therefore, entities acquire independent and real being through uniting His divine will with potentially existing entities by, as it were, endowing each entity with a portion of His will so that they become self-standing entities that can act on God. This is an act of creation : entities become real and independent subjects able to act autonomously (L 128-130). As such, they become living souls (L 131). The act of creation does not destroy all-unity : the unity of the created realm is maintained through the world soul which contains in itself all individual souls. Being an actualization of the divine principle, the world soul is an ideal humanity, an image and likeness of the principle. The world soul (Sophia, ideal humanity, the divine humanity of Christ) occupies thereby a mediating position between multiplicity of living souls and absolute unity of God (L 131). Through the world soul, God is manifested to all creation as the Holy Spirit, an active force (L 132).
However, something happens, something which turns the unity of creation on its head. For an unfathomable reason, in an act of defiance, the world soul asserts itself as separate from God, whereby the all-unity is lost (L 133-134). Through a free act of the world soul, the world falls away from God and falls apart, breaking into many conflicting elements (L 138). As a result, the natural world appears, the world which is outside God through the forms of extension, time, and mechanical causality, which are not real and have nothing positive about them ; they are negations of divine categories of objectivity, subjectivity, and relationship (R 161). In this world, each being occupies some space which cannot be occupied by anything else as the result of mutual alienation of entities (L 135). Extension becomes just a visible manifestation of separation and alienation of entities : as entities are separated from one another, so their extensionality prevents them from interpenetration — they cannot coincide spatially. Only one entity can occupy particular place ; other entities cannot share this place with it. Similarly with time : separation manifests itself as inability of temporal wholeness, as a nonoverlapping existence of one and the same entity in different moments. Similarly, the whole of the physical nature of the world is the result of the fall. The physical world is just a consequence and manifestation of evil (L 125), the physical aspect of reality is sinful. As such, this natural world is abnormal and untrue (L 121, cf. K 352), a heavy and oppressive dream (L 122). Not only is the natural world the world of appearances, but it is the world of sin : of self-assertion and egoism on each level of natural reality. In this way, evil permeates all of nature (L 123).
It should be observed that Solovyov’s vision of creation is highly unorthodox. Creation proper takes place in the divine realm and results in entities also in the divine realm. Pure spirits endowed with minds, and thus able to reflect, receive will during the act of creation, whereby they can act on God (and on themselves), allowing for interaction between God and entities. The act of creation is really and act of separation, there is no creatio ex nihilo ; creation is just joining will with preexisting spirits (like in Origen). Everything is ready in the divine all-unity from eternity, God only imbues entities with will so that spirits become souls, but they are still spiritual beings. Creation, as envisioned by Solovyov, takes place in the spiritual realm and should be perpetuated in this realm if only the created-separated world soul did not think of itself too much, if it did not start to think that its unity is its own unity, stemming from itself, not from God. As an unpalatable side-effect of this self-assertion, of the fall of the world soul, the world appears, which is the material, natural world of our everyday experience. God did not really create the heavens and the earth. They appeared as shadows of one soul’s, the world soul’s, sinful desires to be able to exist in complete separation from God. Clearly, Solovyov should be dissatisfied with such unorthodox light shed on the Christian view of creation, and he tried to make some emendations in book 3 of Russia and the Universal Church.
Solovyov referred here explicitly to the creation of the heavens and the earth, trying to fit it into his views. Creation still consists of God’s refraining His omnipotence, but this time, potentially existing chaos is given autonomous existence (R 167), in which chaos by its nature is in disarray, being an indeterminate and anarchic plurality, the Biblical tohu va bohu (R 157). In this version, there is no fall of the world soul. God creates an already fallen nature, an evil and disordered world. But not altogether. God creates both the heavens and the earth. Only the latter is in an imperfect shape. The heavens are an upper or invisible universe of divine counteractions created to counterbalance the chaos of the earth (R 167).
Although this version of creation accounts for the heavens, it proposes a very murky view of divine providence. God desires that something should be outside Himself, which may gradually become what He has been from all eternity, the absolute all (R 160). God creates chaos and imperfection to bring them to perfection through natural processes. Creating chaos is the same as creating a world soul (or actualizing an up until now potential world soul), but this time, it is chaotic at the moment of creation, i.e., driven toward anarchic existence although it is capable of desiring unity (R 163). Making this world soul autonomous amounted to making it rebellious. The world soul did not have a chance to desire unity with God at the moment of creation. It was predestined to fall, in fact, its creation was its fall. After all, chaotic desire is the basis and material of all creation (R 169). In the Lectures, God created something to love and to receive love from. Love, being the nature of the all-unity, its principle, led to creation, i.e., to giving entities independence. The fall was not inevitable. It was up to the entities to retain in their autonomy full contact with God. God, on His part, acted on entities so that total harmony of the universe could be maintained, the harmony which manifests itself as beauty. Now, however, Solovyov said that chaos was created by God, which certainly is not very appealing theodicy.
III. Restoration : The second fall
The illusory character of our world, a false appearance of its materiality, indicates that, for Solovyov, the distinction between spirit and matter was secondary. A primary distinction was between good and evil. Clearly, the latter has to be eradicated to restore the orderliness of the world whereby the apparent materiality in the world will also be erased.
In the divine order, all elements supplement one another, making a harmonious organism which exists eternally. In the natural order, this organism falls apart, retaining only a hidden potentiality and tendency. The gradual actualization of this tendency is the actualization of all-unity, which is the meaning and goal of the cosmic process (L 135). The world process leads to all-unity by all elements reconciling one with another and with God (L 139). At the beginning of the cosmic process, the world soul (nature) does not have the all-unifying force. It can have this force only when united with the divine principle. The world soul is unable to create all-unity out of elements of the world. The form of all-unity, i.e., the form of the cosmic (universal, absolute) organism, is present in God as an eternal idea (L 136). The world soul has a tendency for actualizing the all-unity, but does not know what it is ; the world soul is potentially powerful, but blind ; the direction has to come from the outside, from the only place where the idea of all-unity resides, from God. God is the principle of all-unity, He is the eternal and immutable all-one. Logos is the active form of unity, and it embodies the idea of all-unity in the world soul because the divine principle cannot directly actualize the all-unity in the discordant elements of the world (L 137).
The unity is actualized in stages. There are three stages on the cosmic level. First, in the astral epoch, the unity is actualized as the law of gravity, as Solovyov said in the Lectures (L 139), but it seems that two other unities should also be included. Solovyov said that God’s Word establishes the formal unity of space over the anarchic division of extended parts, creates ideal trinity of time on the basis of chaotic succession of moments, and discloses the concrete connection of everything in the universal law of gravity on the basis of mechanic causality (R 164). That is, God seems to create time, space, and law of gravity as the consequence of the fall. Extension is but a manifestation of the separation of entities, but these extensions (which are not real, R 161) are somehow united into space, which is real (L 135), or at least semi-real. Entities cannot occupy the same area in space at the same time, but all of them are located inside the same repository, a Newtonian space. Solovyov would probably agree with Newton that space and time form the sensorium Dei. The unreal extensions make together real space. However, because it requires a special act of creation to generate space, space seems to be something more than a simple unity of spatial points, of extensions corresponding to particular, fallen, and separated entities. Could space exist in the absence of any alienated entities ? The answer seems to be positive, but space is needed to grapple with the fallen, sinful world to bring it to all-unity. As created by God, space cannot be evil, and so it is possible for it to exist in the all-united world, but in this world, space would be redundant. Wouldn’t the presence of a redundant entity tarnish the unity of the all-unity ? Solovyov provided no answer here.
And physical matter, does it exist ? It must be emphasized that what is meant here is matter directly accessible to sense perception, physical matter of everyday life and of science, what Solovyov called the world of matter (L 135). He also spoke about prime matter, which was sometimes called the absolute, as the potentiality of being (K 311), the pull and striving, which was explicitly differentiated from matter of chemistry and physics (K 313, L 108, n. 2). Also, the world soul was called the prime matter (R 162), it was even equated with earth (R 172). But the world soul is an entity that received will from God, thereby becoming autonomous. The world soul is not a material being. Therefore, the natural world is but a dream, a manifestation of evil, and so is perceptible matter. Perceptible matter does not really exist and is never created. The natural world consists of the same entities that exist in the divine world, but in a different configuration, the wrong configuration, that is, in the wrong order, in, at best, partial order, lacking perfect organization of entities in the divine world (L 124). Materiality, physicality of entities is not the result of material substance out of which they are formed, but the result of their particular arrangement. To see this, consider an example from the material world. When n atoms of oxygen are put in one isolated place and 2n atoms of hydrogen are put in another place, we obtain two gaseous bodies. If all these atoms are put together in proper configuration in close proximity, allowing for molecular bonding, two hydrogen atoms next to one oxygen atom, the substance that is obtained is liquid, namely water.
As Schelling once observed, the problem of matter is one of the greatest mysteries of philosophy which is solved by making matter either independent or dependent on God. Solovyov made prime matter dependent on God : by definition, prime matter is potentiality of being in God, but physical matter is independent of God as the result of the fall which is caused by the world soul and then again by man. Physical matter becomes not the cause of sin, but its result, epiphenomenon of the damaged reality. It is not created like space and time, but, it appears, it is what is perceived through space and time. Matter is the way things in themselves, entities from the spiritual realm, manifest themselves in space and time. Space and time are not Kantian categories, they are not part of the human cognitive apparatus, they are objective, but what is manifested through them is not quite objective — it is appearance, a dream, and a bad dream at that. On the other hand, Solovyov said that physical matter has some properties and quantitative relations, thereby having some definite or formed being ; it has some objective or phenomenal character, consequently, it is not the potentiality of being the way prime matter is (K 313). And so the reality or objectivity of physical matter is the same as the reality and objectivity of a dream : a dream is specific, given with definable images with definite dimensions, locations, interrelations. A dream is not a potentiality ; it exists, if only in the mind of a dreamer. And so are physical matter and objects existing in natural world : they exist, if only as manifestations of an underlying intelligible reality, they exist for our senses, they are, most of the time, the only reality to most humans. Mystical experience is possible (and Solovyov presented himself as one endowed with such experience) to see the true world, the world beneath — or above — the natural world, but it is infrequent and only a few may make claims to have experienced its presence.
The cosmic process continues. In the second, solar epoch, unity appears as the principle of life, and then, in the tellurian epoch, when man, a perfect organism, is created, the all-unity appears as consciousness and free activity (L 139-141, 145). Man is able in his consciousness to comprehend the meaning of all that exists ; he is the all, the second all-one, the image and the likeness of God. In this way, the world soul is united in humanity with Logos ; the world, through man and his consciousness, has the eternal idea of all-unity and man himself becomes a mediator between God and the material world, an organizer of the universe (L 141). In ideal consciousness, man has the image of God, and his essence of life, all-unity, is the same as God’s. However, man rebels against God as the source of this essence and isolates himself from God in his consciousness just as the world soul isolated itself from God (L 142). Man’s consciousness loses the organizing principle of all-unity and falls into disarray. This setback of the cosmic process must be overcome by human consciousness’ regaining the organizing principle, which should be done by inner moral overcoming of the evil principle, the principle of self-assertion. Through the freedom of the human spirit, the divine principle reached into the world in human consciousness. Through the same freedom, however, the principle of unity is also lost (L 143). The crippled human consciousness exists as a potentiality for all-unity which has to come from God.
After the fall of the world soul, the cosmogonic process is inaugurated and its end is inauspicious : the emergence of man, the most promising element on the way to all-unity, ends with man’s fall. The world soul’s striving, under the direction of the Logos, toward all-unity does not stop, but enters a new phase. After the fall of man, the world development enters the theogonic process with its three stages (L 145). The theogonic process is also a historical process (with three nations — the Hindus, the Greeks, and the Jews — being its prime movers) in which human consciousness gradually liberates itself from the domination of cosmic forces (L 147).
The unity of the soul can be restored by conquering the evil will, which is an active principle. This can be done by regenerating the soul, by penetrating it and uniting with it organically (L 150-151). This is accomplished by Christ, a single divine-human person who unites two natures and has two wills, human and divine. Through their existence in harmony, that is, by subordination of the human will to the divine will, the evil principle is expelled from consciousness. Through suffering and death, the evil principle loses its power over sensory nature which becomes the spiritual body (L 159, 163).
For Solovyov, just as natural development of the world ends with the emergence of man, so the history of mankind moves toward the appearance of Man, or rather God-Man, toward the Incarnation of God. This is something prepared by history and, as he said, logically following from it — not miraculous, not contrary to the general order of being ; it is an essential plan of creation (L 157-158, 161). The history and the Incarnation are foregone conclusions logically following from the appearance — creation — of evil. Human history and the Incarnation are thus predetermined. Like for Hegel, history is a necessary process in Solovyov’s theological historiosophy, and the outcome is already known. However, unlike for Hegel, for whom the Weltgeist seeks perfect self-knowledge through the vicissitudes of universal dialectic changes, the world soul is not the ultimate being in Solovyov’s universe. God is. Weltgeist evolves and so does the world soul, God does not, Weltgeist aims at knowledge, the world soul aims at salvation in all-unity provided by God.
It must be remembered that the world processes — cosmogonic and historical — are only appearances. Real action is where real causality is, in the world of entities, beings separate from God that need to be harmoniously united into all-unity. On the surface, in the natural world, we divide beings into inanimate and animate, but no such division exists among entities. A stone is no less alive than a squirrel. Sin that enters the world — self-assured autonomy of entities — causes rearrangement of entities and through this rearrangement some entities appear inanimate, some still animate. It is the same with their consciousness. And so we see a stone as devoid of life and thus consciousness, but in reality, under the surface, it is otherwise. The world of entities is teeming — could be teeming — with life and consciousness, but a large part of it is blocked through unfavorable configuration of entities. Therefore, in Solovyov’s universe, the statement that the creation is waiting with hope for salvation with longing (Rom. 8:19-23) should be taken as literally as possible : all entities are lookingforward for salvation, a stone just as much as man. When salvation comes, when perfect order in the world is restored through the work of Christ, the appearance of materiality will vanish along with time that belongs to the material domain. When time disappears, immortality settles in, and the eternal presence becomes reality. But this can happen any time. Death is an event which occurs in time, but time is an illusion. Therefore, death seems to be a return to eternity by setting the configuration of entities, at least locally, in perfect order. Death comes like a welcome salvation from the world of appearances and a restoration of life in true reality.
Why is the Incarnation really needed ? It is supposedly a logical outcome of the world process, but that can hardly be seen from Solovyov’s analyses. How does the Incarnation help individual people to subordinate their wills to the divine will ? Could not God accomplish His goal of restoration of the world without the Incarnation ? Also, why was Christ’s death necessary ? If the existence of a spiritual body is necessary for conquering evil tendencies, wouldn’t it be possible to accomplish it without the paschal event ? Solovyov failed to show that. The Person of Christ is included in Solovyov’s system because He is central for Christianity, and Solovyov built a system in which Christian religion is integrated with philosophical analyses. But at this crucial point, his analyses are the least convincing. The work of Christ is on the sidelines of Solovyov’s system, and very little is done to elucidate its meaning for the integrity of the world process and for reaching its end, all-unity. By impatiently rejecting what is termed a legal theory of redemption (L 155), Solovyov made meaningful integration of the work of Christ in the world process well nigh impossible. Because the system should be all-encompassing, the work of Christ is included in it. However, it seems that very little would be lost from the integrity of the system if the Incarnation and Resurrection are not even mentioned in it.
Solovyov mentioned in passing that material nature is rescued from the law of death through Christ’s resurrection (R 194), but it is hardly possible to fit this statement into his metaphysics. If material nature is but a bad dream which disappears in perfect all-unity, how can it be made eternal ? He mentioned resurrection of the flesh (R 214), but if this is material flesh, there is no room for it in all-unity, where perfect interpenetration is possible, the interpenetration prevented by the spatio-temporal aspect of the flesh. Then, of course, it must be a spiritual body that is resurrected, and this body is purified by death on the cross by removal of material separateness (L 163, 165). That is, nature loses its material aspects and turns into nonmatter, into spirit which only by the weight of religious tradition Solovyov called a body. However, what is the place of this body in his metaphysical system ? There are intelligible entities of spiritual nature existing from eternity and activated by the endowment of will. Matter is only the manifestation of disharmonious arrangement of these entities. So, what is a spiritual body ? Is it just an entity that existed all along ? If so, resurrection would consist of rearrangement of these entities. Entities would not die, they would simply be reordered. Whether this conveys adequately the Christian concept of resurrection is extremely doubtful.
Solovyov’s metaphysical system is interesting, bold, and impressive. But it purported to supply philosophical grounds for interpretation of Christian dogmas. In this, however, Solovyov was far from successful.
The following abbreviations will be used : K = Критика отвлеченных начал [1877-1880], in В.С. Соловьев, Собрание сочинений, Санкт-Петербург, Просвещение, 1911-1914, v. 2, p. 1-398 ; L = Lectures on Divine Humanity [1877-1881], Hudson, Lindisfarne Press, 1995 ; R = Russia and the Universal Church , London, Bles, 1948.
An idea is “a quintessence of the definite content of a particular entity” (Н.?. Уткина, “Тема всеединства в философии Вл. Соловьева,” Вопросы Философии, 1989, no. 6, p. 66).
Already Plotinus had said that each thing has its own life in the all ; the weakeness of our senses does not allow us to see life in wood and stone, but “all of these have hidden life” (Enneads 4.4.36).
A concept specifies attributes common to many objects, an idea is a basic attribute of one metaphysical entity (K 321, n. 100).
David R. Griffin, Unsnarling the World-knot, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998, p. 63, 126.
The arrangement of the sphere of spirits and the sphere of minds can also be found in Jakob Böhme, cf. Johannes Madey, Wladimir S. Solowjew und seine Lehre von der Weltseele, Düsseldorf, 1961, p. 123.
Because matter is infinitely divisible, interpenetration is possible in the physical world of the Stoics. The lack of such interpenetration becomes in Solovyov’s system the root of false existence (The meaning of love 5.4).
Solovyov was commended for his rejection of the creatio ex nihilo doctrine by Siemion L. Frank, Reality and Man, New York, Taplinger, 1966 , p. 210-213.
In fact, in A critique of abstract principles, written at about the same time as the Lectures, Solovyov came close to this view when he said that there are two absolutes, God, and the world soul, the former being the all-one, the latter becoming all-one (K 317, 319). That is, from its inception, the world soul is imperfect and striving for perfection, is evil and reaching toward goodness. There is also here some confusing terminology : by definition, there should be one absolute, by definition, this absolute should be perfect ; cf. Алексей Ф. ЛОСЕВ, Владимира Соловьев и его время, Москва, Молодая Гвардия, 2000, p. 119. In a later work Solovyov unequivocally stated that the essence of the world soul and the basis of the creation of the world is chaos, i.e., bad infinity, “the yawning abyss of all madness and ugliness, demonic urges against all positive” (Поэзия Ф.И. ТЮТЧЕВА (1895), in his Собрание сочинений, v. 7, p. 126).
This is one reason why in the Russia the world soul is different from Sophia, the guardian angel of the world, the universal substance, the substance of God (R 156) or the substance of the Holy Spirit [R 167 ; which amounts to the same because the three Subjects of the Trinity are consubstantial (R 157), whereby indivisibility of their being is secured (R 196)]. In the Lectures, the world soul is identified with Sophia. The contrast between the world soul and Sophia reminds us about Plato’s views on two souls living in the human body, an immortal soul in the head and a mortal soul in the chest (Timaeus 69c) ; cf. Edith Klum, Natur, Kunst und Liebe in der Philosophie Vladimir Solov’evs. Eine religionsphilosophische Untersuchung, München, Otto Sagner, 1965, p. 108, 271, n. 52.
Adam Drozdek, “Solovyov on Beauty,” Studia Philosophiae Christianae, 43, 2 (2007), p. 43-54.
Cf. a passing remark he made in the Lectures that space is a form of external unity of the natural world and a condition of mechanical interaction of entities, and time is a form of internal unity of entities and a condition of forming processes (L 136, n. 3).
At least to some extent, in his treatment of space and time, Solovyov is an heir of Leibniz for whom space and time (not just spatial and temporal points) are created by a mind according to the configuration of phenomena. Even today, there are physicists who say that “points of space are meaningless. The only way to define spatial quantities is by giving relationship between things,” as quoted by Tom Siegfried, The Bit and the Pendulum : From Quantum Computing to M Theory. The New Physics of Information, New York, Wiley, 2000, p. 221.
In a passing remark Solovyov said that a chemical substance acquires in vegetable or animal bodies new properties (cf. The Justification of the Good 19.12).
F.W.J. Schelling, Philosophie und Religion, in his Werke, München, Beck, 1927, v. 4, p. 37 ; Schelling himself considered matter to be “altogether in the category of nonessences (Nichtwesen)” (ibid., p. 36).
God is the absolute good. We recognize God as really existing and in this recognition we ideally unite with Him, see Him in ourselves : this idea of all-unity is God’s image, or reflection, in us. An actualization of this ideal becomes the goal of our lives, something, for the sake of which we exist : the likeness of God (The Justification of the Good 8.3).
П.П. ГАЙДЕНКО, “Искушение дялектикой : пантеистические и гностические мотивы у Гегеля и Вл. Соловьева,” Вопросы Философии, 1998, no. 4, p. 93.
Уткина, “Тема всеединства в философии Вл. Соловьева,” p. 67.