Razdyakonov Vladislav

The Christian Spiritism of Nikolay Vagner and the Rational Religion of Aleksandr Aksakov: between Science and Religion

Razdyakonov Vladislav (2013) "The Christian Spiritism of Nikolay Vagner and the Rational Religion of Aleksandr Aksakov: between Science and Religion ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2013, vol. 48, pp. 55-72 (in Russian).


The Russian intellectual world tends to regard Russian experimental spiritism as a rather simplistic phenomenon and stresses its positivistic character, directed at obliterating the distinction between spirit and matter, reason and faith. In this context, Spiritism is viewed as just one more component which contributed to the increasing secularization of western culture. But a detailed historical analysis of Russian experimental spiritism reveals a more nuanced and equivocal view of a discipline which juggled between science and religion. On the basis of unpublished and little known archival materials, the author of this article shows that Vagner and Aksakov, the two main proponents of Russian experimental spiritism, differed substantially in their attitude towards Christianity. Aksakov saw experimental spiritism as a way of formulating a new religion of rationality. But Vagner, on the other hand, regarded it as a way of converting unbelievers to the Orthodox faith. Discovering this basic diff erence between Vagner and Aksakov, allows the author of this article to show the link which appeared during the second half of the nineteenth century between the idea of the secularization of western society and the stereotypical impression of the essential conflict between science and religion. The marginal position of experimental spiritism to both science and religion allowed it to act on the side of both religion and science depending on the individual predispositions of its main proponents


N.P.Vagner, A.N. Aksakov, spiritism, experimental spiritism, kardecism, Christianity, science, religion, spirit, matter, reason, faith, secularization, superstition


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Razdyakonov Vladislav