Why wasn’t there a Russian Kant?
It’s not that Russia doesn’t have a good philosophical tradition, it’s that Germany has such a great philosophical tradition that only a few other countries can boast- Eg- Ancient Greece.
You said there is no “Russian Kant”, but what about English Neitzsche? Or French Hegel? Or Indian Schelling? Or Chinese Schopenhauer?
That is one way that I look at the question.
But here is another perspective.
You said there is no “Russian Kant” but here’s the thing. Every nation has its own intellectual tradition. Kant is just a developer of German Idealism which itself is rooted in the philosophy of the ancient Greeks like- Plato, Heraclitus Parmenides, etc combined with the philosophy of British philosophers like David Hume and Locke. This is not entirely accurate but merely some generalizations to illustrate a point.
You cannot say there is no “Russian Kant”, because there can be only 1 Kant, just like there can be only 1 Buddha. It’s like saying- why is there no French Buddha?
Well, for that to happen someone should have arrived at Buddhist thinking in France, independently.
The point is, every nation, be it Russia, France, Germany, Nepal, China, they have had their own intellectual traditions which can be different from each other, and of course, every nation has their own ultimate geniuses.
But the case of Russia, I think is a bit peculiar.
Russia has probably one of the greatest literary traditions in human history.
These 3 are not just Russian writers, they BELONG to the whole world.
Should I even write their names? I think you all know their names, just like you know the name of Shakespeare.
What is the German equivalent of this trio? Some writers of their level might be Goethe and Kafka and I don’t think there is a third one. Also, I am sure many haven’t even heard of Goethe.
What is the French equivalent of this trio?
In Ireland, you have James Joyce, but then where is the Irish Tolstoy? Oscar Wilde? Really?
What is the English equivalent? Okay, England has many great writers but let’s give it a try, Shakespeare… and ?? Dickens can be compared to Checkov but can he be compared to Doestoevesky and Tolstoy? A tale of two cities vs War and Peace? Christmas Carol vs Crime and Punishment? Who are the English Tolstoy and Dostoevsky? I don’t think there are any.
These 3 are not like some mere Russian writers, these are like the top of the top when it comes to literature, and they all come from Russia.
A philosophical equivalent of this trio is-
Greece — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.
Germany- Kant, Hegel, Marx.
That’s the thing about Russia. It has one of the greatest literary traditions compared to any other nation, just like Greece and Germany have a great philosophy tradition and countries like Nepal and India have a great religious tradition.
It all comes down to traditions really, and the history of that country.
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