A Philosopher for the Time to come?

Boris Šinigoj

The Question of Spirit and Being in the Philosophy of Nikolai Berdyaev [1]

I

Towards novelty of life

That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
St. John 3: 6

When we try to contemplate the question of spirit and being with Nikolai Berdyaev, we are invited to a solitary and prophetic path. It is not leading us merely beyond discursive thought and bad infinity of everyday experience, but also beyond the most bold speculative thought and its Promethean tendency to set up spiritual reality as objective dialectics of hyperpersonal, absolute spirit.[2] It is a scandalous and risky path on which deep under overhanging rock of mystical ascent to the highest and innermost existential reality we are always threatened by a great danger of Icarus-like fall into tragical exteriority and objectivisation of the spirit. Searching and discovering of the very living reality of the spirit namely does not suppose only straining and patient erotic ascent of platonic lover beyond every symbolism towards merely intelegibile hypercelestial heights, but also his spiritual conversion and agapic descent towards evangelical neighbourhood of concrete man, that is, unselfish self-giving to other people for the sake of love and mercy.

The key for the right understanding of the relationship between spirit and being according to Berdyaev is therefore not hidden in some abstract spiritual ontology, but in living God-human spirituality. In other words, the very heart of the matter for Berdjajev is not accessible by intellectual hypostasising of the spirit as abstract and universal principle, but in radical realizing of Christian personalism. The very essence of this personalism is evangelical love or agape that has its first and last paradigm and foundation in Jesus Christ and his evangelical figure. There are not only scriptural sources which bear witness to that fact but also early Christian patristic thought, which is deeply inspired with it. Thus St. Athanasius as one of the pillars of the patristic thought energetically announces that “He, (that is the very Word of God) indeed, assumed humanity that we might become God.”[3] And if we want to get to the heart of the matter of God-human spirituality (which Berdyaev prefers) we should contemplate this unique event which has happened “in the fulness of times,” as the Apostle said.[4] For it is not only true that God-human spirituality originates from that event, but also that it still depends upon it. (Actually I think, that we are all indebted to that event, although we are not always fully aware or we are not aware of it at all.)

Only if we ladle from the inexhaustible well of this spirituality could we break through our fallen, alienated and leisurely world to the living creative spirit, receiving divine breath of real life and descend into authentic interpersonal relationships in order to risk unselfish love to God and our neighbours. For only in taking that risk lies the possibility of our taking part in the novelty of life[5] which, as Berdyaev would say, originates from the abyss of pre-essential freedom and gracious outpouring of Spirit.

But all that reveals itself in the first place inwards, that is within the immediate personal existence, for we could empirically contemplate the primordial spiritual reality only in ourselves. Spiritual states in ourselves are not corresponding to anything that belongs to the region of objects and imaginative notions they are connected with, nor could we reduce them to the speculative level of universals, complicated categorial systems or even pshychological illusions and eventual migraine-like states.[6] Spiritual states in ourselves simply are and exist more truthfully than anything we could meet in the world or in any connection with it.

And this is true not only in some neo-Cartesian or modern phenomenological sense, but also in most irrational and archetypal existential sense. Spiritual reality is not just radically different from the reality of reason and from the natural world; it is a reality in an entirely different sense. Therefore Berdyaev is absolutely right, when he says: “Spiritual life is the most truthful life … And there is nothing in the world which could prove me that my spiritual experience does not exist. Perhaps the world does not exist, but my spiritual life does exist.”[7] But it is also true that spiritual experience could not be proved to someone who knows only psychological experience. The spirit could be experienced inwardly or not at all. It could be happening to us immediately in our innermost selves or it could not be known at all. And there is no more place for argumentation or deconstruction or arguing or criticism or thruthful judgment or mistake, which are all connected with a stucture of objective world and deeply rooted in it. What remains is only to touch or not to touch with mind as Aristotle would probably say.[8] Or more simply, in the possibility of such experience at last everything depends upon the question whether we have a feeling of the living spirit or not.

Thus real spiritual knowledge is always born in the living subject, i. e. it always arises existentially from the bottomless depths of our souls. Therefore a man in his innermost existential susceptibility for primordial reality could not be an object to himself.[9] This is exactly the point where the truthful origin of unabolishable dignity and innermost secret of each person are revealed which spread out far beyond the distinction between subjecive and objective, far beyond every affirmation or negation of the spirit. Otherwise how could those who have been for a long time denying and pushing away the question of the spirit, at last realise that they, in spite of all their doubts already have had the spirit in themselves? And thus after long doubting and hopeless questioning about the meaning of their own lives also discover their own positive susceptibility for the meaning?[10] Although they discovered it in choosing freedom or divine inspiration or unexpected compassion for their neighbour they always experienced the solution of their existencial question as paradoxical disappearance of that question[11] and suddenly found out that they got fond of the spirit.

However it is not enough to discover the spirit in ourselves and to grow fond of it. We are also called to live in the spirit and to try to realize it in our everyday lives. That is why we should never give up in awakening our sensitivity for the signs and symbols of the living spirit in the world; that is first of all for a real aristocratic freedom, original anarchistic burst and creative revolutionary sense. Or to say with other, perhaps less popular, but more exact words. We should keep our souls and minds open for a holy madness, evangelical transvaluation of values and mystical education of the spirit.[12] All these signs are namely not only reliable signposts on the lonely crossroads of our seeking for real life, but they could also intercede for us among labour pains of the whole world. As that “groanings of the Spirit that can not be uttered” to which Apostle refers in his Epistle to the Romans, that are raising our eschatological hope, that all mankind as “creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of coruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[13]

But how could this be understood in the face of tragic and unavoidable objectivisation and self-alienation of each creative flight of the spirit in the world? How could we trust in something so evidently impossible and unreasonable in the middle of our postmodern pragmatic and cynical materialistic world? Is it not merely a naive faith and immaturity of mind that are hidden in that enthusiastic apostolic “hope against hope”?[14] Is our religious yearning for salvation which according to Berdyaev arises from the bottomless depth of uncreated freedom only an outer symptom of the unconscious natural fear of death? Only a telltale sign of unreasonable flight from decay and destruction of all beings, only feeble attempt to flee from unavoidable throbbing of the very “being to death” [Sein zum Tode] as Martin Heidegger would say?[15] Or is it just the opposite, that our immature spirit, when we persist in our bondage of the elements of the world, is caught in our spontaneous and blind nature and naively idolises untruthful being?

II

Truthful spirit? Untruthful being?

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
because the Holy Ghost over the bent
world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Before we try to answer this decisive question it would be useful to shortly investigate Berdyaev’s thought about the relationship between the spirit and being. As we know the question of being is a fundamental question in the history of western philosophy from Parmenides to Hegel and Heidegger. The philosophers of most different currents and tendencies have been again and again interpreting that question through the centuries. Berdyaev would be no exception if his view of that question was not so “methaphysically anarchistic”.[16] Not only because for him each ontology always speaks about being as an already rationally modified product of mind, which chains the spirit into a naive realistic and naturalistic understanding of the world.[17] Also not only because he establishes insurmountable difference between the objective understanding of being in traditional metaphysics and dynamic existential understanding of being in contemporary Christian personalism. He deserves that characterization much more because he in Parmenides-like radical denying of the world in the name of “That, which really is [tò ón]” in “That” instead of being at last recognizes the spirit. And it is now being as the opposite of the spirit that in so reestablished crisis [krísis] as decisive difference between Yes and No falls into abyss of Nothingness [ouk ón]. Its external, cooled and from the living spirit alienated reality is now if we took it seriously from so sharpened a point of view in truth unreal. But by these it hasn’t been said yet that being could not be saved from its unreality by the spirit again. Therefore we could call it with Berdyaev also secondary or symbolic reality, when it shows at least a trace of presence of the living, unobjectivated and primarily truthful spirit. And exactly this is the place where Berdyaev’s point of view is radically different from the point of view of Parmenides and the whole Greek intellectualism in general, because Berdyaev “introduces in mystical schema that was recognized by human noûs a hyperintellectual dimension of face, person and relationship, of sin, mercy, exculpation and sanctification, of love, salvation and deification.”[18]

Berdyaev begins with a question: “Could we attribute the category of being, which is produced by rational mind to the spirit? Could we attribute it to God himself?” Christian apophatic mystical theology, which starts already with Plato[19] and which reached its peak with mysterious Dionysus Areopagite[20] “denies the possibility of attributing the category of being to God and regards God rather as hyper-being or even non-being.”[21] Analogically Berdyaev, to whom the apophatic mystical tradition is very close, wants to develop that in his own way also in philosophical cognition of spirit: “A philosophy of spirit should not be a philosophy of being, that is ontology, but a philosophy of existence.”[22] Berdyaev interprets being as from the living spirit alienated nature, as petrified factuality of objects that have not their own existence, for they are only a result of objectivisation contrary to the living flame of the spirit that is revealing itself in primogenital existence of the subject. He explains being as necessary-being of the fallen world which is fettered by causality and detèrminism, similarly to Lev Shestov who in his book Athens and Jerusalem speaks about “chained Parmenides” whose ontological doctrine accompanied by Aristotle’s interpretation reminds him of forcing the truth as an unavoidable necessity [anánke].[23] Berdyaev sets the kingdom of living spirit, that is the kingdom of freedom, mystery of a personal existence and creativity against the kingdom of being, that is the kingdom of necessity, nature, objects, steadiness and inactivity. Although he does not strictly follow his own distinction since the term being in his works sometimes means a personal existence and reality of subject or even reality itself: “Subject itself is being, as long as we use this word, and the only truthful being is a subjective being.”[24] Only in being which is so understood, that is in a personal existence of the subject, freedom itself or in other words freedom of spirit could be revealed and the spirit could be originally connected with the primordial order of existence.

Thus the existential centre of a person[25] in Berdyaev’s philosophy more and more reveals itself as a living source of God-human spirituality, as an inexhaustible source of realization of spirit in the created world, as a sanctified place of love and knowledge. Therefore it is not by accident that the inwardness, according to Berdyaev, becomes a symbol of spirit.[26] However he wants us to become aware not only of “ontological” priority of a concrete personal existence but also of its dignity and possibility of a way out from our self-containedness and “ontological egoism” as Emmanuel Levinas would probably say. Thus he tries to awake our minds in order to attain the intersubjectivity and “concrete-universal”, the living community with others, the “communital We” which is “immanent to human and means their permeation with spirituality, their transition to the spiritual level of being.”[27] But at the same time subjective spirit could nothing but embody and express itself in symbols, and in its expansivity enter the world which is not only spiritual. And there begins unavoidable process of exteriorization and objectivisation of the spirit which means its greatest tragedy and failure. When the spirit symbolically embodies and “incarnates itself in the history, in historical kingdoms and civilisations, in ‘objective’ cultural goods”,[28] it more and more loses its freedom, its revolutionary character, “its existence as being for and upon itself and becomes being for and upon other”.[29] Thus “it causes reactional inert force in the history.”[30] Subjective spirit vanishes in the objectivisation and it is no more “directed to a You”, to a person, “to the other subjective spirit”, it does not enter a community and unite with it.”[31] It is directed to an object, to the objective world which is without its own existence, only weakly connectied with the existence of subjective spirit that is hidden for it.”[32]

But we could become aware of that only in a personal and immediate spiritual experience and through it. Otherwise we are in danger that we meet instead of a truthful existentence only a hypostasised abstraction which is present only in our thoughts, only rationally fashioned and exterior being. Thus we never get the insight into the spiritual life and its reality which coincides “with a concrete intrinsic humanity, with experience of a human fate, of human love and death, of human tragedy.”[33] Berdyaev is therefore absolutely right concerning an integrity of man’s understanding of the relationship between spirit and being:

Integral human mind is neither a ratio nor an abstract thought, but a spirit; a spiritual mind which is implanted in existence. There is a spiritual principle in man which transcends and surpasses the world … The spirit has revealed its reality through man. Man is revelation of the spirit … It is the spirit to whom belongs the priority over being.[34]

The spirit is in that sense “the most real reality”[35] among the realities of the objective, natural, psychological, historical and social world, because the subjective-personal is more real as all objectivity and exteriority. Or to say more radically: it is the only Reality. Thus when it starts to shine upon the sky of the mystic’s soul as the sun, then all stars of created and fallen reality vanish in its uncreated light. And then it is true not only for Parmenides but also for Berdyaev and for all of us that it “remains just a courage for the way that really exists.”[36]

III

Ungrund: a bottomless mystery of the freedom, spirit and evil?

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place,
and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
Job 26,7

Before we risk to take a step with Nikolai Berdyaev further from Parmenides’ mystical insight we should arm ourselves with his prophetic courage which enabled him to descent still deeper into a steep abyss of the ultimate Reality. Berdyaev set out on that descent-journey following the trace of Christian mystic Jacob Boehme until a daring anticipation of Ungrund rises in him as well. Henceforth that anticipation slowly crystallized itself into an apophatically symbolic, discoursively and rationally insolvable complex of border-notions (Grenzbegriffe) and unanswerable questions of uncreated freedom, breakthrough creative dynamics of spirit and causeless, irrational roots of evil. His prophetic intuition namely whispered to him that this is not the end of the way yet, that we are standing only on the threshold of the last Mystery. He became aware that in the twilight of the last uttering of a Unutterable, in the darkness of unilluminated arches of Hypertrinitarian unity of Trinitarian God [Gott], in the dark vestibule of infinite and impenetrable mystery of Godhead [Gottheit], that there still flickers a small flame of symbolic vision, still languishes a feeble ray of mystical stuttering about paradoxical and contradictory origin of the spirit:

Spirit does not originate only from God, but also from primordial, preesential freedom, from Ungrund. That is the fundamental paradox of the spirit: it is an emanation of Godhead and it could give answer to Godhead, an answer which does not originate from Godhead. Spirit is not only divine, but God-human, God-worldly as well; it is freedom in God and freedom from God. It is not possible to express that in notions, that mystery could not be rationalized, it could be expressed only by a myth or a symbol. That is a secret of creativeness, but at the same time a secret of evil as well. It is man as a spiritual being and not man as a natural, determinate being that stands before this secret.[37]

Yet Berdyaev tried in such or similar ardent hints and daring contours that are disproportionate disseminated in all his mature works to at least a bit illuminate his “myth or a symbol” of Ungrund, inspired by Jacob Boehme. He finally tried to combine the mystic intuition of Ungrund with familiar Greek philosophic distinction between mè ón and ouk ón, in a free reference to Parmenides, Plato[38] and especially late Schelling.[39] Thus he does not explain the Greek expression mè ón only as non-existence or non-being, but rather as mysterious not-yet-being, as mystic Nothingness, from which God had created the world, while ouk ón for him as for Schelling remains merely hopeless annihilation, non-being-at-all, pure Nothingness.[40] Berdyaev himself wrote in connection with that: “It is nothing more sad and empty as that, which Greeks called ouk ón, that is pure Nothingness. In mè ón it is still hidden the potentiality, therefore it is merely half-being or non-realised being.”[41] In so far as freedom originates from Nothingness as not-yet-being before the creation of the world, it is not only meontic, i.e. non-essential and therefore before every created being, but it is not created as well, because it precedes the very beginning of the world. Moreover, God [Gott] as Creator of the world as well as pre-essential freedom have risen before the creation from the Ungrund, i. e. from mysterious “Bottomless bottom” or unfathomable “Abyss” which fades away in still deeper depths of the primordial Mystery of Godhead [Gottheit]. And only in that primordial Mystery all contradictions are surpassed, which otherwise seem to us so hopelessly unsolvable according to our notion of revealed God. The abyss of apophatic knowledge openes beyond Him and this abyss is accessible only to rare mystics. Also Berdyaev himself could enter it only following the traces of veiled insights of Eckhart’s and Boehme’s mystical gnosis, which is not expressible in the metaphysical language:

Is it possible to explain what Ungrund is in theological and metaphysical language? Only apophatic thought could deal with the Ungrund. Ungrund is not being, it is more primordial and deeper than being. Ungrund is “nothing” in comparison with each “something” in the region of being, however it is not ouk ón, but mè ón. But it is not mè ón in the Greek sense of the word. Boehme surpasses the limits of Greek thought, Greek intellectualism and intellectual ontology. Ungrund is deeper than God, as Eckhart’s Gottheit as well. The best way to explain Ungrund is to say that it is primordial, pre-essential freedom. Freedom is more primordial than being. Freedom is not created.[42]

But is it not Ungrund itself hiding also a bright element of hope, which saves us before vain abyss of pure Nothingness? Because how could it otherwise generate any beginning, freedom, spirit or even evil? And not only because of Boehme’s original definition of the “Bottomless” as “everlasting Nothingness, which is at the same time everlasting Beginning, as a striving, because Nothingness is a striving for something,”[43] but much more because of Trinitarian and Christocentric spiritual foundations context of his mystic gnosis it brings us hope. Renowned Philosophus Teutonicus in his works ladled first of all from Biblicaly evangelical sources, until in his mature work he wrote: “Foundation of that spiritual tincture [Tinktur] is divine Wisdom and foundation of Wisdom is Trinity of bottomless Godhead and foundation of Trinity is unique unfathomable Will and foundation of Will is Nothingness”.[44] Although in the mystery of that Nothingness we meet not only primordial source of freedom and spirit, but also anxious question of irrational roots of evil, it is not enough for metaphysical pessimism and still less for nihilistic cynicism or despair. Is it not the suffering, caused by evil, which is born from the mystery of that bottomless Nothingness, at the same time also a royal path which liberates us through the Crucified and His suffering for the birth “from above” [ánothen],[45] for the life “with Christ, in Christ and through Christ”, for the responsible fulfilling of His commandments of love and mercy, for the building of community on the foundations of God-human spirituality, for the continuation of the creation of the world through creativeness of new works and corealisation of its new, Christianized and spiritual being? Is it not the breath of such hope and trust that blows from inflamed words, daring paradoxes and enthousiastic intuitive insights, which are again and again born from the philosopher’s spiritual observings of mystic’s veiled visions?

Nothingness wants to be something. Yearning after being exists before being. Freedom is flaring up in the darkness. It is ardour and dynamics of the depths of being, or better to say, the depth which is deeper from being itself, that revealed itself in Boehme’s vision.[46]

IV

New spirituality in the fallen world?

Philosophy … is the creative perception by the spirit of the meaning of human existence.
Nikolai Berdyaev

Should we finally contemplate the question of a new spirituality, of the realization of the spirit in the world with Berdyaev when it seems that our postmodern pragmatic world hopelessly leans towards a complete denial of the spirit in spite of the recent popularity of the New Age movement and an imposing heritage of philosophical and religious tradition? Could philosopher’s daring thought about spiritual pre-reality which revealed itself in an unabolishable existence of a person and his creative flight beyond the torpid and leisurely objectivisation of the spirit in the fallen world still address contemporary man with its Christian pathos of God-human spirituality on the threshold of the time to come? What should we do with such useless methaphysical questions as they are about the relationship between spirit and being, about the meaning of asceticism and mystical contemplation, about the origin of evil and innocent suffering, about unhappy consciousness and spiritual maturing, about personal universality and social actuality of the cross, about pre-essential freedom and dramatic movement of the history of salvation, about the signs of spirit and so forth, at the end of the modern times and irresistible decline of their weakened humanism, since it seems that our postmodern society acknowledges only lightning-like efficacy, unmerciful competition and political ambition?

From the objective point of view the world is ruled by nonsense, but it is the spirit which is called to introduce the meaning into the world.[47]

Thus Berdyaev answers with ardent passion for truthful life which is the life in spirit. Moreover, persisting on the standpoint of universality of a person and connecting the question of novelty of life with the question of of social justice he declares not only a deep personal understanding of spirituality but also its social, oecumenical and universal orientation. Only spirituality, renovated in such a way, is free enough to long not just for individual but also for universal salvation:

New spirituality means that everyone takes the fate of the world and humanity to the heart.[48]

Only thus the faithfulness to Jesus Christ’s evangelical command to love our neighbour could be saved, the command which calls each one of us to accept not just the responsibility for others and the world, but also to embrace their pain and suffering, distress and despair, and to share their prayers and fate as well. This is also the place where a decisive question about the relationship between salvation and creation should be pointed out, that has, according to Berdyaev, a fundamental meaning for the future of life in spirit and for the realization of the novelty of life:

It is the Christian love itself that we should recognize as the most magnificent revelation of creativity in life, as the creation of a novelity of life.[49]

If this is not only a human but also a divine dramma, a dramma between God and man taking place in the world, we may hope that passionate Berdyaev’s thoughts could still flare up our souls and wake up the spirit that fell asleep in us. It might seem to someone that a dramma mentioned above is nothing more than an absurd farce of Fates, but in that case he should be totaly blind for its bottomless tragedy which is a tragedy of freedom. Today we experience not only bitterness and anxiety in the face of the world’s catastrophes and unmerciful dialectics of historical fate, but we could find in ourselves also a yearning after salvation that, according to Berdyaev, originates from the bottomless depth of pre-essential freedom. From it and upon it one could co-realize with “double love”[50] a mission of his personal, communital and universal being, while we day after day courageously cross a steep ridge of death in order to finally utter our own “Yes” to the birth from the Spirit and to set off towards the novelity of life.


[1] A paper presented at the International Symposium of Philosophy “Russian Religious Philosophy and Modern Thought”, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 6 June 2001. I am deeply grateful to Nike Kocijančič Pokorn and Clive Durham for help with the translation into English.

[2] Cf. Hegel, G. W. F., Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Miller, A. V., Oxford 1970 and Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline, and Critical Writings, ed. Behler, E., New York 1990, part III (of Encyclopedia): “A Philosophy of Spirit”.

[3] St. Athanasius, De incarnatione Verbi Dei (On the Incarnation) 54,3 (PG 25, 192B): “Autós [sc. ho toû Theoû Lógos] gàr enenthrópesen, hína hemeîs theopoiethômen”. The English text from The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, available at http://www.gty.org/~phil/history/ath-inc.htm#ch_0. Cf. Begzos, Marios P., “Nikolaj Berdjajew und die Byzantinische Philosophie, Zur metaphysischen Tragweite der patristischen Theologie”, in: Theologie 64/1993 (available also at http://www.myriobiblos.gr/).

[4] Cf. Eph. 1: 10.

[5] Cf. Rom. 6: 4.

[6] Cf. my Berdyaev-like replication to the explanatin of spiritual visions of Hildegard of Bingen as migraine-like illusions which is very popular today: “Hildegarda iz Bingna: simbol novega srednjega veka?” (Hildegard of Bingen: A Symbol of new Middle Ages?), Tretji dan 11/1998, pp. 110-111.

[7] Beryaev, N., Filosofia Svobodnogo Dukha (“Philosophy of the Free Spirit”), Paris 1927-1928, p. 37 (my translation into English).

[8] Cf. Aristotle, Metphysics 1051B17 ff. This is also confirmed in a negative way by the title-theme of Kurt Reidemeister’s book Die Unsachlichkeit der Existenzphilosophie (The Unfactuality of Existential Philosophy), Berlin-Heidelberg-New York 1970.

[9] Cf. Berdyaev, N., Solitude and Society [Ya i Mir Ob’ektov. Opyt filosofii odinochestva i obscheniya], trans. by Reavey, G., London 1938, esp. Chapter 2.

[10] Cf. an astonishingly beautiful example from literature of such experience and consecutive conversion in A Christmas Carol Being A Ghost Story of Christmas (1843) by Charles Dickens.

[11] Cf. Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1918), thesis 6.521.

[12] Cf. Underhill, Evelyn, “The Education of Spirit” in her The Essentials of Mysticism & Other Essays, Oxford, 1995, pp. 58-73.

[13] Cf. Rom 8,21 ff.

[14] Cf. Rom 4,18.

[15] Cf. Heidegger, Martin, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), Gesamtausgabe 2, Frankfurt a/M 1977, §§ 51-53, 83.

[16] Heinemann, Fritz, Existenzphilosophie lebendig oder tot?, Stuttgart 1954, p. 167.

[17] Cf. Derrida, Jacques, De l’esprit. Heidegger et la question, Paris 1987, where it is more and more obvious (despite all skilful manoeuvres of deconstructive reading) that the question of spirit in the philosophy of Heidegger “remains sunk in a certain ontological obscurity” and that with Georg Trakl at best reaches the image of “flaming up” and “a flame”. Berdyaev concisely answers to the question of spirit in the philosophy of Heidegger: “Heidegger is antiplatonic. There is no spirit in his thought.” (Cf. Berdyaev, N., Solitude and Society, Ch. 2).

[18] Kocijančič, Gorazd, “Epilog” in: Parmenid, Fragmenti (Fragments of Parmenides), Greek-Slovene edition, Maribor 1995, p. 173.

[19] Cf. Plato, Republic 509B.

[20] Cf. Louth, Andrew, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition, From Plato to Denys, Oxford 1981.

[21] Berdyaev, N., Dukh i realnost. Osnovy bogochelovecheskoi dukhovnosti (Spirit and Reality. The Foundations of God-human Spirituality), Paris 1937, p. 10 (my translation).

[22] Ibid.

[23] Cf. Shestov, Lev, Afiny i Ierusalim (Athens and Jerusalem, 1938); esp. Chapter I: “Ob istočnikah metafizičeskih istini (skovannyj Parmenid)” (Next to the origins of metaphysical thruths (chained Parmenides)); I quote from his Sochineniya, Moskow 1993, Vol. I, p. 339 ff.

[24] Berdyaev, N., Dukh i realnost, p. 13 (my translation).

[25] Cf. Strajnar, Marjan, “Oseba v filozofiji Nikolaja Berdjajeva” (A Person in the Philosophy of Nikolai Berdyaev), in: Personalizem in odmevi na Slovenskem (Personalism and its Echoes in Slovenia), ed. by Kovačič Peršin, P., Ljubljana 1998, p. 201-227.

[26] Cf. Berdyaev, N., Dukh i realnost, p. 32: “Inwardness is a symbol of the spirit” (my translation).

[27] Op. cit., p. 37.

[28] Op. cit., p. 44.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Op. cit., p. 47.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Op. cit., p. 18.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Op. cit., p. 17.

[36] Parmenides, fr. 8, 1-2 (according to the version of Sextus Empiricus).

[37] Berdyaev, N, Dukh i realnost, p. 33 (my translation).

[38] Cf. Plato, The Sophist 241D: “In defending myself I shall have to test the theory of my father Parmenides, and contend forcibly that after a fashion not-being is and on the other hand in a sense being is not.” (trans. by Fowler, N. Harold).

[39] Cf. Schelling, F. W. J., “Philosophische Einleitung in der Philosophie der Mythologie” (1847-1852), in: Ausgewählte Schriften, ed. by Frank, Manfred, Frankfurt a/M 1985, Vol. 5. (=PhM), pp. 298 ff. and 317 ff.

[40] Cf. an exhaustive and a rationalistic study of the subject by Fill, Josef, “Metaphysik des Nichts (MH ON) bei Berdjajew. Zum Hintergrund der Freiheitproblematik bei Berdjajew”, in: Salzburger Jahrbuch für Philosophie X-XI/1966-67, pp. 321-360.

[41] Berdyaev, N., Opyt eshatologičeskoj metafiziki (An Essay of Eschatological Metaphysics), Paris 1947, p. 92 (my translation). As regards the notion of non-being [mè ón] as potential being [dynámei ón] it is worth to mention Schelling’s reference to Aristotle’s Metaphysics 1007b28; cf. PhM, p. 299, note 1.

[42] Berdyaev, N., Dukh i realnost, p. 126 (my translation). Cf. “Jakob Böhmes Lehre von Ungrund und Freiheit” by the same author, in: Blätter für deutsche Philosophie, Berlin 1932-33, Vol. 6, pp. 315-336.

[43] Boehme, Jacob, Mysterium pansophicum, in: J. Böhme’s Sämmtliche Werke, ed. by Schiebler, K. W., Leipzig 1831-46, repr. 1922, Vol. IV, p. 413; quotation in Berdyaev, N., Op. cit., p. 126.

[44] Boehme, J., Von der Gnadenwahl (1623), ed. by Pietsch, R., Stuttgart 1988, p. 58; cf. Berdyaev, N., Op. cit., p. 125.

[45] Cf. St. John 3,3.

[46] Berdyaev, N., Dukh i realnost, p. 126 (my translation).

[47] Op. cit., p. 92.

[48] Op. cit., p. 144.

[49] Op. cit., pp. 146-147.

[50] Cf. Berdyaev, N., Slavery and Freedom, trans. by French, R. M., London/ New York 1939, p. 5 ff., where this term expresses the existential unity of eternal contradiction between “the yearning for the highest world, for the height, and compassion with ground-connected, suffering world.”