Essay on Russian Intellectual Society in 19th Century

Essay on Russian Intellectual Society in 19th Century

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The end of the 18th century was a period of drastic changes in the political life of Europe. In the 1789, the French Revolution occurred and became a turning point in the history of Europe. Prior to the political changes, the intellectual Europe was engaged in a movement emphasising the importance of reason and rationality. The historical period associated with that time was named the Age of Enlightenment. At the same time, in the second half of the 18th century, Russian intellectual society was also involved into the discussion about the contemporary situation and the future of the people. The representatives of Russian nobility wanted to improve its own society, because they saw the problems and thought they knew how to solve them and improve the situation for Russian people. Russian Empire, being under the rule of an autocrat, set a peculiar context for the discussion of the problem. Thinkers, such as Novikov and Radishchev, saw the empress as the highest power to bring the changes about. Therefore, they dedicated their thoughts and writings directly to Katherine II. This paper will discuss the situation in 18th century Russia and will examine the image of Enlightened Russia proposed in such writings. First, the essay will consider Novikov’s ideas of how Enlightened Russia should look like and then it will discuss the aspects in which that Russia is far from the enlightened one.
The fundamental idea of Novikov’s pieces of writing is essentially the idea of the importance of a man, of an individual. Thus, trying to look from Novikov’s viewpoint, one may see the enlightened Russia as an individual-centred society. Such society would understand that a human is the only “worthy of discussion” (Novikov p.64), because he is a basi...

... middle of paper ...

...blems and compare the possibilities to the actual situation; however, being more realistic would be more useful to bring the changes about. At that time, being aware of the status quo in Russia would be enough to understand that certain changes are needed, and these changes should be brought about gradually in the accordance with the ideals. Starting from the replacements inside the Governing mechanism as a short-term measure and making emphasis on the upbringing of the child and education of the youth would inevitably help the Russia to come closer to the ideals and achieve the Cultural Revolution through the means of reforms.

Novikov, Nikolai. On the Upbringing and The Instruction of Children.
Radishchev, Alexander. 1790. “Spasskay Polest” and “Gorodnya” in Journey From Petersburg to Moscow.

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