Russian and Ukrainian Philosophy
Philosophy 270
Dr. Eugene Lashchyk


Fall 1992

  1. Course objectives:
    1. The course aims to introduce the students to the central figures in Russian and Ukrainian philosophy.
    2. The official philosophy of dialectical materialism as it functioned from 1918-1990 in the former Soviet Union will be presented. The sometimes pernicious effects of an official philosophy-ideology of Marxism-Leninism on the developments in the sciences and the humanities will be shown.
  2. Textbooks:
    1. (eds.) James M. Edie, James P. Scanlan, Mary-Barbara Zeldin, and George L. Kline, Russian Philosophy, Vol. I-III (University of Tennessee Press, 1987).
    2. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot (A Signet Classic, 1980), (written in 1868-1869).
    3. Handouts: Supplementary readings.

  1. Selections in Ukrainian Philosophy
    1. Taras Zakydalsky, "Introduction" and Ch. 1: "Interpretation of Skovoroda's Thought" from The Theory of Man in the Philosophy of Skovoroda, M.A. thesis in philosophy, Bryn Mawr College, 1965. pp. 1-36
    2. Dan B. Chopyk, "Skovoroda's Fables: Analysis" and "Skovorodas Fables" from Gregory Skovoroda: Fables and Aphorisms(Peter Lang, 1990): pp. 70-130.
    3. Eugene Lashchyk, "Vynnycenko's Philosophy of Happiness" from Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences Vol. XVI (1984): pp. 289-326.
    4. John Fizer, "The Essential Being Of the Work of Poetic Art" and "Conclusion," from Alexander A.Potebnja's Psycholinguistic Theory of Literature (1986): pp. 1-50; pp.133-140
    5. Mychailo Tuhan-Baranovsky, "The Influence of Ideas of Political Economy on the Natural Sciences and Philosophy (1918)," from Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences Vol. XIII (1973-1977): pp. 190-208.
    6. Eugene Lashchyk, "Some Reflections on the Relationship between Philosophy and Economics (A Commentary on Tuhan- Baranovsky's article)," Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences Vol. XIII (1973-1977): pp. 217-237.
    7. Eugene Lashchyk and Taras Zakydalsky, Review of Filosofs'ka Dumka from Recenzia (1975): pp. 34-45

  2. Selections from Russian and Soviet Philosophy
    1. Taras Zakydalsky, "Ch. 3: The Moral Argument," from N. F. Fyodorov's Philosophy of Physical Resurrection, Ph. D. dissertation, Bryn Mawr College, 1976, pp. 154-253.
    2. Leszek Kolakowski, "The Rise of Leninism," from Main Currents of Marxism pp. 381-412
    3. Loren R. Graham, "Ch. 1: Historical Overview", "Ch. 2: Dialectical Materialism in the Soviet Union: Its Development as a Philosophy of Science," and "Ch. 4: Genetics," from Science, Philosophy, and Human Behavior in the Soviet Union (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987): pp.1-66; 102-155
    4. Eugene Lashchyk, "Soviet Philosophy Under Gorbachev," from Ukrainian Affairs (1987): pp.7-8.
  3. Course Requirements:
    One term paper, a mid-term and final examination each worth thirty percent. Class reports and class participation will make up the remaining ten percent.

  4. Course outline:
    Week of Sept. 10
    Descriptions of course and Historical Background of Russia and Ukraine.
    Week of Sept. 14
    Philosophy in the Kievo-Mohylanska Academy.
    Read: Zakydalsky 1965, pp. 1-36; Edie I, 1987, pp. 3-10.
    Week of Sept. 21
    The outlines of Skovoroda's philosophy of man, ethics and metaphysics, and a discussion of Skovoroda's dialogue on the nature of happiness.
    Read: Edie I 1987, pp. 11-62.
    Week of Sept. 28
    Continue a discussion of the dialogue and a comparison of Skovoroda's theory of human nature and happiness with such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas, Bentham, Sartre, and Margolis.
    Read: Zenkovsky I, pp. 53-64. (Reserve)
    Week of Oct. 5
    Skovoroda's fables and their interpretation. The beginnings of Russian philosophy: Alexander Radishchev (1749-1802) "Man's immortality."
    Read: Chopyk 1990, Fables, pp.70-130; Edie I (1987), pp. 77-100.
    Week of Oct. 12
    Radishchev on the immorality of serfdom. Nicholas Fyodorov (1828-1903) "Man's immortality put on a scientific basis."
    Read: Edie I (pp. 63-77); Edie III (1987), Fyodorov, pp. 1-55.
    Week of Oct. 19
    Fyodorov on the moral task of physical resurrection. Th. Alexander A. Potebnja the Ukrainian philosopher of language
    Read: Zakydalsky (1976), pp. 154-253; Fizer (1986), pp. 1-25.
    Week of Oct. 26 Mon.
    Continue with Potebnja;
    Tuesday, Oct. 27
    In lieu of class go to lecture on "Potebnja: Linguistics As a Key to Our Understanding of Reality" by Prof. Ivan Fizer, 12:30, Wister Philosophy Lounge
    Thursday, Oct.29
    Mid-Term Examination
    Week of Nov. 2 Mon.
    Mid-Semester Holiday
    Tu. & Th.,
    Dostoyevsky, The Idiot; Edie II, Dostoyevsky, pp. 235-239; 240-249, "Notes from the Underground."
    Week of Nov. 9
    Nicholas Berdyaev, The Philosophy of Personalism, and Existentialism.
    Read Edie III, Berdyaev, pp. 143-220.
    Week of Nov. 16
    Soviet Philosophy - Dialectical Materialism and science: Conflict or Harmony?
    Read: Loren Graham 1987, pp. 1-66; 102-155; Edie III, Spirkin, 464-508.
    Week of Nov 23
    Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and his views on an independent labor movement.
    Read: Edie III, Lenin selections, pp. 410-436; Kolakowski, The Rise of Leninism, pp. 381-412; Edie III, Axelrod, pp. 455-463.
    Nov. 25-28
    Thanksgiving Holidays
    Week of Nov. 30
    Term Paper due
    Ukrainian Philosophy - Tuhan-Baranovsky: How one science influences another - Discussion and Critique.
    Read: Tuhan- Baranovsky, 1918, pp. 189-208. Lashchyk (1977), pp. 217-237.
    Week of Dec 7
    The periodization of Ukrainian philosophy: the Soviet Period; Volodymyr Vynnycenko's Philosophy of Happiness.
    Read: Lashchyk 1975, Review of Filosofs'ka Dumka.
    Lashchyk 1987, "Soviet Philosophy Under Gorbachev"
    Lashchyk 1984, "Vynnycenko's Philosophy of Happiness"
    Mon Dec 14
    Last day of class. A Comparison of three moral systems: Christian, socialist and Vynnycenko's.

    Final Exam

Term Paper Assignment

      Write a ten page double spaced paper on one of the topics listed below. Your paper should have footnotes and bibliography.

      An online search is recommended in our library to get a good sample of work that has already been done, These bibliographical searches produce abstracts of the relevant material. Please submit a copy of the bibliographical search together with your paper. In order to run the on line search, the library requires that you attend a one hour lecture. See the library info desk for schedules.

      The paper will be worth 30% of your grade.

Term Paper Topics:

  1. Skovoroda's philosophy of happiness and its possible similarities to Maslow's theory of self realization.

  2. Skovoroda's conception of God and its comparison with Spinoza and/or the views of those who consider God to be feminine.

  3. Research the evaluation of a moral system and then evaluate Fyodorov's moral arguments for universal resurrection.

  4. Trace the influences and possible antecedents of Fyodorov's universal resurrection. (Bible, Judaism, Christianity, etc.)

  5. Compare and/or evaluate Potebnja's view of objective reality as filtered by the language of a nation or culture and Kuhn's view that observations are theory laden and/or the Whorf hypothesis.

  6. Potebnja claims that "poetry, myth and science therefore coexist in the state of symbiosis"(Fizer p. 77). Delineate the nature of each of these and discuss the possible symbiosis.

  7. Compare Radishchev arguments for immortality with Plato's arguments as found in the Phaedo. Closely evaluate the cogency of some of these arguments.

  8. Radishchev claims that the soul is a force of nature. Compare this view with some similar but more contemporary positions (e.g. Theilard de Chardin, etc.)

  9. Discuss the success or failure of Dostoyevsky's project to create a Christ like figure in Prince Mishkin. Is Prince Mishkin or the Idiot a failure because of his character traits or because of the rottenness of Russian society.

  10. Discuss Lenin's position that democratic worker's movements are a blind force that must be guided by the communist party. Compare Leninism and the Catholicism on the question of worker movements. (Hint: Both are hierarchical).

  11. Critically evaluate Lenin's epistemological position.

  12. Discuss both the positive and the pernicious role that an ideology like dialectical materialism or Catholicism can have on developments in science.

  13. Compare the concept of harmony or balance in the philosophy of Plato and Vynnycenko. (See particularly Plato's Republic.)

  14. Compare and contrast Vynnycenko's moral system with the Existentialists. Is it fair to say that Vynnycenko's moral system predates such Existentialist thinkers as Sartre?

  15. Discuss and evaluate some of the theories as to why the Soviet Union collapsed.

  16. Illustrate the philosophical pluralism of philosophy in the Soviet Union in the 1920's.