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atheism Russian History 1917

Russia has always played a major roll in global politics, economics and thought. However, in the past two centuries, Russia has had probably the greatest influence on the international world in modern times, surpassed only by the United States. The Russia that we've known this century though, has its roots in last centuries Russian. At the end of the nineteenth century, Russia experienced great changes internally, politically, socially and spiritually. The half century leading up to the Communist revolution in 1917 was a time filled with sweeping changes, literary triumphs and military defeat. All of these factors played in the eventual revolution and not only affected politics and thought in Russia, but in every nation on earth.
After the defeat of the Russian army in the Crimean War, Russian realized that it needed to modernize its country, socially and militarily. Alexander II realized that to modernize mean that Russia needed to westernize. So in 1861 he emancipated the serfs from bondage. The emancipation was mean to bridge the gap between the elite and the general population, but was not the first of such liberal western type reforms. Catherine and Peter the Great had also made western type reforms during their respective reigns. All of their reforms, and especially Alexander's, were influenced by western thought. These thought were introduced into Russia by its Western European educated ruling class. Under Alexander II, the ruling class began to see serfdom as an immoral part of society. This moral problem was accompanied by the economics of the day, and the ethical conclusion was that serfdom must be dismantled.
The abolition of serfdom was Alexander II greatest contribution to history. However, the 'Liberating Czar' enacted a whole series of fundamental changes including; comprehensive reform of the judicial system that finally introduced the unheard of idea of equality, trial by jury, public proceedings in legal matters and the impartiality of the courts.
In the end though, none of these reforms really solved any of Russia's social or economic problems, eventually called the 'accursed questions'. These were taken up by the various political groups and writers of the time. The writers however were the most important. To Russians, the writer is not only looked upon as an artist of the word, but also as a guide and teacher in a deeper sense. The writer is supposed to understand life better than ordinary mortals, so it's his duty to impart this knowledge to others in appropriate shape and form.
The reign of Alexander II was an age of great literary achievement, the 'Golden Age' of the Russian novel. Almost all of the great works of Russian fiction were produced during this time. The best minds were attracted to the novel, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Asakov all produced some of the greatest literary works of all time during this period.
All of the writers during this time belonged to a political school of thought, and while some of the schools worked for similar aims, they were all different and each one possessed its own unique ideals.
The Slavophiles were probably the oldest of the political schools at the time. The Slavophiles during the reign of Alexander II were of the second generation, and they were the ones to turn the Slavophile myth of old into a real modern political program. This program included the endorsement of the Orthodox religion and a patrimonial monarchy. The Slavophiles believed in the inherent virtue and goodness of the Russian people and culture. A main part of this culture was the ideal of 'sobornost', that is, the communal spirit. The Slavophiles saw this in action in the peasant communes, and believed that communalism in conjunction with Christian communal worship would become the source of Russia's sorely needed moral and cultural regeneration. In accordance with Russia's regeneration, Slavophiles saw the west as corrupt and immoral. They saw Russia's destiny as one in which it would save the west from spiritual decay.
Fyodor Dostoevsky was Slavophilisms more down-to-earth and democratic member. He was also the movements' most effective proponent. In his book Discourse on Pushkin, Dostoevsky describes the Slavophile position.
The major opponents of the Slavophile position were the western influenced Nihilists. These leftist radicals rejected religion, the authority of ... more

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Berkeley's Theory of Immaterialism

       As man progressed through the various stages of evolution, it
is assumed that at a certain point he began to ponder the world around
him. Of course, these first attempts fell short of being scholarly,
probably consisting of a few grunts and snorts at best. As time passed
on, though, these ideas persisted and were eventually tackled by the
more intellectual, so-called philosophers. Thus, excavation of "the
external world" began. As the authoritarinism of the ancients gave way
to the more liberal views of the modernists, two main positions
concerning epistemology and the nature of the world arose. The first
view was exemplified by the empiricists, who stated that all knowledge
comes from the senses. In opposition, the rationalists maintained that
knowledge comes purely from deduction, and that this knowledge is
processed by certain innate schema in the mind. Those that belonged to
the empiricist school of thought developed quite separate and distinct
ideas concerning the nature of the substratum of sensible objects.
John Locke and David Hume upheld the belief that sensible things were
composed of material substance, the basic framework for the
materialist position. The main figure who believed that material
substance did not exist is George Berkeley. In truth, it is the
immaterialist position that seems the most logical when placed under
close scrutiny.

       The initial groundwork for Berkeley's position is the truism
that the materialist is a skeptic. In the writing of his three
dialogues, Berkeley develops two characters: Hylas (the materialist)
and Philonous (Berkeley himself). Philonous draws upon one central
supposition of the materialist to formulate his argument of skepticism
against him; this idea is that one can never perceive the real essence
of anything. In short, the materialist feels that the information
received through sense experience gives a representative picture of
the outside world (the representative theory of perception), and one
can not penetrate to the true essece of an object. This makes logical
sense, for the only way to perceive this real essence would be to
become the object itself! Although the idea is logical, it does
contain a certain grounding for agnosticism. Let the reader consider
this: if there is no way to actually sense the true material essence
of anything, and all knowledge in empiricism comes from the senses,
then the real material essence can not be perceived and therefore it
can not be posited. This deserves careful consideration, for the
materialist has been self-proclaimed a skeptic! If the believer in
this theory were asked if a mythical beast such as a cyclops existed
he would most certainly say no. As part of his reply he might add that
because it can not be sensed it is not a piece of knowledge. After
being enlightened by the above proposed argument, though, that same
materialist is logically forced to agree that, because the "material
substratum1" itself can not be sensed, its existence can not be
treated as knowledge. The materialist belief has, in effect, become as
futile as proving that the cyclops exists; his ideas have lead him
into skepticism.

       Having proven that the materialist is, at best, a doubter,
Berkeley goes on to offer the compelling argument that primary and
secondary qualities are, together, one thing. As the materialist
believes, primary qualities of an object are those things that are
abstract (not sense oriented). Examples of these would be number,
figure, motion, and extension. Secondary qualities are those things
that are concrete (sense oriented), such as color, smell, sound, and
taste. The materialist feels that these primary qualities persist even
when the secondary ones are not there. Thus, if a person were blind,
then that individual would not be able to hear or to touch items; yet
the so-called real qualities such as figure would remain existent in
the objects. As previously shown, the materialist is agnostic in his
belief of these real (primary) qualities. It is here that Berkeley
directs an alternate hypothesis: that the abstract primary qualities
don't exist at all. In fact, the immaterialist position states that
these qualities are merely secondary in nature, as they, too, can not
be perceived as being separate from an object. For instance, if a
person is asked to imagine a primary quality ... more

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