Published in the book Leaves of Morya’s Garden. Book 1: The Call. 1924. 2nd edition. Мoscow: ICR; Master-Bank, 2003.
The Philosophy of Cosmic Reality
To understand scientifically is to place the phenomenon
in the framework of the scientific reality of the Cosmos.
The best intellects turn to the factors of the interaction
of the Cosmic Powers with the fates of earthly peoples.
At the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century, the Spiritual Revolution started in Russia, which marked the beginning of the culture and philosophic thought of the Silver Age. The Silver Age brought dazzling flashes of heyday in art, literature, and philosophy, as well as the conception of new scientific thought. Unfortunately, the Spiritual Revolution, which gave to Russia so much on the whole, did not get the honor of being mentioned in studies on the history and culture of Russia. This was due to various historical circumstances that had formed in Russia by the beginning of the 20thcentury. The primary circumstance was the fact that the Spiritual Revolution coincided to a certain extent with the social revolution that took place in 1917 and became known as the October Revolution. And then, the great opposition of the two revolutions started, which resulted first in the Spiritual Revolution slowing down, and then in its complete fading. However, the latter, which was based in the energetics of the spirit and culture of man, could not completely disappear from the country’s historical arena, and, beyond doubt, carried in itself the potential for renaissance. Relying on intransient values related to the creative activity of man, the Spiritual Revolution was programmed for a long duration, and its course could not be interrupted completely. Unlike the social revolution, the Spiritual Revolution is conditioned by and is related to the spiritual and energetic processes taking place in man himself. The social revolution, in contrast, was only preoccupied with the external part of the human being, bringing to the foreground the issues of class struggle, economic benefit for oppressed classes, and the transfer of power from dominating classes to the oppressed. The world outlook platform of the Russian social revolution was the sociological world perception of the 19thcentury, at the basis of which lay the social and economic doctrine of major German scientist Karl Marx. This doctrine created the foundations for the Russian social revolution, an ideology that received the name of Marxism-Leninism. If the range of the social revolution was limited to the earthly framework, the Spiritual Revolution spread its wings into the Cosmos, interacting with it and unifying the earthly and the heavenly into a single whole. It lay the bases for the cosmic reorientation of the most important forms of cognition, such as philosophy, science, and art.
1. The 20th century’s complicated realm of cognition
By the beginning of the 20thcentury, two trends had formed in gnoseology: the scientific and the extra-scientific. The scientific, or empirical, method of cognition was based on mechanistic materialism, in which experiment was the main instrument of cognition.
The so-called extra-scientific method of cognition dealt with the energetics of the inner world of man, his abilities appearing on the basis of creation by the energetics.
Each of these systems had its own history, its interactions with the phenomenon “spirit – matter,” its contacts with the opposite system, its results in the cognition of the surrounding world. Common for both was one thing: the source that had given birth to them. This source was called mythology, or, rather, mythological thinking or mentality. It was a single whole, within which various fields of cognition were interwoven: rudiments of science, philosophy, art, ethics, religion, and history. It was a reservoir of all kinds of knowledge, separated by neither human prejudice, nor opposing world outlooks, nor different types of creative work. “Religions, philosophic systems,” major Mexican philosopher J. L. Portillo wrote, “art, social forms of being of primitive and modern man, the first scientific and cultural discoveries, even torturous dreams – all this comes from a single mythological source.”1 In the course of time, not only the method of cognition split into the scientific and the extra-scientific, but the philosophy itself split into the materialistic and the idealistic. Experimental science, which did not recognize anything but solid matter, in the course of its development was taking place more and more in the domain of cognition, excluding the other spheres of knowledge from there and arrogantly claiming for broad monopoly. The representatives of science and materialistic philosophy, struggling with idealistic systems, were absolutely convinced that experiment and the empirical method were the only means through which the truth, at least relative truth, could be perceived in this material world. In the 19th century, hardly any scientist could believe that such an assertion was just an illusion that appeared in the spiritless matter of arrogant intellect. In its essence, science, with its purely material method of research, proved to be just one of the systems of cognition, and, due to the above circumstance, a far from perfect one.
At the same time, another system continued growing and developing. It came from the past centuries and preserved its accumulations in the East, the area of very ancient culture, closely related to man himself and his internal spiritual world, a system, in which other, broader views on matter than those of science had been formed for thousands of years. In the course of time, this system seized the thought of the West, too, and found its reflection in the religious experience of great Teachings. The immense amount of knowledge that had accumulated in this space and had been rejected by science for a long time was becoming the other wing in the universal system of cognition, which had so long been so needed by purely materialistic science. This system had its ways and methods of cognition. The most important of them were those in which scientific experiment was substituted by evidence, or information going through the spiritual world of man from the space of other being, or, in other words, from the space of matter of different states and dimensions. This information possessed an important quality: it was far ahead of the knowledge received by experiment, and, in many cases, had prophetic character. On this basis, in addition to science, a philosophy appeared in which the method of evidence had conceptual significance and carried in itself a forming element. Such phenomena as dreams, visions, and informational images coming from the Cosmos were all referred to as evidence, for, despite the subjective channel of their reception, they all had quite objective and even practical character. Such knowledge was negated not only by science, but by the church as well, despite the fact that the latter knew quite well about the visions and prophecies of saints. Studies created by such witnesses were called mystical, esoteric, occult. None of these names gave a clear understanding of the knowledge itself and the ways of its reception, but, rather, contributed to all kinds of misunderstanding and rumors. If we leave out such archaic terms and take the notion of “science” as the basis, then this method of cognition could be called super-scientific. Art should be referred to here, as well. As the most mysterious field of human creativity, art, more than the other spheres, is connected to other being, from which the creative impulses of Beauty and the images of gnoseological information come to man.
The method of evidence was widely used in multiple studies of representatives of speculative cognition. The quality of witnesses and their works varied, but, among them, the studies by German philosopher Jacob Boehme (1575–1624) should be mentioned. His study “Aurora, or the Morning Redness Arising” gave an example of daring dialectics (the world as motion and the unification of contradictions), deepened understanding of the real Cosmos, and was subsequently used by representatives of German classical philosophy Hegel and Feyerbach. Engels called Boehme “a forerunner of forthcoming philosophers.”2
Despite this fact, Boehme’s creations were prohibited during the Soviet times. And the church cursed his “Morning Redness” while the philosopher was still alive.
Boehme’s views on the Universe’s structure were far ahead of not only the science of that time, but of modern science as well. It followed from what he saw with his spiritual vision that man is identical to the Cosmos and that the human heart is the center of the world. At that time neither science, nor theology asserted anything of that nature. And one can just be amazed at the shrewdness of F. Engels, who, without any doubt, included Boehme’s knowledge in future philosophy, the developments of which Engels, clearly, intuitively anticipated himself. And he, unlike orthodox scientists and Soviet ideologists, was not disturbed by how this knowledge was obtained. Boehme provided unique evidence testifying to the very important place of man in the Universe. As a witness, he was much greater than his contemporaries, who, probably, did not even suspect the existence of such evidence. But the Cosmos is complicated, and there are witnesses and evidence of a higher level, from time to time bringing to us the necessary knowledge.
The separation of the scientific and extra-scientific (or super-scientific) systems of cognition was as fruitless as the separation of spirit from matter, even if conditional. By the beginning of the 20th century, such separation, if not completely obstructing the development of science, then, in any case, closed the way to the correct comprehension of the discovered phenomena.
The Spiritual Revolution of the 20th century, in which the new mentality of cosmic world perception was formed, showed a certain tendency for the synthesis of scientific and extra-scientific methods of cognition, which had, undoubtedly, evolutionary character. This tendency got its best expression in the studies of the Silver Age philosophers, closely related to the problems of the cultural and spiritual evolution of mankind.
These philosophers included such high intellects as P. Florensky, S. Bulgakov, N. Berdiayev, I. Ilyin, V. Soloviev, and others. In their studies we find religious, philosophic, and scientific thought: “Readings about God-Mankind” and “The Justification of the Good: Moral Philosophy” by V. Soloviev; “The Philosophy of Freedom,” “The Essence of Creation,” “The Fate of Russia,” “Creation and Objectification,” and “The Kingdom of the Spirit and the Kingdom of Caesar” by N. Berdiayev; “The Pillar and the Ground of Truth,” “Imaginaries in Geometry,” “Reverse Perspective,” and “Universal Human Roots of Idealism” by P. Florensky; “The Non-Evening Light” and “Two Cities” by S. Bulgakov; “The Way to Obviousness” by I. Ilyin. These and other studies of the Silver Age philosophers were distinctively original, they did not, as traditional, imitate Western schools. Leaving aside minor political issues and questions of routine being, the Russian philosophers placed man, the distinctive features of his spirit, his evolutionary fate, and the role of the Higher at the center of their studies. The old sociological thinking with its traditional approaches could not answer many questions set before Russia and the world by events of cosmic scale. The Russian thinkers intuitively sensed those energetic changes, which the evolution of the Cosmos and man carried in itself in the 20th century. They, those thinkers, according to N. Berdiayev, passed into “another ideological dimension,” seeing the energetic integrity of the Universe and its inalienable connection with the existence of man.
The scientific explosion of the 1920s to a considerable extent contributed to the development of this process. The natural sciences, primarily physics, found themselves in a critical situation in terms of methodology. Under the set circumstances of an experiment, matter started behaving in unpredictable ways. The indivisible became divisible, in invisible spaces was discovered intensive energetic activity, “pure” experiments in atomic physics began to be influenced by the subtle energetics of the experimenter himself, and some “immaterial” structures and particles appeared in matter. The new mentality, formed in the Spiritual Revolution, set forth new tasks before scientific thought, the solutions of which were undertaken by outstanding scientists. The accumulations of human knowledge’s extra-scientific spheres became demanded again. The studies by great scientists, such as V. Vernadsky, K. Tsiolkovsky, A. Chizhevsky, P. Teyar de Chardin, N. Bohr, and A. Einstein, combined science and non-science. An integral approach towards the phenomena of nature and human society was formed in such studies.
Scientists turned to the forgotten ideas of ancient sages about the close interaction of man, the planet, and the Cosmos and about the fundamental unity of macro- and microcosm. These thoughts were confirmed in scientific discoveries. The speculative philosophy of the East contributed especially much to the comprehension of the new insights of science. The new cosmic world perception introduced into science the category of the spirit, brought scientists closer to the idea of the existence of other states of matter, and led them to seek experimental confirmation of such existence.
It seemed that the sharp borderlines between scientific and extra-scientific methods started to blur, directing the flow of scientific thought to the synthesis of various phenomena of planetary and cosmic character. V. Vernadsky’s theories of the biosphere and the noosphere, which he formulated in his unique study “Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon,” were one of the first scientific results of the new cosmic thinking at the level of “evolution which has become aware of itself” (P. Teyar de Chardin).
The noosphere, or the sphere of the intellect, the next, higher stage in the development of the Earth’s biosphere, is the result, the scientist asserted, of man’s conscious thinking activity. In the same years, A. Chizhevsky wrote about the necessity of a new science: “more modern than the contemporary one, more tolerant to the new ideas and new achievements of the human genius.”3
The man of genius K. Tsiolkovsky wrote and spoke in provincial Kaluga about the spiritual Cosmos, about the rational powers in it, about the irresistible will of the Universe, and about a hierarchy of highly developed entities. “The will of man,” he stated, “and of all other creatures, higher and lower, is just a manifestation of the will of the Universe. The voice of man, his thoughts, discoveries, notions, beliefs, and mistakes, is just the voice of the Universe.”4
A. Chizhevsky experimentally discovered the interaction of the human organism and human society with the Sun’s activity and, in particular, with the rhythm of sunspots. Proceeding from the concept of the unity of man and Cosmos, the interaction of man and the Sun, he perceived certain cycles and rhythms of the Sun’s impact on health, the public activities of man, and the historical process. These studies broke the borders between the natural and humanitarian sciences, leaving causal priorities to the natural ones. In his studies, the scientist wrote about the great electromagnetic life of the Universe, laying the first bricks in the foundation of the energetic world outlook of the 20th century. Combining his unusual studies, Chezhevsky advanced more and more in his cosmic search. “It should be concluded from the above stated that there is some unearthly power affecting from the outside the development of events in human communities. The simultaneous character of the fluctuations of solar and human activity serves as the best indication of this power.”5
Many scientific discoveries of the 20th century were directly related to extra-scientific information, concerning, first of all, the problems of space, which, in fact, contain the main secrets of the universe. The first steps in this direction were made as long ago as in the 19th century by Russian scientist N. Lobachevsky, who elaborated the theory of non-Euclidean geometry that overthrew all understanding of the very nature of space. Beyond the mechanistically material world, something unavailable to common vision, but nevertheless really existing, yielding to research, was seen. This invisible space was characterized by new dimensions, not yet accessible by the human mind, but the information about which came from the extra-scientific realm.
In 1907-1908 the German scientist Minkovsky started speaking not of space as such, but of space-time, as an integral phenomenon. To the three space coordinates, he added a certain fourth coordinate, the temporal one. What appeared in the spiritual illuminations of non-science turned out to be the reality of the science of today. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity established this coordinate as the fourth dimension. Taking into consideration that the velocity of light, 300,000 km/sec, has its material limits, Einstein closely approached the hypothesis of superlight-space existence.
Gradually, through the discovery of invisible spaces and worlds, a real notion of the spirit and the anticpation of revolutionary changes was felt in science and its paradigm.
Cosmic evolution demanded those thinkers and scientists who possessed an ability for synthesis. P. Florensky, as an outstanding scientist, a unique philosopher with an ability for producing evidence, and a priest, who well understood art as a most important method of cognition, was an example of such a man. Behind the presumably existing superlight space, Florensky saw other being, “the other world,” with all the features that were characteristic of it, but that were already yielding to scientific explanation. The so-called imaginary space, imaginaries in geometry, represent science’s contact with other worlds of different states of matter. Florensky’s studies, including “Imaginaries in Geometry,” “Iconostasis,” and “Reverse Perspective,” which he wrote in the first half of the 20th century, are highly important milestones along the path of the formation of cosmic thinking and a synthetic system of cognition. They contain proof of the existence of a different Universe, different worlds, inaccessible by our eye and our senses, but spiritually connected with us and influencing our world of solid matter.
“In geometry,” P. Florensky wrote, “we study space, not lines, points, and surfaces as such, but, in fact, properties of space, which are also expressed in these particular formations of space.”6 He set before himself the task “to expand the conception of two-dimensional images of geometry in such a way that the system of images of space include imaginary images, as well. In short, it is necessary to find in space a place for imaginary images, without taking anything away from the images of reality which have already assumed their places.”7
The scientist fulfilled this task; he cognized the properties of space, using at that not only geometry, but a source seemingly quite unexpected for science: Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante was not only a great poet, but a major esoterist, a possessor of secret knowledge related to the “evidence” trend of extra-scientific knowledge. His descriptions of the universe’s structure in the Divine Comedy are so real that they served Florensky as a basis for his analysis of “imaginaries in geometry.” In Dante’s cosmology, the scientist discovered the “anticipation of [ . . . ] non-Euclidean geometry.”8
To conclude his study, Florensky wrote: “The area of imaginaries is real, cognizable, and, in Dante’s language, is called Empyrium. We can imagine all of space as double, constituted by actual Gaussian coordinate surfaces and imaginary ones that do not not coincide with them; transition from an actual to an imaginary surface is only possible through a fault of space and the body’s turning inside out through itself. So far, we only imagine the increase of velocities as the means for this process, maybe, velocities of some particles of the body, beyond the limiting velocity of light, but we have no proof of the impossibility of some other means.”9 This idea of Florensky’s, directly connecting the structure of the Universe with the inner space of man himself, was so daring and paradoxical that it could be conceived by neither ideologists, nor scientists. Ahead of his time, which is characteristic of witnesses of a different world, possessing spiritual vision cost Florensky his life. Soviet ideologists immediately reacted to this study, though they did not understand anything in the system of proofs. And Florensky had to write a letter to the political department to explain what he meant. “I gather,” he stated in that message, “that there was a certain psychological fact – a dream, vision, etc. – underlying Dante’s poem. Any fact, once actually experienced, provides material for speculation, and there is no need at all to believe in it to recognize the value of some or others of its elements. If in my dream, I learn Pythagoras’s theorem, even if from a speaking monkey, the theorem does not become false because of this. It is well known that a lot of great discoveries, including mathematical, were made while dreaming. My idea is, taking Dante’s actual words, to show that he, in a symbolic way, expressed an extremely important geometrical idea of nature and space.”10
But this letter did not save him. And what we have now is a precious document containing the thoughts of a great scientist of a new system of cognition and the role of the extra-scientific method in it. Florensky confirmed once again that in traditional science there are no purely scientific (as we imagine it) methods of research. All the time traditional science is intruded on by the so called extra-scientific, not based on the information of traditional experiments, and this information, nevertheless, produces important results. For, in the long run, science is pursued but by man himself, whose energetic structure is much richer than traditional science can imagine, as this science is full of prejudice and self-limitations. It is the richness of the inner world and the energetics of man, engaged in scientific research, that determine, in many cases, the deviation from the mechanistically-material experimenting in the direction of extra-scientific methods and information.
The evolution of the system of cognition forms a synthesis, and no powers that be from science are able to stop this process. If research and experiments were carried out by machines or robots, science would have been absolutely different. And, probably, calling it “science” would have been wrong. The famous modern philosopher K. Kedrov writes that having combined Einstein with Dante, “Florensky created his unique image of the Universe. Here, the spirit is the reason for the appearance of light, and thought flies through the Universe faster than any speed. The limits of our earthly world, in contrast, are outlined by the radius of a ray of light the covers its way in one second. [ . . . ]
The conclusion is that we are here within the limits of the velocity of light, and by thought we penetrate all dimensions of the universe, our earthly time coiled up into a ball, containing the past, future, and present. And this is real eternity.”11 And more: “Florensky believes that the velocity of light of 300,000 km/sec is not a limit, but just a borderline between the earthly world and the heavenly world.”12 In other words, the world of a higher dimension. Both “Reverse Perspective” and “Iconostasis” by Florensky contain scientific proofs of the existence of worlds composed of other states of matter and other dimensions. Florensky derives these proofs from artistic creations that reflect religious experience related to the comprehension of other being. These are icons depicting some or other moments related to Higher worlds. Florensky considered that an icon, due to its creator’s high spirit, was a window, or even a door, to another world from which a special Grace of God descends. Studying specific features of the human spirit and symbolic art, Florensky asserted that the spirit of a saint or an artist in a certain state rises to the heavenly world to bring information about the Higher world to the lower, earthly world. A saint became a witness of the heavenly world, while an icon painter, while creating this or that icon, was just a witnesses of a witness. Here, in the art of sacral painting, is contained the very important concept of witnessing worlds of other dimensions, which are depicted by the artist on the icon’s surface. The merging of a saint and an artist in one personality is an extremely rare and unique phenomenon. We observe this kind of phenomenon in the art of Andrei Rublev. That is why his icons represent a unique phenomenon that gives us an opportunity to perform scientific analysis of a world of a higher dimension, which Florensky did in his “Reverse Perspective.” He showed that the element of perspective in Rublev’s icon “The Trinity” is not like in paintings by realistic painters, but functions in reverse. It results in a curved space in the icon, just as space curves, according to Einstein, in a higher, in this case, fourth dimension. The space in the fourth dimension is curved in accordance with the laws of reverse perspective.
Einstein’s thought stopped at the border of the velocity of light in our world. And Florensky went beyond this limit, to where another world of a higher dimension and a different state of matter exists, a real world where the spirit acts and creates and where matter itself is closer to the spirit, and not to that state of matter which we observe under earthly conditions, just as Dante in his travel over various circles and levels of the Universe in the Divine Comedy crosses these borders, or, using Florensky’s terminology, these “faults” in space.
V. Vernadsky also more than once resorted to the extra-scientific method of cognition to prove scientific points of the theory of noosphere. “Artistic creation reveals to us the cosmos passing through consciousness of a live creature,” this scientist of genius wrote.13
In studying very seriously the history of science and the scientific world outlook, Vernadsky as if sensed in himself the current of evolution leading to the creation of not only cosmic world perception, but also of a new system of cognition so much needed by the science that was rapidly developing at the beginning of the 20th century. This great Russian scientist was not only a unique specialist-naturalist, but a most interesting philosopher, as well, whose philosophic heritage was long negated in this country and is now just starting to be developed. Attitudes towards his studies on the part of philosophers and scientists today remain far from unambiguous. Vernadsky was one of the first to understand the discrepancy between the old system of cognition and the contemporary process of the development of science and to pose the problem of different views on the system of cognition in his philosophic studies. He as if removed the antagonism previously existing in the area of “science – non-science,” and granted equal rights to science and other methods of cognition, understanding quite well that if this were not done, it would reflect in a most fatal way primarily on science itself. “The scientific world outlook,” he wrote in 1902, “is developing in close communication and wide interaction with other aspects of the spiritual life of mankind. The separation of the scientific world outlook and science from the simultaneous or earlier activities of man in the spheres of religion, philosophy, public life, or art, is impossible. All these manifestations of human life are closely interwoven and can be only separated in one’s imagination.”14
“When studying the history of science, one can easily see for oneself that the sources of the most important aspects of the scientific world outlook appeared beyond the sphere of scientific thinking, penetrated it from the outside, just as the all-encompassing image of world harmony, striving for number, came into science from the outside. Thus, both the ordinary and the more particular, specific features of our scientific thinking, such as atoms, the impact of individual phenomena, matter, heredity, energy, ether, elements, inertia, the infinity of the world, etc., entered the [scientific – L. Sh.] world outlook from other realms of the human spirit; they were conceived and developed under the influence of ideas and understandings alien to scientific thought. [ . . . ]
“But they appeared at the same time in other societies, rendering them forms closer to the designs of science – amongst religious sects, primarily magical and heretical, and amongst mystical philosophic teachings, which from ancient times had become accustomed to the admission of emanations, fluids, all kinds of bodyless influences into the surrounding world.”15
He believed, and quite justly, that it is impossible to separate in the contemporary scientific world outlook what came to it from “pure” empirical science and what came from non-science. And if this suddenly happened, contrary to any common sense, there would be only fragments left of the scientific world outlook.
The scientific revolution of the 20th century itself composed an integral part of the Spiritual Revolution in which all its constituents were closely interwoven – the philosophy of the cosmic world perception, scientific achievements, findings of religious and gnostic thought, and the insights of poetry and art. In this active synthesis, from which, like Aphrodite from the sea foam, a new system of cognition was to appear, Vernadsky was most of all interested in the interaction of philosophy and science, or rather scientific thought. He considered philosophy as such, without dividing it into idealistic or materialistic, religious or atheistic, ancient or contemporary. He did not give preference to any of these systems, trying to reveal in them some common features that would make this interaction clearer. He did not raise the question, as modern philosophers do nowdays, of what is philosophy: science or non-science? He understood that philosophic thought goes far beyond the boundaries of science as such, being formed in an absolutely different space, that it is speculative, but, despite these kinds of “disadvantages,” it affects science, giving it the key for the comprehension of discovered phenomena. The role of philosophy grew especially in the period of the Spiritual Revolution, when it most closely came into contact with scientific thought. Vernadsky wrote:
“Especially near and close are the spheres of philosophic thinking and scientific thought. Their mutual impact is one of the most interesting pages in the history of human consciousness.
“Science can serve in the development of philosophy as an element of progress and awakening, but it can also interfere with philosophic thought, can give rise to stagnation and putrefaction in it. On the one hand, it provides new material for philosophic thought, awakens this thought, expands its horizons. [ . . . ]
“But philosophic thought is affected not only by new scientific facts, discoveries, or concepts. Maybe, even greater influence is produced by the general tendency of scientific creative work, by those individual goals that are set at this moment by scientific thought and the scientific search, which are often very far and different from the scientific concept of precise knowledge.
“This influence of these tendencies and the general trend of scientific thought on philosophic thinking is quite understandable, for philosophy sets tasks that go far beyond precise knowledge. It has to deal not only and not so much with the real material of scientific knowledge, as with possible and probable material, for only on this condition, will it be to a considerable extent free from subordination to the temporary state of science and can go further and anticipate the course of the future development of thought. Only on this condition, is the theory of cognition possible.”16
This fragment is taken from V. Vernadsky’s article written by him as long ago as in the 1920s. Here, the role of philosophy in the process of the formation of the theory of cognition is shown quite daringly and clearly. At that time, just a few scientists imagined the process of the formation of new thinking as clearly and profoundly as did Vernadsky:
“A youthful, daring spirit full of life,” he wrote, “seized scientific thinking. Under its influence, the modern scientific outlook is bending and trembling, crashing and changing. Ahead, on distant heights, unanticipated horizons are opening. Toward them the great impulse of human creation is presently striving.
“This historically crucial change must be survived by daring and free thought. It is necessary to throw far away old “truths,” which are quickly turning into old prejudices right before our eyes. The soil must be cleared of supports and structures that were accumulated in the past and are unnecessary now.”17
Vernadsky considered the independence of philosophic thought from the “contemporary state of science” to be one of the most important conditions for the advancement of the new thinking and the new system of cognition. Only in such a case, does the development of thinking reach the depths it needs. “For, if philosophy blindly follows scientific trends, is governed by them, it will soon lose its live essence, will be of no more interest for the human consciousness; its work and participation in the creativity of human thinking will quickly come to nothing.”18 His conclusions concerning the new scientific thinking and the role of philosophy in it, if they did not have prophetic character, then, at least, they contained clear scientific foresight.
There were many obstacles on the way to the establishment of the new system of cognition. And one of the most serious ones was the incorrect understanding of the role of philosophy by the ideologists of post-revolutionary Russia. This, first of all, concerned the dialectical materialism that they tried to turn into the only true philosophy determining the trends of scientific development. Vernadsky was daring, uncompromising, and consistent in defending a different point of view. Only a few people who shared his ideas supported him in this unequal struggle. He went against the state’s ideology, against the attempt to restrict freedom of philosophic and scientific thought. He saw well how philosophic thought was degenerating in this country due to such circumstances, what harm it was doing to the scientific outlook and the development of science as a whole, how knowledge, formed in the space of extra-scientific methods of cognition, which he included in the new system of cognition, was subject to persecution and all kinds of prohibitions. “I think,” Vernadsky pointed out without hesitation in 1941, “that such decline of philosophic thought in the field of dialectical materialism in this country, and of seemingly broad possibilities for this thought’s manifestation, is the consequence of the peculiar understanding of the tasks of philosophy and the stagnation of profound philosophic work, due to our philosophers’ belief that a philosophic truth that has no room to change any more or be doubted, has been achieved.”19
Instead of the new theory of cognition, in the creation of which Vernadsky and his followers actively participated, the domination of scientific ideas, approved by the state ideologists, was gradually established, and science itself, saturated with dialectical materialism, turned into a code of absolute truths in the being of a huge country.
In what was called the theory of cognition, dominated “truths” of actively developing empiric science, which was created in the space of mechanistic materialism aggravated by dialectical materialism, not always correctly understood by the philosophers of those years. Supported by the state, especially in that it corresponded to its ideological principles, empiric, or so-called materialistic, science grew more and more aggressive, trying to expand its influence and eliminate all trends of thought which contradicted the official views.
Already in 1902 Vernadsky, anticipating the course of events in the field of the scientific world outlook, wrote: “So, the modern scientific world outlook and the dominating scientific world outlook of a certain period in general is not the maximum revelation of its epoch’s truth. Individual thinkers, sometimes groups of scientists, achieve more accurate comprehension of the latter, but it is not their opinions that determine the course of the epoch’s scientific thought. They are alien to it. The dominating scientific world outlook fights with their scientific views, just as with some religious and philosophic ideas. And this struggle is severe, strong, and hard.”20
The fight of the official science against non-science, or rather against knowledge received in a different, spiritual space, and against those who were thinking differently, or “heretics” in science itself, was a characteristic phenomenon for the whole period of the existence of the totalitarian state in Russia. And even the liberty of thought which came with the collapse of the old ideology did not crush the “fighters.” This specific feature to a great extent affected the further fate of the new system of cognition.
Vernadsky, assured of his correct understanding, continued to defend his scientific standing and philosophic views in the darkest time for the development of independent thought in Russia. He intuitively understood that the processes developing in the space of science have objective character and demand comprehension by those who, to this or that extent, take part in them. Evolution was governed by its own laws, led by other forces, not those of which spoke and wrote the followers of historical materialism. Vernadsky wrote:
“But if mentality lags behind the tempo of scientific development,” the scientist noted in the 1920s, “if it cannot follow all the ups and downs of the changes in the scientific world outlook, does not notice all the stages on the way along which scientific thought is flying, this does not at all stop the unconscious influence of the scientific revolution on all our thinking, on all, without exception, aspects of the human personality.
“The great process of the collapse of old and the creation of new understanding of the surrounding world is underway around us, no matter if we want it or not, if we are aware of it or not; what was for us absolutely solid and established is undermined at its very basis – the multicentury foundations of scientific thinking collapse, covers which we took for completed creations are torn off, and under the old names, before the contemporaries astonished eyes, new, unexpected contents are revealed.”21
But, anyway, mentality obviously lagged behind the development of advanced scientific thinking, and this was one of the important features and main difficulties in the process of the formation of the new system of cognition, especially in the Soviet Union. But, despite all these circumstances, Vernadsky continued working on it. He would not digress from his idea that this new system must be synthetic and must include, in addition to empiric science, those spheres of knowledge that do not belong to experimental science proper. In post-revolutionary Russia, any thoughts that were seen as undesirable from the point of view of the state’s ideology were considered “antiscientific” – the so called mysticism, idealistic philosophy, religion, and other fields of knowledge; there was absolutely open, and, I would say, violent prohibition. Vernadsky continued developing those ideas which had formed in his mind before the revolution, for, despite anything, he intuitively sensed the path of cosmic evolution in the direction of the synthesis of scientific thought and various methods of cognition.
“The machine of scientific thinking is insensitive and imperfect,” the scientist wrote, “it is enhanced primarily by the philosophic work of the human consciousness, here, philosophy in a powerful way supports, in its turn, the development and growth of science. So it is clear how difficult, persistent, and wrong, due to the possibility of mistakes, can be the fight of the scientific contemplation of the world against the concepts of philosophy and religion that are alien to it, even if they obviously contradict the dominating scientific understanding. For philosophy and religion are closely connected with those powers of the human soul that are deeper than logic, the influence of which powerfully tells on the perception of logical conclusions, on their understanding.”22 And more: “The individual coloring of philosophic systems is even more intensified through the mystical mood of their creators, due to the creation of the concept and initial ways of thought under the influence of an ecstatic state, under the influence of the great excitement of the whole human personality. This is the manifestation of the human soul’s creative work. The significance of the mystical mood that is inspiration in the history of the development of humanity can never be estimated too highly. In this or that form, it penetrates the whole life of the soul of man, is the main element of life. If we could ever logically analyze the creative inspirations of geniuses or the constructive contemplation and mystical ecstasies of religious and philosophic builders or the creative intuition of a scientist, we, probably, would be able, as Laplas wanted, to express the whole world in one mathematical formula. But these spheres would never yield to logical expression, never fit completely into the framework of scientific study, as man could never be completely substituted by a simple automaton.”23
Behind all these reflections was the scientist’s desire to lead scientific thought away from “flat” and shallow intellectual thinking and to include in the new system of cognition the human personality with its “creative work of the soul,” which cognizes the reality of the Universe extra-scientifically, but to do so as successfully as does the empiric science itself in using just intellect as the main instrument of research. The combination of the “creative work of the soul” with the creative work of the intellect would result in a deeper perception and cognition of human personality as such, and the system of cognition itself would get two wings that would raise scientific thinking to that height that was demanded by the cosmic evolution of mankind. This kind of synthesis of two trends, empiric and spiritual, would be able to save the science that is born by cold intellect from turning into a serious danger for mankind itself. It need hardly be mentioned that this concept of Vernadsky’s was rejected by the science of the totalitarian state that regulated this science.
As to Vernadsky himself, in the 1930s persecutions against him started, which resulted in the lack of recognition and the ignoring of his scientific activities for many years. All this interfered with the normal work of this scientist and academician of a worldly known name. I believe that his new system of cognition was not completed for this reason. In his last years, Vernadsky’s persecutors artificially separated his scientific studies from those philosophic ideas that arose on the basis of those same studies. The scientist was accepted, the thinker was rejected. I do not think I err if I say that all this continues until now in a more rigid form.
It should be mentioned that Vernadsky was not the only one on whom this kind of fate befell. The philosophic heritages of K. Tsiolkovsky, A. Chizhevsky, P. Florensky were hushed up, as was, finally, that of N. Roerich, whom they knew for many years as a painter, not suspecting that he and his wife, Helena Roerich, were directly connected with the new system of cognition, which contained ideas once expressed by Vernadsky. But neither Vernadsky, nor those who were beside him, nor other outstanding scientists, heralds of a new cosmic world perception, knew about it. The Iron Curtain and internal prohibitions stood firmly blocking the way of the penetration of undesirable information. They tried to eliminate the spiritual heritage of the Silver Age in the field of culture, and the same took place in science. For the minimum of an entire century, the new system of cognition development was delayed.
In studying the processes taking place in the field of the interaction of the scientific and extra-scientific methods of cognition, it can be concluded that the majority of discoveries made by science that changed our understanding of man and the Universe were made on the basis of extra-scientific insights and ideas.
The rapprochement of the scientific and extra-scientific methods of cognition is a true revolution, another essential step in the cognition of the Universe, without which the further development of both science and the new system of cognition would not be possible.
In the 1920-30s a whole series of books was published, in which various aspects of the problems of cosmic evolution were considered. The books had quite usual names: “The Call,” “Illumination,” “Community,” “Agni Yoga,” “Infinity,” “Hierarchy,” “The Heart,” “Aum,” “The Fiery World,” “Brotherhood.” The style of the texts was just as unusual, resembling a spiral along which the reader’s consciousness seemed to ascend.
The books were prepared for printing and published by Nicholas and Helena Roerich and had a common name: The Living Ethics. They told about the cosmic evolution of mankind, its characteristics, the reasons for and role of man’s most complicated processes. The books produced a great impression already on the very first readers with their daring character and new approaches to problems, the solutions to which seemed once and forever achieved and canonized. Some people even believed that they were reading science-fiction books, which started appearing in great numbers on the world’s book market in those years. It was hard to believe that the Universe was a grandiose energetic system in which the intensive energetic and informational exchange among the structures of matter of various states and dimensions constituting it was taking place. Man himself was that kind of structure. The Living Ethics told about the Great Laws of the Cosmos, of which science did not yet know. And only a minority of people, or, rather, just some individuals, having gotten acquainted with the Living Ethics books, realized that they had before them the presentation of a new system of cognition, a cosmic world perception, and the Great Cosmic Laws mentioned by the Living Ethics’s anonymous Authors were making a gnoseological carcass of this amazing philosophy that reflected cosmic reality…
1 J. L. Portillo.Quetzalcoatl. Мoscow, 1982. 174.
2 K. Marx and F. Engels.Studies. v. 18. Мoscow, 1961. 574.
3 A. L. Chizhevsky. The Earthly Echo of Solar Storms. Мoscow, 1976. 116.
4 K. E. Tsiolkovsky.The Will of the Universe: Unknown Rational Powers. Kaluga, 1929. 14.
5 A. L. Chizhevsky.The Physical Factors of the Historical Process. Kaluga, 1924. 52.
6 P. Florensky.Imaginaries in Geometry. Мoscow, 1991. 12-13.
7 ibid., 11-12.
8 ibid., 44.
9 ibid., 51.
10 P. Florensky.Imaginaries in Geometry. 57.
11 К. Kedrov.Parallel Worlds. Мoscow, 2001. 140.
12 ibid. 142.
13 qtd. in: K. Kedrov.Parallel Worlds. 235.
14 V. I. Vernadsky.Studies on Natural Philosophy. Мoscow, 2000. 31.
15 V. I. Vernadsky.Studies on Natural Philosophy. 29–31.
16 ibid., 57–58.
17 V. I. Vernadsky.Studies on Natural Philosophy. 57.
18 ibid., 59.
19 ibid., 445–446.
20 V. I. Vernadsky.Studies on Natural Philosophy. 43.
21 ibid., 56.
22 V. I. Vernadsky.Studies on Natural Philosophy. 43.
23 ibid., 37–38.