by Philip Boobbyer
Ohio University Press, 1995
Cloth: 978-0-8214-1110-0
Library of Congress Classification B4238.F73B66 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 197


“There are many reasons for writing a biography of Semyon Frank. Quite apart from his philosophy, he lived a remarkable life. Born in Moscow in 1877, he was exiled from Soviet Russia in 1922 and died in London in 1950. The son of a Jewish doctor, he became a revolutionary Social Democrat in his teens and finished his life as a Neoplatonist Christian. One of the Russian revisionist Marxists, he was then involved in the Kadet Party during the 1905 revolution before breaking with active political activity and turning to philosophy. He lived in Petrograd through the First World War until September 1917, after which he went to Saratov, where he experienced the chaos of the Russian Civil War. Living in Germany after his exile, he witnessed the rise of Hitler in Berlin, left for France in a hurry in 1937, and spent part of the war hiding from the Gestapo in the Grenoble mountains. It was a life that encompassed a lot of history.

”Yet along with this, Frank was arguably Russia’s greatest twentieth-century philosopher. Indeed, V.V. Zen‘kovskii, the historian of Russian philosophy, considered Frank ’in strength of philosophic vision … the most outstanding among Russian philosophers generally — not merely among those who share his ideas.‘ For its lucidity, conciseness, systematic character, and unity, Zen’kovskii considered Frank’s system ‘ the highest achievement … of Russian philosophy.’ Doubtless, Zen‘kovskii’s assessment is disputable, but his remarks emphasize Frank’s stature in the Russian tradition. In the style of German idealism, Frank constructed a comprehensive philosophical system, which he believed offered a coherent alternative to materialism. He was deeply worried by the implications of epistemological relativism and constructed a system of metaphysics designed to link epistemology and ontology, to bridge the gulf between thought and being. In addition, he attempted to express the idea of a personal God in philosophical language. His system also embraced social philosophy, anthropology, and ethics.“

— from the Introduction by the author

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