Copyright, 1952, by the YMCA-Press Printed in the United States of America

Translated from the Russian by R. M. French


(Tvorchestvo i Objektivizacia) Essay on Eschatological Metaphysics

(Creation and Objectivisation)

All rights in this book are reserved.

First HARPER TORCHBOOK edition published 1957

Library of Congress catalog card number: 37-7532







1. A metaphysical interpretation and critique of Kant. Two Worlds: appearance, and things-in-themselves, nature and freedom. Kant, Plato, German mysticism, German idealist metaphysics after Kant J

2. The dialectic of German idealism from Kant through Hegel to Nietzsche 17

3. The problem of freedom in French philosophy of the nineteenth century. Themes of Russian philosophical and religious thought 29

4. The emotionally passionate character of cognition. Existential metaphysics as the symbolism of spiritual experience. 37

5. Truth which is beneficial, truth which is ruinous, and saving truth. Truths and the truth. The criterion of truth 42


1. Subject and Object. The subject as that which exists. The mystery

of objectification. Genesis of the world of appearances 52

2. Existential experience. Primary intuition and the social character of knowledge. The concept, as a limitation and protection. Orientation in the environmental infinity 67

3. Illusions of consciousness. Transcendental illusion (Schein) in Kant. Dualism and revolution of thought. Two worlds. 'The other world* 80




1. Being as objectification. Being and the existent, that which exists. Being and non-being. Being as concept. Being and value. Being and spirit 91

2. The supremacy of freedom over being. The determinism of being and freedom. Being and primary passion. Being as congealed freedom and congealed passion. Being as nature and being as history 104



1. The reality of the individual and the reality of the 'common*. The controversy about universals. The common and the universal.

The common as objectification 118

2. Collective realities and individual realities. Genus, individual and personality 126

3. The mistakes of German idealism. Personalism 133




1. Being is distorted and compressed by evil. The inconsistency of monism and of the philosophy of all-in-one

2. Weakness of rational explanations of the origin of evil. Criticism of the traditional doctrines of the Providence of God in the world. Personality and world harmony

3. There is no objective world as one whole. The mysterious nature of freedom 141


1. The emergence of newness within being. Newness and time. Newness and evolution. Progress 157

2. Newness and history. Necessity, fate and freedom 165

3. Newness and the causal link. Creative newness overthrows objective being 167


1. Being and continued creation of the world. Imagination, inspiration, ecstasy. Depression and exultation. The victory over congealed being 171

2. Ascent and descent in creativeness. The creative act and the product of creation. Objectification and embodiment 180

3. Subjective and objective creativity. The 'classical' and the 'romantic' in creativity 188




1. The world as history. Aeons. Messianism and history. Cosmic time, historical time, and existential time. Prophecy and time

2. Society as nature and society as spirit. Spirit overthrows the


apparently everlasting foundations of society. The break-through of freedom and love. The communist and anarchist ideal 3. Spirit, nature and technology. Culture and civilization. The power of base and evil ideas


1. The end of the objective world. The discovery of freedom and personal existence in concrete universality. The removal of the opposition between subject and object. Epistemological and metaphysical account of eschatology

2. Personal eschatology and universal-historical eschatology. The pre-existence of souls and reincarnation on different levels. Liberation from hell

3. Freedom and Grace. Chiliasm, true and false


Principal works by Nicolas Berdyaev


I have for a long while wanted to write a book in which I should describe my metaphysical position as a whole. I use the word 'metaphysics', but my readers must not give it here its traditional and academic meaning. I am concerned rather with the kind of metaphysics which is disclosed in the spirit of, for instance, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Pascal, Boehme, St Augustine and similar writers, that is to say, as they put it nowadays, with existential metaphysics. But I prefer another word, and that is eschatological metaphysics. I want to survey all problems in the light of eschatology, in the light which streams from the End. And I speak of my metaphysical position as a whole in spite of the fact that my way of thinking is fragmentary and aphoristic and moves by fits and starts. But inwardly there is an integral character which belongs to my thought, and that integral character is present in every part of it. My thought moves largely round one centre, I have always been badly understood, and many misunderstandings have constantly arisen, not only among people who were hostile to me, but even among those who were sympathetically disposed. It is of course I myself who am to blame for this. I have done but little to make my general outlook understood. I have announced it, but I have not developed it systematically.

My philosophical thinking does not take a scientific form: it is not ratiocinative, it belongs intuitively to life. Spiritual experience lies at the very foundation of it, and its driving power is a passion for freedom. I do not think discursively. It is not so much that I arrive at truth as that I take my start from it. Among the philosophers whose thought does take a scientific form, I owe most to Kant, and it is with Kant that I begin in this book. But it is not

altogether in the usual way that I expound Kant's metaphysics. As I deal with the problems of metaphysics I find myself in many respects indebted to Boehme amd Dostoyevsky. Of all the writers of the ancient world it is Heraclitus with whom I have the greatest affinity. I should describe my book as an essay in the epistemo-logical and metaphysical interpretation of the end of the world, of the end of history, that is to say it is a book on eschatological epistemology and metaphysics. So far as I am aware no interpretation of that kind has been made hitherto. Eschatology has been left as a part of dogmatic theology, and not the most important part at that. It is not, however, by any means to be inferred from this that I am committed to a proclamation of the end of the world in the near future.

I might call my book 'an untimely meditation'. It is very closely associated with the spiritual experience which has been evoked by the catastrophic events of our time. But the ideas expressed in it are opposed to the prevailing ideas of our day, and turn rather towards other centuries. I have very little sympathy with an age which is characterized by the prevailing influence of masses, quantities, and technological science, and by the dominance of politics over the life of the spirit. I have written the book at a terrible time. It is shorter than I could have wished. There is a great deal in it which is not adequately developed and clearly set forth. I was afraid that catastrophic events might prevent my finishing it. I have not addressed myself to the average normal, socially organized and organizing mind. From my point of view that would have been objectification. I recognize the fact that as a thinker I belong to the aristocratically radical type. The description which has been given of Nietzsche, as an 'aristocratic radical" might be applied to me. It has been my wish to think, to apprehend and to form my judgments of value simply and naturally, taking things in their essential nature, and without having to square accounts with anything, and without accommodating my opinions to anything. But to the pride and isolation of the cultural elite I


have always felt a negative reaction. It has not come within my purview to indicate ways of organizing the human masses. There are many who are eager to do tliis without my adding to the number. There are fewer by far who are eager to grasp the meaning of what is happening to the world and to man. I should like to belong to their number. My thought is not by any means abstract, it is concerned above all with a revolution in the mind, in other words, with the liberation of the mind from the power of objectification. Nothing but a radical change in the set up of the mind can lead to vital changes; a wrong attitude of the conscious mind is the source of the slavery of man.

At the root of the metaphysical considerations of this book there lies an acute sense of the evil which reigns in this world, and of the bitter lot of man as he lives in it. My thought reflects a revolt of human personality against an illusory and crushing objective 'world harmony', and the objective social order, against any form of investing the objective world order with a sacrosanct character. It is the fight of the spirit against necessity. But it would be a mistake to number me among the pessimists and those who do nothing but deny. I belong to the believing philosophers but my faith is of my own sort. For the rest, I hold that the most complex and the most problematic must at the deepest level coincide with what is simplest and clearest. Paris - Clamart,

December, 1941.