" The highest wisdom is not founded on reason alone, nor on the worldly sciences "
Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov by Ivan Kramskoi
Russian philosophy developed on slightly different lines to that of the rest of Western Europe - although that is not to say that Russian thinkers were not tackling the same issues, and reading the same philosophers, as their Western European counterparts.
Many Russian philosophers questioned the emphasis on rationalism and scientific knowledge that governed Western European philosophy after the Enlightenment. Partly out of a general suspicion of the West, and partly out of their own culture's emphasis on the idea of the soul and the spirit, Russian philosophy often concluded that pure, cold rationalism denies the importance of these unsayable things.
A good introduction to this subject is Frederick Copleston's Russian Philosophy.
" he went nowhere and spent whole days reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis "
Thomas à Kempis
Thomas a Kempis
(c. 1380-1471) was a German medieval religious philosopher best known for his book The Imitation of Christ.
He was a Catholic monk who espoused a mystic sort of Christianity. Although his work is widely read, and he is venerated in the Anglican faith, the Roman Catholic Church has not declared him to be a Saint.
Read The Imitation of Christ online.
" we will kill the fatted calf "
The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt
This is a Biblical allusion to the story of the Prodigal Son, as told in the Gospel of Luke (15:11-32). The Prodigal Son asks his father to be given his inheritance early, then goes and spends it all. After he is reduced to absolute poverty, living in a pig pen, the son returns home, expecting his father to be angry. Instead the father throws a lavish party in celebration of his son's return, killing a fatted calf in his honour.
Because of this story, the word 'prodigal' is sometimes misunderstood to mean a repentant person returning home. It actually means 'recklessly extravagant'.
Read the parable of the Prodigal Son here.
" he posed as a sort of Marat "
Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David
(1743-1793), despite being best known as a political leader during the French Revolution, was not actually French, nor originally a politician. He was born in Prussia, in Neuchâtel (now a part of Switzerland) and trained as a doctor in Paris, although he didn't gain any qualifications at this time. After he moved to England around 1765 he became acquainted with Voltaire and grew more interested in radical politics. His reputation as a doctor grew after he published an essay on gonorrhea, and the University of St Andrews in Scotland offered him an honourary degree. He moved back to Paris in 1776, where he worked as a court doctor to the aristocracy.
As the Revolution loomed, Marat put aside his career in order to become a political journalist. He was frequently forced into hiding. After the Revolution he was elected to the newly-formed National Convention in 1792 as one of Paris's representatives. He fought against the Girondins alongside Robespierre in order to prevent France from declaring war against Prussia.
Marat was killed on the 13th July 1793 when a young woman, Charlotte Corday, stabbed him to death while he was in the bath.
" Napoleon's destruction of the Prussian Army at Jena and Auerstadt "
These battles were both fought on 14th October 1806, between Napoleon's army and the Prussians. The Prussians had a force of 143,000; the French had about 150,000. Both armies were split into different parts, which met in different places around Jena and Auerstadt in what is now Germany. A combination of superior military training and tactics ensured victory for the French.