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V.V. Bychkov. The Symbolic Aesthetics of Dionysius the Areopagite. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences. 2015. – 143 p.






The monograph is devoted to the study of the aesthetic views of the early Byzantine (5-6th c. AD) anonymous thinker of great renown who has made an enormous impact on the medieval aesthetics of the Greco-Orthodox world (including medieval Rus) and Western Europe. In the course of an analysis of the views of pseudo-Dionysius himself, his main predecessors, and his closest commentators, the book reveals a rather consistent system of aesthetic views, which is founded upon the principle of discovering hierarchical, liturgical, and symbolic mediators between the earthly world and the transcendent Absolute. At the centre of this system are the notions of beauty, light, image, symbol, unlike likeness, irrational knowledge, etc. This is the first monograph on this subject in both Russian and international scholarship.




Nadezhda B. Mankovskaya.  Russian Studies in Philosophy. Vol. 53, NO 1, 2015. Contemporary Aesthetics in Russia.






The current issue of the journal analyzes the principal trends and genres of research in aesthetics employed by contemporary aestheticians in Russia. It presents articles that bear witness to the broad and varied range of their creative pursuits. Discussing topical aesthetic problems V. Bychkov expounds the postnonclassical meaning of contemporary aesthetics and its structure (classical aesthetic metaphysics; nonclassical aesthetics that stands in opposition to it; aesthetic virtualistics). The article by E. Kondratyev is devoted to the role of nonsystemic elements within the system of an artwork. The article by N. Marievskaya is devoted to the notion of time in cinema. Turning to the history of aesthetics N. Mankovskaya showcases the specific traits of the aesthetics of French symbolism. L. Kosheleva discusses the aesthetic peculiarities of the movement “Art World.” L. Kudaev writes about the paradox of perfection in the aesthetics of N. Berdyaev. Ya. Zhemoytelite’s aesthetic essay consists of lyric and philosophical-aesthetic musings about the power and unpredictability of the emotion of love which has been sung by poets at different times.




V.V. Bychkov, N.B. Mankovskaya, V.V. Ivanov.  Trialog Plus. Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2013. 496 pp., ill.






The book is a continuation and original development of the book “Trialog: Living Aesthetics and the Contemporary Philosophy of Art” (Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2012). At the same time, it is a study that is completely independent from it structurally and methodologically. The authors discuss many important issues in the contemporary philosophy of art, aesthetics, and theory of culture. This discussion is supplemented by a large section that includes responses of well-known researchers in the Humanities to the original “Trialog” (2012). Many of these researchers are involved in an active theoretical polemics with the authors concerning various issues that are important for the present-day Humanities. The book presents a fruitful conversation on the issues of representation, expression, symbolization, and creation of simulacra in art; about the limits of its post-receptive hermeneutics; about aesthetics as a way of life. The authors analyze certain concepts of both contemporary theoreticians of art, such as Peter Weibel, and classic thinkers such as Nikolay Berdyaev. They discuss colorful phenomena in recent art such as M. Abramowitch, M. Houellebecq, J. Kounellis, S. Waltz, A. Balabanov. Much attention is devoted to the peculiarities of symbolism as an artsitic trend; the spirit of symbolism and its mythological sources using the examples of Gustave Moreau’s paintings is analyzed in the book. It provides an analysis of the scholarly activity of one of its authors on account of his 70th jubilee.




V.V. Bychkov, Aesthetics of Saint Augustine (Moscow/St. Petersburg: Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ, 2014). 528 pp. print run 1000. – ISBN 978-5-98712-125-2.






The monograph is devoted to an analysis of aesthetic views of Saint Aurelius Augustine (354-430), one of the most significant Church Fathers. The author shows that Augustine’s peculiar aesthetic sensitivity allowed him to create a holistic, implicitly given aesthetic system, which appeared at the junction between ancient and medieval Christian philosophies, world views and cultures. The author attempts to reconstruct this system in an appropriate way. This system includes all principal phenomena of aesthetic experience: artistic creativity, aesthetic perception on the basis of irrational-rational judgment, understanding of art and its content: beauty, the problem of structural regularities in beauty, semiotic aspects of art, the meaning of the aesthetic idea as a way to God and blessed life. Augustine’s aesthetic views are given in the context of his rather turbulent life, which reflects all the difficulties of that transitional period and is faced with the process of an active formation of his theological system. The author demonstrates how Augustine’s work reflects aesthetic views of many ancient and early Christian authors (such as Plotinus, Cicero, Epictetus, the 2-3rd-c. Apologists). The book is aimed at specialists in the area of early Christian culture, as well as at all who are inerested in the problems in the history of culture, art, and aesthetics.




AestheticsYesterdayTodayForever. Issue 7. Edited by V. Bychkov,N. Mankovskaya. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, 2014. 211 pp. print run 500.  – ISBN 978-5-9540-0269-0





Another issue of the collected essays of the research group “Postnonclassical aesthetics.” Contains sections “History of Aesthetics”; “Topical Problems”; “Living Aesthetics”; “Materials for the Lexicon “Postnonclassical Aesthetics.”” Section One features an analysis of little studied aspects of the aesthetics of French symbolism using the example of the aesthetics of Maurice Maeterlinck. The author shows that Maeterlinck’s ideas and his dramatic works have had a significant impact on the artistic practice and theory of existentialism, theater of the absurd, etc. (N. Mankovskaya). Articles in Section Two are devoted to crucial problems in aesthetics: the metaphysics of aesthetic experience, aesthetic aspects of myth, symbol, and artistic form (O. Bychkov); the correlation between aesthetic and epistemology (N. Kormin). In order to bring to light certain deep levels of aesthetic experience, the author attempts an analysis of Andrej Belyj’s interpretation of his experience of Rudolf Steiner’s meditative and play-based lectures, as well as presents the results of aesthetic penetration into the depths of concrete works of art (late El Greco) (V. Bychkov). In the section “Living Aesthetics” the authors apply aesthetic methodology (in particular, they bring to light artistically significant structures and elements of expressive language) to one of the most significant aspects of aesthetic experience: the event of aesthetic journey, which includes an aesthetic analysis of works of art and natural objects (V. Bychkov, N. Mankovskaya). The Lexicon section, which completes the collection, contains an entry on street art, which elucidates its origin and main aspects.




Aesthetics: Yesterday, Today, Forever. Issue 6. Edited by V. Bychkov,N. Mankovskaya. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, 2013. 171 pp. print run 500.  –  ISBN 978-5-9540-0244-7




Another issue of the collected essays of the research group “Postnonclassical aesthetics.” Contains sections “History of Aesthetics”; “Topical Problems”; “Living Aesthetics”; “Materials for the Lexicon “Postnonclassical Aesthetics.”” Section One analyzes little studied aspects of the aesthetic of French symbolism, in particular the problem of artistically significant constants of art, by focusing on the texts of S. Mallarmé, A. Gide, P. Claudel, A. Mockel (N. Mankovskaya). Section Two is devoted to two crucial problems in aesthetics: the influence of technological and scientific progress, as well as globalization, on artistic culture and the discipline of aesthetics (V. Bychkov); the question of the role of the aesthetic component – often irrational and intuitive – within the structures of consciousness, i.e., the aesthetic aspects of knowledge as such (N. Kormin). The secion “Living Aesthetics” includes texts that apply aesthetic methodology (in particular, the bringing forth of artistically significant structures and elements of expressive language) directly to art: the painting of the symbolists (G. Segantini), contemporary cinema (É. Rohmer). The Lexicon section, which completes the collection, is devoted to the most recent concepts from the area of digital, computer, network, and so-called “scientific” art (S. Yerokhin).




Aesthetics: Yesterday, Today, Always. Issue 5. Edited by V. Bychkov, N. Mankovskaya. Moscow: IP RAS, 2012. 184 pp. 


This issue of collected essays includes scholarly articles that fit into the three traditional subdivisions: "History of aesthetics"; "Topical problems"; "Living aesthetics." The first subdivision analyzes areas that have been underexplored in literature on the history of aesthetics: the problem of beauty and its modes (light and fragrance) in the "Areopagitica"; the notion of beauty and ugliness in Vyach. Ivanov; the concept of symbolization in the aesthetics of French symbolism. In the subdivision on aesthetic theory, aestehtic approaches are outlined to the phenomenon of the simulacrum using the example of contemporary music. In addition, a new problem is put forth for discussion: that of the aesthetics of the intellect, or of intellectual activity. The third subdivision is devoted to a topical discussion of the issues of artistic symbol and symbolization in the philosophy of art, in both classical and modern art.

Bychkov, V. A Concise History of Byzantine Aeshtetics. Belgrade: Sluzhebni glasnik, 2012. 550 pp.


This monograph is a reconstruction of aesthetic consciousness and aesthetic experience of the Byzantines, which is given historically, starting with pre-Byzantine early Christian aesthetics (2-3rd c.), through the formative period of Byzantine aesthetics proper (4-7th c.), the period of iconoclastic struggle (8th- first half of 9th c.), the period of maturity, stabilization, and "classicism" of sorts (second half of 9th- 12th c.), and ending with an in-depth polemic between hesychasts and humanists (13-15th c.). The main focus is on the formation and development of the principal trends of Byzantine aesthetics: Patristic aesthetics, the aesthetics of asceticism, liturgical aesthetics, and the anticizing trend.
V.V. Bychkov, N.B. Mankovskaya, V.V. Ivanov,
occasional participation by O.V.Bychkov. Trialog: Zhivaya estetika i sovremennaya filosofija iskusstva
(Trialog: Living aesthetics and contemporary philosophy of art). Moscow: Progress-Traditsija, 2012. 840 pp., ill.
The monogrpah represents a unique investigation of topical problems in contemporary aesthetics and philosophy of art which is written by leading experts in the field using an epistolary genre (contains 170 letters) which resurrects the tradition of live scholarly discussions. The center place here is given to fundamental questions about the place of aesthetics in the contemporary world, about the subject of aesthetics, the high art, contemporary art-practices, metaphysical and existental aspects of aesthetics and art.
Is the present-day crisis in art a consequence of the technological civilization? Is this crisis global and does it mark the end of Culture as the carrier of spirituality? What is the relationship between classics, nonclassics, and postnonclassics in the sphere of aesthetic consciousness? Does a globalized world at all allow for genuine aesthetic experience and religious faith? What is the connection between art and esoteric levels of consciousness?
All these questions are sharply debated on the pages of this book. Its authors also consider in detail all aspects of such subjects as limits of art, phases of aesthetic perception, dialectic of artistic form, aesthetic antinomics, hermeticism and hermeneutics of art, excess and minimalism in art. They analyze and discuss the most prepresentative artistic phenomena in both the world and native culture in the areas of painting, theater, cinema, and literature, as well as digital and virtual tendencies in contemporary art movements. The very form of disputation does not allow for one-sided, authoritatrian conclusions on debated problems, thereby revealing a plethora of scholarly positions.
V.V. Bychkov,Drevnerusskaya estetika (Old Russian Aesthetics). Sankt-Peterburg: Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ, 2011. 832 pp., ill.
The monograph provides a complete picture of the origin and developmentof artistic-aesthetic culture in Old Russia over seven centuries (11-17th c.). It analyzes in detail one of its main sources: Byzantine aesthetics. The focus is on the development of the Slavic-Russian notions of beauty, sublimity, divine light, ascetic and artistic experience of grasping the universe; on the understanding of art and book culture by medieval Russians; on the Old Russian perception of liturgical life, on the synthesis of the arts in the Orthodox liturgy; on making sense of miracles, visions, signs; on the moral ideal of the human being that was prevalent in Old Russia. A prominent place is reserved for the analysis of the principles of sofijnost’, symbolism, canonicity, spirituality of medieval Russian art and book culture. Specific attention is paid to the study of the theology, aesthetics, artistic language and sacral meaning of the Russian icon, or to the “thinking in colors” of the greatest icon painters Theophanes the Greek, Andrej Rublev, and Dionysius of Ferapontovo. From the 16th and 17th c. onward Russia witnesses the emergence of theoretical treatises on the theory of the icon, music, rhetoric, architecture, which is another subject of analysis in the monograph.
 V. Bychkov, Esteticheskaya aura bytija: sovremenaya estetika kak nauka i filosofija iskusstva (The Aesthetic Aura of Being: Contemporary Aesthetics as a Science and a Philosophy of Art). Moscow: MBA, 2010. 784 pp. 

The monograph is a contemporary investigation in aesthetics which its author classifies as the area of postnonclassic aesthetics. In it, he sees three mutually complementary aspects: its metaphysical nucleus, the classic aesthetic theory in its contemporary understanding; nonclassics, or the implicit aesthetics of the 20th c. that can be reconstructed on the basis of the avant-garde, modern and postmodern art of the past century, as well as corresponding theoretical discourses; and aesthetic virtualistics, or the nascent theory of virtual aesthetic experience that develops on the internet. Correspondingly, the first section comprises a contemporary understanding of the subject aesthetics, a short survey of aesthetic thought, and a system of principal aesthetic categories. A particular attention is paid to contemporary meanings of ‘aesthetic’ and ‘art.’ The second section is devoted to a reconstruction of the aesthetic experience and awareness of the 20th c. that presents an alternative to classic. This is done in a context of an analysis of the principal trends and phenomena of the avant-garde, modern, and postmodern art. The third section outlines the main problems of virtual aesthetic experience and awareness, which are related to the most recent types of art-practices: video-art, interactive arts, internet art, virtual art etc. The author introduces and clarifies the working terminology that is necessary in order to study this sphere of contemporary aesthetics, which promises a bright future.


N.B. Mankovskaya.

Fenomen postmodernizma: khudozhestvenno-esteticheskij rakurs (The Phenomenon of postmodernism: The Artistic-Aesthetic Perspective). Moscow, Sankt-Peterburg: Tsentr gumanitarnykh initsiativ, Universitetskaya kniga-Sankt-Peterburg, 2009. 495 pp.
The monograph studies the complex and multidimensional phenomenon of postmodernism under an artistic-aesthetic angle. The author makes explicit the implicit aesthetics of postmodernism and opens it up for scholarly analysis. What makes the book particularly important is the fact that the aesthetics of postmodernism over the past few decades has taken on a specific form in Russia and exercises considerable influence over the processes of artistic creativity and its critique. The book develops the author’s conception of Russian postmodernism by distinguishing it from its North American and Western European varieties. It puts forward the notion of modernism, postmodernism and virtualistics as non-classical types of 20th-21st-c. aesthetics that are radically different from ancient, Winckelmann-style, Kantian, or Hegelian Western European aesthetics. The author systematizes nonclassical traits in contemporary theory and artistic practice, as well as provides a chronotypology of nonclassical forms of artistic-aesthetic consciousness. It reveals the non-canonic nature of postmodern aesthetics based on its systemic analysis as a phenomenon of culture. The book investigates the theoretical foundations of the aesthetics of postmodernism (post-Freudianism, poststructuralism, theory of deconstruction) and discusses its key methodological problems: artistic schizoanalysis, simulacrum, intertextuality, ironism. The book also reveals the specific traits of postmodernism in art and in postnonclassical scholarship, as well as the relationship of postmodernism with algorithmic and ecological aesthetics and with mass culture. It puts forward a hypothesis about the perspectives of evolution of postmodernism and analyzes the latter’s innovations: virtual reality, techno-images, transsentimentalism. In addition, it discolses the specific features of the place and role of postmodernism within the context of contemporary globalizing processes.
 V.V. Bychkov. Fenomen ikony: Istorija. Bogoslovie. Estetika. Iskusstvo (The Phenomenon of the Icon: History, Theology, Aesthetics, Art). Moscow: Ladomir, 2009. – 633 pp. + ill.

The monograph presents a comprehensive study of the icon, which played an important spiritual and aesthetic role in Russian culture over many centuries. It traces the history of the appearance and development of the icon and the theory of the icon, from the early Byzantium to Medieval Rus to the twentieth-century Russia. The study proceeds on several levels: it looks at the development of the icon from the point of view of theology, philosophy and aesthetics; it analyzes the artistic language of the icon at its highest point: both in Byzantium and Medieval Russia. From the point of view of the spiritual-aesthetic theory of the icon, the book studies all main sources, starting with the most significant Byzantine Church Fathers John Damascene, Theodore of Stoudios, the Father of the VIIth Ecumenical Council, and prominent medieval Russian thinkers and up to the Russian theologians and religious philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century: E. Trubetskoy, P. Florensky, S. Bulgakov, V. Lossky, L. Ouspensky, P. Evdokimov et al. From the point of view of artistic practice it analyzes in detail a number of masterpieces of Byzantine art, as well as the work of the greatest Russian icon-painters such as Theophanes the Greek, Andrej Rublev, Dionysius of Ferapontovo and some others. Speaking generally, a special attention is paid to the following spiritual-aesthetic phenomena that formed the many-faceted and polysemantic phenomenon of the icon: image, symbol, the beautiful, light, iconographic canon, sofijnost of art, aesthetics of color and form, liturgical synthesis of the arts. The study is aimed at a broad range of interested readers and is well illustrated

V. Bychkov. Khudozhestvennyj apokalipsis kul’tury: Stromaty XX veka. Neparadigmaticheskij giperprojekt (The Artistic Apocalypse of Culture: 20th-c. Stromata. Non-paradigmatic Hyperproject). 2 vols. Moscow: Kul’turnaya revolutsija, 2008. 816 and 832 pp.; ill.

A unique — both in form and in content — philosophico-aesthetic study of 20th-c. intellectual-artistic culture as a momentous transitional phenomenon from Culture to something principally other, by way of an apocalyptic civilizational formation—post-culture (POST-) — which by the very fact of its appearance marks either a catastrophic demise of Culture and humanity as a whole, or an unparalleled leap of humanity to a principally new level of being, consciousness, and culture. At the same time, it is a sui generis philosophical romance about and with the 20th c., which is written in the following genres: the ancient genre of stromata, and the most recent genre of polyphonic hypertext with innumerable “windows,” cross-references, allusions, associations, and a mix of genres and stylistic forms. The main characters in it are spiritually oriented Consciousness, Culture, and Post-culture. The multi-leveled and multidimensional structure of the book puts in relief the most important processes that have taken place in art and culture over the 20th c., using the examples of all major trends, movements and persons (from symbolism and impressionism to all avant-garde and modernist phenomena to postmodernism to the most advanced movements of the beginning of the 21st c.). An extended Lexicon of phenomena and persons that feature in the book occupies an important place in it.

V. Bychkov. Russkaja teurgicheskaja estetika (Russian theourgic Aesthetics). Moscow: Ladomir, 2007. – 743 pp.


This monograph continues and completes the work on religiously oriented Russian aesthetics that was begun in the book Russian Medieval Aesthetics, 11-17th c. (Moscow: Mysl, 1992). As a whole, these two books complete the cycle of the author’s work in the area of Eastern Christian (Orthodox) aesthetics. The results of this work were published in the following monographs by the author: Aesthetica patrum. Aesthetics of the Church Fathers (Moscow: Ladomir, 1995); Byzantine Aesthetics: Theoretical Problems (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1977); Concise History of Byzantine Aesthetics (Kiev: Put k Istine, 1991); 2000 Years of Christian Culture sub specie aesthetica, 2 vols. (Moscow/St. Petersburg:Universitetskaya Kniga, 1999).

The author introduces the notion “theourgic aesthetics” in order to signify a powerful trend—up to this point practically untouched—in the Russian aesthetics (of the implicit kind) of the end of the 19th-first half of the 20th c. This trend in aesthetics in its own right resurrects and continues the traditions of medieval Byzantine-Russian aesthetics. The notion of “theourgy” itself is actively developed by many religious thinkers of the Neochristian orientation, starting with Vladimir Solovyov, as well as by the 20th-c. Russian Symbolists. They thought of it in terms of a specific creative method in art aimed at shaping life itself according to aesthetic laws, where the artist co-creates together with the divine energy. It was conceptualized as the continuation and completion by man of God’s incomplete work of creation. Theourgic aesthetics was the inner spiritual force behind practically all artistic pursuits of the Silver Age of Russian culture.

The book starts with the analysis of the aesthetic views of the forerunners of theourgic aesthetics: such important 19th-c. religious writers and thinkers as Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Bukharev, Fyodor Dostoyevskij, Konstantin Leontyev, Leo Tolstoy. However, the main focus is the aesthetics of the religious philosophers at the threshold of the 20th c.: Vladimir Solovyov, Dmitrij Merezhkovskij, Vasilij Rozanov, Pavel Florensky, Sergij Bulgakov, Nikolay Berdyayev, Aleksej Losev, Ivan Ilyin, Nikolaj Lossky and several others. The book pays special attention to the analysis of the aesthetic views of the Russian Symbolists of the beg. of the 20th c. (Andrey Belyj, Vyatcheslav Ivanov, Ellis, Maksimilian Voloshin), as well as of the spiritually oriented avant garde artists: Vasilij Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Velimir Khlebnikov. A large chapter is devoted to the understanding of the icon by the Russian religious thinkers and art critics of the 20th c.
V. Bychkov.
2000 let christianskoj kultury sub specie aesthetica
(2000 Years of Christian Culture sub specie
aesthetica). Moscow: MBA, 2007.

Vol. 1. Early Christianity. Byzantium. P. 575 + 68 ill.

Vol. 2. The Slavic World. Medieval Rus'. Russia. P. 527 + 67 ill.|| 2 Photo to zhe, chto I v russk.:





Humanity has approached a glorious and symbolic date: 2000 years of the Christian era. All the course of contemporary history, the analysis of Christian culture and particularly the 20th-century culture indicate that we are approaching a certain global transition to an essentially other quality. To be precise, we have been in the state of this headlong — according to the standards of history — transition already for a rather long time. And in this case one speaks not only about Christian culture, but about Culture as the main carrier and means of expression of the Spirit in the form of the created world in general — as well as about humanity in the whole. In this case my presentiments and reactions are based on my attempts to get an insight into Christian culture over the 2000-year period of its existence in the Orthodox world — and moreover sub specie aesthetica, i.e., from the point of view of the Orthodox artistic and aesthetic mentality.

This aspect has not been selected by chance. It is precisely the aesthetic point of view at culture that allows to bring forward most efficiently, as well as internally re-live, the system of that phenomena in which the essential features of the Face of culture — its universal eidetic soul — manifest themselves most fully. In any case the example of Christian culture confirms this in the most substantial way.

Aesthetic currents penetrate Christian culture in all its aspects and dimensions during the whole history of its existence. Having received the revelation of the New Testament from the mouth of God himself and having tragically experienced his shameful death — far from having believed at once and univocally in his Resurrection in the flesh and Ascent to heaven — that portion of the Mediterranean people which was more open to the spirit of the new period of cosmourgy begins to build the new culture. The main stages of this building process are realized, in many aspects, within the sphere of the aesthetic. This process starts from an uncompromizing struggle against the anarchy of sensual pleasures which had taken over pandemically the whole population of the oecumene. Among the main accusations cast by the early Christianity against the pagan Antiquity was an accusation of the limitless and oppressive domination in the society of unbridled sensuality and fleshly hedonism in all its forms. It was expressed in the pagan cults of numerous, for the most part sexually oriented deities, whose worship was often accompanied by bacchanals and erotic orgies; in the enjoyment of power which was taken to the limits of senseless cruelty (sado-masochism, as we would say now), and of riches which were used to satisfy refined sensual needs which trampled under foot all moral principles; in the cultivation of the cruel and gory spectacles of the circus and amphitheatre; finally, in the creation of an enourmous industry of low-grade arts which were oriented, in the late Ancient period, towards kindling sensual passions in the spectators (nowadays we would call it porn production).

Hence the "aesthetic of negation" of the early Christians, their striving for moral purity, aesthetic simplicity and naturalness in everything. At the same time the fleshly element in the human being was far from being negated or denigrated: it was simply assigned its natural place. To the late Ancient cult of the body, fleshliness, thing, artificial object, priority of sensual pleasures Christianity opposes pleasures spiritual which are based on a new system of values according to which in particular the human being holds a secondary position after God, being his image and likeness in its unity and harmony of both spiritual and bodily elements. It is the spiritual element that holds the priority, however granted that it is understood as inseparable from the bodily element. It was not the body itself — without which the human being itself would not exist — that was considered sinful, but carnal and bodily intentions of men, their inclination towards sensual pleasures, passions, lust, and lecherous thoughts.

Already in the Patristic period the system of the main principles of Christian culture is formed in the dimension of ethics and aesthetics and described in terms of blessedness, spiritual joy, pleasure, sweetness, beauty, sublime and spiritual eros. Having realized the personal God the Creator of the whole universe as a transcendent entity which always abides in the inconceivable unity of its three hypostases, while at the same time being immanent to the created world, i.e., having recognized the essentially antinomical nature of God, Christianity put a clear and distinct limit to any conceptual or rational knowledge, as well as discursive description, of him. The revelation is done to man to know only one: that he possesses being (oJ wjvn ). The remaining part of the experience of communicating with God is transferred into the non-rational, non-discursive areas. The essential antinomism of the fundamental dogmas of Christinaity is an essential launching ground for a spiritual and mystical leap into these areas which could be provisionally defined nowadays as the areas of sacred spiritual-sensual abiding in being-knowledge. In the process of its historical development Christianity has thoroughly worked out and realized three basic forms of such experience of supra-rational being-knowledge: liturgical, mystical, and artistic. In the course of the history of Christian culture these three forms were intertwined between each other rather tightly in many respects.

Christian culture is theo-anthropocentric. The transcendent-immanent God is the First Cause, the Creator (= Artist), and the Prime Mover of the Universum, as well as the Supra-beauty and Supra-goodness. He creates the world according to the laws of the highest beauty, and his main creation, or the crown of his creation, is the human being who is created by the hand of the Lord in his image and likeness. The whole of Christian culture proceeded from, and was inspired by, the premise that there is something essentially human in the Image of God. The special paternal attitude of God towards the human beings becomes clear from the fact that he bestowed upon them the gifts characteristic of his own essence: reason (= speech), the free will, and the capacity to love. God as a person loves his creation — the world and in it especially the human being — and poses love as the most important principle of the existence of the Universum, and especially as the foundation of the relationship between man and God and the human beings between each other. It is through his love (the earthly life and death of Christ) that he strives to help the human beings to repair the damage brought by them upon themselves as a result of their misuse of the free will. In this way through his personal example he shows to the human beings their way and the principles of their earthly life, their relationships between each other, and their relationship to God.

As the highest goal of the human life and human existence in general, Christianity, drawing on the Holy Scriptures and the joint divinely inspired experience of the Church and the ecclesiastical tradition, proposed the ideal of total merging of the human beings with God in the act of infinite reciprocal love at the highest onto-gnoseological stage of being — however, without the loss of their personal identity and self-consciousness. The main witness of the true realization of this act of cosmic eros is, according to the Christian doctrine, the indescribable spiritual pleasure, or the state of infinite bliss, which transcends all that can be imagined by a human being. This state is promised to the righteous Christians and Christian saints as a divine reward in paradise; however, they can approach it already in this earthly life, especially on the ways of mystical experience which in its most pure form is possible only under the condition of withdrawal from the world, i.e., monastic or ascetic feat. The aesthetics of asceticism which is analysed in detail in the present book is an eloquent witness to this. Apart from the above, both liturgical experience, with the eucharist at its peak, and the communion with the holy archetypes and the Archetype through the mediation of icons by means of prayer and meditation result in the highest spiritual joy which is often accompanied by seeing the indescribable supra-natural light.

Therefore the essential nucleus of Christian culture, and, perhaps, any true culture as a historical form of being of the one universal human Culture, consists of the phenomena which, in this or another way, are most adequately described in aesthetic terms. For where one speaks of a relationship between the human being and the higher spiritual spheres which are not subject to direct verbalization reason is silenced and aesthetic experience and the terminology which is based on it become the most adequate means of expressing something about these spheres at the level of human consciesness. Any theology and any religious philosophy actively utilizes these means, Christianity being no exception here.

Moreover, the importance of aesthetic element in culture derives not only from the limitations of discursive, analytic, and verbal capacities of the human being, but also from the ontology of culture itself: from the laws of its being and becoming. For Culture in its most general cosmo-anthropological aspect is a self-manifestation of the Spirit in the flow of the social-historical being of humanity in the form of intentions, capacities, and powers of that historically changeable humanity. In fact, Culture is a result of theourgy, according to the understanding of N. Berdyayev, i.e., a joint divine-and-human process of creating life in the interests of humanity. In erdyayev, as we remember, this notion referred to the future creative activity, understood as a conscientious approach on the part of the humans. To this point, however, Culture was created by the humans unconsciously, without any awareness on their part of the theourgism, or even a certain teleologism of the process of creating culture.

Culture emerges out of two correlative quantities: the constant essential, — the Spirit — and the variable — the forms of His spiritual and material expression at a certain stage of the development of humanity in a concrete ethnic and geographical environment. Hence comes a certain plurality of particular idiosyncretic cultures known to history (the Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian, among others, being supra-national) which constitute a united, living, temporally changeable Culture as the environment for the creative life of man. Thus the essence of Culture and all its components is determined by the Spirit, while the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of particular cultures — by the second variable ethnic-social-religious-historical factor. Subsequently both Culture and particular cultures as a result — but at the same time as a process, since they only exist in the flow of time — of expression, i.e., coming into being as a form of a certain contents, certain form-ation, ontologically already gravitate towards the area of the aesthetic.

Hence become understandable the aesthetic principles and phenomena which lie at the foundation of Christian — and, for that matter, any other — culture. Therefore, it is not only that the aesthetic aspect of the study of culture is not accidental or marginal, but on the contrary it appears to me to be the most productive, for it allows to bring forward most fully the phenomena and characteristics of culture that are essential and pertain to the system of values and humanity as a whole. This aspect presupposes not only, and not so much an analytic-anatomic dissection of culture (although it does not give it up completely), as an organic immersion into culture, living it as your own being-consciousness, but at the same time consciously keeping a certain distance from it.

A 20th-century scholar of Christian culture brought up within the Christian tradition finds himself in the most favourable position in respect to the the subject of his analysis. On the one hand, he needs to spend no effort on identifying with the object of his research, as would, e.g., a representative of another culture or a materialistic scientist, since he still lives by and within this culture. On the other hand, nor does he need to keep a distance from it, for Christian culture itself, in its most essential manifestations, has been withdrawing from him into the depths of history with an over increasing speed — at least for the last century — in fact, seeing the last moments of the final stage of its active and creative life. The latter statement, although it is far from being novel in the 20th-century culturology (one may recall, e.g., A. Toynbee, although its origins go back at least as far as Nietzsche), does not seem to follow from this study which is nearing its completion. The main arguments in its favour most clearly emerged in the 20th-century Christian (i.e., Euro-American) culture: due to certain circumstances, not so much in Russia (although there also) as in the Western parts of Christianity. In the present case I simply mention in passing this significant fact, without going into details which I analyse in a separate study "The Artistic Apocalypse of Culture" which is also close to completion. However, the main conclusions in many ways already follow from the material put together in the last three chapters of the present monograph.

However, I am returning to my subject. We have presented, with a fair amount of detail, how within Christian culture (more precisely, within its Eastern Orthodox — Greek and Slavic — branch which I would characterize as reflecting the essence of Christian culture most fully and in greatest depth) over the period of two thousand years were formed and functioned its main spiritual, ethical, and artistic-aesthetic values, many of which have a universal nature, i.e., far exceeding the limits of Christianity as such. However, it is not so much these values taken separately as the historically fluctuating Face of this culture that deserves admiration and
precise observation: the Face which was gradually formed on their basis under the unique conditions of the Mediterranean, and later medieval Slavic regions and Rus. It appeared to us in its multifaceted and multidimensional nature, turning to us its multitude of faces, masks, and apparitions, some of which had flashed and vanished forever, and some continued to shine through a variety of layers over the history of this culture.

The structural principles of this culture include one of deep antinomism. Having emerged from the cult of the Logos ("In the beginning was the Word"!), it immediately put rather rigid limits to reason and words by restricting them to the sphere of the created world. The main law of ancient philosophy — that of non-contradiction — was suspended for the highest levels of spirituality. The a-logical and the absurd were acknowledged as the legitimate guardians of all the supra-intelligible world, the way to which was opened only through faith and the experience of the sacred. In the created world, the image, symbol, and sign were called upon to lend help to words. Creative activity, and in particular the one "according to the image and likeness," was accepted as a norm of human existence, for the divine paradigm of creative activity had been transmitted to men by the Holy Scriptures. The essence and the best aspects of the human being were expected to come forth, and did come forth, in creative activity which was continuously inspired and blessed by the Holy Spirit himself.

God not only created (and still creates, as for for Him time does not exist, He is outside the stream of time, and all of His deeds last forever, i.e., they always remain in the present) "according to the image," but also appeared (appears) Himself to men in images. Therefore the image (the icon) becomes one of the main phenomena and category simultaneously of Christian culture: the image in all of its hypostases — from the verbal and poetic images of the sacred texts and liturgical prayers to the iconic images (icons themselves), the sacred images-symbols of the liturgy, and the spiritual images-visions and omens which were revealed to the mystics and the saints. Christian culture is, perhaps, to a greater degree a culture of the image and the icon, rather than a culture of the word in its literal sense. The image occupies the main place in this culture on its sacred-ontological level. The word, however, only functions actively in the theological sphere, i.e., on the ways of comprehending and describing the created world and on the lower steps of comprehending God. However, even here the word is most frequently used not in its linguistic-semantic function, but within the structure of more complex formations: verbal images and symbols.

All-encompassing symbolism forms the basis of all the congnitive-intellectual, but also sacred, sphere of this culture. Christian culture is the culture of global symbolism. The symbol here is used in a variety of its functions: narrow sign-semiotic, imaging-aesthetic, and sacred liturgical. If in the first case its semantics is relatively limited and interpreted rather univocally within a held of the given culture, and in the second allows for more freedom and a variety of subjective associations and readings (although they are still limited within the framework of a culture), in the third case the symbol is fully endowed with the spiritual energy of the archetype. In particular, in icons this energetics is determined by the likeness between the image and the archetype, by the name of the archetype, and, at a later stage, by the sacrament of the blessing of the icon.

Without indulging into further details of that which has become the subject of the whole book, one may postulate that the specific character of the Orthodox culture — which was formed and flowered in 9-14th c. in Byzantium, which received a peculiar, and, first of all, highly artistic interpretation in the Southern Slavic regions and in the medieval Rus, and which had experienced a new rise and a particular decadence in the 19th-beg. 20th c. in Russia — can be described by a system of interconnected categories, the most prominent of which are: antinomism, image, symbol, sign, icon, word, the sublime, the beautiful, creation, creativity, light, colour. To the main characteristics of artistic-aesthetic consciosness — which has received their ultimate expression in the culture of medieval Rus — belong sobornost', sofijnost', simbolism, systematicity, canonicity, spirituality, and increased moral and ethical orientation. The ma in sections of the Orthodox culture without any doubt are the aesthetics of asceticism and liturgical aesthetics.

The analysis of the main historical stages of the Orthodox culture — or, rather, Christian culture in the Orthodox regions — which has been performed in the present study shows that the year 2000 A.D. is certainly a rather provisional, or even symbolic, date for Christian culture as such. Even Christianity itself does not reach its second millenium towards the year 2000, and culture is younger than religion by several centuries. Nevertheless, the birth of Jesus Christ — which, as a matter of fact, took place several years before the year 0 A.D., according to contemporary scholarship — is an absolutely legitimate date to start the calculation of the age of Christian culture. For the latter began with the religion announced by Jesus Christ. However, the first centuries of the new era, when a rather painful process of establishing the new religion and new world view was in place, can hardly count as the centuries of new culture. In fact, the time when Christianity affirmed itself among other religious cults was still the time of late Ancient Greco-Roman culture, with all its main characteristics: albeit in its final stage. It is hard to indicate precisely the exact point of the transition of Byzantium from the Roman culture to Christian: this process lasted for several centuries.
However, the 6th century may, perhaps, be named as a provisional turning point with a great deal of accuracy. This was the century of the first impetuous rise of Byzantine culture in all its main areas at the same time: and on Christian grounds. All the life of the Byzantines of that century was already permeated by the Christian spirit which is marked by the appearance of the masterpieces of Christian art in architecture, painting, ecclesiastical poetry, and letters, not to mention theology which flowered already in the 4th c. In the 6th c. Byzantium had a developed liturgy and a rather well developed monastic community. All the rhythm of Byzantine life was already subjected to the new temporal cycle which was determined by the liturgical canon. Thus we have a real basis for acknowledging the appearance of the new culture which thus far had not been in place: Christian. For it was dominated by a Christian world view, Christian religion with a developed liturgy which included almost all the main types of art, Christian ethics together with a system of social life based on it, or at least oriented on it, and a Christian rule of conduct for all the members of the society, from the emperor down to the last beggar.

Christian culture in its Byzantine-Orthodox variation reached its highest peak in the medieval Byzantium and Rus (14-16th c.). It was then that its peculiar Face was formed and emerged with utmost power, the highest steps of spiritual perfection of man were reached, and outstanding spiritual and artistic values were created, first of all, in the areas of sacral-mystical experience, ascetic practice, and liturgical life, as well as within many art forms associated with the latter: in architecture, painting, icon painting, hymnography, various genres of letters, and liturgical chant. The 17th c. (especially its second half) sees the beginning of the process of Westernizing of the Russian Orthodox culture which gradually accelerates and in the beg. of 18th c. leads to the de facto secularization of culture — already predominantly secularized in the West. From this point on, the process of decline and desintegration of Christian culture gains its momentum: the culture of which, towards the 20th c., only religion and some marginal trends (more exactly, selected individuals) in art and philosophy are left as its living carriers (as ooposed to museum exhibits). The last significant outburst of Christian culture in the East happened in the first third of the 20th c. and received the name of "Russian spiritual Renaissance." It revitalized the spiritual quest (mainly on the Christian grounds, although already not exclusively) in all main areas of culture, and first of all in philosophy, thelogy, and art. Later on it was traditionally styled as the "Silver Age of Russian culture." However, this period featured a rather broad spiritual and aesthetic quest which already essentially exceeded the framework of Christian culture per se, or, else, attemped such a broad modernization of the essential foundations of Christianity that, in fact, devalued them in many ways.

During this period in theology — to be precise, in its innovative trend, Neo-Orthodoxy (although the 20th c. saw also a rather strong traditionalist trend represented by such talented thinkers and scholars as M. Posnov, G. Florovsky, Vl. Lossky, V. Zenkovsky, A. Shmeman, I. Meyendorf, et al.) — such concepts as theourgy and sofiology are being actively developed. These concepts essentially transgress the limits of traditional Christianity and, in fact, announce a certain new stage in spiritual development which, while still being based on Christianity and its main values, opens up for the Christians a possibility for a broad spiritual (and artistic-aesthetic) quest in close contact with the achievements of other cultures. In the 20th c. the fading Christian thought, in the outbursts of its innovative trends, eagerly listens to and considers the experience accumulated in theosophy, anthroposophy, and various philosophical, theological, and religious movements and teachings of both the East and the West, as well as the achievements of contemporary science, and is in search of the ways towards its essential renewal. All this is a clear witness of the end of the history of Christian culture as a certain idiosyncratic stage of Culture. Towards the end of the 20th c. it is only religion that, in fact, remains alive of the whole of Christian culture: religion which is also vigorously pulled apart by the various spiritual and anti-spiritual movements of our time which operate both from the outside and from the inside. With a certain degree of certitude we can assume nowadays that we are standing at the threshold of the transition of humanity into the new spiritual aeon: the one with a radically new and united religion, or, else, any of its alternatives that can be revealed (manifested) to the humanity in the first centuries of the third millenium as the foundation of its spiritual existence.

Russian religious philosophy of the end of the 19th -beg. of the 20th c. made an essential contribution to the quest for a new universal system of spirituality, or a new world view, by developing, on the basis of historical Christianity and Platonism, such building blocks as the philosophy of positive unification (vseedinstvo), sofiologys, and the teaching about free theourgy. The founder and the first theoretician of these theories became Vl. Solovyov, who was succeeded by his eager followers: the prominent thinkers of the beg. of the 20th c. Florensky, Berdyayev, S. Bulgakov. The concept of positive unification brought to a new level the idea of all-embracing cosmic harmony which is expected to unite the human culture with the whole universe and its First Cause at a new, synthetic level of being-knowledge. In fact, behind Solovyov's positive unification one sees the most general contours of a certain united culture of the future.
Sofiology revealed, within the sphere of divine being, the highest Feminine Principle and equated it with the Masculine (the Logos), thus having restored the primordial pre-anthropo-sexual unity in the highest spiritual sphere. Perhaps, this theory to a certain degree outlines the way towards discerning a radically new form of manifestation of the highest Spiritual Principle. Sofiology put forwards beauty as the highest principle of anthropo-cosmic existence, having defined it as sofijnost'. The latter category can very well become one of the main categories of the future holistic universality of the humanitarian science which is already on its way to replace the humanities disciplineof today.

Solovyov's "free theourgy" — which was referred to by his successors simply as "theourgy" and understood as the acknowledged unity of mysticism, art, and technology on the ways towards reforming life under the guidance of God (or the highest Spirit), or as the future art of creating life according to radically new principles — is, in fact, a certain deep spiritual vision of the creative principle of the culture of the future.

Many Russian thinkers and artists of various orientations in the beginning of the 20th c. sharply sensed the coming process of global cosmic transition to something essentially other in the spiritual-material being of humanity and the whole universe. Nowadays this feeling is present in many prepresentatives of the most diverse cultures of the departing century. The very processes that take place in contemporary culture bear a witness to (no, shout outloud about!) this transition. However, this is already a subject for a different study, to which I would like to devote a separate monograph.


Volume 1

Early Christianity

Chapter 1. Late ancient sources and parallels

– Philo of Alexandria

– Plotinus

Chapter 2. At the threshold of cultural traditions

– Apologists

– Origen

The Latin Paradigm

Chapter 1. The two cities

Chapter 2. The
phenomenon of the beautiful

Chapter 3. Art

Chapter 4. The semiotic mode of being

Chapter 5. Psychology of the aesthetic


Chapter 1. Spiritual foundations of the new culture

Chapter 2. The many faces of created beauty

Chapter 3. All-embracing symbolism

Chapter 4. The paradigms of symbolic thought

Chapter 5. Art in the light of spirituality

– Main principles

– Christianity and the arts

– The art of the word

Chapter 6. Theology of the icon

Chapter 7. The language of Byzantine art

Chapter 8. Ascesis as the “art of arts”

Chapter 9. Liturgical aesthetics

– Liturgical action

– Liturgical symbolism


Volume 2

Southern Slavs

Chapter 1. From
the Greeks to the Slavs

Medieval Rus

Chapter 1. Spiritual as aesthetic

Chapter 2. Enchanting beauty

Chapter 3. Art blossoming with wisdom

Chapter 4. Philosophy in colors

Chapter 5. The canon as the basis of creativity

Chapter 6. Between “realism” and “symbolism”

Chapter 7. The schism

Chapter 8. At the threshold of the Modern era

– Towards the new symbolism

– Letters

– Music

– Painting

Chapter 9. The phenomenon of medieval Russian aesthetic consciousness


Russia. 19-20th centuries

Chapter 1. The Christian philosophy of art

– Gogol

– Bukharev

– Dostoyevsky

– Leontyev

– Leo Tolstoy

– Vl. Solovyov

– Religious aesthetics in the 20th c.

Chapter 2. Aesthetics of Neo-Orthodoxy

– The aesthetic dimension of being

– Sophiology

– The meaning of icon

Chapter 3. Symbolism in search for spirituality

– Vyacheslav Ivanov

– Andrej Belyj

– Reflection of symbolism (Ellis)

Chapter 4. The apocalyptic revelations of the avant garde

(tr. by Oleg Bychkov)

 V. Bychkov. Estetika (Aesthetics). Moscow: Gardariki, 2002. - 556 pp.

The book belongs to the new generation of textbook-study that is based on the latest achievements of contemporary knowledge in the Humanities and is oriented towards the mentality of the young people of the 21st century. It contains a full course of aesthetics in the author’s contemporary interpretation. It consists of two sections.

Part One provides a brief outline of the history of aesthetic thought (Ch. 1). Together with the traditional material on Western European aesthetic thought from Antiquity to the 20th century, it gives a good coverage of the Byzantine and Russian Orthodox aesthetics, from early Patristics to the 20th century: the material that is little known in the West. Especially detailed coverage is given of the Patristic aesthetics, as well as of the aesthetics of V. Solovyov, P. Florensky, S. Bulgakov, N. Berdyayev, as well as of the Russian symbolists, futurists, V. Kandinsky, K. Malevich.

Ch. 2, “Fundamental Aesthetic Categories,” provides a contemporary understanding of the foundations, main concepts, problems, and categories of traditional aesthetics. The presentation is amply supported with the stark historical-aesthetic examples from Antiquity to the 20th c. Building on the contemporary achievements of aesthetics, the author gives a clear definition of the principal category of aesthetics, the aesthetic, which describes the subject “aesthetics.” According to the author, aesthetics is the “discipline about a non-utilitarian, contemplative or creative attitude of humans towards reality. It studies that specific way of experiencing reality (a contact with reality at a profound level), as a result (and in the process) of which the human being feels, senses, and experiences — through the state of spiritual-sensual rapture, rejoicing, indescribable joy, catharsis, spiritual pleasure, etc. — the total harmony of his “I” with the Universe, his organic participation in the Universe, in the unity of its spiritual and material foundations, his essential inseparability with it, and even more frequently: with its spiritual First Cause, or God for the believers” (p. 11). Aesthetics is the “science about the harmony of the human being with the Universe,” about the ways and forms of achieving the fullness of being. It is on this innovative understanding of the subject of aesthetics — which is based on the author’s personal experience of studying the history and theory of aesthetics, as well as his systematic study of the history of art using originals, including latest art-practices — that he builds the whole edifice of aesthetics: thinks through the principal aesthetic categories, understood as modifications of the aesthetic (the beautiful, ugly, sublime, play, tragic, comic, irony) and gives a contemporary understanding of the phenomenon of art (Ch. 3). At the same time, play and irony are understood as the universal and most significant aesthetic categories for the 20th-c. art, and the chapter on art gives a radically new understanding of a number of essential principles of art (especially of the artistic image, artistic symbol, form-contents, canon).

Part 2 contains unique material on the latest non-classical (non-traditional) aesthetics that appeared on the basis of the 20th-c. avant-garde, modernist and postmodern artistic and aesthetic experience and contemporary philosophical-aesthetic discourse. Here the author proceeds from two concepts derived on the basis of a thorough study of the 20th-c. artistic culture in the context of the whole history of European and Mediterranean culture.

First, the author introduces the concept (developed by him over the last 15 years) of the replacement of Culture (with the capital C) by post-culture (POST-culture) as the main process that characterizes the cultural situation in the Western world in the 20th c. (Ch. 4). Under Culture the author understands all material and spiritual activity (as well as its results) of the humanity over — at least — the previous 5-6 millennia that has arisen under the conditions of the human orientation towards the objectively existing spiritual reality — the Great Other (gods, demons, God, the Absolute, the Spirit, the First Principle, etc.) — that has a positive, ethical, and spiritually focused value for the humanity. The process of re-evaluating all cultural values that actively started at the time of Nietzsche in the 20th c. has lead to the appearance of post-culture as some quasi-cultural (within the framework of techno-civilization) activity of the generation of people that has abandoned its faith in the Great Other and that is orienting in its activities only and exclusively towards the limitless possibilities of the human mind. The dynamics of art and aesthetic consciousness in the 20th c. is viewed by the author as a certain barometer of that most global — in the history of humanity — process of transition to no one knows what: either to a giant leap, still unmatched in its scale, to the new level of consciousness, mentality, and spirituality or towards a catastrophe, to a complete annihilation of the humanity that has destroyed the pre-existent existential harmony humanity — the Great Other.

Secondly, the author introduces here his classification, and gives rather precise definitions of the stages in the development of art in the 20th c. — avant-garde -modernism - postmodernism (in application to the sphere of art and aesthetics) — and provides a detailed phenomenological account of the main trends in the 20th-c. art (Ch. 5 and 6). Avant-garde is the totality of the rebellious, revolutionary, innovative trends of the first half of the century that are oriented towards the radical re-evaluation (mostly negation) of the traditional aesthetic values and towards absolutizing certain principles of artistic expression. Modernism is the academization and legitimization of sorts of the artistic discoveries of the avant-garde in the middle of the century. Postmodernism is a peculiar ironic and kaleidoscopic play with all values of culture, including the avant-garde and modernism, in the mode of nostalgic fatigue and fading aestheticism.

On the basis of the analysis of the 20th-c. art and its main tendencies, as well as of the contemporary philosophical and aesthetic discourse, the author derives a system of principal paracategories of non-classical aesthetics, describing in detail 15 of them (Labyrinth, Absurd, Cruelty, Trite-ness, Corporeity, Thing, Simulacrum, Artifact, Object, Eclecticism, Automatism, Zaum’, Intertext, Hypertext, Deconstruction) and showing that this aesthetics remains open for further study (Ch. 7).

Table of Contents


Part One. Classical Aesthetics

Chapter I. Aesthetics in Light of History

1. Implicit Aesthetics



Greco-Orthodox Trend

Western European Trend

2. Explicit Aesthetics

Western Europe


Chapter II. Main Aesthetic Categories

1. The Aesthetic

The Place of the Aesthetic in Life and Culture

Realization of the Aesthetic


2. Taste

3. The Beautiful. Beauty

The Beautiful in Implicit Aesthetics

The Beautiful in Explicit Aesthetics

4. The Sublime

The Sublime in Implicit Aesthetics

The Sublime in Explicit Aesthetics

5. The Ugly

The Ugly in the Greco-Roman Antiquity

The Ugly in Christian Aesthetics

The Ugly in Philosophical Aesthetics

6. Play

7. The Tragic. The Comic. Irony

The Tragic

The Comic


Chapter III. Art

1. Art as an Aesthetic Phenomenon

Art in the Ancient World

Art in Christian Culture

Art in the Epoch of the Technological Progress

2. Main Principles of Art


Artistic Image

Artistic Symbol




Part Two. Non-Classics. Aesthetic Consciousness in the 20th Century

Chapter IV. The Aesthetics of Paradox

1. Global Metamorphoses of Culture

Spiritual Priorities of Culture

Post -Culture

2. The Main Symptoms of the Epoch



Significant Paradigms of the Century

3. Main Tendencies of Artistic-Aesthetic Consciousness

Re-evaluation of Values

Conventional Aesthetics

Aesthetic Teleologism of Artistic Culture

New Paradigms of Consciousness

Chapter V. Phenomenology of Art: the Avant-Garde

1. Main Principles


2. Main Trends of the Avant-Garde



Abstract Art





Chapter VI. Phenomenology of Art: Modernism. Postmodernism

1. Modernism

The Symbol of the 20th Century

Concrete Art

Abstract Expressionism



Conceptual Art

2. Postmodernism




Chapter VII. Paracategories on Non-classics

1. Labyrinth

2. Absurd

3. Cruelty

4. Trite-ness

5. Corporeity

6. Thing

7. Simulacrum

8. Artifact

9. Object

10. Eclecticism

11. Automatism

12. Zaum’

13. Intertext

14. Hypertext

15. Deconstruction

16. Results of a Radical Experiment

Instead of a Conclusion. Post-non-classical Aesthetics


I. Themes of Seminars

II. Themes of Student (Course) Papers

III. Bibliography

Name Index

Subject Index

Viktor Byčkov. 2000 Jahre Philosophie der Kunst im christlichen Osten: Alte Kirche, Byzanz, Russland. Würzburg: Augustinus-Verlag, 2001. - S. 448.


Das der Aufmerksamkeit des Lesers vorgelegte Buch stellt eine Art von "stromata" - einen "bunten Teppich" dar, gewebt aus meinen Artikeln und Büchern, zu verschiedener Zeit verfaßt und in verschiedenen Editionen publiziert. Sie decken praktisch die ganze Periode des Werdens und der Entwicklung der christlichen Kultur ab. Natürlich vermag ein einziger Autor unmöglich, mehr oder weniger vollständig, die große Zeit einer solch vielschichtigen und vielseitigen Kultur darzustellen wie die des Christentums. Deshalb herrscht in diesem Buch nur ein, jedoch wesentlicher Aspekt der christlichen Kultur vor - ihre Kunstphilosophie und der auf diesem Gebiet dem Autor am nächsten liegende wesentliche Aspekt seiner langjährigen Studien - der ostchristlichen.

Die Ikone, die ihre höchste Blüte in Byzanz und im mittelalterlichen Rußland erreichte, steht heute vor uns als eines der spezifischsten und bedeutendsten Phänomene der orthodoxen Kultur. Deshalb ist die Analyse des historischen Werdens ihrer Philosophie, Theologie, Ästhetik - ihrer allumfassenden Theorie auf orthodoxem Gebiet zweifellos von höchstem Interesse für die christliche Kulturwissenschaft überhaupt.

Am Vorabend des Jubiläum der zweitausendjährigen christlichen Ära wählte ich aus der großen Zahl meiner Arbeiten jene aus, die eine ziemlich originelle, ununterbrochene Linie des Werdens und der Entwicklung der christlichen Philosophie der Kunst in ihrer griechisch-russischen Form darstellen, d.i. die orthodoxe Kultur. Die frühe Patristik, der Neuplatonismus, die byzantinischen Kirchenväter, die allrussischen Denker und Ikonenmaler und schließlich die neuorthodoxe Philosophie des 20. Jahrhunderts, das sind die wesentlichen Wegweiser, nach denen man sich heute eine ziemlich vollständige Vorstellung machen kann von dem, wie sich im Laufe von zweitausend Jahren das orthodoxe ästhetische Bewußtsein gebildet hat, das künstlerische Denken, die Theorie und Praxis der Kunst der Länder und Völker der ostkirchlichen Welt.

Ein Teil der hier aufgeführten Beiträge ist schon dem westlichen, auch des Russischen unkundigen Leser bekannt; denn sie wurden schon zu verschiedener Zeit deutsch oder englisch veröffentlicht. Eine Ausnahme bilden nur die letzten drei Artikel aus dem ersten Teil (Die Erschaffung der Schöpfung, Das Schöne, Der Symbolismus in der altchristlichen Kultur) und die ersten aus dem zweiten Teil (Bild und Symbol, Die ästhetische Eigenart der künstlerischen Sprache der Ikone). Es handelt sich um Kapitel aus meinen Büchern "Die Ästhetik in der Spätantike des 2. und 3. Jahrhunderts" (Moskau 1981) und "Byzantinische Ästhetik. Theoretische Probleme" (Moskau 1977). Anfang der 80er Jahre wurden in der damaligen DDR Übersetzungen dieser Bücher ins Deutsche vorbereitet, doch wegen der Veränderung der Lage in Deutschland, die u.a. zur Aufhebung oder Umbildung der Verlage führte und die solche Übersetzungen nicht mehr zuließ, sind diese bis heute noch nicht publiziert. Der Übersetzer der "Byzantinischen Ästhetik", Dr. Berndt Funck ist leider vor kurzem gestorben. Bei seinem letzten Besuch in Moskau, kurz vor seinem Tod, erlaubte er mir wegen der komplizierten Situation, seine Übersetzung voll oder teilweise zu veröffentlichen, wenn sich eine solche Möglichkeit ergäbe. Jetzt nütze ich diese Möglichkeit und veröffentliche zwei Kapitel der Übersetzung meines guten Freundes Berndt Funck, ihm zum Gedächtnis. - Die Publikation der Kapitel aus "Ästhetik der Spätantike" gestattete liebenswerterweise die Übersetzerin dieses Buches, Frau Beate Petras aus Berlin. Ihr gegenüber bin ich bis jetzt etwas verlegen gewesen, weil ihre enorme Mühe bei der Übersetzung dieses Buches nie gewürdigt worden ist, wenn auch nicht aus meiner Schuld. Ich möchte ihr meine Dankbarkeit ausdrücken für die Überlassung ihrer Übersetzung.

Trotz einer gewissen stilistischen und formal-editorischen Buntheit der hier publizierten Artikel (sie werden faktisch ohne Änderungen veröffentlicht - in dem Stil der Zeit, wie er für damalige Ausgaben charakteristisch war), hoffe ich, daß die in ihnen dargestellten Ideen und Problematik dem Leser es erlauben, sich ein einigermaßen vollständiges Bild von der Entfaltung der Philosophie der Kunst auf dem ostchristlichen Gebiet der vergangenen zweitausend Jahre zu machen.

 Moskau, Oktober 1997 Viktor Byčkov



KornewiSHCHe. Book of Non-Classical Aesthetics. Author of the Project and Editor Victor Bychkov.Moscow: IphRAS, 1998. – 247 pp. (in engl., fr., german.)
Experimental study of the Department for Non-Classical Aesthe­tics. The authors focus on the prominent avant-garde, postmodern, and post-cultural processes of the 20th century (such phenomena as suprematism, surrealism, postmodernism, post-culture; such figu­res as Bergson, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Lacan. Dali, Miro, Moo­re, Beuys, etc.). Due to the non-classical subject of research the book is innovative in its nature. Together with the classical methods of study (see: Cross-section "Discursive / analytical") experimental can be used as well (POST-adaequations; Materials for the Lexicon of Non-classical Aesthetics).




Nowadays we, towards the end of the 20th century of the Christian era, and the end of the first century of a new era — yet unfathomable, the beginning of which is characterized by a catastrophic leap of the progress of science and technology — that is to say, we find ourselves at least in a state of philosophical perplexity and ask, no one knows of whom, the same rhetorical questions: who are we? where from? where are we going? There is a plenty of answers to them these days, but it seems that there is not one that might satisfy the questioning mind...

According to a good old tradition, where the discourse failed, aesthetic consciousness came to its aid, together with artistic mentality and religious or mystical experience that all have direct access to deeper (or higher) levels of consciousness (sub-consciousness, supra-consciousness etc.), both individual and trans-personal, filling in the gaps in the complex relief of human existence. Nowadays such attempts at filling in are intense as never before, just as they are futile. For many a gap turns, before our eyes, into a gaping abyss or a 'black hole', and the process of filling them in appears only slightly efficient from the point of view of the final goal. However, it remains extremely interesting and captivating as it meanders through the paths of disinterested contemplation of its almost innumerable forms, fancy dynamic moves, pulsations of intensity and coloration etc.

That is to say that the process of both individual and social existence, towards the end of the 20th century, became essentially aestheticized. This aesthetization involves everyday life, science, philosophy, religion, politics etc., perhaps, with the exception of that (a paradox of present day life!) which was some time ago called art, and now modestly styles itself artifacts, arte-actions, actions, installations, assemblages etc. This aesthetization, however, is often and as a rule of such peculiar nature that traditional (classical) aesthetics (if we are to understand aesthetics as a science that was formed within the framework of Western European philosophical tradition: Aristotle, Baumgarten, Kant, Hegel) would hardly find in it a subject for its studies...

Therefore the burden of our undertaking today is to reflect upon this problem (we are far from being the first in this attempt, and we are fully aware of the heaviness of this burden) — the problem of non-classical aesthetics as a certain peculiar phenomenon that is omnipresent in culture and rooted deeply in history, ontology, epistemology, psychology and many other areas. We are interested in the phenomenon itself, its roots, the soil where it is rooted and, first of all, its rhizome: that nucleus, centre and the focal point from which everything grows — upwards, downwards, sideways...

It is the almost limitless field of diverse artistic and aesthetic experience (at theoretical and practical levels, as well as the one combining both the above) that enters the focus of our attention in this century — apart from a few trends that continue with, or canonize classical aesthetics. In the history of culture our attention centres, accordingly, on those areas of artistic practice and aesthetic discourse that do not fit within, oppose or egate the classical trend of aesthetics. Within these limits fall almost limitless areas of aesthetic consciousness of Eastern nations and the Orthodox world (Byzantium, medieval Russia, Southern Slavs). In regard to the Western world, it would be certain trends in the medieval culture, the aesthetic teachings of the forerunners of a series of present-day trends in philosophy — as Nietzsche or Kierkegaard — and certain problems and phenomena that are marginal for classical aesthetics...

Non-classical aesthetics (see CROSS-SECTION a - a ) describes not only its subject but also the methods of contact and empathy regarding the latter, and if possible the forms of verbalization of acquired experience. For this purpose, we attempt, first of all, to "get to the root", but more exactly turn to the RHIZOME: that essential centre of life, in which, around which and out of which everything comes to be. It is that 'rhizome' which was introduced into the present-day scholarship by Deleuze and Guattari (see CROSS-SECTION a - a ) when they tried to comprehend the most complex, intertwined and absurd phenomena of modern culture. But not only that. The rhizomatics' of the theorists of postmodernism constitutes only one section of ours. It is only one of the innumerable CROSS-SECTIONS of our mighty RHIZOME of non-classical aesthetics...

CROSS-SECTIONS — that is the way we approach the phenomenon: almost scientifically, almost biologically. They can be very diverse, regarding both their subject, i.e, the level of cross- section, and their methodology, i.e., the method of presentation of acquired knowledge, emotions, sense impressions and any other aesthetic experience. CROSS-SECTIONS, of course, do not have a claim to recreate a full picture, but the latter is hardly possible at all in our POST-culture at the present time (or simply POST-, see CROSS-SECTION a - a ), leave alone the question whether there is any need for it...

The centre and the main power generator of our 'Rhizome' is the Lexicon concealed under the cover of cultural, social, political, confessional, scientific, philosophical, emotional, personal etc. layers of all kinds. It subsists in a sarcophagus of non-classical aesthetics which is painted and painted-over both inside and outside with all variations of scripts (see CROSS- SECTION a - a ) that are practically unyielding to reading and contemplation within every-day existence. And it is here that we make the first and main CROSS-SECTION a - a — that represents preparatory materials for the Lexicon that is to materialize sometime — and, with the help of all kinds of intellectual, meditative etc. microscopes and telescopes, try to discern particular pictographs, hieroglyphs, symbols, lines, pages and chapters of the Lexicon, and sometimes even — to read them...

The methodology of study of many units of our Lexicon, as well as the verbalization of the derived meanings, is determined by their essential polysemy. The possibilities include the reading and subsequent hermeneutic description of a large family of units by one researcher, a similar procedure performed by several researchers, the parallel reading of one and the same symbol, term, notion etc. carried out independently by many researchers. The description of the newly-introduced term by the author (if this is possible) is desirable (see CROSS-SECTION a - a, chapters 'Aesthetic Commitment', 'POST-adequations', 'Aesthetic field'). Subjectivity here is identical with the uniqueness of aesthetic and discursive experience. The rest of the CROSS-SECTIONS (there are four of them in this book, but their list is open to constant additions) cross, in this way or another, with the main cross-section, although, in fact, they also have independent value. This is why their topography in the book has no essential significance, but is determined by some purely technical considerations. It is assumed that the reader is free to choose his own way on the journey along the CROSS-SECTIONS. The composition, structure etc. of the book does not impose on him any determied or pre-set sequence of moves to this or another CROSS-SECTION...

At this moment, we see (and already work on) the following CROSS-SECTIONS of the 'KornewiSHCHe':

CROSS-SECTION a - a — Lexicographic (materials for the Lexicon)

CROSS-SECTION b - b — Discursive/analytical

CROSS-SECTION g - g — Meditative (POST-adequations)

It goes without saying that our CROSS-SECTIONS do not affect

the being of the RHIZOME of non-classical aesthetics itself, and therefore a CROSS-SECTION can cut along any plane and in any direction: the more cross-sections there will be, and the more unexpected topography they will have, the richer will be the mosaic picture of non-classical aesthetics that has been brought to the level of verbalization.

So, let us begin...

Chudozhestvenno-esteticheskaja kultura Drevnej Rusi. XI - XVII veka. (ARTISTIC-AESTHETIC CULTURE OF MEDIEVAL RUSSIA 11-17 th. CENTURIES). Moscow: Ladomir, 1996. – 560 pp. + ill. Bibliography. Author of the Project and Editor V. Bychkov.
Russia is not West! Nor is it East!

It always was and remains in the middle—as some mystical bridge between eth-noses, cultures, civilizations. Hence both Eastern and Western traits in Russian culture, in Russian mentality, in Russian spirituality, in Russian world perception and artistic expression. Hence the mystery of the multi-faceted Russian soul, the paradoxicality of thought and behaviour of the Russians, their childish openness and naivete, but at the same time—their in depth contemplative centered-ness on the foundations of being. As a result—their incomprehensibility for both West and East, but also—the proximity of the Russian soul to both, its openness to both, its eschatological predetermination and real capacity to understand, accept, and help with, the union of cultures and nations of both East and West at a new synthetic level. The authors of this book do not write directly about the mystery of the Russian soul.

They investigate spiritual and artistic values which have been created by the it over the span of seven centuries (11-17th) and in which it has found its fullest, most adequate, and, what is particularly important, universally acceptable expression. What is being investigated here is that wholesome and mighty organism of artistic culture of medieval Russia (its aesthetic consciousness; the spirituality, sobor-nost, sofijnost and canonicity of its phenomena; artistic languages and poetics of literature, architecture, icon painting, church music etc., in their multidimension-ality and integrity) which came to constitute an essential part of world culture, and thanks to which Russia has become that Russia which is known to all humanity. Much of what the greatest connoisseurs of Russian culture (I. Buseva-Davydova, V. Bychkov, A. Komech, D. Likhachev, I. Lozovaya, L. Shchennikova and others) write on these pages the reader will find new, unexpected and controversial. However, this is precisely what the goal is at the present stage of study of medieval Russian artistic culture: the culture which is highly spiritual, aesthetically fulfilled, ultimately humain; the culture which has created eternal values, but which until now has not been thoroughly investigated and is hard to understand.
LEXIKON NONKLASSIKI: Khudozhestvenno-esteticheskaja kul'tura XX veka (LEXICON of Non-Classics: Twentieth-Century Artistic-Aesthetic Culture.
(Author of the Project Victor Bychkov
. Editorial Board: Oleg Bychkov, Ljudmila Bychkova, Nadia Mankovskaya). Moskow: ROSSPEN, 2003. - 607 pp.


The 20th century is the century of the global transition from Culture to something radically OTHER that has not yet had place in the history of civilization. It is art – the main barometer of Culture – that felt this process most acutely and expressed it through its essence throughout the century. The reasons for this essential cleft in the human being-consciousness are rooted somewhere in the depths of the cosmo-socio-anthropic process and are beyond human understanding. At the level of civilization they initiated an avalanche-like development of the scientific-technological progress (STP) in the Euro-American (Western) regions in the 16th-20th c. on the basis of ratiocentrism and the radical fissure between the scientific-technological way of thinking and the spiritual, ethical, and religious foundations of Culture. With all that, the 20th century became something of a breakpoint, beyond which one sees either the destruction of the Earth’s biosphere or the mankind’s leap into the new aeon of being.

         The STP, in principle, provided for the humanity’s material needs, but in the atmosphere of predominant lack of morality and the accelerating growth of the capital it placed the humans on the verge of the nuclear and ecological disaster and stimulated the development of the society of unbridled consumerism (in the developed countries, first of all, that serve as a beacon to others). Having rejected its spiritual and ethical ideals, the contemporary society has become a producer of temptations, and the contemporary human – a “desire machine” that cultivates his own corporeity. The thing and thingness, the body and corporeity are now at the helm of the developed Western civilization, which is wantonly looked up to by the peoples of the East that have not reached the necessary level of prosperity.

         The last stage of the technological civilization has found its, if unwilling, theoreticians in the form of many of the greatest 19th-20th c. thinkers (starting with Nietzsche and Freud), and its expression in the artistic movement: from the avant garde of the beginning of the century to modernism to postmodernism. The main tendencies of the “advanced” 20th-c. art practices: abandoning the traditional principles of art (mimesis in all its aspects, idealizing, symbolism, expression); departure from art as an aesthetic phenomenon; in the area of artistic-near-artistic activity – going beyond the traditional framework of art (into life at various levels: from the theourgy of the symbolists to the utilitarianism and functionalism of the constructivists, designers, organizers of environment, etc.); rejection of ethical and spiritual criteria in art; the “re-evaluation of all values” that goes back to Nietzsche, and replacing them with anti-values (from the point of view of traditional Culture). A certain aesthetization (or, more precisely, presentation) of evil, violence, ugliness, exaggerated sex, aggression, etc. are the main tendencies of that which is coming to replace art in contemporary POST-culture.

         Two parallel processes are developing in artistic culture that fall under the Nietzschean notions of the Apollinean (on the basis of the latest technological achievements and the principles of rationalism, functionalism, clarity in design, architecture, organization of environment) and the Dionysian (many trends of the contemporary non-utilitarian art that are based on the irrational, subconscious, absurd: from Duchamp, Joyce, dada and surrealism to the latest examples of environment and performance art).

         At the present time the main tendencies of the 20th-c. art can be summed up under several – partly intersecting – headings:

 – A global tendency along the major highway: the avant garde of the beg. of the 20th c. (shocking, manifesto-driven, rebellious movement oriented towards the re-evaluation of the traditional forms and methods of artistic expression);

 – modernism of the middle of this century (legitimization of the achievements of the avant garde in the area of the creation of new artistic languages; turning them into certain classic styles);

 – postmodernism of the second half of the 20th c. (ironic-nostalgic play with the meaning of all cultural values);

 – concervatism: a tremendous complex of most diverse arts that preserve, imitate, and profane the traditions of the classic arts (including the elements of the avant garde and modernism) and are, as a rule, commercially oriented at the non-demanding taste of the main mass of art consumers; here belongs also all the limitless area of mass culture, kitsch, and camp. Hence grows a new phenomenon: the mass spectacles of the show-business that are based on the latest technological advancements, as well as on the simulacrums and fragments of all traditional arts in their pop-modification (the latest electronics, laser technology, decorative-theatrical arts, rock-culture, etc.);

 – the global organization of our environment at all levels: from dwellings and offices to city, park, health care, etc. environments. Here attempts are under way to find the newest methods of applying various arts and technological advancements to the natural conditions of human habitation;

 – electronic arts (video, computer, Net-art) that are aimed at creating virtual realities where the recipient acquires active functions (interactivity) and where the border between the artist (or the group of people responsible for the creation of a given cyberspace) and the consumer-recipient is erased.

         It is all these issues that are dealt with in the hyper-text of the present “Lexicon of Non-classics.” The “Lexicon” includes the terminology that reflects the main philosophical-aesthetic problematics, theories of art, concepts, views, etc., as well as the corresponding artistic practices of the end of the 19th-20th c. (in all their main types, trends, schools, forms, including their main representatives), with the exception of the “classic” trend (also see conservatism) that has been well studied and is practically extinguished in our century in the sense of active creativity.

         The authors of the “Lexicon” attempted, in one study (combining the efforts of philosophers, art critics, and philologists), to present a rather complete (as far as the matter of the study permits – since it is at times still in the process of formation or deconstruction – as well as according to the extent of the capabilities of the research team) picture of the non-classical aesthetic consciousness, of art, and, more broadly, of the variegated art-activity of the radically new (and transitional in essence) period of artistic culture that started somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. Its last period is marked here as post-culture (see: POST-).

The “Lexicon” includes essays on the following topics:

 – main philosophical-aesthetic, applied scientific, etc., theories, concepts, and problems of artistic culture (and particular art forms) of the last third of the 19th-20th c. (existentialism, informational aesthetics, Freudism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, postmodernism, etc.)

 – the main, most significant, as well as original and unique authors in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy, and art theory of the period in question (Bergson, Baudrillard, Bakhtin, Deleuze, Derrida, Freud, Heidegger, etc.)

 – non-classical trends, movements, schools, styles in artistic culture (i.e., in the main art forms and their non-traditional forms) of the period in question (abstract art, avant garde, aleatorics, dodecaphony, cubism, surrealism, conceptualism, pop-art, etc.).

 – the key figures in artistic culture and art-activity of the 20th c. of a non-classical orientation (Beckett, Berg, Beuys, Godard, Greenaway, Dali, Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Malevich, Picasso, Stockhausen, etc.);

 – aesthetic and specific art terminology that has formed in art criticism, philology, and aesthetics, in order to describe the processes and phenomena of non-classical artistic culture and particular artworks (the absurd, antinomy, action, assemblage, virtual reality, installation, artefact, thing, writing, concept, deconstruction, discourse, intertextuality, schizanalyse, etc.)

 – certain philosophical-aesthetic concepts and artistic phenomena in the history of culture that stray away from the “classical” line of development, are marginal in respect to the latter, but have exercised a certain influence on, or are typologically close to, certain phenomena of contemporary non-classical culture in the proper sense of the term (in this case the authors limited themselves to general essays on medieval and Orthodox aesthetics as certain “non-classical” antitheses or paradigms of a number of processes of the 20th-c. artistic culture);

 – foundational essays on classical aesthetics, in order to provide the background for the foundation, or the main “thesis,” around whose Aufhebung, or driving it to the level of absurdity, was formed almost all of the 20th-c. non-classics (sublime, play, inspiration, art, the beautiful, aesthetics, the aesthetic).

 Culture artistique-esthetique de l'Ancienne Russie. XI-XVII siecle. Moscou: Ladomir, 1996. - P. 560, ill.
Une particularite de principe de cet ouvrage est une nouvelle approche methodologique а la culture artistique de l'Ancienne Russie. L'essence en est non pas une etude mechanique de certains arts ( ce qui a dejа ete fait plusieurs fois), mais une tentative de creer une conception de la culture artistique d'une region concrete а une periode historique concrete en tant qu'integrite des valeurs spirituelles sous l'angle de leur importance esthetique (donc universelle, culturelle generale). La dimension esthetique de la culture, la conscience esthetique y occupent une des premieres places, et c'est sous le jour de l'esthetique que la culture artistique elle-meme, ses particularites et developpement sont consideres. L'aspect esthetique permet de voir l'unite interieure de tous les arts et de la litterature de l'Ancienne Russie, car la conscience esthetique est au fait origine de synthese, fondement de tous les arts et culture artistique en general qui donne la clef а la conception de l'interaction des formes artistiques avec le niveau philosophique-religieux-conceptuel de la culture.

L'etude comprend deux livres. Le premier est consacre aux XI-XVI siecles, le deuxieme - au XVII siecle comme passage du Moyen Age aux Temps Nouveaux. Le premier livre comprend dix chapitres. Quatre en sont consacres aux aspects philosophiques-esthetiques les plus generaux de la culture artistique ancienne russe; les autres - aux arts de l'Ancienne Russie les plus importants et developpes formant la base de la culture artistique de la Russie moyenвgeuse. La conscience esthetique des anciens Russes est reconstruite а la base d'un riche materiel des sources ecrites de l'Ancienne Russie (annales, agiographies, textes religieux, hymnographies, "voyages", "nouvelles" etc.), son originalite est mise а jour. Sont demontrees ses origines (slaves et byzantines) et particularites caracteristiques; la conclusion en est que l'Ancienne Russie realise une synthese originale de la mentalite slave, pensee religieuse-philosophique byzantine, religion ortodoxe, culte et art de l'eglise. Le resultat en est la naissance de la culture artistique authentique de la Russie moyenвgeuse avec ses valeurs spirituelles et artistiques uniques. Il est demontre que les anciens Russes de l'epoque de la Russie de Kiev et de Moscou ont forme leurs idees assez originales sur des phenomenes esthetiques traditionnels tels que le beau, le sublime, l'art. Avec зa ils ont transforme а leur maniere plusieurs idees et categories de l'esthetique byzantine (image, symbole, canon, icфne et autres). Sobornost, canon, sophia, spiritualite de l'art sont devenus dominants dans la culture artistique-esthetique de l'ancienne Russie en tant que principes de base de la conscience esthetique et de la pratique artistique. Plusieurs phenomenes de l'esthetique byzantine se sont transformes sous l'influence des archetypes profonds de la mentalite slave et de l'origine folklorique puissante vers une facture plastique plus importante, une concretisation chosiste, une expressivite corporelle sans perdre une spiritualite elevee dans les meilleurs echantillons de l'art et de la litterature de l'Ancienne Russie.

Un chapitre special dresse le bilan d'une longue experience d'etude par la science mondiale des particularites artistiques-esthetiques de la litterature ancienne russe comme composante bien importante de la culture moyenвgeuse russe. Les particularites principales du langage artistique du livre moyenвgeux sont demontrees; une grande attention est attachee а la poetique du temps et espace artistiques, ses liens avec la problematique de vision du monde en general du Moyen Age russe.

C'est le theme de l'esthetique de la ville russe qui est discute dans l'etude en tant que nouveau. A la base des recherches meticuleuses des materiaux archeologiques, annales, monuments concrets d'architecture et d'urbanisme une tentative de formuler des hypoteses sur les aspects esthetiques de l'organisation du milieu urbain de l'Ancienne Russie est entreprise. Il n'existe pratiquement pas ( et probabliment ne pouvait pas exister) de sources concretes confirmant qu'une tвche pareille fut formulee consciemment par les bвtisseurs des villes russes - avant tout de leurs parties centrales (kremlins, "detinetz", "kroms" etc.). Pourtant au niveau inconscient les principes esthetiques auraient joue un rфle considerable dans les constructions et reconstructions du milieu urbain superficiellement spontanne dans le cours de toute l'histoire de la Russie.

Des chapitres particuliers sont consacres а la mise а jour de la specificite artistique-esthetique des langages de l'architecture et sculpture anciennes russes, de la poetique de ces arts du Moyen Age russe.

Les quatre derniers chapitres consacres а l'architecture, peinture, chants et musique et art decoratif, presentent une analyse des arts principaux russes moyenвgeux sur la base des plus nouvelles acquisitions de l'histoire de l'art de l'Ancienne Russie (dans les aspects methodologique et historique concret). A la base du materiel de differents courants stylistiques l'importance spirituelle-esthetique et l'authenticite des composantes principales de la culture moyenвgeuse russe sont demontrees, sont suivies ses transformations historiques et facteurs les stimulant.

Une section importante consacree а la peinture ancienne russe presente une tentative de generaliser le tableau de l'art representatif de l'eglise en tant que phenomene artistique incarnant les ideaux spirituels principaux de la Russie ortodoxe. Y sont utilises tous les resultats les plus convaincants des recherches des dernieres decennies dans le domaine de l'attribution concrete des monuments particuliers comme dans la sphere a leur importance spirituelle-esthetique. Une attention particuliere est attachee а l'art du grand peintre-penseur de l'Ancienne Russie Andrey Roublev. Parmi de nombreuses oeuvres qui lui sont attribuees sont choisies les plus veridiques different par une perfection artistique-esthetique or ligne. Les oeuvres analysees sont comparees aux textes des services religieux, de la Sainte Ecriture et des creations des Peres Saints, ce qui permet de demontre l'unite et le lien des formes principales de la culture spirituelle de l'Ancienne Russie.

Les chapitres consacres а l'art des chants religieux comme partie integrale de la culture ancienne russe en tant qu'unite occupent dans l'ouvrage une place importante. A la base des resultats des etudes nouvelles ils presentent un tableau assez complet et integral de l'etre historique de differents styles de l'art du chant: chant znamenni, demestv, put, formes archaпques du polyphonisme russe, des chants du bas Moyen Age, ainsi que des chants partece. L'absence quasi complete jusqu'au XVII siecle d'information verbale sur l'art de chant ancien russe a amene les auteurs а une etude particulierement profonde et fondementale du tissu artistique meme des chants de l'Ancienne Russie. Les traits caracteristiques de la pensee musicale sont analyses dans le contexte de l'office divin et des conceptions theologiques de sa vrai sagesse et beaute. Une attention particuliere est attachee а l'unite antinomique du canon et des metamorphoses historiques de la pensee musicale et de chant.

Le deuxieme livre est consacre au XVII siecle - periode transitoire de la culture moyenвgeuse comme telle а celle neoeuropeenne. Il comprend deux parties. La premiere pratiquement pour la premiere fois dans la science analyse en detail la naissance et developpement des theories artistiques-esthetiques en Russie ayant fort influe le developpement ulterieur de la culture russe. Au XVII siecle furent formules, d'une part, certains postulats de l'ideologie proprement moyenвgeuse, un courant conservateur-apologetique de defence d'une culture sombrant dejа dans l'histoire a paru. D'autre part, а la base des traditions medievales, ainsi que sous l'influence des idees et pratique artistique de la culture ouest-europeenne se sont formees des conceptions et theories artistiques-esthetiques et meme d'historie et de critique d'art specifiques (art verbal, peinture, musique) dont on ne trouve pas d'analogies dans aucune autre culture. C'est que les theoriciens de l'art du XVII siecle essayaient de formuler des principes artistiques-esthetiques nouveaux en s'appuyant sur un conglomerat de theries de base, postulats philosophiques et artistiques en beaucoup contradictoires (theories antiques dans l'interpretation grecque-byzantine, ainsi que des auteurs latins ouest-europeens; theories ortodoxes de l'icфne, image, symbole; theories de musique, peinture, arts verbaux neo-europeennes). Tout cela tenant compte d'une experience de plusieurs siecles d'une pratique artistique moyenвgeuse russe richissime. Ce sont les natifs des regions ouest russes, slaves et autres travaillant en Russie qui ont joue un grand rфle dans la formation d'une nouvelle esthetique russe et la creation des premiers traites sur l'art. Des chapitres monographiques de cette partie de l'ouvrage sont consacres а certains d'entre eux (Simeon Polotzky, Youri Krijanitch, Nicolas Mileskou Spaphari). Le devenir de l'esthetique musicale en Russie elaboree par Korenev et Diletzky est analyse en details.

Ce sont les particularites de l'art ancien russe du XVII siecle qui sont analysees dans la deuxieme partie du livre. Une grande attention est pretee aux voies de la recherche par la culture russe de la direction de son mouvement du type moyenвgeux au neo-europeen. Les particularites de la pensee artistique des createurs de l'art russe а cette epoque mouvementee а plusieurs egards sont mises а jour. Attirant un nombre de nouvelles sources artistiques et textuelles et en repensant plusieurs dejа connues, les auteurs ont reussi а demontrer que le XVII siecle russe est non seulement l'epoque du declin de la culture medievale, mais aussi une periode des acquisitions importantes des bвtisseurs, peintres, decorateurs russes ayant jete les bases de la culture artistique des Temps Nouveaux en Russie. Les chapitres consacres aux arts concrets suivent la naissance des particularites de la penee artistique qui trouveront leur plein essort au siecle suivant. Ainsi, le lien indissoluble de cette epoque avec la precedente (moyenвgeuse proprement dit) et la suivante est mis а jour; l'idee de l'integrite historique de la culture du temps de Pierre le Grand dans la culture de la deuxieme moitie du XVII siecle est demontree.

Les chapitres sur l'art montrent sous un nouvel angle un nombre de problemes discutables et peu etudies jusqu'ici. Il est prouve notamment que la notion du "laпque" assez repandue dans la science en ce qui concerne cette periode, doit etre comprise non pas dans le sens de la perte de la composante religieuse de la culture ou de son deniement, mais dans celui de la modification de la direction du sentiment religieux du monde divin (qui n'est pourtant pas oublie au cours de ce siecle) au monde profane, а la realite environnante, ce qui ne contredisait pas l'enseignement evangelique en trouvant un reflet puissant dans l'art reagissant toujours subtilement а l'esprit du temps. La notion de la "culture populaire" qui a une epoque donnee n'etait associee qu'а l'art cultive а la cour repondait plus dynamiquement aux demandes publiques que la culture paysanne traditionnelle. Enfin, un materiel nouveau important concernant les relations culturelles est introduit dans l'usage scientifique. Notamment, une grande attention est pretee au rфle de la gravure ouest-europeenne dans la transformation de la stylistique de la creation des icфnes russe au XVII siecle et de l'ideal esthetique en general.

L'ouvrage porte en beaucup un caractere de decouverte. Il dresse le bilan d'une etape disons etroite-concrete-differenciee des etudes de l'art ancien russe et esquisse les voies vers une nouvelle etape - integrante-generalisante, analytique, ayant pour objet non seulement differents arts, mais la culture artistique dans son ensemble. L'etude est realisee par un collectif de specialistes connus de l'art et culture anciens russes, ce qui confirme indirectement la succession dans les sciences humaines russes et leur interet inepuisable pour leurs sources spirituelles.

Nadezda Mankovskaya

Estetika:Vchera. Segodnya. Vsegda (Aesthetics: Yesterday. Today. Always). Issues 1-5. Edited by V.
and N. Mankovskaya. Moscow: IF RAN, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010.

A periodical of the Department of Aesthetics, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences. Contains sections: history of aesthetics; topical problems; aesthetics in the contemporary world; living aesthetics; varia. Publishes essays by best known aestheticians, philosophers, art historians in Russia that address most important problems in contemporary aesthetics; history of aesthetic thought; philosphy of art; analyses of most interesting phenomena in both Russian and international art; discussions on most recent topics in contemporary aesthetics.