Pyotr Chaadaev - Russian writer, philosopher and thinker

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Pyotr Chaadaev - Russian writer, philosopher and thinker
Pyotr Chaadaev - Russian writer, philosopher and thinker

Pyotr Yakovlevich Chaadaev ordinary readers no longer know more than a friend and addressee of Pushkin, to whom the great poet dedicated several of his magnificent poems. These two brilliant personalities met in the summer of 1816 while visiting the Karamzins. Seventeen-year-old Alexander Pushkin was still studying at the Lyceum, and twenty-three-year-old Pyotr Chaadaev by this time was already a brilliant military officer who sniffed gunpowder in the battle of Borodino and participated in foreign military campaigns. Peter served in the Life Guards of the Hussar Regiment stationed in Tsarskoe Selo. They became friends a little later, when Pushkin graduated from the Lyceum.

petr chaadaev

Pyotr Yakovlevich Chaadaev and Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin

Chaadaev received an excellent education, he had an exceptional mind and therefore influenced the formation of the worldview of an inquisitive young poet. They had many smart conversations and heated arguments, in the end it all came down to autocratic Russia with all its weak points - the lack of freedom, serfdom, the heavy and oppressive atmosphere that reigned everywhere at that time. Free-thinking friends were ready for their Fatherland at any momentdedicate to your “soul beautiful impulses” (“To Chaadaev”, 1818).

They also did not leave philosophical and literary reflections alone. Their mutual friend Ya. I. Saburov said that Chaadaev had an amazing influence on Pushkin, forcing him to think deeply, philosophically. Pyotr Yakovlevich became one of the closest friends of Alexander Sergeevich and even took part in the efforts to mitigate his punishment when he fell out of favor with the tsar. They wanted to exile the poet first to Siberia or to the Solovetsky Monastery, but an unexpected result was a southern exile with a transfer to service in Bessarabia.

Chaadaev Petr Yakovlevich

Twist of fate

The friendship of the two celebrities continued in letters, in which Pushkin often admitted that friendship with Chaadaev had replaced happiness for him and that the poet's cold soul could love him alone. In 1821, Alexander Sergeevich dedicated his poems to him “In a country where I forgot the anxieties of previous years …”, “Why cold doubts?” (1824). All these creations are evidence of Pushkin's enthusiastic attitude towards his older friend and mentor, whom he called the healer of his spiritual strength.

Chaadaev was supposed to make a brilliant career, but after the uprising in the Semyonovsky regiment, he resigned (this is how Pyotr Yakovlevich showed his opposition position). He spent the next two years inactive, then went to Europe to improve his he alth, and this saved him from the December storm. All subsequent years he experienced mental anguish, a severe spiritual crisis, a severe fracture caused by disappointment.surrounding reality. He constantly thought about the fate of Russia. He called all the highest nobility, the nobility and clergy bribe-takers, ignoramuses, vile serfs and reptiles in slavery.

In the early autumn of 1826, Alexander Pushkin and Pyotr Chaadaev returned to Moscow almost simultaneously. Friends met at their mutual friend S. A. Sobolevsky, where the poet introduced everyone to his poem "Boris Godunov", and then they visited the salon of Zinaida Volkonskaya. A little later, Pushkin will present this great work to his friend Peter.

Peter Chaadaev's letter

Pyotr Chaadaev: "Philosophical Letters"

In 1829-1830, a publicist attacked Nikolaev Russia with sharp social criticism and wrote his famous Philosophical Letters. The first such work-letter of Peter Chaadaev was in Pushkin's possession, the poet mentioned it in his letter to a friend in the middle of the summer of 1831. It was published already in 1836 in the "Telescope", then A.I. Herzen wrote that this event was a shot that rang out on a dark night.

Pushkin decided to respond and wrote a response letter to the author, which remained unsent. In it, he said that Chaadaev’s criticism of Russian public life was in many ways deeply true and that he, too, was far from delighted with what was happening around him, but Pushkin swears on his honor that he would not exchange his Fatherland for anything and did not want to to have a different story than the story of his ancestors that God sent them.

As a result, the Telescope was closed, the editor N. I. Nadezhdin was exiled to Siberia, and Chaadaevdeclared insane and placed under constant medical and police supervision. Chaadaev always highly valued Pushkin as his great friend, he was proud of this, cherished their friendship and called Pushkin "a graceful genius." In subsequent years, although they continued to meet in Moscow, they no longer had that former friendly intimacy.

philosophy of peter chaadaev


Pyotr Chaadaev, whose biography is presented in the article, was from a we althy noble family and on the maternal side was the grandson of the historian and academician M. M. Shcherbatov. He was born on May 27, 1794 and orphaned early, his father died a day after his birth, and his mother in 1797.

Peter, together with his brother Mikhail, was taken to Moscow by his aunt, Princess Anna Mikhailovna Shcherbatova, from the Nizhny Novgorod province to be raised in Moscow. Her husband, Prince D. M. Shcherbatov, became the guardian of the children. They lived in Serebryany Lane, on the Arbat, next to the St. Nicholas Church of the Apparition.


In 1807-1811 he attended lectures at Moscow University, made friends with A. S. Griboyedov, Decembrists N. I. Turgenev, I. D. Yakushkin and others. He was distinguished not only by his intelligence and social manners, but also by his reputation as a dandy and handsome. In 1812 he served in the Semenovsky, then in the Akhtyrsky hussar regiment. Participated in the battle of Borodino, and after the war began to serve at the imperial court and in 1819 received the rank of captain.

After a riot in the Semyonovsky regiment, he resigned and in 1821 joined the Decembrist Society, in 1823 he went abroad. There he attended lecturesphilosopher Schelling, struck up a friendship with him and revised his views and worldview.

peter chaadaev biography


Upon his return to Russia in 1826, Pyotr Chaadaev lived practically in seclusion. Only then did he write his famous Philosophical Letters, of which there were only eight. His last letter, after being printed in the Telescope in 1836, will be critically discussed in every home. Its meaning was that Russia had broken away from global cultural development, that the Russian people were a gap in the order of the rational existence of mankind. Herzen was one of the few who supported the philosopher's hopeless conclusions about Russia. Chaadaev incurred the wrath of the authorities, and he was officially declared insane.

Such a reaction from the authorities and public unanimous condemnation forced Chaadaev to reconsider his views, and in a year he will write "Apology of a Madman", where there is already a more optimistic forecast for the future of Russia.

The last years he lived on Novaya Basmannaya Street very modestly and secluded, although Moscow society attributed strange eccentricity to him, at the same time, many were very afraid of his sharp tongue.

Chadaev died on April 14, 1856, he was buried at the cemetery of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow.

petr chaadaev quotes

Proceedings of Philosophy

He called himself a "Christian philosopher". The philosophy of Pyotr Chaadaev can be immediately incomprehensible, it is impossible to fully comprehend it by reading only one of his works. This requiresstudy the full range of his writings and private correspondence. Afterwards, it will immediately become clear that the main thing in his position was the religious worldview, which was not included in the framework of Catholicism, Protestantism or Orthodoxy. From the standpoint of a unified Christian doctrine, he wanted to give a new understanding of the entire historical and philosophical culture. He considered his philosophical religious studies to be the religion of the future, intended for fiery hearts and deep souls, and it did not coincide with the religions of theologians. Here he becomes similar to Tolstoy Leo Nikolayevich, who, in the same way, experienced his spiritual crisis very difficult and tragically.

Pyotr Chaadaev knew the Holy Scripture well and was well versed in it. However, the main question he wanted to answer was the "mystery of time" and the meaning of human history. He looked for all the answers in Christianity.

"Only the eye of mercy is clairvoyant - this is the whole philosophy of Christianity" - so wrote Peter Chaadaev. His quotes help to reveal his personality more deeply, in one of them he looks like a prophet, because he writes that socialism will win, in his opinion, and not because he is right, but because his opponents are wrong.

petr chaadaev philosophical letters

One Church

He believed that the main idea and the only goal for humanity should be the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth through its moral development, and this historical process is driven by divine providence. Outside of Christianity, he did not represent the historical existence and incarnation of the Kingdom of God without the church. And here it must be emphasized that here Chaadaevspoke of a single church, not divided into different denominations. It was in this that he saw the true meaning of the dogma of faith in a single church - through the establishment of a perfect order on earth, referred to as the Kingdom of God. It is necessary to immediately recall that in the Orthodox faith the Kingdom of God is a mystical concept that arises after the end of real earthly life (after the Apocalypse).

Chadaev believed that the Muslim faith is far from the truth. The united Christian church, which has split into confessions, is where the true incarnation of God is. Of all the denominations, he suddenly chooses the Catholic Church as the main one, which allegedly carried out God's providence to a greater extent. The main argument he called the high development of Western culture. According to him, Russia did not give anything to world culture and "got lost on earth." He blames the Russian people for this and sees the reason for the fact that Russia adopted Orthodoxy from Byzantium.


But here it is very neat to note that all these thoughts of his are mostly theoretical, since he considered himself Orthodox all his life and was even deeply indignant when there were rumors about his conversion to the Catholic faith.

Having wandered a little in his philosophical reasoning after denying providence in the fate of Russia, in 1837 he suddenly wrote a work called “Apology of a Madman”, in which he already spoke about the great fate of Russia, about its special role intended by the Lord himself.

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