Solovyov’s Insight

That God is, we believe, but what God is, we experience and try to know. Of course, without belief in the reality of the object, the facts of inner religious experience are only fantasy and hallucination. But the facts of external experience are also fantasies and hallucinations if we do not believe in the reality of their objects. In both cases, experience gives only psychic facts, facts of consciousness; the objective meaning of these facts is determined by a creative act of faith.

Solovyov, like Nietzsche, saw a history of Christianity that included an eventual period of Nihilism. He disagreed with Nietzsche though, in that he believed the period after Nihilism would transition towards a revitalized Christianity that affirmed both the reality of God in a more total sense.

Abrstract thining is clearly a transitional state of mind that appears when the mind is strong enough to liberate itself from the exclusive domination of sense perception and can adopt a negative attitude toward it, but is not yet capable of grasping an idea in the fullness and integrity of its actual objective being, of uniting with it inwardly and essentially, and so can only touch its surface, glide over its external forms… abstract thinking, deprived of its proper content, must serve either as an abbreviation of sense perception or as an anticipation of intellectual intution.

Solovyov recognizes that many Christians during his time had developed an abstract attitude towards God. To put it in a Platonic sense, they affirmed God in an ideal sense, of ruler of the higher world of forms and Heaven, and as the purest and most high idea, but he sees them as losing sight of the other side of God’s principle. While they see God in the way mentioned and recognize him to have personal being, they have lost sight of God’s absolutness in the fullest possible sense, as the world substance that unites all life into absolute unity. While some accuse such a view as Pantheism, Solovyov points out that this is not the case because Pantheists deny the other side of God as a person with his own will, while his view affirms both.

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