Vaganova Natalia

Epistemology or Mystagogue? Concept of living religion in works by Pavel Florensky

Vaganova Natalia (2018) "Epistemology or Mystagogue? Concept of living religion in works by Pavel Florensky ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2018, vol. 75, pp. 67-78 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201875.67-78


The initial lines of The Pillar and Ground of the Truth (Rus. Столп и утверждение Истины) in the renowned defi nition of “living religious experience as the only legitimate means of comprehending the dogma” prescribe that philosophical refl ection and theological speculation should always proceed following living life. The latter is considered in the person-oriented aspect as a spiritual autobiography that includes prerefl exive experience from childhood. Later, this experience comes to be refl ected in the scientifi c, personal and religious experience of adult life and becomes an organic element of creative works of Florensky, including the concept of двоемирие (literally “coexistence of two worlds”) as the basis of reality. The invisible centre of this system is the sacrament, and the visible layers of worship and symbols that exist in the everyday world point at it. Symbol is a reality of specifi c type; it carries the energy (ºνέργεια) of the sacrament. Epistemology of Florensky’s religious experience is focused on tradition and dates back to the Corpus Areopagiticum and Bonaventure, and rather represents a Mystagogue under a scientistic cover. It is a specifi c mystical heuristic, symbolic spiritual ascent to the Truth, where the symbols pointing at it, including “man Paul”, are not self-suffi cient and become unnecessary once the aim has been achieved. In this sense, it is very important that religious experience that possesses “life” as its essence should become the basis for religiosity of the new type, which for the time being is conceived only as a project.


Florensky, religious experience, childhood, mystic, magism, symbol, sacrament, centre and periphery, epistemology, mystagogue


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Information about the author

Vaganova Natalia

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities, 6/1 Likhov pereulok, Moscow 127051, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0002-7706-9810;
Email: arbarus@yandex.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The article is written in 2018 within the framework of the project "Russian religious thought in the second half of XIX — beginning of XX centuries: the problem of German influence in the crisis of spiritual culture" supported by PSTGU Development Foundation.