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At the Crossroads of Science & Mysticism

At the Crossroads of Science & Mysticism

By Pavel Florensky

Translated and Edited by Boris Jakim

166 pp

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About the Book

The present volume represents the most substantial theological contribution in Pavel Florensky’s great multi-volume “anthropidicy,” At the Watersheds of Thought: The Elements of a Concrete Metaphysics. Florensky argues that his epoch (the early 20th century) bore witness to a spiritual shift in the direction of a revitalized Christian world-understanding. In modern times, the Renaissance world-understanding, which is anti-Christian in nature and whose treasure lies in man, had replaced the Medieval world-understanding, which is Christian in nature and whose treasure lies in God. But the rationalistic Renaissance culture was now coming to an end, to be replaced by a new Middle Ages, a coming period to be characterized by the fusion of science and mystical faith — an epoch of discontinuity, of abrupt leaps into reality rooted in the life of the spirit, destined to replace the former mechanistic world-view. This change, Florensky maintains, will touch on every aspect of life and every discipline of knowledge. A revitalized Christianity will emerge which will find its experiential validation both in mysticism and in scientific inquiry.


“Pavel Florensky was one of the most important thinkers within the Russian sophiological tradition. Before anyone else he argued that the problematic perspectives of modern mathematics and physics, and the enigmatically symbolist approaches of modern art, required the development of a newly integrating theological science, seamlessly fusing reason and revelation, if the alternative prospects of secular nihilism or reasserted reactionary fideism were to be resisted. This welcome new translation of a selection of his essays provides an excellent introduction to his thought, whose relevance to the early 21st is even stronger than its relevance to the early 20th century.”


University of Nottingham, author of Theology and Social Theory

“The present volume — another invaluable translation by Boris Jakim — is part of Pavel Florensky’s unfinished collection in ‘concrete metaphysics,’ At the Watersheds of Thought. It displays not only Florensky’s boldness of thought, but also the true expansiveness of his knowledge in such disparate domains of investigation as patristics, linguistics, art history, mathematical theory, philosophy, and scientific method. Writing during the highly-charged years of the Russian Civil War, Florensky shows himself to be unfazed by the trauma of the time and confident in the new horizon of both culture and theoretical science that unmistakably points to the demise of the worldview of Renaissance humanism characterized by mechanism, rationalistic positivism, and atheism, in favor of a new Christian humanism in line with that of the Middle Ages, where humankind transcends its narrow self-interest and finds its meaning and purpose in matters of ultimate concern.”


author, Pavel Florensky: A Metaphysics of Love

“Boris Jakim’s translation, vivid and accurate as always, represents a valuable first step towards the dissemination of Pavel Florensky’s later thought. Though he is primarily known for The Pillar and Ground of the Truth (1914), Florensky developed an entirely new intellectual approach in the late 1910s, comprising a wide-ranging set of phenomenological investigations, of which he published only fragments. Recently, Florensky’s Russian editors have gathered these materials and published them as At the Watersheds of Thought, as Florensky planned to call his second major work. The translation of Florensky’s later work will stimulate a substantial re-assessment of Florensky as a philosopher.”


Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

About the Author

Boris Jakim is a leading translator of Russian philosophy and literature. He has translated books by S. L. Frank, Pavel Florensky, Vladimir Solovyov, Sergius Bulgakov, Alexander Blok, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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