Freedom and the 'creative act' in the writings of Nikolai Berdiaev : an evaluation in light of Jürgen Moltmann's theology of freedom
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This project revisits the work of Nikolai Berdiaev, one of the first Russian Silver Age religious philosophers to be widely read in the West. The focus of this research is his thought on freedom and the ‘creative act’. We will argue that Berdiaev’s vision of freedom contains two types of freedom – a freedom understood within the created order and a freedom ‘outside’ of creation. It will be shown that in the former type, the reader finds a nuanced and insightful multi-layered conception of human freedom, which offers intriguing possibilities for exploring freedom and its implications for humanity. It will also be demonstrated that this type of freedom is closely related to his innovative view of creativity. Berdiaev conceives of freedom and creativity as distinct concepts, and yet so integrally related that they are interdependent. In the latter type of freedom, the reader will encounter a highly speculative and original metaphysical view that attempts to explain freedom as non-determination and answer the challenges of theodicy, which, this research will maintain, fails to do. This research will contend (contrary to Berdiaev’s own statements) that his thought is most comprehensible from a broadly theological perspective. This perspective will underscore the significant tension within his work that arises from his speculative metaphysics. Unlike earlier works on Berdiaev that glossed over this tension, we will attempt to ameliorate it by engaging Jürgen Moltmann’s theology of freedom. Moltmann’s theology will provide a number of ideas and concepts for an analysis, critique, and reconfiguration of Berdiaev’s vision. This reconfiguration will seek to remain faithful to Berdiaev’s core concerns, while providing a new interpretation of his thought that is relevant for a contemporary dialogue concerning the significance of freedom and creativity for the person and community in relation to God.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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