Nikolai Berdyaev

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Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev (Николай Александрович Бердяев) (1874-1948) was a prominent Russian philosopher.

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Berdyaev was born at Kiev on March 18 (O.S. March 6), 1874, of an aristocratic family. His father, an officer in the Imperial Guard, was from a military family. His mother, Princess Kudashev, was a Polish noblewoman who was half French.

He disliked military school and began studying law at the University of Kiev in 1894. He became a Marxist while at university and was exiled to Vologda in northern Russia in 1898-1901. Returning to Kiev, he became friends with Sergius Bulgakov, who was an economics professor at the time. He studied for a term at the University of Heidelberg in 1903, but returned to Russia where he married Lydia Yudifovna. The couple established their home in St Petersburg. There, Berdyaev assisted Bulgakov with editing the journal, Novi Put (The New Way).

The family moved to Moscow where they were to remain for 14 years. Berdyaev received an appointment as a philosophy professor at the University of Moscow in 1920, but his independence let to his being jailed twice and finally expelled by the Soviet government in 1922. He moved to Berlin, where he taught for two years before relocating to Clamart, near Paris. He established the Religious–Philosophical Academy and started a journal dedicated to religious philosophy, Put (The Way). This gave him the opportunity to renew his friendship with Bulgakov, who had become the dean of the St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute (Paris, France).

Berdyaev lived through the German occupation of Paris without great difficulty, although the Gestapo questioned him several times. His wife died in 1945. Cambridge University awarded him an honorary doctorate in divinity in 1947. Berdyaev died on March 23 or March 24, 1948, at Clamart.


  • The Beginning and the End (Harper, 1957).
  • The Bourgeois Mind and Other Essays (Sheed & Ward, 1934).
  • Christianity and Anti-Semitism (Philosophical Library, 1954).
  • The Destiny of Man (Scribner, 1960).
  • Dostoevsky (Meridian, 1957).
  • Dream and Reality: An Essay in Autobiography (Macmillan, 1951).
  • The End of Our Time (Sheed & Ward, 1933).
  • The Fate of Man in the Modern World (Hesperides Press, 2006). ISBN 978-1406734300.
  • Freedom and the Spirit (Geoffrey Bles, 1944).
  • The Meaning of the Creative Act (Colier, 1962).
  • The Meaning of History (Transaction Publishers, 2006). ISBN 978-1412804974.
  • The Origin of Russian Communism (University of Michigan Press, 1960). ISBN 978-0472060344.
  • The Russian Revolution (University of Michigan Press, 1961).
  • Slavery and Freedom (Scribner, 1975). ISBN 978-0684717111.
  • Solitude and Society (Centenary, 1938).
  • Spirit and Reality (G Bles, 1946).
  • Truth and Revelation (G. Bles, 1953).


  • Matthew Spinka, Nicolas Berdyaev: Captive of Freedom (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1950).
  • Michel Alexander Vallon, An Apostle of Freedom: Life and Teachings of Nicolas Berdyaev (Philosophical Library, 1960).