Iurii Samarin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Samarin, Iurii Fedorovich


Born Apr. 21 (May 3), 1819, in St. Petersburg; died Mar. 19 (31), 1876, in Berlin. Russian public figure, thinker, historian, and publicist. One of the greatest Slavophiles.

Born of the high dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry), Samarin graduated from Moscow University in 1838; in 1844 he completed his master’s thesis, “Stefan Iavorskii and Feofan Proko-povich.” From 1844 to 1852 he was a state official, primarily in the Baltic region. From 1853 he was engaged in literary and publicistic activity; he also worked in municipal and soslovie (estate) organizations. He took an active part in the preparation and implementation of the peasant reform of 1861 and was a member of the Editing Commissions.

Initially a Hegelian, Samarin came under the influence of K. S. Aksakov and A. S. Khomiakov and in the early 1840’s joined the Slavophile movement. He viewed the Russian Orthodox religion as a special cultural principle underlying the history of the Russian people and on the basis of this developed the idea of three periods of national life—”exclusive nationality,” “imitation,” and “reasoned nationality.” Sharing Khomia-kov’s conception of “integral knowledge” and counterposing the freedom of “moral inspiration” to the “tyranny of reason,” Samarin believed that “the spirit in its living wholeness” was preserved only among the common people. He saw everyday political life as a struggle between the life of the people and “dull, abstract civilization.” His political doctrine was based on an acknowledgement of only two forces—the autocracy and the rural obshchina (peasant commune), which Samarin saw as in-dissolubly intertwined; he ascribed no particular importance to the dvorianstvo, an “absurd milieu,” which had “so few popular roots” that it had no creative power. Criticizing materialism, Samarin asserted that it “is by no means the logical outcome of the natural sciences.”

Samarin’s main historical works were devoted to socioeconomic and national relations in the Baltic region, the abolition of serfdom in Prussia, and the history of the Jesuits. In his note “On Serfdom and the Transition to Civil Liberty” (1856), Samarin pointed to serfdom as the cause of Russian socioeconomic backwardness and, in particular, as the cause of Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War of 1853–56. Prominent among Samarin’s literary-aesthetic legacy are his article “On Sovre-mennik’s Historical and Literary Opinions” (1847) and his views of the work of M. lu. Lermontov and M. V. Gogol.


Soch., vols. 1–10, 12. Moscow, 1877–1911.
Perepiska s baronessoiu E. F. Raden 1861–1876. Moscow, 1893.
Perepiska s A. I. Gertsenym.” Rus’, 1883, nos. 1–2.


Kolubovskii, la. N. “Materialy dlia istorii filosofii v Rossii.” Voprosy filosofii ipsikhologii, 1891, no. 2.
Vvedenskii, S. N. Osnovnye cherty filosofskikh vozzrenii lu. F. Samarina. Kazan, 1899.
Gershenzon, M. O. Istoricheskie zapiski. Moscow, 1910.
Nol’de, B. E. lu. F. Samarin i ego vremia. Paris, 1926.
Efimova, M. T. “Iu. Samarin v ego otnoshenii k Lermontovu.” In Pushkinskii sbornik. Pskov, 1968.
Efimova, M. T. “Iu. Samarin o Gogole.” In Pushkin i ego sovremenniki. Pskov, 1970.
Istoriia filosofii v SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Hucke, G. J. F. Samarin: seine geistesgeschichtliche Position undpolitische Bedeutung. Munich, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is likely that Tolstoi was directly exposed to the notion early in his career, in the mid-1850s, by Iurii Samarin, the Aksakovs (father, Sergei, and sons, Ivan and Konstantin), and Aleksei Khomiakov (Dmitris father), with whom Tolstoi socialized and corresponded.
Among the most outspoken was the Slavophile publicist Iurii Samarin who attacked Baltic provincialism in his well-known Okrainy Rossii (Russia's Borderlands) and called for an aggressive effort to convert the Latvians and Estonians to Orthodox Christianity.
In his contribution "The Slavophile Thinkers and the Polish Question in 1863," Andrzej Walicki discusses the philosophical views of the Slavophiles Nikolai Strakhov, Iurii Samarin, and Ivan Aksakov.
The handful of aristocrats who forsook Orthodoxy for Roman Catholicism under Alexander I(17) and occasional later conversions by Mikhail Lunin, Zinaida Volkonskaia, Petr Kozlovskii, Ivan Gagarin, Vladimir Pechorin, Viacheslav Ivanov, and a few others, had no lasting impact.(18) Slavophils such as Iurii Samarin contrasted Orthodoxy's humility and sobornost' to a Roman rationalism and greed for power immortalized in Fedor Dostoevskii's "Legend of the Grand Inquisitor."(19) Westerners like Vissarion Belinskii may have criticized the Orthodox Church as backward and repressive, but except for Petr Chaadaev and a few others, they rejected Roman Catholicism as decisively as their liberal and progressive contemporaries in Western Europe did.
(19.) See, for example, Iurii Samarin, Iezuity i ikh otnoshenie k Rossii (Moscow, 1866).
This, the fourth volume, focuses on Iurii Samarin, the one who survived the longest into the era of Alexander II's Great Reforms.
Hence Iurii Samarin's argument that Pribaltiiskii krai was "historically Russian" and even inherently Orthodox later became the credo of Russian nationalist discourse.
In his study of Iurii Samarin, written in Russia in 1918-19, Nolde noted:
(6) Here the selection emphasizes his writings on the Caucasus, plus two letters on more general themes that he wrote to the intellectual Iurii Samarin. The Caucasian writings stretch across almost the whole last third of Fadeev's life--from 1860 to the early 1880s.