Johan Vilhelm Snellmann

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Snellmann, Johan Vilhelm


Born May 12, 1806, in Stockholm; died July 4, 1881, near Helsinki. Finnish publicist, statesman, and idealist philosopher representing left Hegelianism.

The son of a sea captain, Snellmann was a professor of philosophy at the University of Helsingfors between 1856 and 1863. Between the 1840’s and the 1860’s he published a number of newspapers in Finnish and Swedish, including Saima. Proceeding from the Hegelian doctrine of the national spirit as the highest realization of the objective spirit, Snellmann saw the development of national self-awareness as the most important historical task. In his view, the linguistic unity of a country is an essential precondition for such development (Political Science, 1842). The ideological leader of the Finnish nationalist movement, he called on the various social groups to unite in the name of the interests of the nation.

Snellmann was a senator from 1863 to 1868. He played an instrumental role in the issuance of the ukase of 1863 granting Finnish equal standing with Swedish as the official language of Finland. His efforts led to the introduction of a national monetary unit, the markka, in 1865.

Snellmann had a considerable influence on the development of philosophical and social thought in Finland.


Samlade arbeten, vols. 1-10. Helsinki, 1892-1901.


Rein, T. logann Vil’gel’m Snel’man. St. Petersburg, 1903. (Translated from Swedish.)
Karkhu, E. “Ob esteticheskikh i istoriko-literaturnykh vzgliadakh I. V. Snel’mana ν 40-e gg. 19 v.” Skandinavskii sbornik, 1957, vol. 2.
Rein, T. J. V. Snellmanin elämä, vols. 1-2. Helsinki, 1904-05.
Salomaa, J. E.J. V. Snellmann. Porvoo-Helsinki, 1944.

A. A. MATSEVICH [23–1891–]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.