Kozelskii, Iakov

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kozel’skii, Iakov Pavlovich


Born circa 1728; died after 1793. Russian Enlightenment figure; materialist philosopher.

A descendant of Ukrainian service cossacks, Kozel’skii was educated at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He taught in the Artillery and Engineering Schools and later served in the Senate. He translated several foreign historical works into Russian, writing for the translated editions forewords and commentaries in which he displayed his humanism and religious free-thinking. In 1768, Kozel’skii published Philosophical Proposals, in which he criticized Scholasticism, idealism, and theology. Influenced by the French Enlightenment philosophy of J.-J. Rousseau, C. Montesquieu, and C. Helvétius, he valued highly the strength of human reason. However, he believed that enlightenment and the improvement of reason alone could not guarantee the triumph of “true justice.” Although he rejected despotism, Kozel’skii was still attracted to the idea of an “enlightened monarch.” At the same time, he approved of the active intervention of the people in the determination of their destiny. In his opinion, the ideal society would be based on labor and would tolerate neither luxury nor poverty. Private property would be permitted, but it would be the fruit of personal labor and of service to one’s fellow citizens. Kozel’skii’s name and work have come to the attention of researchers only during the Soviet period.


In Izbr. proizv. russkikh myslitelei vtoroi poloviny XVIII v, vol. 1. Moscow, 1952.


Kogan, Iu. la. Prosvetitel’ XVIII v. la. P. Kozel’skii. Moscow, 1958.
Istoriia filosofii v SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1968. Pages 49–54.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.