Pavel Aleksandrovich Florenskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Florenskii, Pavel Aleksandrovich


Born Jan. 9 (21), 1882, in the city of Evlakh, in what is now the Azerbaijan SSR; died Dec. 15, 1943. Russian scholar and religious philosopher.

In 1904, Florenskii graduated from the department of physics and mathematics of Moscow University, and in 1908, from the Moscow Theological Academy, where he was a professor from 1912 to 1917. In 1911 he was ordained a priest. Florenskii’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth (1914) was a religious and philosophical work based on VI. Solov’ev’s doctrines of “total unity” and of Sophia, or wisdom, combined with digressions on diverse topics.

Florenskii later attempted to create a “concrete metaphysics” that would reveal and analyze certain primitive symbols and basic spiritual and material configurations. These symbols and configurations, in Florenskii’s view, were the foundation of the various strata of reality and of all aspects of human culture. Florenskii’s ideas were similar to those of a number of early 20th-century thinkers who also used the symbol as a basic concept; examples are found in the works of E. Cassirer, C. G. Jung, and Viach. Ivanov and in the early studies of A. F. Losev. Florenskii viewed his “concrete metaphysics” not as a philosophical system but as an integrated study of the achievements of all the arts and sciences. Toward this end, Florenskii conducted research in many fields, including linguistics, the theory of the plastic arts, mathematics, and experimental and theoretical physics. The last field became his main subject of study after the October Revolution; works he published in the field included Dielectrics and Their Technical Application (1924). Florenskii anticipated many of the concepts of semiotics.

Beginning in 1920, Florenskii took part in the work of the GOELRO plan, conducting scientific research for the Central Administration of the Electrical Engineering Industry (Glavelektro) of the All-Union Council of the National Economy. From 1927 to 1933 he edited the Technical Encyclopedia.


Smysl idealizma. Sergiev Posad, 1914.
Ne voskhishchenie nepshcheva. Sergiev Posad, 1915.
Okolo Khomiakova. Sergiev Posad, 1916.
Pervye shagi filosofii. Sergiev Posad, 1917.
Mnimosti v geometrii. Moscow, 1922.
“Obratnaia perspektiva.” Uch. zapiski Tartuskogo un-ta, 1967, fasc. 198.
“Stroenie slova.” In the collection Kontekst. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A strong claim could be made that the Silver Age thinker who more than any other has captured the imagination of our contemporaries--in Russia itself, and possibly in Europe and the United States as well--is Father Pavel Aleksandrovich Florenskii, the Orthodox priest whose contributions to mathematics, philosophy, theology, art theory, and a half-dozen fields of natural science made him one of the most remarkable polymaths of the 20th century.