Sergei Trubetskoi

Trubetskoi, Sergei Nikolaevich


Born July 23, 1862, in Kaluga; died Sept. 29, 1905, in St. Petersburg. Russian religious philosopher; friend and follower of V. S. Solov’ev. Publicist and public figure. Prince; brother of E. N. Trubetskoi.

In 1885, S. N. Trubetskoi graduated from Moscow University, where he became a professor of philosophy in 1900 and was made rector in 1905. From 1900 to 1905 he was an editor of the journal Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii (Problems of Philosophy and Psychology). Developing Solov’ev’s philosophy of total-unity, Trubetskoi called his own doctrine concrete idealism, as contrasted to Hegelian abstract idealism. The last type of idealism, in Trubetskoi’s view, could not explain the transition from the absolute to individual objects or substantiate the value of the sciences and of empirical knowledge.

According to Trubetskoi, the central problem of philosophy is the relationship of the cognitive mind to reality, which empiricism identifies with the phenomenon, rationalism with the idea, and mysticism with a spiritual reality existing beyond the range of the senses. Trubetskoi followed Solov’ev in aspiring to unite rationalism, mysticism, and empiricism, each regarded as a onesided point of view. Thus, Trubetskoi believed that reality was an absolute total-unity and totally unified concrete existence. In this existence, the multiformity of objects in time and space and the logical (ideal) unity that causes the multiformity are factors that represent the potentials of the absolute. In Trubetskoi’s system, the absolute is revealed through the activity of a universal subject—a cosmic essence, Sophia, which is perceived as the psychic basis of the world.

Trubetskoi wrote a number of historical and philosophical studies, including Metaphysics in Ancient Greece (1890) and The History of the Doctrine of Logos (1900). Politically, Trubetskoi was a constitutional monarchist. His bourgeois liberal activities were often subjected to criticism by V. I. Lenin (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 10, pp. 296–97, 300; vol. 11, pp. 333, 352).


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1906–12.


Istoriia filosofii v SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow, 1971.
Chicherin, B. N. Voprosy filosofii. Moscow, 1904. Pages 146–222.
Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii, 1906, books 81 (1) and 82 (2); 1916, book 131 (1).
Lopatin, L. M. Filosofskie kharakteristiki i rechi. Moscow, 1911. Pages 157–235.
Blonskii, P. P. S. N. Trubetskoi i filosofiia. Moscow, 1917.


References in periodicals archive ?
In "Consciousness and Its Owner," Shpet draws on Vladimir Solov'ev's article "Pervoe nachalo teoreticheskoi filosofii" (The First Principle of Theoretical Philosophy [1897]) and on Sergei Trubetskoi's lengthy essay "O prirode chelovecheskogo soznaniia" (On the Nature of Human Consciousness [1889-91]) in support of his social conception of consciousness.