The Influence of Russian Cosmism on Russian Culture

Essay, 2020

21 Pages, Grade: R


Russian Cosmism is a philosophical movement that emerged in the early 1900s when many scientific discoveries were taking place, such as the discovery of radioactivity, viruses, and galaxies other than the Milky Way. Russia’s governmental system was also transforming into a state capitalistic and socialist system, and nationalism was expanding more than ever. Many new, and even anarchist movements were also arising as a result, sometimes in retaliation, such as the Futurist movement. Russian Cosmism therefore was a way to answer many anxiety-laden questions that were arising as a result of the changes taking place in Russian society. Such questions also inquired about the meaning of life, and why such changes were even occurring in the first place. In finding answers to such questions, humans could then figure out ways for how to control themselves as a society, as well as their environment, and therefore, save themselves from any future self-destruction (Rosenthal, Bernice Glatzer. pp. 185-189).

The general idea behind this movement is that humans, and the rest of the universe, should strive towards their overall perfection, where any undesirable attributes or features are non-existent. The increasing belief in science, as well as a decreasing need for religion, therefore gave humans the idea that God would no longer serve as the controller of the universe, and that humans themselves would be the ones who hold such control in their hands (Pearlman, E. 2019). Russian Cosmism could therefore also be seen as an answer to what the “Russian idea” or identity is, in that humans, or more specifically, Russians, are one big collective messiah who will save the universe from its impending doom. Such messianic ideas are quite popular in Russia (and in the rest of the world), and are even echoed in the works of fiction writers like Fyodor Dostoevsky (Dostoyevski, Fyodor, pp. 505-506). Also, the idea of the end of the world has been reflected in many literary products of Russia such as in the legends such as the ones involving the city of Kitezh that was submerged in a flood. Therefore it is no wonder that Russian Cosmism has become part of the curricula in the academic environment, and is the topic of many conferences throughout the globe, as well as many books and articles that are published every year (Young, George M. pp. 5) It is a unique interdisciplinary science that has been influenced by many other schools of thoughts, such as Romanticism, Organicism and Darwinism.

Romanticism is a movement that emerged at the end of the 18th century, an it emphasized the uniqueness and importance of the human race. However, its ideas that are relevant to cosmism are that humans cannot be studied in terms of mere numerical analysis or quantitative data that is found through empirical studies. Rather, humans can be understood in terms of an interdisciplinary philosophy and science that also incorporates religious beliefs and values, and the spiritual reality of life. In other words, humans can be understood through a holistic lens that does not just contain scientific data (“Totalitarian Utopia, the Occult...pp. 238-258). Furthermore, Romanticism holds the belief that nature is not an unexplainable phenomena that is beyond humans’ control and understanding, rather, humans could learn to explain phenomena that occur in nature, and figure out ways to control it.

Organicism also contributes to Russian Cosmism in that it holds the belief that the universe should not be viewed in terms of each of its individual objects that it encompasses but rather, it is one big living organism that can be understood in a holistic or general manner. For instance, humans, plants, animals, and natural phenomena should not be studied on their own, but rather, they should be understood as being part of a greater organism (universe). For example, human behaviours, thoughts, emotions, characteristics and other factors can be explained by their interactions with the greater context or environment in which they occur (Neefs, Jacques. pp. 121-123). The philosopher and scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky takes this idea a step further but proposing the idea that humans are connected to outer space both spiritually and physically, and that both humans and outer space are exerting influences on eachother. He believed that humans are made from carbon, which are remnants from old disintegrated stars and planets, and therefore, humans are literally the embodiment of the cosmos (Haga, Enoch. pp. 1-3), (Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin. pp. 37-46). Sergei Bulgakov proposed an slightly different idea, by stating that inorganic material, both on Earth and in outer space, such as rocks, stars and nebulae, can be transformed into organic material through humans’ ingestion of them, because they become an extension of the human body (Bulgakov, Sergei. pp. 40-45).

This idea was further developed by the biophysicist Alexander Chizhevsky who conducted research on all the main disasters and revolutions that occured in human history and found that these phenomena occurred every 11 years, in sync with the sun’s periods of maximal solar activity, that is, when the sun is at its hottest temperature. For example, the Russian revolution in 1917 was caused by the sun’s solar activity, which influenced Russians’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and gave them the motivation and energy to fight against their government (Obolevitch, Teresa, pp. 146-155 ), (Young, G. p.14-20).

Darwinism, or the theory of evolution also influenced cosmic philosophy by asking questions and providing theories about the origins of humans, nature and the world. The philosophers Nikolay Danilevsky, Leb Berg and Boris Chicherin however, argued against Darwin’s idea that everything that occurs in nature is due to chance, and that the lucky humans, plants or animals who just so happen to develop characteristics that are suitable to their changing environment, is not logical. After all, how can randomness generate harmony in the universe? They believe that everything in the universe has a purpose, and therefore, there are rules that govern all natural phenomena, but these rules can also be modified and controlled by Earth’s creatures as they become more intellectually and physically enhanced over time (Sériot, Patrick. pp. 89-103), (Birstein, Bemis, pp. 15-22). For example, the founder of Russian Cosmism, Nikolai Fedorov, believed that humans would one day be able to resurrect their dead ancestors by collecting their atoms that have been dispersed throughout the universe, and creating clones of these dead people. His idea, which he called the “Common Task” would only be possible if all humans, regardless of their sex, race or social status, all joined together to form one big team and strived together to achieve these goals of immortality.

Other ideas that emphasized the idea of humans’ self-controlled and self-aware handling of their own evolution includes the very interesting ideas of Leon Trotsky, among which includes the idea that humans would learn to control their blood circulation, digestion, and other physiological and reflexive processes, and therefore, diseases of the mind and body that are caused by physiological imbalances can be evaded (Campa, Riccardo. pp. 55-70).

The geologist Vladimir Vernadskii put forward an idea that would give humans the highest level of control over their thriving, which is the idea that they would not longer have to depend on external factors, such as food He proposed the idea that humans will soon run out of their natural resources such as food, and that they should therefore evolve to become autotrophic, that is, make their own food out of basic sources such as sunlight and air, as plants do (photosynthesis) (Ings, Simon. p.30-60), (Grois, Boris. p.17-29).

Russian Cosmism’s very interesting ideas have made significant contributions to many subjects such as space exploration, medical and mechanical technologies, and even the Arts, such as literature and paintings. (Pearlman, Ellen. pp. 85-92).

In terms of medical advancements, it all started with the clinician Sergei Botkin who conducted the first ever study in the world on elderly patients in 1889, and found correlations between certain conditions that are caused by aging such as the connection between cataracts and the hardening of arteries, and even found ways to promote graceful aging in humans, such as drinking moderate amount of vodka (Zabludovskii, P. E. pp. 148-152).

The came along Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, who created the word “gerontology”, and he provided the hypothesis that diseases are caused by poisonous byproducts that occur as a result of physiological processes, such as digestion, and that these poisons can be killed off by drinking sour-milk daily and other foods that contain probiotics (Metchnikoff, E. p. 328) (Metchnikoff, E.I. p. 101).

Other ways to prevent senility include Alexander Bogdanov’s idea of blood transfusions from the young, transferred to the elderly and vice versa. The young contain blood that is full of the energy of life or “vitality” that can rejuvenate elderly people, and the latter’s blood are also beneficial for the young because they contain more antibodies that are naturally developed with age. He is the reason why Russia was the first country to found an institution dedicated to research in blood transfusions, which is the Moscow Institute of Blood Transfusion founded in 1925 (Huestis, D.W. pp. 337-340).

The idea that the young possess a certain vitality that the elderly do not was also backed by other researchers such as Nikolay Sirotinin who developed “Sirotinin’s rule”, which is the idea that young individuals, especially children are less affected physiologically by short-term hypoxia, which is oxygen deprivation, which can occur in environments that contain thin air, such as in high altitudes (mountains). He then provided a way in which humans can adapt their bodies so that they can become more resistant to hypoxia, which can be attained by placing the body in conditions in which hypoxia, low levels of temperature, and high levels carbon dioxide are present. This combination can cause the oody to trigger its natural adaptation mechanism (Sirotinin, N.N.)

Another researcher found that blood is not the only determinant of health, rather, Alexander Poehl discovered that extracts from semen and gonads, called “Poehl’s spermine” also have healing properties, and can rejuvenate elderly patients, increase their libido, and prevent cardiac diseases (Zaichik A.Sh. Churilov, L.P. and Utekhin, V.J. pp. 191-207), (Zaichik, A. Sh, and L. P. Churilov). One scientist even managed to bring back the dead, at least for a few minutes. Sergey Bryukhonenko created the first device for blood circulation called the “Autojector” in the 1920s which he used to revive dogs (Glyantsev, Bogopolsky, p. 124).

More recent innovations include the foundation of KrioRus, which is a company that specializes in cryogenics, that is, preserving organic material such as brains and other organs, as well as entire dead humans and animal bodies, with the hopes of being able to resurrect them for good one day. Russians have also massively contributed to cybernetics, and one prominent figure named Dmitry Itskov started the “Avatar Project”, which aims to transfer human consciousness into artificial bodies, and even allow human consciousness to exist without a body by 2045.

Another very interesting and highly aspirational idea, despite its seemingly preposterous idealism, is the idea of telepathy which is being studied by the Institute for Scientific Research in Cosmic Anthropobiology (ISRICA) located in Novosibirsk, Siberi. Researchers in this institute are trying to prove that humans can communicate with each other, inorganic objects and even planets and stars and outer space in general by transferring their thoughts directly into another organism’s or object’s consciousness, without using any intermediate modes of communication, such as words or visual displays. These researchers even created the “Kozyrev Mirror,” which is a cylindrical tube, in which a person can sit in, and supposedly communicate with outer space and other beings.


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The Influence of Russian Cosmism on Russian Culture
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Sal Susu (Author), 2020, The Influence of Russian Cosmism on Russian Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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