Aleksei Stepanovich Khomyakov

1804-1860. Russian philosopher and theologian. A member of the landed gentry, he was graduated from the University of Moscow in 1822. He was an officer in a cavalry regiment before traveling to France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. From 1828 to 1829 he served in a hussar regiment during the Russo-Turkish War. In 1830 he retired to his estates of Bogucharov and Lipitzy where he tried to improve the conditions of his serfs and eventually advocated the abolition of serfdom. He spent his winters in Moscow where he was active in the intellectual life of the salons. In 1847 he traveled to Germany and Bohemia. His writings cover a wide range of subjects from tragedy and poetry to philosophy and theology.

Khomyakov's philosophy emphasized the concreteness and wholeness of reality. A leader in the Slavophile movement, he believed that the Slavs were destined to take over the leadership of the world from the decadent Western civilization which was characterized by reason, logical necessity, and materialism, in contrast with the spiritual and moral freedom of Russian thought. Although a layman, he was well read in theology and believed the Orthodox Church as a mystical body was the guiding light of true Christianity. He criticized both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism for destroying the unity of Christianity. At the heart of his theology is his doctrine of Sobornost, or commonality, which portrays the church as the divinely inspired fellowship of truth and love. Truth, then, comes not from the decisions of a hierarchy or a council, but from the whole Christian community; not from reason, but from the illumination in the depth of man's soul by faith. Khomyakov was a religious populist who saw the Russian peasant commune as that which preserved Christianity in its pure form and would lead the nations into a new Christian era.

V.Z. Zavitnevich, Aleksei Stepanovich Khomiakov (2 vols., 1902-13); A. Gratieux, A.S. Khomiakov et le mouvement slavophile (2 vols., 1939); N. Zernov, Three Russian Prophets (1944); S. Bolshakoff, The Doctrine of the Unity of the Church in the Works of Khomyakov and Moehler (1946).