Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of Communism and the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped raise awareness of the Gulag, a government agency that oversaw forced labor camps set up in accordance with Vladimir Lenin's order. His non-fiction text The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work and sold millions of copies.
Russian philosopher Helena Blavatsky, or Madame Blavatsky, was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society. She popularized the slogan “There is no religion higher than truth.” She was inspired by the Arya Samaj and later converted to Buddhism. She also wrote books such as The Secret Doctrine.
Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Born to a poet and carpenter, George Gurdjieff grew up reading a lot of science books in his hometown, Kars. He later laid down the concept of The Fourth Way, stating that humans can overcome their state of waking sleep through methods involving a combination of music, dance, and lectures.
Mikhail Bakunin was a Russian socialist and anarchist. He is credited with founding an anarchist school of thought called collectivist anarchism. Regarded as one of the most influential personalities of anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin has had a major influence on thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, Herbert Marcuse, Errico Malatesta, Neil Postman, E. P. Thompson, and A. S. Neill.
Russian painter, writer, philosopher, theosophist and archaeologist, Nicholas Roerich, counted among the greatest Russian painters, is noted for initiating the modern movement for the defense of cultural objects. One of the greatest feats that he achieved during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact that was signed into law by the US and most nations of the Pan-American Union.
One of the prime organizers of the National Bolshevik Party, Russian politologist Aleksandr Dugin is known for his association with fascism. He supports the creation of a Eurasian empire, which will oppose North Atlantic interests. He has also penned books such as The Fourth Political Theory and Foundations of Geopolitics.
Alexander Bogdanov was a Russian physician, science fiction writer, philosopher, and Bolshevik revolutionary. Bogdanov is credited with inventing Tektology, which is widely considered a forerunner of systems theory. A multi-talented personality, Alexander Bogdanov was also a renowned economist and culture theorist.
Alexander Herzen was a Russian thinker and writer. Regarded as the father of Russian socialism, Herzen played an influential role in the political set up of the 19th and 20th century. He also influenced personalities like Isaiah Berlin, who regarded Herzen as his hero. Herzen's book My Past and Thoughts is considered one of the best autobiographies in Russian literature.
Russian revolutionary and Marxist theorist Georgi Plekhanov is remembered for establishing Liberation of Labour, the first Russian Marxist organization. One of his best-known works was Socialism and Political Struggle. He later went against the Bolsheviks and Lenin and criticized their policies. He supported the Entente powers during World War I.
Born into a family of Russian Orthodox priests, Sergei Bulgakov, had grown distant from theology in his youth and studied law and political economy instead. Though he experimented with Marxism, he later moved back to the Church and formed what is now known as sophiology.
Russian theologian Pavel Florensky is best remembered for his essay The Pillar and the Ground of Truth. During Stalin’s regime and amid a phase of national atheism, he was sent to jail and also banished to Siberia for his religious beliefs, which he refused to renounce.
Born to an affluent landowner, Fyodor Tyutchev was homeschooled and grew up to represent his country as a diplomat in Germany. A nationalist and Pan-Slavist, he also became one of the most-quoted Russian poets. His love poems were inspired by his affair with his daughter’s governess.
Formerly the head of Logic Department of Moscow University, Soviet philosopher Alexander Zinoviev first came to limelight with his 1960 publication, Philosophical Problems of Many-Valued Logic, and later for his satirical novel, The Yawning Heights. Exiled from his country in 1978, he lived in Munich until his return to Russia in 1999, meanwhile producing numerous seminal fictional and nonfictional works.
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov was a Russian philosopher, theologian, poet, and amateur artist. Apart from co-founding an intellectual movement called the Slavophile movement, Khomyakov went on to serve as one of the most distinguished theoreticians of the movement.
Russian naturalist and philosopher Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky is remembered for opposing Darwin’s theory of evolution and for mingling Russian nationalism with his own study of natural history. He likened cultures to species and claimed that each culture was unique and could not pass on cultural traits to other cultures.
Zinovia Dushkova is a Russian poet, historian, philosopher, and author. A prominent writer, Dushkova's works have been translated into seven languages. In 2015, she was honored with the 20 Years of Gagauzia Medal. In 2017, Zinovia Dushkova’s book, The Call of the Heart, was honored at the Nautilus Book Awards with a silver medal in the United States of America.
Renowned Russian scholar and Indologist Fyodor Shcherbatskoy not only spoke 6 European languages fluently but had also mastered the Sanskrit and Tibetan languages. His research took him to India and Mongolia, and he penned influential books on Buddhist philosophy, such as his 2-volume Buddhist Logic. He also launched the Russian Institute of Buddhist Culture.
Russian political-economist, historian and editor Peter Struve, initially a Marxist, became a liberal following his arrest and exile from Russia in 1901. After returning to Russia in 1905, he co-founded the liberal Constitutional Democratic Party. He joined the White movement after the Bolshevik Revolution. He lived in exile in Paris from 1920 and emerged as a noted critic of Russian Communism.