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Russian cosmism is a philosophical and cultural movement that emerged in Russia in the early 20th century. It entailed a broad theory of natural philosophy, combining elements of religion and ethics with a history and philosophy of the origin, evolution and future existence of the cosmos and humankind. It combined elements from both Eastern and Western philosophic traditions as well as from the Russian Orthodox Church.

The nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the emergence of a controversial school of Russian thinkers, led by the philosopher Nikolai Fedorov and united in the conviction that humanity was entering a new stage of evolution in which it must assume a new, active, managerial role in the cosmos.

Suppressed during the Soviet period and little noticed in the West, the ideas of the Cosmists have in recent decades been rediscovered and embraced by many Russian intellectuals and are now recognized as essential to a native Russian cultural and intellectual tradition. Although they were scientists, theologians, and philosophers, the Cosmists addressed topics traditionally confined to occult and esoteric literature. Major themes include the indefinite extension of the human life span to establish universal immortality; the restoration of life to the dead; the reconstitution of the human organism to enable future generations to live beyond earth; the regulation of nature to bring all manifestations of blind natural force under rational human control; the transition of our biosphere into a "noosphere," with a sheath of mental activity surrounding the planet; the effect of cosmic rays and currently unrecognized particles of energy on human history; practical steps toward the reversal and eventual human control over the flow of time; and the virtues of human androgyny, autotrophy, and invisibility.

The Russian Cosmists is a crucial contribution to scholarship concerning Russian intellectual history, the future of technology, and the history of western esotericism. Among the major representatives of Russian cosmism was Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov (1828–1903), an advocate of radical life extension by means of scientific methods, human immortality and resurrection of dead people.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935) was among the pioneers of theoretical space exploration and cosmonautics. In 1903, he published Изслѣдованіе міровыхъ пространствъ реактивными приборами (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reactive Devices [Rockets]), the first serious scientific work on space travel. Tsiolkovsky believed that colonizing space would lead to the perfection of the human race, with immortality and a carefree existence. He also developed ideas of the "animated atom" (panpsychism), and "radiant mankind". In 1881 Russian revolutionary and rocket pioneer Nikolai Kibalchich proposed an idea of pulsed rocket propulsion by combustion of explosives, which was an early precursor for Project Orion.

Other cosmists included Vladimir Vernadsky (1863–1945), who developed the notion of noosphere, and Alexander Chizhevsky (1897–1964), pioneer of "heliobiology" (study of the sun’s effect on biology).

                                        MODERN COSMISM
                          
   

 

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