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Sobornost (Russian: Собо́рность "Spiritual community of many jointly living people") is a term coined by the early Slavophiles, Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomyakov, to underline the need for cooperation between people at the expense of individualism on the basis that the opposing groups focus on what is common between them. Khomyakov believed the West was progressively losing its unity. According to Khomyakov this stemmed from the west embracing Aristotle and his defining individualism; whereas Kireevsky believed that Hegel and Aristotle represented the same ideal of unity. Khomyakov and Kireevsky originally used the term sobor to designate cooperation within the Russian obshchina, united by a set of common convictions and Orthodox Christian values, as opposed to the cult of individualism in the West.
As a philosophical term, it was used by Nikolai Lossky and other 20th century Russian thinkers to refer to a middle way of co-operation between several opposing ideas. This was based on Hegel's "dialectic triad"—thesis, antithesis, synthesis—though, in Russian philosophy, it would be considered an oversimplification of Hegel. It influenced both Khomyakov and Kireevsky, who expressed the idea as organic or spontaneous order.
The synthesis is the point where sobornost is reached causing change. Hegel's formula is the basis for Historicism. Nikolai Lossky for example uses the term to explain what motive would be behind people working together for a common, historical or social goal, rather than pursuing the goal individualistically. Lossky used it almost as a mechanical term to define when the dichotomy or duality of a conflict is transcended or how it is transcended, likening it to the final by product after Plato's Metaxy.
Kireevsky asserted that "the sum total of all Christians of all ages, past and present, comprise one indivisible, eternal living assembly of the faithful, held together just as much by the unity of consciousness as through the communion of prayer". The term in general means the unity, togetherness that is the church, based on individual like-minded interest.
Starting with Vladimir Solovyov, sobornost was regarded as the basis for the ecumenical movement within the Russian Orthodox Church. Sergei Bulgakov, Nikolai Berdyaev, Pavel Florensky were notable proponents for the spirit of sobornost between different Christian factions. The Pochvennichestvo perspective of sobornost held that it means conforming oneself to the truth rather than truth being subjective to the individual as opposed to their being, no facts but only perspectives or points of view.
Nikolai Lossky explained that sobornost involved
- "the combination of freedom and unity of many persons on the basis of their common love for the same absolute values."
Sobornost is in contrast to the idea of fraternity, which is a submission to a brotherhood as a benefit to the individual. Sobornost is an asceticism akin to kenosis in that the individual gives up self-benefit for the community or ecclesia, being driven by theophilos rather than adelfikós. As is expressed by Kireevsky's definition of sobornost as "The wholeness of society, combined with the personal independence and the individual diversity of the citizens, is possible only on the condition of a free subordination of separate persons to absolute values and in their free creativeness founded on love of the whole, love of the Church, love of their nation and State, and so on.
- С. И. Ожегов и Н. Ю. Шведова, ТОЛКОВЫЙ СЛОВАРЬ РУССКОГО ЯЗЫКА / S. I. Ozhegov and N. U. Shvedova Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language ISBN 5-902638-07-0
- Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-271-01441-5
- Ninian Smart, John Clayton, Patrick Sherry, Steven T. Katz. Nineteenth-Century Religious Thought in the West. Cambridge University Press, 1988. Page 183.
- Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (1995). Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01441-5. page 28
- Lossky History of Russian Philosophy Kireevsky 26
- Sobornost News a website devoted to the promotion of unity according to the principle of sobornost.
- "Sobornost: Experiencing Unity of Mind, Heart, and Soul in Union with the Holy Trinity" by Catherine Doherty, author, and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate.