Studies in East European Thought

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 143-160

First online:

Minding the Gap: Detachment and Understanding in Aleksej Losev's Dialektika mifa

  • Robert BirdAffiliated withDepartment of Slavic Languages and Literatures, The University of Chicago

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Aleksej Losev's definition of myth centres onthe concept of detachment. In modern timesdetachment has most often figured in thecontext of philosophical aesthetics, where itis a cognitive category akin to Kant's``disinterestedness'' or the Russian formalists'``estrangement.'' However Losev's usage alsomakes reference to the ontological sense ofdetachment as contemplativeascent (cf. Meister Eckhardt'sAbgeschiedenheit). Thus, Losev's concept ofmyth combines both senses of detachment,binding perceptual attitude and being togetherin a double movement of resignation from theworld and union with meaning; this movementliterally makes sense out of reality. Ittherefore bears comparison to the treatment ofdistanciation in contemporary hermeneutics,where detachment is a key condition ofunderstanding. By investigating Losev'sconnections to other Russian thinkers, theauthor makes a case for a distinct Russiantradition of hermeneutic philosophy (V. Ivanov,G. Shpet, A. Bakshy, A. Losev).

aesthetics aesthetic distance Alexander Bakshy detachment distanciation Gustav Shpet hermeneutics Vjacheslav Ivanov