Nicolas Berdyaev on Dehumanization

Berdyaev Fate of Man

1960s-Era paperback Edition of The Fate of Man in the Modern World

“The central theme of our epoch is that of all history – the fate of man.  What is taking place in the world today is not a crisis of humanism (that is a topic of secondary importance), but the crisis of humanity.  We face the question, is that being to whom the future belongs to be called man, as previously, or something other?  We are witnessing the process of dehumanization in all phases of culture and of social life.  Above all, moral consciousness is being dehumanized.  Man has ceased to be the supreme value: He has ceased to have any value at all.  The youth of the whole world, communist, fascist, national-socialist or those simply carried away by technics or sport – this youth is not only anti-humanistic in its attitudes, but often anti-human.  Does this mean that we should defend the old humanism against today’s youth?  In many of my books I have called attention to the crisis in humanism, and tried to show that it inevitably develops into anti-humanism and that its final stage is a denial of man.  Humanism has become powerless and must be replaced.  Humanism bound up with the renaissance of antiquity is very frail; its development implies an aristocratic social order and democracy has dealt it terrible blows, with the masses and the the power of technics breaking into cultural life.  The machine dehumanizes human life.  Man, desiring no longer to be the image of God, becomes the image of the machine.  In its process of democratization, beginning with the eighteenth century, humanism goes along the line of subjecting man to society, to social ordinariness, it generalizes man – it is losing itself.”

Nicolas Berdyaev, The Fate of Man in the Modern World (1935), Chapter II “Dehumanization,” Section I, Paragraph 1.

4 thoughts on “Nicolas Berdyaev on Dehumanization

  1. Pingback: Nicolas Berdyaev on Dehumanization | Reaction Times

  2. Can one tell the same exact truth over and over again without being (R)edundant, ie., a machine?

    Yes, if that truth is:

    (P)erfection is real.

    Happy Independence Day, Orthosphereans!!!

  3. Account-ability is to conservation what reaction is to tradition and intimately intertwined with the high IQs of every generation.

    And under the terms of “universal equality,” there is no account-ability thus no conserving and hence feeble reactions to lost traditions.

  4. This passage just goes to show that there are clairvoyants in all times, especially times of huge crises on all levels, in all realms, starting from the spiritual and then going downward. In my view these words are even more true today than they were when Berdyaev wrote them more then eight decades ago.
    If I may digress, before Berdyaev the Russians had thinkers like Danilevsky or Leontyev who are, in my view, closer to Spengler then Berdyaev, maybe Spengler was even influenced by them. In any case, there are important similarities between them.
    Also there is the Russian – American sociologist Pitirim Sorokin who also has important similarities with all these men, but significant disagreements also.


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