> 32, 2019 > Culture as paideia. Sergei Averintsev and Olga Sedakova: Mapping Out a Path for Contemporary Christian Humanism

V. Pozzi
Culture as paideia. Sergei Averintsev and Olga Sedakova: Mapping Out a Path for Contemporary Christian Humanism


24 2020

This paper aims to present from a new perspective the figures of the philologist Sergei Averintsev and of his pupil, the poet Olga Sedakova, i. e. seeing them as “public intellectuals”. Bearing in mind that this categorisation may seem paradoxical when applied to these Russian intellectuals who undertook a significant part of their work in the “alternative” culture of the post-Soviet era, the first part of this paper provides a reconstruction of their intellectual biographies which aims to justify the main thesis by offering a view on elements of the public attitude that have characterised their activity. The core of their intellectual engagement lies in their interpretation of the issue of culture as paideia, i. e. as a living word that needs to be transmitted not only in the academic sphere but in the public domain as well. Re-establishing the broken ties with the sources of culture (both Christian and secular) — an approach that recalls that employed by the humanists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries — represents for Averintsev and Sedakova the very task of culture, i.e. offering to human beings the richness of tradition through new words, giving them the possibility to rediscover their value and their openness to the Otherness and the transcendence. The selection of the sources that are provided in the paper focuses almost entirely upon discourses, homilies or conference papers delivered in non-academic contexts which are still highly neglected in the literature devoted to them.