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Semen Ludvigovich Frank


Semen Frank, USSR Philosopher.


Frank, Semen was born on January 16, 1877 in Moscow in a family with old rabbinical heritage.


Studied at Moscow University, expelled for distributing Marxist propaganda in 1899.


Continued his education at Berlin University. Returned to Russia and graduated from Kazan University, 1901. Together with P. Struve (a lifelong friend) was one of the initiators of ‘Legal Marxism’.

Later evolved towards liberalism and spiritual and religious approach to life. One of the main authors of Vekhi (Signposts), criticizing the shallow radicalism of the Russian intelligentsia, 1909. Converted to Russian Orthodoxy, 1912.

Became widely-known as one of the most profound philosophers in Russia (of the traditional, academic type). According to himself, the main influence on his thought was the late Renaissance German philosopher, Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus. After the October Revolution 1917, moved to Saratov, becoming Dean of Saratov University, 1917-1922.

Expelled by the communist authorities (with a large group of intelligentsia) in 1922. Lived in Berlin until 1939, when, in order to escape from Hitler, he moved to France. During World War II, spent several years in hiding in Vichy France.

Moved to London, 1945, where he spent the last years of his life. A quiet and contemplative spirit, engrossed in purely philosophical problems, he was again and again confronted with all the evils and difficulties of the 20th century, which gave him very unusual and profound insights.


All religious orders impose irrational rules of good and bad behaviour.


The role of the individual as a member of a collective is more important than the individual.