Concepts of Freemasonry in Russian Intellectual Space of the Second Half of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
The issue of Freemasonry is one of the priority directions of modern historical research. Consideration of Mason issue in Russian intellectual space of the middle of the XIX – beginning of the XX centuries gives an opportunity to look at the problem from the point of view of new historiographical paradigm, that is, through the eyes of the representatives of intellectual part of society from the middle of the nineteenth – early twentieth centuries, as the activity of «free stonemasons» in the Empire was interpreted by them through the prism of topical socio-political needs.
Characteristics of Freemasonry on the part of the intellectual center of the Russian Empire shows the most pressing and acute problems of Russian space of the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It should be mentioned that the thoughts of Russian intellectuals were not similar and constant – in the paper the main trends of social and political discourse of mentioned period are clearly and scientifically outlined concerning the problem of «free stonemasons» brotherhood.
The archaism and backwardness of the country caused a sharp social crisis at the level of the high stratum of the intellectual elite, in which the Masonic movement became one of the leading elements of the new socio-cultural paradigm. The Lounges of «free stonemasons» brotherhood were the kind of «schools» for the training of a culturally educated social strata of the empire, not without taking into account a spiritual aspect, and also tried to embody into a powerful «non-partisan» pro-liberal element at the beginning of the XX century.
The author of the paper tries to analyze the main concepts of assessments and views on the history of Freemasonry, which were peculiar to the Russian intellectual environment of the second half of the ХІХ – early ХХ century, to find out the main directions of research of Masonic issue by the representatives of intellectual elite of the Russian Empire after the reforms and to identify the reasons for the rising of the interest to that historical movement, to give a detailed description of the reasons for the existence of different approaches to the Empire’s intellectual center interpretation of the role of Freemasonry in the history of Russia in the second half of the ХІХ – beginning of the ХХ century.
The paper attempts to retrace the evolution of intelligent intellectuals' views on the phenomenon of «royal art» under the influence of internal and external factors: from emphasizing the positive contribution of the educational activities of the Masonic adherents to the pernicious Western European influence and the intention to destroy the Empire «from inside» by spreading and popularizing the Masonic Lodges.