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Petroff V.V. Philosophical and Aesthetic Views of Vyacheslav Ivanov in His Essay “Forma Formans and Forma Formata.” Studia Litterarum, 2019, vol. 4, no 2, pp. 228–251. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-2-228-251

Author: Valery V. Petroff
Information about the author:

Valery V. Petroff, DSc in Philosophy, Director of Research, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Goncharnaya St. 12/1, 109240 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: January 13, 2019
Published: June 25, 2019
Issue: 2019 Vol. 4, №2
Department: Russian Literature
Pages: 228-251

UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2Рос=Рус)6
Keywords: Vyacheslav Ivanov, Plotinus, Proclus, Michelangelo, Goethe, Lucretius, James Joyce, Evgeny Anitchkov, Erwin Panofsky, De Pulchro, inner form, aesthetics.


The article analyzes the content, sources, and contexts of Vyacheslav Ivanov’s essay “Forma Formans and Forma Formata” (1947). It discusses the concept of “formative” form in the aesthetics and philosophy of art in Plotinus, Proclus, Michelangelo, and Goethe. It also argues that E.V. Anichkov’s article “L’esthétique au Moyen Age” published in the Parisian newsletter Le Moyen Age in 1917 is Vyacheslav Ivanov’s source of reference when he quotes from the “Thomistic” treatise De Pulchro. Another important source of Ivanov’s essay is Erwin Panofsky’s “Idea” (1924), and this essay draws similarities between the latter and “Forma Formans.” It is shown that in “Forma formans,” Ivanov reproduces his own concepts developed in the years between 1908 and 1914, but now embeds them in historically and philosophically structured discourse. Without essentially changing his teaching marked by the notion of the dualism of spirit and matter (male and female origins), he now expounds it in the terms of Christian Neo-Platonism where such dualism is denied. The essay also highlights Ivanov’s acquaintance with Lucretius’ ideas and vocabulary and shows parallels between Ivanov’s “Forma Formans” and James Joyce’s Stephen Hero in relation to the Thomistic concepts of beauty and the notion of “epiphany.”


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