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Maksimov V. A. The works of А. N. Radishchev: A study of economic and anthropological interpretation. Izv. Saratov Univ., Economics. Management. Law, 2022, vol. 22, iss. 4, pp. 384-395. DOI:

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The works of А. N. Radishchev: A study of economic and anthropological interpretation

Introduction. A. N. Radishchev in his writings lays the foundations of a humanistic study of Russian society and an anthropological understanding of economic orders. Most of the works were not published during his lifetime; the scientific publication of works and the study of views, mainly of a social nature, was undertaken in the 1940s–1950s. The comments emphasized the radical worldview of the thinker, manifested in the literary field. In reality, the enlightener’s work is more multifaceted and covers philosophy, law, history, and economics. Three life periods are distinguished, different in subject matter, but consonant with moral ideas. Theoretical analysis. The first period of writing is characterized by works of social philosophy, fiction and official notes of a legal and economic nature, in which Radishchev’s ambivalent attitude to power, lawmaking and moral values is revealed. The probable coincidence of the enlightener’s views with his European contemporaries (Locke, Diderot, A. Smith, Blackstone) and Russian philosophers (Tatishchev, Storkh) is revealed. Parallels with the works of I. Kant and the categorical apparatus of modern economic anthropology are determined. Empirical analysis. The views of Radishchev and Catherine II are interpreted in a comparative way. It is shown that there are no direct invectives in the “Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow” against the Empress. The works on legislation in the third period of creativity are an adjusted continuation of the works of the first period. The most complete economic and anthropological theme is presented in the essay “On Chinese Bargaining”, which implicitly rejects the principles of the government’s economic policy, which does not take into account the spatial identity of Russia, its civilizational mission and the potential of free enterprise. Results. The writings of A. N. Radishchev anticipate the field of research of modern economic anthropology: the importance of reflection in human behavior, its noumenal and phenomenal representation, historical construction of ways of action and thought, performative thinking, hierarchy and fragmentation of power, structuration of economic (market) relations are taken into consideration. The key concepts are collective faith, feelings and habits, inclinations and individual differences, good-action, objective and subjective interests, reasonableness and rationality in historical refraction. The problems of conciliarity, will, moral imperatives, acquisition of systematic knowledge, necessity of laws, human rights are highlighted as the most important from the position of the enlightener.


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