Afrikan Spir

Afrikan Alexandrovich Spir (1837-1890) is a little-known Neo-Kantian philosopher from Ukraine, whose book Denken und Wirklichkeit: Versuch einer Erneuerung der kritischen Philosophie (Thought and Reality: An Attempt at a Renewal of Critical Philosophy) exerted a very strong influence on the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Bibliography of Works by Spir

Bibliography of Works on Spir

Kirovohrad Regional Universal Research Library's Website on Spir (mostly in Ukrainian)

Online version of Denken und Wirklichkeit: Versuch einer Erneuerung der kritischen Philosophie (2d ed. 1877, Leipzig: J. G. Findel). This is the edition Nietzsche owned.

My book Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition discusses Spir's influence on Nietzsche's thought

My Home Page

  Afrikan Alexandrovich  Spir was born on the 15th of November 1837 near the city of Yelisawetgrad (Elizabethgrad, now Kirovohrad) in that part of the Russian Empire that is now Ukraine. His father, Alexander Alexandrovich Spir, was a doctor and former professor in Moscow. His mother, Helena Arsenowna Spir (née Poulevich), was the daughter of a famous painter. Alexander Spir gave each of his five children – four boys and one girl – names derived from saint-days in the old Greek calendar. Afrikan was named after St. Africanus, the martyr of Carthage. From the age of eight Afrikan was educated at military academies, including a naval school at Nikolaijeff, to which he was sent at fourteen and at which he first developed an interest in philosophy. In addition to reading (in a French translation) Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Spir was also strongly influenced by Hume at the time. 

     He participated in the Crimean War from 1855-56, during which he was twice decorated and made an officer. He inherited his father’s estates after his father’s death in 1852, his final remaining brother, Aristanrch, having died in 1841. In 1861, Spir freed his serfs and gave them land. The next year he left Elizabethgrad for a two year trip to Western Europe. His sister died soon after his return to Russia in 1864 . . . more

Updated 8 March, 2011

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