— Nikolai Berdyaev Russian philosopher 1874 - 1948
Spirit and Reality (1946), Context: Spirit, like flame, like freedom, like creativeness, is opposed to any social stagnation or any lifeless tradition. In terms of Kantian philosophy — terms which I consider erroneous and confusing — spirit appears as a thing in itself and objectification as a phenomenon. Another and truer definition would be, spirit is freedom and objectification is nature (not in the romantic sense). Objectification has two aspects: on the one hand it denotes the fallen, divided and servile world, in which the existential subjects, the personalities, are materialized. On the other it comprehends the agency of the personal subject, of spirit tending to reinforce ties and communications in this fallen world. Hence objectification is related to the problem of culture, and in this consists the whole complexity of the problem.
In objectification there are no primal realities, but only symbols. The objective spirit is merely a symbolism of spirit. Spirit is realistic while cultural and social life are symbolical. In the object there is never any reality, but only the symbol of reality. The subject alone always has reality. Therefore in objectification and in its product, the objective spirit, there can be no sacred reality, but only its symbolism. In the objective history of the world nothing transpires but a conventional symbolism; the idea of sacredness is peculiar to the existential world, to existential subjects. The real depths of spirit are apprehensible only existentially in the personal experience of destiny, in its suffering, nostalgia, love, creation, freedom and death.