Dashkova Centre

Semyon Desnitsky, Scottish Enlightenment and the Origin of Religious Studies in Russia

Professor Shakhnovich’s presentation will contextualize Semyon Desnitsky’s (1740-1789) activity in the early history of religious studies in Russia. After graduating from Glasgow University as a Doctor of Civil and Church Law, Desnitsky started his professorship at Moscow University in 1767. He was a prominent figure in the philosophical circle formed in Moscow in the late 1760s where the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment enjoyed wide popularity. Both Desnitsky and his friend Professor Dmitry Anichkov were influenced by David Hume’s ‘Natural History of Religion’, and their creative work was the first attempt to establish the rational philosophical concept of religion in the Russian thought.

Professor Marianna Shakhnovich is the Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Religious Studies Department at Saint-Petersburg State University, the Secretary of the Governing Council of the Association for Russian Centers for Study of Religions, and the Member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for the History of Religions. She is a renowned specialist in Epicurean tradition in the European intellectual culture, philosophy of religion, and history of religious studies in Russia.

Professor Shakhnovich is the author of over 200 published works, including monographs Garden of Epicurus: Philosophy of religion of Epicurus and Epicurean tradition in history of European culture (2002) and Essays on history of religion (2006). Among her recent works are ‘The Study of Religion in Russia: The Foundation of the Museum of the History of Religion’ (2016), and ‘Religion in Contemporary Public Education in Russia’ (2015). Her research interests include theory and methodology of religious studies, history of social thought, and the classical tradition in history of culture.

The Princess Dashkova Centre is delighted to host Prof Marianna Shakhnovich as a Visiting Dashkova fellow in May. 

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Semyon Desnitsky, Scottish Enlightenment and the Origin of Religious Studies in Russia

Professor Shakhnovich’s presentation will contextualize Semyon Desnitsky’s (1740-1789) activity in the early history of religious studies in Russia.

The Princess Dashkova Russian Centre
14 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh
EH8 8LN