Some time around 1882, God was pronounced dead. For certain Russian thinkers of the era, this loss provided a building opportunity: where the place of one god closes, space for another one opens. Unlike most established schools of thought, Russian cosmism does not present a singular vision, a consistent epistemology, or a unified theory. On the contrary: the ideas of its nineteenth- to early-twentieth-century protagonists are often so divergent and contradictory that they appear incoherent, paradoxical, or delirious.

Russian cosmism’s known scientists, philosophers, and writers have been understood to include figures ranging from Nikolai Fedorov, the nineteenth-century librarian who aimed to resurrect all living and dead ancestors into an eternal church-museum focused on the revolutionary tenet of brotherhood; Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Fedorov’s library pupil who went on to formulate mathematical equations used for spaceflight; Alexander Bogdanov, who cofounded the Bolshevik party with Lenin and experimented with blood transfusions to rejuvenate one and all; and Alexander Chizhevsky, the “heliobiologist” who discovered and mapped connections between sunspots and human political behavior, and then created lamps to harness solar energy to restore fellow prisoners in labor camps…

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