I just came across a fascinating profile of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is described as the "evil genius behind Pussy Riot." Before she got arrested, she was studying philosophy at Moscow State University among other things. In Nadezhda's closing statements from trial, her affinity with philosophy is evident:
"Humans are beings who always make mistakes. They are not perfect. They strive for wisdom but never actually have it. That’s precisely why philosophy came into being, precisely because philosophers are people who love wisdom and strive for it, but never actually possesses it and it is what makes them act and think and, ultimately, to live the way they do. This is what made us go into the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and I think that Christianity, as I’ve understood it from studying the Old and New Testaments, supports the search for truth and a constant overcoming of the self, overcoming what you used to be. Christ didn’t associate with prostitutes for nothing. He said, ‘I help those who have gone astray and forgive them’ but for some reason I can’t see any of that at our trial, which is taking place under the banner of Christianity."
"This whole trial refuses to hear us and I mean hear us, which involves understanding and, moreover, thinking. I think every individual wants to attain wisdom, to be a philosopher, not just people who happen to have studied philosophy. That’s nothing. Formal education is nothing in itself and Lawyer Pavlova is constantly accusing us of not being sufficiently well-educated. I think though that the most important thing is the desire to know and to understand, and that’s something people can do for themselves outside of educational establishments, and the trappings of academic degrees don’t mean anything in this instance. Someone can have a vast fund of knowledge and for all that not be human. Pythagoras said that ‘the learning of many things does not teach understanding’. Unfortunately, that’s something we are forced to observe here. It’s just a stage setting and bits of the natural world, bodies brought into the courtroom. If, after many days of asking, talking and doing battle our petitions are examined, they are inevitably rejected."
Nadezhda's words provide an interesting window into philosophy on the ground (generally) and this historical moment in Russian politics and religion (more specifically). Say what you want. Dismiss this as another example of "youthful idealism" and "young, sexy, leftist, idealism" at that...but looking at this 22 year old philosophy student, I can't help but ask, what am I doing with my life? Let her be an inspiration to all of us.