Thursday, July 27, 2023

Alexander Moiseyevich Piatigorsky

Alexander Moiseyevich Piatigorsky (1929 –2009) was a Soviet dissident, Russian philosopher, scholar of Indian philosophy and culture, historian, philologist, semiotician and a writer.

Well-versed in the study of language, he knew Sanskrit, Tamil, Pali, Tibetan, German, Russian, French, Italian and English. In an obituary appearing in the English-language newspaper The Guardian, he was cited as "a man who was widely considered to be one of the more significant thinkers of the age and Russia's greatest philosopher."

Departing the Soviet Union in 1974 for Israel, Piatigorsky made his way to Oxford University where he had been invited to give some lectures. Early times in London were severe for his family, earning only 6.5 pounds a day. He accepted some invitations to lecture but decided to stay in London. At Oxford he quickly became acquainted with Isaiah Berlin and Leszek Kołakowski. He joined the staff of the School of Oriental and African Studies, The University of London, as lecturer in 1975 with the commendation of Berlin who at one point is reported to have said: "Piatigorsky is quite simply a genius! It is remarkable that Piatigorski didn't consider himself a dissident, he left Soviet Union just because he was bored, he felt that something was missing there.

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