In the field of religious perception and of accounts of Divine-human relations Solovyov mounted a sustained attack upon what he regarded as 'absolute dualism'. His targets were Islam and Zoroastrianism, Platonism and the major faiths of the Indian spiritual Tradition, namely Buddhism and Hinduism.
HIS CRITIQUE OF ABSOLUTE DUALISM
1. Solovyov specifically objected to the Islamic interpretation of the world order (and to the similarly dualistic Zoroastrian viewpoint) on the grounds that these conceived of God's transcendence exclusively, stressing the separation between God and His creatures. Although reflection upon the transcendent aspect of God may be very salutary for the believer's spiritual life (instilling in him a due sense of awe and veneration), if the believer has·very little hope of redemption from his 'creaturely' condition, then the motivation to adhere to spiritual precepts is much diminished. Solovyov held that, as it lacked the doctrine of 'Godmanhood' (bogochelovechestvo), Islam could not offer believers in that religion such assurances of salvation as Christianity can offer.15 Because of the Incarnation of the God-man, Jesus Christ, among men, Christianity is not obliged to assert a rigid and extreme separation of the sacred and the mundane, nor of the Divine Creator and creaturely beings.
2. While Solovyov appreciated many aspects of Platonic thought, in the final analysis he criticised Plato's idealist philosophy on account of a too rigid separation of the ideal and the phenomenal spheres.
3. In Solovyov's view, the major spiritual teachings originating in India, Buddhism and Hinduism, served men well in that they expressed in very clear and powerful terms the essentially unsatisfying quality of natural, earthly existence. 16 They stressed man's susceptibility to disease, sorrow, death, the pain of being parted from pleasurable but transient experiences, and so forth. To this extent, argues Solovyov, they showed a penetrating understanding of the human condition, and the teachers of the various Indian faiths were correct in their premise that awareness of the undesirability of earthly existence could give a powerful impetus to men to make progress in the spiritual life. It is Solovyov' s thesis that this was as far as the Indians' positive, beneficial insights went. He conceded that they diagnosed men's ills and that they offered a variety of ascetic or other disciplines to assist men in overcoming suffering. However, Solovyov judged that the 'remedies' offered by the Indian spiritual philosophies, and the disciplines founded on them, yielded only pantheistic contemplation, or concentration on the Void or on 'non-being', 17 and that ultimately they entailed an irresponsible and non-compassionate, selfish renunciation of one's responsibilities towards 'the world'. This was, in his view, another form of absolute dualism, an undue separation of the spheres of 'the spiritual' and 'the secular'. As Solovyov perceived the matter, men who took up these philosophies were electing to pursue their own personal salvation and giving up the opportunity to transform and qualitatively improve secular society.