Chaadayev, Piotr Yakovlevich (pyôˈtər yäˈkəvlyĭvĭch chädäˈyĕv) [key], 1794–1856, Russian philosopher. An aristocrat by birth, he was converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1836 the first of his Philosophical Letters appeared in a Moscow journal. Its devastating attack on Russian institutions, such as autocracy, the church, and serfdom, created a sensation. Chaadayev was declared insane and was confined to his home. His vigorous writings helped clarify the basic differences between the Slavophiles and Westernizers.
See his major works, ed. by R. T. McNally (1969); study by R. T. McNally (1971).
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