Mirchuk, Ivan

Mirchuk, Ivan [Мірчук, Іван; Mirčuk], b 18 June 1891 in Stryi, Galicia, d 2 May 1961 in Munich. Philosopher, cultural historian, and émigré community leader; full member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society from 1938 and the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1946, and corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences from 1949. A graduate of Vienna University (PH D, 1914), after the First World War he was a docent (1921–5), professor (1925–61), and rector (1947–8, 1950–5, 1956–61) at the Ukrainian Free University in Prague and Munich and a research fellow (1926–30) and director (1931–45) of the Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Berlin. From 1954 he was a research fellow of the Institute for the Study of the USSR in Munich and editor of its journal Sowjet Studien. A member of the émigré Hetmanite movement, he was president of the Ukrainian Hromada association in Berlin. At first he was interested in Greek ethics and epistemology, and published articles on the foundations of Greek ethics (1923), ethics and politics (1923), the implications of metageometry for the Kantian concept of space (1924), and the possibility of synthetic a priori judgment and edited a Ukrainian translation of Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena zu jeden künftigen Metaphysik (1930). Turning to ethnopsychology, he attempted to describe the main features of Slavic philosophy (1927 and 1936) in order to isolate, eventually, the unique traits of the Ukrainian mind. He tackled this task in articles on Leo Tolstoy and Hryhorii Skovoroda as two national types (1929), the Ukrainians’ and Russians’ different attitudes to the demonic (1936; later elaborated into Das Dämonische bei den Russen und den Ukrainern, 1950), the worldview of the Ukrainian people (1942), and Ukraine as a mediator between the East and West (1941). Calling upon his extensive knowledge of Ukrainian thought and culture he prepared the encyclopedic Handbuch der Ukraine (1941; rev English trans: Ukraine and Its People, 1949) and Geschichte der ukrainischen Kultur (1957). He also wrote the textbook on esthetics (1926) used at the Ukrainian Studio of Plastic Arts in Prague. The festschrift Symbolae in memoriam Ioannis Mirtschuk, edited by Oleksander Kulchytsky, appeared in 1974.

Taras Zakydalsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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