Skovoroda Hryhoriy Savych (11/22/1722, in the village of Chornukhy in Lubny Regiment, Cossack Hetmante, the modern-day town center of Poltava region – 29.10.1794, the village of Pan-Ivanivna of Kharkiv county, the modern-day village of Skovorodynivka of Zolochiv district of Kharkiv region) was an outstanding thinker, poet, translator, teacher, composer, the founder of Ukrainian philosophy, the first lay-philosopher, a graduate of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
Born into a Cossack family. In the years of 1734-1741 he studied at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, reaching the second year of philosophy studies. In the years of 1741-1744 he was a singer in the court choir in St. Petersburg. In 1744-1750, as a member of the commission (a singer of the court church) on the procurement of wines for the imperial court in the Hungarian lands (Tokay Commission), he also visited Budapest, Vienna, Presbytery, Prague, and Halle for educational purposes.
Returning from abroad, he taught poetics at Pereyaslav College for a year and then continued his studies at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the theology class.
In 1753-1759, by the recommendation of Metropolitan Timothy Shcherbatsky, he was a home teacher in the sergeant major’s family in the village of Kovrai of Pereyaslav Regiment. From 1759 till 1769, he taught poetics and Greek at Kharkiv College.
From 1769 until his death he lived mainly in Slobozhanshchyna, abandoning his career, monasticism, and his own home; it is at this time that his creative work was the most fruitful.
Skovoroda’s philosophical views are mainly referred to ethics, intertwined with the ideas of Platonism and Stoicism. He considered self-knowledge to be the main sense of human existence. He wrote philosophical treatises and dialogues in a mixture of the Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, and Russian languages; fables in Russian; and songs in Ukrainian.
Although during his lifetime the works of Skovoroda were distributed in manuscripts, the first publications appeared only after the thinker’s death. A complete collection of Skovoroda’s works appeared in 1973 in two volumes; however, it was not always satisfactorily published from the archeographic point of view (H. Skovoroda. Complete Collection of Works. In 2 volumes. Kyiv: Naukova Dumka, 1973. Vol. 1 – 532 p.; Vol. 2. – 576 p.). In 2011 was published Hryhoriy Skovoroda. The Complete Academic Collection of Works (Kharkiv-Edmonton-Toronto: Maidan; Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Publishing House), ed. prof. Leonid Ushkalov.
Source: Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Reflected in Names: XVII-XVIII, 2001.