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Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov

Sergei Bulgakov, USSR Philosopher, economist, theologian.

Background

  • Bulgakov, Sergei was born on June 16, 1871 in Livny, Orel Gouvernement. Son of a priest.

  • Education

    • Graduated in Law from University of Moscow, 1894.

    Career

    • Embraced atheism and Marxism in his youth. Became a wellknown representative of‘legal Marxism’. Professor of political economy at Kiev Polytechnic, 1901.

      Professor at the Institute of Commerce in Moscow. Member of the 2nd Duma. Became one of the most prominent members of the group of intelligentsia which moved from Marxism towards a religious approach, and warned against the dangers of radicalism and political activism (Vekhi).

      Ordained priest of the Orthodox church, 11 June 1918. During the Civil War, professor at the Simferopol University in the Crimea, 1918. Dismissed on account of his religious convictions, 1921.

      Expelled from Russia, 1 January 1923. Worked as a professor in the Russian faculty of law in Prague. Moved to France. Long serving Dean of the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, making the institute a brilliant centre of Orthodox thought, 1925-1944.

      Criticized for some of his dogmatic innovations (sophiology). One of the most active initiators of the worldwide oecumencial movement (often acting as an intermediary between traditionally hostile Protestant and Catholic circles in Western Europe).

    Works

    • Main publications:(1903) Ot marksizma k idealizmu: sbornik statei (1896-1903) [From Marxism to Idealism: A Collection of Articles 1896-1903], St Petersburg. (1911) Dva grada: issledovaniia o prirode obshchestvennykh idealov [Two Cities: Investigations into the Nature of Social Ideals], 2 vols, Moscow.(1917) Svet nevechernyi: sozertsaniia i umozreniia [The Unfading Light: Contemplations and Speculations], Moscow.(1937) The Wisdom of God: A Brief Summary of Sophiology. trans. P. J. Thompson, O. F. Clarke and R. Braikevich, London: Williams and Norgate.(1953) Filosoftia imeni [Philosophy of the Name], Paris: YMCA Press.(1976) (ed. J. Pain and N. Zernov) A Bulgakov Anthology, London: SPCK (translated extracts front Bulgakov's philosophical and theological works).Secondary literature:Lossky, N. O. (1952) History of Russian Philosophy, London: George Allen & Unwin, ch. 15. Zenkovsky, V. V. (1953) A History of Russian Philosophy, trans. George L. Kline, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. 2. pp. 890-916.The son of a priest, Bulgakov became a prominent ‘legal Marxist’ during the 1890s, but, like Berdyaev, S. L. Frank and Struve, renounced Marxism at the turn of the century. He was a contributor to Vekhi [Landmarks] (1909), the collection criticizing the revolutionary intelligentsia. Having returned to the Orthodox faith, he was ordained in 1918, and was among the non-Marxist scholars expelled from Russia in 1922. After living in Prague, he settled in Paris.

    Religion

    Religion is bad because it wastes time and money.

    Views

    The son of a priest, Bulgakov became a prominent ‘legal Marxist’ during the 1890s, but, like Berdyaev, S. L. Frank and Struve, renounced Marxism at the turn of the century. He was a contributor to Vekhi [Landmarks] (1909), the collection criticizing the revolutionary intelligentsia. Having returned to the Orthodox faith, he was ordained in 1918, and was among the non-Marxist scholars expelled from Russia in 1922.

    After living in Prague, he settled in Paris.

    Bulgakov wrote in the tradition of Solov’ev’s metaphysics of total-unity and ‘Godmanhood’. He followed Florensky in giving prominence to the principle of Sophia as a ‘fourth hypostasis’ of the Deity and the world-soul of the cosmos. His ‘sophiology’ was censured by the Orthodox Church in the early 1930s.

    He was also criticized for implying the consubstantiality of God and the creation: this despite his attempt to steer a course between pantheism and Manichean dualism, partly by positing a reified Nothing from which the cosmos was created and from which evil issues. Unlike Berdyaev’s Ungrund, this was not a separate entity limiting the Divine Spirit.

    Bulgakov’s posthumous Philosophy of the Name (1953) was, like Losev’s work of the same name, inspired by Florensky’s philosophical linguistics: he contended that, despite the plurality of languages, the sound of a word is the incarnation of its cosmic soul.

    Personality

    Interests

    Philosophers & Thinkers : Marx, Rant, Schelling, Solov’ev and Florensky.

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    Born June 16, 1871
    Died July 13, 1944
    (aged 73)
    Nationality

    Contributor  

    Olga Borisik

    last changed 13/07/2017 view changes
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      • Main publications:(1903) Ot marksizma k idealizmu: sbornik statei (1896-1903) [From Marxism to Idealism: A Collection of Articles 1896-1903], St Petersburg. (1911) Dva grada: issledovaniia o prirode obshchestvennykh idealov [Two Cities: Investigations into the Nature of Social Ideals], 2 vols, Moscow.(1917) Svet nevechernyi: sozertsaniia i umozreniia [The Unfading Light: Contemplations and Speculations], Moscow.(1937) The Wisdom of God: A Brief Summary of Sophiology. trans. P. J. Thompson, O. F. Clarke and R. Braikevich, London: Williams and Norgate.(1953) Filosoftia imeni [Philosophy of the Name], Paris: YMCA Press.(1976) (ed. J. Pain and N. Zernov) A Bulgakov Anthology, London: SPCK (translated extracts front Bulgakov's philosophical and theological works).Secondary literature:Lossky, N. O. (1952) History of Russian Philosophy, London: George Allen & Unwin, ch. 15. Zenkovsky, V. V. (1953) A History of Russian Philosophy, trans. George L. Kline, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, vol. 2. pp. 890-916.The son of a priest, Bulgakov became a prominent ‘legal Marxist’ during the 1890s, but, like Berdyaev, S. L. Frank and Struve, renounced Marxism at the turn of the century. He was a contributor to Vekhi [Landmarks] (1909), the collection criticizing the revolutionary intelligentsia. Having returned to the Orthodox faith, he was ordained in 1918, and was among the non-Marxist scholars expelled from Russia in 1922. After living in Prague, he settled in Paris.
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