Bulgakov, Sergei Nikolaevich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bulgakov, Sergei Nikolaevich


Born June 16, 1871, in Livny; died July 13, 1944, in Paris. Russian bourgeois economist, philosopher, and theologian. Professor of political economy in Kiev (1901-06) and Moscow (1906-18). In 1918 he entered the priesthood. He lived as an émigré after 1923 and became professor at the Russian Theological Institute in Paris in 1925.

Bulgakov began with “legal Marxism” (Markets in Capitalist Production, 1897; Capitalism and Agriculture, vols. 1-2, 1900) and erroneously asserted that the Marxist theory of capitalist development does not apply to small agricultural production in Russia. He tried to combine Marxism with I. Kant’s critical gnoseology; later he turned to religious philosophy and Christianity (the collection From Marxism to Idealism, 1903). From this position, which combined Christian teaching with the philosophical conceptions of F. Schelling (philosophy of nature and philosophy of identity) and VI. Solov’ev (system of absolute oneness and the teaching of godmanhood), Bulgakov attacked Marxism as well as positivism and atheism (the collections Landmarks, 1909, Two Cities, vols. 1-2, 1911). Bulgakov tried to solve sociopolitical problems with the help of religious metaphysics (The Philosophy of Economics, 1912). Bulgakov’s conceptions were given their final form in the book The Unfading Light, in which religious philosophy, which, in Bulgakov’s opinion, has “one universal problem—the problem of god and only of god” (Moscow, 1917, p. 76), has already developed into a theology. Bulgakov’s basic ideas are the system of absolute oneness and the teaching about holy Sofia, of whom Bulgakov considered the mother of god to be the embodiment. According to Bulgakov, the world is a revelation or embodiment of god and, therefore, life on earth has to be Christianized. Marxists sharply criticized Bulgakov’s economic and philosophical views and his political position (see V. I. Lenin, “Agrarnyi vopros i ‘kritiki Marksa,’ ” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 5; “O ‘Vekhakh,’ ” ibid., vol. 19).


O bogochelovechestve, parts 1-3. Paris-Tallin, 1933-45.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.