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V. Alexandrovskaya Philosophic propaedeutics

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^ 4. Father Sergiy Bulgakov

  1. Biography:

-he was born in 1871 in Orlovskaya province in the family of a priest. He graduated from the law faculty of Moscow university and became a professor of political economics in Kyiv polytechnic institute in 1901.

  • the ideas of his main work are:

  • the main feature of a human consciousness is faith. “ Faith has two aspects: subjective aspiration… a human question, and objective revelation… God’s answer”;

  • “ Religious truth is universal”. A substitution of religious idealism for Catholicism (universality) is the result of spiritual immaturity;

  • “Religious truth is a non-stop uttering, bearing word symbols for its embodiment”;

  • conscience is light, coming from God for good and evil distinguishing.

  1. He approved of a doctrine of antinomic character of religious consciousness and used it in his works. He researched the main antinomy of God transcendence and the immanence in the world:

  • an Absolute is a divine nothing, coming over the world limits, but at the same time an Absolute “supposes itself to be God, consequently, it accepts in itself the distinction of God and the world and a person in it”.

  • God is born with world and in the world”. Here comes the possibility of God defining as immanent-transcendent one, transforming from his transcendence and absolute monism to immanence and some dualism”;

  • “Religious philosophy doesn’t have more important problem than the one of the Divine Nothing sense.

  • S. Bulgakov points out a single way of religious consciousness – acceptance of the fact that the transition from absolute to relative is done by the creation of the world from nothing;

  • “Creation is emanation plus something new created by “Let it be!” principle”

  • “next to super absolute being, being is expressed in which an Absolute acts as the Creator, it’s realized in it, and in this sense the world is developing God”.

Thus, the world is theophany and theogony.

  1. In his works Bulgakov touched upon the question of ideas. He showed the difference between ideas and notions: “ in an idea a general and an individual exist as a single, an ancestral personality of an individual and a collective family individuality are joined. In an idea a family exists as a completeness of all its individuals, in their unique peculiarities”.

  2. He made distinctions between divine personality and divine nature:

  • divine spirit is a triunity personality and a single nature that can be called God;

  • divine nature is a positive all unity, including “everything that corresponds to a divine without any limits”;

  • there is some “ analogical identity” between God and a person.

  1. Bulgakov pointed out the forth state of God – Sophia. Sophia is an organic unity of all creatures’ ideas:

  • divine Sophia is not a personality, its state is Logos, revealing the Father as demiurge state;

  • a created Sophia is a creature close to divine Sophia. “Everything in a divine and created world – divine and created Sophia equals in content. One and the same Sophia is revealed both in God and in a creature”.

Thus, positive content of the world is not newly created by God: it equals the content that has already existed in God.

“Every creature has a Sophia character as it possesses positive content or idea which is its base or a norm. But one shouldn’t forget that creatures have another aspect – the low one, matter as “nothing”, raised up to the level of being and full of a strive for embodying Sophia origin in itself”.

So, in the lecture we have considered the history and main ideas of Russian philosophy.

Lecture 7

Western philosophy of the 19th-20th centuries


    1. Classical philosophy crises.

    2. Positivism.

    3. Neo-positivism

^ 1. Classical philosophy crises.

1. General characteristic

By the 40-50ies of the 19th century there appeared a necessity in new, non-classical philosophy forms:

  • the first philosophers, who reconsidered classical philosophy, were K Marx and F. Engels, they were followed by V.I. Lenin. Marxist philosophy developed a new conception of the world on the basis of rationalist orientation of classical thought deepening and its adherence to science; but being a non-classical form of philosophy, Marxist philosophy didn’t accept anticlassical orientation;

  • the first reconsidering of classical philosophy principles started with anticlassical approaches. This trend in philosophy was implemented by S. Kierkegaard and F. Nietzsche . A radical reappraisal of values, the necessity of which was caused by a spiritual crises, connected with the crises of western civilization, was completely based on the practice of the classical thought;

  • but a powerful ideological movement, directed at the defence and development of the classical philosophy traditions resisted anticlassical orientation of the 19th-20th centuries;

  • quite opposite ideas about values and traditions of philosophy in classical and non-classical philosophers’ opinion lead to the appearance of the inevitable civilization and cultural crises. This lead to the appearance of philosophical trends aiming at preservation of classical legacy;

  • in the 70ies of the 19th century there appeared neo-thomism – a trend in religious philosophy aiming at the preservation of classical roots. The trend was supported by Catholic Church.

Conclusion: during the 19th-20th centuries an ideological conflict was observed in non Marxist philosophy, the expressions of which were “radical nihilism” and conservative traditionalism, that lead to the intensive processes of the classics reconsideration.

2. Innovatory ideas in A. Schopenhauer and S. Kierkegaard philosophy.

  1. A. Schopenhauer (1788-1860) wrote a book “The world as will and imagination”, where he expressed his ideas about will and intellect on the basis of Kant’s idea of the practical intellect primacy, the main element of which was free will. Schopenhauer’s main ideas are:

  • the world is imagination; the imagination has two sides: a subject and an object. A subject is the one who cognizes everything, he is not cognized by anybody. An object as something cognized is conditioned by a priory forms of space and time;

  • to create the world from a plurality of imagination one subject is enough; with the subject disappearance there is no world as imagination. Consequently, a subject and an object are inseparable; each of the two parts is understood by means of the other one;

  • A. Schopenhauer paid much attention to the causality question research. Kant saw a priori forms in space and time. A. Schopenhauer expressed the idea of spatial and temporal sense regulation by intellect in cognitive cosmos with the help of the category of causality. “Only when intellect actively applies its single form - causality law – an important transformation takes place and a subjective feeling becomes an objective intuition”;

  • the principle of causality is temporal succession, connected with some definite space, the presence in a place of relatively determined time;

  • in his work Schopenhauer expressed a supposition that the essence of our being is will:

= a person is a cognizing subject and a body as well. A body is given to him in two different ways: on the one hand, as an object among other objects, on the other one – as “directly cognized by somebody”, that can be defined as will;

= “The act of will and a corporal action is one and the same thing, but they are differently expressed: spontaneously – on the one hand, and as rational contemplation – on the other hand”;

= a body is will, constituting a spontaneous object of self-consciousness. This will doesn’t return to the world of consciousness;

= “Will is inner substance, a core of any private thing and of everything, a blind force in nature, it’s also given in a rational human behaviour, but there is a great difference in expression, though the essence remains the same”;

  • He criticized the notion of “intellect” in classical philosophy. He declared “intellect” a fiction. The notion of will must be considered instead of intellect.

Conclusion: thus, the “mythology of intellect” of classical philosophy was substituted with Schopenhauer’s idealistic “mythology of will”. In his doctrine he introduced will independent of rational control; besides, will was directed at the world and the Universe.

  1. Kierkegaard (1813-1855). His first work on philosophy was “The idea of irony”, in which a romantic understanding of irony was opposed to Socrates one. His next work was “Fear and trembling” (1843), in which the author revealed the essence of faith:

  • faith leads a person out of borders of epic ideal of life;

  • faith is a paradox and a fear of God as the endless opportunity. “In fear there is a possibility of freedom”. “ Fear forms a “pupil of possibility” and a “knight of faith”;

  • Kierkegaard believed that philosophy and Christianity couldn’t be reconciled. A believer can’t philosophize as if there were no Christianity;

  • In his works Kierkegaard raised a question of possibility, fear and despair:

= a person chooses his being, so his existential reality is not so much a necessity as a possibility. Everything is equally possible and really achievable;

= existence is freedom and possibility not to choose, to be paralyzed in front of the threat of being and dying. Reality is given as a possibility and a fear. A possibility refers us to future: future in time is given as a possibility;

= fear characterizes human relationships with the world, despair characterizes human relationships with himself without understanding personal essence.

3. Husserl’s phenomenology.

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is a founder of phenomenology:

  • Heidegger in the work “Time and being” wrote: “phenomenology is a conception of method, characterized by a phrase: back to things!”;

  • A motto of phenomenology is an appeal to things themselves, free from complex words. In a fundamental philosophy there can be only “stable evidences “. In the work “Logical research” he wrote that there was no science without evidence;

  • The borders of evidence are defined by the borders of our knowledge, that’s why one should look for something that can’t be refused. This phenomenological intention must be realized through the description of “phenomena”;

  • Husserl believed that until incontrovertible evidence is found, it’s necessary to abstain from any judgments;

  • phenomenology is a science about essence, not facts. A phenomenologist is not interested in this or that moral norm; he is interested in why it is a norm;

  • the conditions of shame, love, justice etc. are subject to phenomenological analysis;

  • the essence is understood when a researcher observes an object without any interest, without any prejudices.

Thus, phenomenology is a science, based on analysis and essence description. Unlike psychologist, a phenomenologist studies not private facts, but universal essence. There are two trends in phenomenology: idealistic and realistic. The first one is founded by Husserl: having come back to things, he found the only reality – consciousness; the second one is founded by Schiller and based on the objectivity of structurally organized things.

Conclusion: phenomenology influenced much the development of psychology, anthropology, psychiatry and human knowledge on the whole.

2. Positivism

1. General characteristic.

  1. Preconditions of positivism birth:

  • positivism is a complex trend, dominant in European philosophy, politics, pedagogics and literature from 1840 to 1814;

  • Europe was becoming industrialized, large-scale social changes took place;

  • Scientific achievements were applied in practice; the number of cities grew, transportation system and medicine were successfully developed;

  • New ways of different problems salvation were found (in applied science, free exchange);

  • Social progress became obvious;

  • In 1830-1890 considerable scientific achievements were observed in mathematics, geometry, physics, chemistry, microbiology;

  • But industrialization had negative sides: these were the loss of social balance, struggle for the spheres of influence and commodity markets, poverty of proletariat.

  1. In different countries positivism was implemented in cultural traditions in different ways. In France it added Cartesian and Enlightenment understanding. In England it developed on the basis of empiricism and utilitarianism, in Germany – alongside with materialistic monism.

  2. There is a set of peculiar features, allowing to consider positivism as a trend of philosophy:

  • it stresses the primacy of science;

  • natural science method is applied not only for nature but for society research;

  • sociology is a result of philosophical programme of positivism;

  • positivism accepts science as the only mean for solving all the problems;

  • it characterized by the faith in unchangeable nature of progress, future well-being;

  • main enlightenment problems are present in positivism. A belief in scientific rationality and secular understanding of culture;

  • “ positive character” of science is connected with the struggle against idealistic and spiritualistic reality understanding.

2. The first and the second positivism (Kont, Spencer, Mach).

  1. Kont (1798-1857) in his book “Positive philosophy course” expressed main moments of positive philosophy formation:

  • it’s necessary to make a thorough scientific research of a society for the reorganization of the society itself and for the overcoming a social crises;

  • for the realization of the task it’s necessary to develop scientific sociology. Its aim is to research the laws, necessary for foreseeing and to research the forecast, necessary for the influence on people and nature;

  • it’s a science that will give a power over nature to a person. Kont was sure in theoretical nature of scientific cognition, he separated it from technical practical knowledge;

  • in some cases Kont blamed the research of narrow specialization, the abundant use of calculations, that’s why in science one should
    ”trust not scientists but true philosophers”. But further science development disapproved of these Kont’s ideas.

  • In his work Kont defined sociology as a social physics. He pointed out its main aspects:

= social statics researcher the terms of order; dynamics studies the laws of progress;

= a human progress was made in accordance with naturally necessary stages;

= social physics is a necessary prerequisite of rational politics;

  • Kont classified sciences, taking mathematics as a basis and put them in the order of complexity: astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, sociology;

  1. Spencer is a founder of evolutionist positivism. In his works “The hypothesis of development” (1852) and “ The basis of psychology” (1855) he developed the evolutionist theory.

  • In the book “Main origins” Spencer expressed the system of synthetic philosophy, in which a complex question of science and religion interrelation is included:

= the last reality is nit cognizable and the Universe is a mystery, that is confirmed by both religion and science: “Any religious theory is an a priory theory of universe, and they all accept the world to be a mystery”;

= a scientist is surrounded with non-stop changes, neither the beginning nor the end of which can be found. Thus, sciences are referred to an absolute, not available for relative knowledge, and religion is given only a slight image of truth;

= science and religion are compatible, as they both accept an absolute: “If the task of religion is to support the sense of mystery, then the task of science is to enlarge the cognition of a relative”; religion and science are the “two poles of a thought – positive and negative”; the intensity of one of them rises with the rise of the intensity of the other one.

  • In his works Spencer raised a question of the Universe evolution. He gave the evolution following characteristics:

= the first one – a transition from a less connected to a more connected form (e.g. the evolution of solar system from fog);

= the second one – a transition from homogeneous state to heterogeneous;

= the third characteristic – a transition from indefinite to definite condition;

= “evolution is a matter integrity, accompanied by a disperse of motion; matter in it is transformed from an indefinite and non-connected homogeneity to a definite and connected one, while the preserved motion suffers parallel transformation”;

Thus, it was Spencer who first introduced the notion of evolution, and some years later the notion was applied by Charles Darwin in biology.

  1. Mach (1838-1916) is the author of “ Analysis of feelings and physical and psychic interrelation” (1900) and “Cognition and delusion” (1905). In these works he came to a conclusion that cognition was a process of progressive adaptation to the environment;

  • sensations are a global fact, a form of a living organism accommodation to the environment;

  • scientific cognition is defined as a biological event: “A scientific research just continuous and makes the life process perfect”:

= “ science appears in a definite sphere of experience”;

= the results of the process are the elements of thinking, capable of representing the sphere as the whole.


  1. Henry Rikkert. Main idea if his philosophy is: to cognize means to judge on the basis of truth as a value.

  2. He systematized the results of the organic cognition theory and tried to ground the autonomy of historical cognition:

  • in the work “ Introduction into transcendent philosophy. Object and subject of cognition” (1892) he analyzed the sense of a subject and object antithesis:

= as the antithesis of psychophysical individuality and the environment;

= as the antithesis of consciousness and corporal reality around it;

= as the antithesis of clear consciousness activity and its content;

  • a presentation and a represented are two objects of consciousness content: their connection is the connection between two objects of thinking.

  1. In the work “ Borders of science natural notions formation” (1896-1902) Rikkert showed the autonomy of historical cognition: a difference between nomothetic and ideographic sciences:

  • the difference between these sciences is a methodological one, making different conceptions precise;

  • nature is reality in the respect of the whole, studied with the aim of uniformity establishing;

  • in this work Rikkert pointed out history as a single science, capable of finding a cognition form, storing something unique and individual: “ History is reality in the respect of the private as only private really happens”.

Thus, one and the same reality acts as “nature” in a general sense and as history in the respect of the private”.

Conclusion: from Rikkets researches, the opposition of nature and history loses its objective metaphysical idea, transforming into the opposition of the methodological level.

^ 4.Pragmatism in the USA (Pierce, James, Dewey)

  1. The founders of pragmatism were American philosophers Pierce (1839-1914), James (1842-1910) and Dewey (1859-1952).

  • they criticized early existing philosophy and considered it to be isolated from life, observance and abstractness;

  • philosophy must be not a thinking over the origin of being and cognition, but a general method of real life questions solving;

  • in 1878 Pierce expressed the idea of our beliefs to be the rules for action. James explained it like this: to understand the essence of any statement means to define the mean which can be caused by this statement;

  • from the mentioned above facts, pragmatists came to a conclusion that philosophy mobilized abilities for philosophizing , that every person possessed while addressing facts and actions;

  • everything, that can tell a person a way out of a definite situation, is true. In this respect science and religion are equal. James wrote: “If religious ideas turn out to be life valuable, they will be true up to the degree of their use for it”.

Thus, pragmatists substituted the notion of truth with the one of use. Consequently, the perspective ideas in pragmatism were mixed with philosophical delusions. The perspective ideas in pragmatism were:

  • the research of irrational forms of spiritual and corresponding to them physiological processes;

  • the search of the world unity and the unity of physiological and psychological processes.

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