The Orthodox Nationalist: Sergei Bulgakov and ‘Sophia’
Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson presents a new episode of The Orthodox Nationalist, this week concentrating on Sergei Bulgakov (1877-1944) who was one of the most significant Russian religious and social philosophers of the 20th century. Like anything of value, he is wildly and absurdly misinterpreted by scholars who know only the abbreviated and truncated world of nominalist and mechanistic language.
The primary conception of Bulgakov is that of "Sophia" or the world of Plato's Forms. This is the foundation of God's action in the world. They are creations of God and the primary way grace exists through creation. Bulgakov is challenging the nominalism infecting the Greek church at the time as well as capitalism, liberalism and Bolshevism, all identical at their ontological root.
The modern conception of reality is diseased. Nominalism is the doctrine, considered "common sense" in the west, that there is no inherent meaning or value in our perceptions. It has nothing to do with "universals" or "words" except in a radically simplified way. Nominalism says that creation is an arbitrary set of things existing for no reason. Our language reflects this meaninglessness.
Socialism is national in the sense it is idealistic. Our acts assume a world unifying ourselves with our object. There are never merely two things: a subject and an object. These are meaningless unless they are part of a world of meaning. This means they partake in language and hence, are inherently national.
Bulgakov is misinterpreted by both "left" and "right," as his complex doctrine of "Sophia." At most, Sophia is the attempt to reintroduce Platonism - that is, Realism - into a world dying of neurosis created by industry and regimentation. Ritual is the life of medieval man in the same way that regimentation and mass production is the life of the modern. Modern man is not free, he is just neurotically arbitrary.
Presented by Matt Johnson
The Orthodox Nationalist: Sergei Bulgakov and Sophia – TON 020817
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