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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

Bulgakov and Milbank: towards a critique of secular reason

Nikita Syundyukov, Senior Lecturer, the Northwestern Institute of RANEPA
pp. 75–98
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2023_48_75
The article is dedicated to the comparative analysis of the phenomenon of secularism in the works of the Russian philosopher and theologian Fr. Sergius Bulgakov and the English theologian John Milbank. The specifics of the concept of “secularism”, its relation to the tradition of russian religious philosophy are revealed. The multidimensional nature of this relationship is emphasized: Russian thought is described both as a reaction to modern secularism and as its direct continuation. Although at the moment researchers have not reached consensus on determining the nature of the connection between Russian religious philosophy and secularism, the very fact of this connection seems to be beyond doubt. Resorting to Milbank’s theory, the author reveals the internal contradictions of secular reason: on the one hand, it is assumed to be autonomous and having the possibilities of real political action, on the other hand, it is described as constructed and derived. It is noted that this contradiction is due to the genealogy of secularism, which roots lie in the nominalist theology focused on univocal concepts. This aspect plays a crucial role in the construction of the paradigm of “autonomy of political reason”, which determines the course of development of the modern era. Bulgakov’s thought confirms Milbank’s thesis: secularized sciences, such as sociology and economics, always have a hidden theological and metaphysical basis underlying the unity of their construction. Further analysis focuses on the criticism of economic theory carried out by Milbank and Bulgakov: it is revealed that Hegel, being involved in the genealogy of the “autonomy of political reason”, determined the course of development of such modern ideologies as liberalism and Marxism. Based on the results obtained, the author, referring to the theses of Bulgakov and Milbank, suggests the possibility of developing an alternative model of modernity based on analogical, teleological and sophiological approaches.
Keywords: theology, secularity, autonomy of political reason, sophiology, political economy, analogy, univocality, nominalism, teleology
For citation: Syundyukov N. K. (2023). “Bulgakov and Milbank: towards a critique of secular reason”. The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute, iss. 48, pp. 75–98.

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