Skip to product information
1 of 1

The Tragedy of Philosophy

The Tragedy of Philosophy

By Sergij Bulgakov

Translated by Stephen Churchyard

302 pp

Regular price $19.95
Regular price Sale price $19.95
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.

About the Book

The Tragedy of Philosophy, written in 1920–1921 during one of the darkest passages of Sergij Bulgakov’s life, is a pivotal work in his career, indispensable to an understanding of the philosophical assumptions informing the mature theological trilogies of his final, Parisian period. It argues that philosophy, of whatever kind, always monologically privileges some single pole of what there is—a “substance” that is in truth constitutively triune. At the book’s center lies the idea of a Trinitarian ontology capable of resisting philosophy’s militant reductionism. Such resistance, for Bulgakov, requires a new conception of the very relationship between philosophy and theology. The Tragedy of Philosophy explores just what such a “critical antinomism” or “religious empiricism” might look like.


“Arguably, no twentieth-century theologian has quite so much caught fire in contemporary theological conversation as Sergij Bulgakov. To the translation of his major and minor trilogies we can now happily add The Tragedy of Philosophy(Philosophy and Dogma). It discloses Bulgakov’s deepest engagement with modern philosophy (especially Kant and German Idealism), and offers his most enduring statement about its flawed greatness. The real point of diagnosing the tragedy of philosophy as the gap between its aspiration for comprehensiveness as against its actual partiality, is not simply to puncture philosophy’s titanic ambition, but to establish realistic expectations in the complex negotiation between theology and philosophy, a diplomacy that can bear fruit only through an understanding of the partiality of philosophy—what Bulgakov calls a heresy, playing on its Greek etymological meaning of ‘choice.’”


“More and more clearly, as translations of his works continue to appear, the figure of Bulgakov is coming into view for Anglophone readers as a colossus bestriding the world of twentieth-century theology. This is an early text, relatively speaking, but one that sheds a wonderfully elucidating light upon the development of his total vision.”


“Sergij Bulgakov’s Tragedy of Philosophy may well be one of the most important unknown theological works of the twentieth century. It is a masterpiece of the Eastern Orthodox theological tradition reinvented for a European context, a profound and complex theological critique of modern western philosophy, particularly of German classical idealism. Any serious attempt to rethink authentic contemporary theology must include The Tragedy of Philosophy. Without any doubt, Bulgakov’s highly original achievement could be considered one of the fundamental theological books for the twenty-first century.”


“The rediscovery of Sergij Bulgakov by English-speaking theology in the last 20 years may prove in hindsight the most important theological event of the early 21st century, and this first English translation of his The Tragedy of Philosophy is a landmark in this process. First published in German translation in 1927 but only in 1993 in its original Russian, it is a monument to the multifarious character of Bulgakov’s genius, bearing witness to him as a thinker living between the twin legacies of East and West, always wrestling with them as if with two angels—not relenting until they blessed him—drawing forth his theology from the bottom of a Eucharistic Chalice nuanced both by the liturgical and Patristic theological vision of Orthodoxy and the best of Western European culture and intellectual formation. We owe an enormous debt to Stephen Churchyard for his magnificent translation (complete with helpful notes and scholarly introduction). In sum, The Tragedy of Philosophy is both Bulgakov’s primary work on the tragic heritage of German Idealism and the first of many Sophiological masterpieces dedicated to the triune basis of reality. It is a literary event.”


About the Author

Sergij Nikolaevich Bulgakov (1871–1944) is now widely regarded as one of the most significant theologians of the twentieth century. After turning away from his seminary education to Marxian social and economic theory, Bulgakov later moved towards idealism, and, finally, back to the Russian Orthodox Church. Expelled from the Soviet Union in 1922, he took refuge, eventually, in Paris, where he helped to set up the Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge, and where he died in 1944.

View full details