Symposion. A Journal of Russian Thought.


The new annual Symposion. A Journal of Russian Thought announces a call for papers devoted to the past, present and future of Russian philosophy and its interactions with Western and Eastern intellectual traditions. Articles up to 25 pp. and reviews up to 5 pp., in English, to be submitted as computer files (Macintosh compatible) and 3 hard copies.

Please send all correspondence and review submissions to

Dr. Thomas Epstein, Co-Editor

Symposion. A Journal of Russian Thought

29 Brenton Avenue

Providence, R.I. 02906

or by e-mail Thomas Epstein

The first issue came out in November 1996. Subscriptions are available from Charles Schlacks, Jr., Publisher, University of Southern California, The Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies, 344 Salvatori Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1694. The subscription price is $15.00 for individuals and $20.00 for institutions; an additional charge of $2.00 for domestic and $2.50 for foreign postage.

Managing Editors:

  • Robert Bird, Yale University
  • Mikhail Epstein, Emory University
  • Thomas Epstein, Brown University

  • Advisory Board:

  • Eve Adler, Middlebury College
  • Edith Clowes, Purdue University
  • Bernice Glatzer-Rosenthal, Fordham University (New York)
  • Michael Hagemeister, Bochum (Germany)
  • George L. Kline, Bryn Mawr University
  • Walter Lacqueur, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D. C.; Institute of Contemporary History (London)
  • Jean-Francois Lyotard, Emory University
  • Daniela Rizzi, University of Trento (Italy)
  • James Scanlan, Ohio State University
  • Jonathan Sutton, University of Leeds (UK)
  • Victor Terras, Brown University
  • Ol’ga Vainshtein, Russian State Humanitarian University (Moscow)
  • Tomas Venclova, Yale University
  • James West, University of Washington

    From the Editors of Symposion (Introduction to #1)

    Surveying the landscape of thought in our day leads one to hope and despair. If the nineteenth century was an age of optimism, and the twentieth an age of pessimism, then we now experience a time both optimistic and pessimistic, a time in which ambivalence stands shoulder to shoulder with ambiguity. As we look ahead, we increasingly look back; we try to reflect on the past, but, no matter how we might want to, we are unable to restore what is lost.

    This new dualism is reflected in the study of Russian thought in the West. The analysis of Russian thinkers and ideas is usually profoundly historical, a past-tense narrative about what is felt to be fully and irrevocably past. Attempts to point to the relevance or vitality of Russian thought commonly remain within the Western conception of relevance. Like the Conquistadors extracting Inca gold from the temple of the Sun King, we seem to have nothing to learn from Solovyov, Florensky, Bakhtin, except what we were already accustomed to. There is little willingness or ability to rise above one’s immediate context; we all suffer deeply from what Dostoevsky called ‘the worship of the fact,’ demanding that our world be accepted as it is, without questioning whether it might profit from becoming something different. Yet one fundamental feature of Russian thought is its openness towards the future, its striving to reveal hermeneutic or ontological levels of a shared reality capable of sustaining substantive dialogue between different people concerning the basic questions. To a large degree, it is for us to seek an effective meeting with Russian thought, for us to accept its invitation to listen and hear to new word, however strange it might seem at times.

    A symposion is the perfect venue for such a meeting: here various people gather around a single table with the common goal of intellectual and spiritual communion. Of those who have gathered around this imagined table, some are Russians seeking to understand the West in their own terms, some are Westerners seeking to understand Russia. Here we all meet and discuss these issues in our own way, but with open ears and minds. The only condition for participation is the putting-aside of all preconceptions regarding what is past and what is yet to come: here we must only be open to the intellectual current that has begun to flow between East and West.

    Symposion is table-talk. The issue before you contains a mix of works united by their orientation towards Russia and their openness to the future, and to that which, though past, remains to be understood. We open with a couple considerations of the concept of the symposion, by Andrei Shishkin and Mikhail Epstein. Then, Alexei Chernyakov and Mikhail Epstein examine how Russia is currently seeking to resume its philosophical calling in the post-modern age. Igor Vishnevetsky explores a post-modern aspect of the quintessentially modern writer, Andrei Bely, while testing the limits of literary hermeneutics. The documentary section of our journal presents one past encounter between Russian thought and America — that which occured between the YMCA and Sergius Bulgakov, — and facilitates the future encounter between the anglophonic world and Aleksei Losev, the last of the Russian Mohicans. Finally, the review section presents a view how Russian thought is being studied and understood in the West.

    We hope that this symposion will become one more landmark on the way towards a common understanding and comprehensive communion. In this connection, the editors have two requests for those who have resolved to leaf through its pages. We ask that the reader participate with open mind and heart, and then he or she then consider contributing to the continuance of these annual Symposia.

    The linked materials are presented here in electronic form.

    Contents #1 (1996)

    From the Editors

    The Banquet

    Mikhail Epstein, "Symposion and Russian Filosofia"

    Andrei Shishkin, “From the Literary History of the Russian Symposion”

    The Future of Russian Philosophy

    Alexei Chernyakov "The Consolation of Philosophy Today"

    Mikhail Epstein "The Phoenix of Philosophy: On the Meaning and Significance of Contemporary Russian Thought"

    The Russian Logos

    Igor Vishnevetsky "Poetic Dominion in the Work of Andrei Bely”

    Publications and Documents

    In partibus infidelium: Sergius Bulgakov and the YMCA (1871-1944) by Robert Bird

    Aleksei Losev, from The Dialectic of Myth, translated by Vladimir Marchenkov


    Nikolai Leskov, Schism in High Society (I. Christine Weinberg)

    Russian Philosophy after Communism, ed. J. Scanlan (Victor Terras)

    Simeon Frank, Man’s Soul. Translated by Boris Jakim (Robert Slesinski)

    Jonathan Sutton, Traditions in New Freedom ; V. Senatov, Filosofiia istorii staroobriadchestva. (Nicolai Petro)

    Iver Neumann, Russia and the Idea of Europe (Nicolai Petro)

    Philip Boobbyer, Simeon Frank (Boris Jakim)

    Vladimir Solovyov, White Lily . Translated by Boris Jakim (Alexis Gibson)

    Contents #2 (1997)

    The Ways of Modern Russian Thought

    Vitalii Kovalev, “Diasophic Odysseys: Odyssey the First”

    Ilya K. Mengden, "Clay Spirited"

    Mikhail Epstein. "On the Stature of Things in Russian Thought"

    Anesa Miller-Pogacar, "Introduction to a Lyrical Archive: Object and Text in the Suspension of Emotion"

    Evert van der Zweerde, "Soviet Scholasticism Revisited"

    The Russian Logos

    Victor Terras, “The Duality of Panpsychism: The poetry of Fedor Sologub”

    Vladimir Marchenkov, "The Orphic Theme in Viacheslav Ivanov"

    Encounters with Catholicism

    Alexei Gibson, "Towards a History of the Russian Catholics"

    Richard Tempest, “Ivan Gagarin: Diplomatist, Diarist, Apostate”


    Pawel Florenski. An den Wasserscheiden des Denkens. 2nd ed. Translated by Sieglinde and Fritz Mierau. Berlin: Edition Kontext, 1994. 328pp. DM 34,80 (paper)
    Pawel Florenski. Denken und Sprache. Ed. Sieglinde and Fritz Mierau. Berlin: Edition Kontext, 1993. 352pp. DM 39,80 (paper)
    Pawel Florenski. Namen. Ed. Sieglinde and Fritz Mierau. Berlin: Edition Kontext, 1994. 272pp. DM 39,80 (paper) (Victor Terras)

    Shadja V. Drury. Alexander Kojeve; The Roots of Postmodern Politics (Igor Vishnevetsky)

    Russian Religious Thought. Eds. Judith Deutsch Kornblatt and Richard F. Gustafson. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1996. 266p. $53.00 (cloth) $21.95 (paper) (Boris Jakim)

    Sergei Bulgakov. Sophia, The Wisdom of God: An Outline of Sophiology. Foreword by Christopher Bamford. Revised Edition. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1993. 155p. $17.95 (paper) (Robert Slesinski)

    Vladimir Solovyov. Lectures on Divine Humanity. Translated by Peter Zouboff. Revised and edited by Boris Jakim. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1995. 189p. $18.95 (paper) (Robert Slesinski)

    G. S. Smith, ed. The Letters of D. S. Mirsky to P. P. Suvchinskii, 1922-1931. Birmingham Slavonic Monographs, No. 26. Birmingham: Department of Russian Language and Literature, University of Birmingham, 1995. viii + 238pp. £16.00 (paper) (Robert Bird)

    Pawel Florenski. Leben und Denken. Band 1. Eds. Fritz und Sieglinde Mierau. Trans. Fritz Mierau. Ostfildern: Edition tertium, 1995. 301p. 48DM (cloth)
    Andrej Bely — Pawel Florenski. “…nicht anders als über die Seele des anderen.” Der Briefwechsel. Texte. Eds. Fritz and Sieglinde Mierau. Ostfildern: Edition tertium, 1994. 197p. 38DM (paper) (Robert Bird)

    L. P. Karsavin. O nachalakh. Edited, with postscript by A. K. Klement’ev. St. Petersburg: YMCA-Press, 1994. 376p. (paper) (Robert Slesinski)

    Boris Zaitsev. Dni. Prepared, edited, and with notes by A. K. Klement’ev. Foreword by O. Rostova. Moscow-Paris: YMCA-Press/Russkii Put’, 1995. (cloth)(Boris Jakim)

    Andrzej Walicki. Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: the Rise and Fall of the Communist Utopia. Stanford University Press, 1995, 641 pp. $65.00 (cloth) (Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal)

    "Filosofiia filologii, kruglyi stol, 20 sentiabria 1995 g.” Ed. S. Zenkin. Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie No. 17 (1996). 45-93. (Vladimir Marchenkov)

    Aleksandr Etkind. Sodom i Psikheia. Ocherki intellektual’noi istorii Serebrianogo veka. Moscow: ITS-Garant, 1996. 413p. (paper) (Gleb Morev)

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995. 135p. $15 (cloth)
    Nicolai N. Petro. The Rebirth of Russian Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. 226p. $ 39.99 (cloth)
    The Russian Mentality: Dictionary . Ed. Andrzej Lazari. Katowice, Slask, 1995. 135p. (paper) (Jonatan Sutton)

    Jutta Scherrer, Requiem für den Roten Oktober: Rußlands Intelligenzija im Umbruch 1986 - 1996. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 1996. 262 p. (Evert van der Zweerde)

    Related Web sites:

    Russian Philosophy Forum

    Society for the Study of Russian Religious Thought

    Overview of Russian philosophy

    Gallery of Russian Thinkers

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