, Volume 64, Issue 3-4, pp 183-204
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Different concepts of personality: Nikolaj Berdjaev and Sergej Bulgakov

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Abstract

The main concern of both Berdjaev’s and Bulgakov’s philosophical strivings consists in developing a concept of the person as the foundation of human dignity and creativity within a Christian worldview. Once attracted by Marxism with its emphasis on human dignity and social justice, they started to struggle against Marxism’s atheist materialism because of its lack of a concept of person. However, the same concern will lead both thinkers down very different paths with different consequences. This paper argues that, even though Berdjaev has become famous as a philosopher of the person and a herald of creative ethics, Bulgakov developed a more solid Christian justification of the same claims. Both systems are presented by means of comparing some crucial notions within their concepts of personality—potentiality, trinity and autonomy.

Sections of this paper were given at “Theology of Person in Eastern and Western Christianity”, 21–24 October 2010, Monastero di Bose, Italy, organized by St. Andrew’s Biblical Theological Institute, Moscow. I am grateful to the comments of Edward M. Świderski, Josephien van Kessel and Brandon Gallaher on an earlier version of this paper.