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Defence PhD thesis Josephien van Kessel


On Friday 13 March 2020 at 12:30 exactly, Josephien van Kessel, office manager of the Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, will defend her PhD thesis in the field of philosophy, 'Sophiology and Modern Society. Sergei Bulgakov’s Conceptualization of an Alternative Modern Society', in the Aula of the Radboud University (Comeniuslaan 2). You are cordially invited to the defense and the subsequent reception. You can register via Marthe Hiev Hamidi.

Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944) developed the Sophiology, the study of the Wisdom of God, as an alternative to Max Weber's sociology as a conceptualization of modern society, and in particular for his "ideal-type" of the "spirit of capitalism'. The leading research question is whether Bulgakov's Sophiology offers a plausible alternative for this.

In the first part of the dissertation, Josephien describes the life circumstances and the intellectual development of Sergei Bulgakov in the Russian Silver Age (1890-1920) that led him to develop what he called Sophiology. In the second part, she analyzes Bulgakov's criticism of the central aspects of Weber's sociological description of modern society and of his sociological instrument, the ideal-type. He particularly rejects Weber's (methodological) individualism and rationalism, as well as the implicit assumptions in his view of man and the world. In the third part, Josephien describes the developments of Sophiology, first as sociology through Bulgakov's references to and criticism of Max Weber and then as social philosophy under the influence of Vladimir Solov'ev (1853-1900). In the fourth part, she concentrates on what Sophiology is as an integration of sociology, philosophy and theology, and what kind of relationship with and engagement in the world and modern society it represents. In the conclusion, the research question is answered affirmatively.