Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Studies
Liberalism in Russia is one of the most complex, multifaced and, indeed, controversial phenomena in the history of political thought. Values and practices traditionally associated with Western liberalism—such as individual freedom, property rights, or the rule of law—have often emerged ambiguously in the Russian historical experience through different dimensions and combinations. Economic and political liberalism have often appeared disjointed, and liberal projects have been shaped by local circumstances, evolved in response to secular challenges and developed within often rapidly-changing institutional and international settings. This third volume of the Reset DOC “Russia Workshop” collects a selection of the Dimensions and Challenges of Russian Liberalism conference proceedings, providing a broad set of insights into the Russian liberal experience through a dialogue between past and present, and intellectual and empirical contextualization, involving historians, jurists, political scientists and theorists. The first part focuses on the Imperial period, analyzing the political philosophy and peculiarities of pre-revolutionary Russian liberalism, its relations with the rule of law (Pravovoe Gosudarstvo), and its institutionalization within the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets). The second part focuses on Soviet times, when liberal undercurrents emerged under the surface of the official Marxist-Leninist ideology. After Stalin’s death, the “thaw intelligentsia” of Soviet dissidents and human rights defenders represented a new liberal dimension in late Soviet history, while the reforms of Gorbachev’s “New Thinking” became a substitute for liberalism in the final decade of the USSR. The third part focuses on the “time of troubles” under the Yeltsin presidency, and assesses the impact of liberal values and ethics, the bureaucratic difficulties in adapting to change, and the paradoxes of liberal reforms during the transition to post-Soviet Russia. Despite Russian liberals having begun to draw lessons from previous failures, their project was severely challenged by the rise of Vladimir Putin. Hence, the fourth part focuses on the 2000s, when the liberal alternative in Russian politics confronted the ascendance of Putin, surviving in parts of Russian culture and in the mindset of technocrats and “system liberals”. Today, however, the Russian liberal project faces the limits of reform cycles of public administration, suffers from a lack of federalist attitude in politics and is externally challenged from an illiberal world order. All this asks us to consider: what is the likelihood of a “reboot” of Russian liberalism?
My book examines the function and development of the cult of saints in Coptic Egypt. For this purpose I focus primarily on the material provided by the texts forming the Coptic hagiographical tradition of the early Christian martyr Philotheus of Antioch, and more specifically – the Martyrdom of St Philotheus of Antioch (Pierpont Morgan M583). This Martyrdom is a reflection of a once flourishing cult which is attested in Egypt by rich textual and material evidence. This text enjoyed great popularity not only in Egypt, but also in other countries of the Christian East, since his dossier includes texts in Coptic, Georgian, Ethiopic, and Arabic. This work examines the literary and historical background of the Martyrdom of Philotheus and similar hagiographical texts. It also explores the goals and concerns of the authors and editors of Coptic martyr passions and their intended audience. I am arguing that these texts were produced in order to perform multiple functions: to justify and promote the cult of a particular saint, as an educational tool, and as an important structural element of liturgical celebrations in honour of the saint.
The concept of sacred insanity is widespread among many religions of the world and through many ages and cultures. The present volume collects the contributions of the symposium Holy Fools and Divine Madmen, held in Munich in 2015. Employing interdisciplinary approaches, these studies cover a wide geographical and cultural range, from Byzantium westward to Italy and Ireland, and eastward to Islamic Iran, and to India and Tibet
What is it to be a work of art? Renowned author and critic Arthur C. Danto addresses this fundamental, complex question. Part philosophical monograph and part memoiristic meditation, What Art Is challenges the popular interpretation that art is an indefinable concept, instead bringing to light the properties that constitute universal meaning. Danto argues that despite varied approaches, a work of art is always defined by two essential criteria: meaning and embodiment, as well as one additional criterion contributed by the viewer: interpretation. Danto crafts his argument in an accessible manner that engages with both philosophy and art across genres and eras, beginning with Plato’s definition of art in The Republic, and continuing through the progress of art as a series of discoveries, including such innovations as perspective, chiaroscuro, and physiognomy. Danto concludes with a fascinating discussion of Andy Warhol’s famous shipping cartons, which are visually indistinguishable from the everyday objects they represent.
What is first philosophy today? In Unity and Aspect, the questioning begins with a new (old) approach to metaphysics: being is implied; it is implied in everything that is; it is an implication. But then, the history of philosophy must be rethought completely – for being implies unity, and time, and the other of time, namely, aspect. The effect on the self and on self-understanding is radical: we can no longer be thought as human beings; rather, reaching back to the ancient Greek name for us (phos), Haas seeks to rearticulate us as illuminating, as illuminating ourselves and others, and as implicated in our illuminations. Unity and Aspect then provokes us to problematize words and deeds, thoughts and things – and this means reconsidering our assumptions about history and survival, meaning and universality, sensibility and intimacy, knowledge and intentionality, action and improvisation, language and truth. And if Haas suspends the privilege enjoyed by our traditional philosophical concepts, this has implications for fields as diverse as ontology and phenomenology, ethics and aesthetics, education and linguistics, law and politics.
The book considers how to make the methodology of business ethics more scientific, especially its normative branch. Storchevoy explores the attempts of economic theory to contribute to the scientific normative analysis of economic behavior, particularly the welfare economics of 1910-1950 and methodological discussions of economics and ethics from 1980-2015. He then examines the development of the methodological structure of business ethics in general since the 1980s and the scientific validity of normative business ethics, including stakeholder theory, the separation thesis, integral social contract theory, corporate social responsibility, virtue ethics and other frameworks. He concludes by suggesting an additional step to make business ethics a more systematic discipline by developing a typology of moral issues and dilemmas. Business Ethics as a Science will be a thought-provoking resource for students and practitioners of business ethics and economists alike.
This book suggests that normative ethics should be developed as a social science, and that this will improve its reputation in business and society. Storchevoy defines four criteria of a good scientific method (clear definitions, correct logic, empirical verification, accurate measurement) and demonstrates how normative ethics can make use of them. He provides a historical review of the methodological evolution of normative ethics and outlines how it was moving in a nonlinear way towards this scientific development by the 16th century. A Scientific Approach to Ethics challenges the reputation of ethics among many within business and business schools as unscientific and argues that it can come to be seen as a scientific discipline able to reveal universal moral truth.
This book examines how Russia, the world’s most complicated country, is governed. As it resumes its place at the centre of global affairs, the book explores Russia’s overarching strategies, and how it organizes itself (or not) in policy areas ranging from foreign policy and national security to health care, education, immigration, science, sport, agriculture, the environment and criminal justice. The book also discusses the structures and institutions on which Russia relies in order to deliver its goals in these areas of national life, as well as what’s to be done, in policy terms, to improve the country’s performance in its first post-Soviet century. Edited by Irvin Studin, the book includes contributions from a tremendous list of Russia’s leading thinkers and specialists, including Alexei Kudrin, Vladimir Mau, Alexander Auzan, Simon Kordonsky, Fyodor Lukyanov, Natalia Zubarevich and Andrey Melville.
Philosophy has never been an obvious life choice, especially in the absence of apparent practical usefulness. The intellectual effort and moral discipline it exacts appeared uninviting “from the outside.” However, the philosophical ideals of theoretical precision and living virtuously are what has shaped the cultural landscape of the West since Antiquity. This paradox arose because the ancients never confined their philosophy to the systematic exposition of doctrine. Orations, treatises, dialogues and letters aimed at persuading people to become lovers of wisdom, not metaphorically, but truly and passionately. Rhetorical feats, logical intricacies, or mystical experience served to recruit adherents, to promote and defend philosophy, to support adherents and guide them towards their goal. Protreptic (from the Greek, “to exhort,” “to convert”) was the literary form that served all these functions. Content and mode of expression varied considerably when targeting classical Greek aristocracy, Hellenistic schoolrooms or members of the early Church where the tradition of protreptic was soon appropriated. This volume seeks to illuminate both the diversity and the continuity of protreptic in the work of a wide range of authors, from Parmenides to Augustine. The persistence of the literary form bears witness to a continued fascination with the call of wisdom.
Big History is a new field that has been gaining ground rapidly around the world. It deals with the universe's grand narrative of 13.8 billion years and attempts to provide a connection between our past, present and future. Appearing in three volumes, this is the first international anthology of Big History. The first volume, Our Place in the Universe: An Introduction to Big History, provides an overview and notes trends in Big History today. The second volume, Education and Understanding: Big History around the World, considers humanity's search for meaning and expression.
The third volume, The Ways that Big History Works: Cosmos, Life, Society and our Future, reflects on how Big History helps us understand the nature of our existence and consider the pathways to our future. This volume will challenge and excite your vision of your own life as well as focus on the new discoveries happening around us. Together with the authors, who come from all the inhabited continents of our planet, you will embark on a fascinating trip into the depths of time and space, and—we hope—will join us in coming to an understanding of our origins and our future.
The book prepared for the purposes of The 2nd World Congress on Logic and Religion, organised by the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Warsaw.
The book contains the final version of the abstracts submitted by majority of speakers.
The book presents the final results of a unique project of transnational cultural cooperation launched by the Institute of Asian Studies and Regional Cooperation at Akita International University. The bilingual anthology provided with a comprehensive introductory article and academic commentary includes haiku by the leading poets from the most representative Akita haiku assocations along with the works by foreign participants from over 20 countries, Compilation, editing, intoductory article, translation from the Japanese into English and academic commentary by Alexander Dolin (with technical assistance of Dr. Hidenori Hiruta).
In 1937, the Soviet Union mounted a national celebration commemorating the centenary of poet Alexander Pushkin’s death. Though already a beloved national literary figure, the scale and feverish pitch of the Pushkin festival was unprecedented. Greetings, Pushkin! presents the first in-depth study of this historic event and follows its manifestations in art, literature, popular culture, education, and politics, while also examining its philosophical underpinnings. Jonathan Brooks Platt looks deeply into the motivations behind the Soviet glorification of a long-dead poet—seemingly at odds with the October revolution’s radical break with the past. He views the Pushkin celebration as a conjunction of two opposing approaches to time and modernity: monumentalism and eschatology. Monumentalism—in pointing to specific moments and individuals as the origin point for cultural narratives, and eschatology—which glorifies ruptures in the chain of art or thought, and the destruction of canons. In the midst of the Great Purge, the Pushkin jubilee was a critical element in the drive toward a nationalist discourse that attempted to unify and subsume the disparate elements of the Soviet Union, supporting the move to “socialism in one country”.
This thought-provoking monograph analyzes long- medium- and short-term global cycles of prosperity, recession, and depression, plotting them against centuries of important world events. Major research on economic and political cycles is integrated to clarify evolving relationships between the global center and its periphery as well as current worldwide economic upheavals and potential future developments. Central to this survey are successive waves of industrial and, later, technological and cybernetic progress, leading to the current era of globalization and the changes of the roles of both Western powers and former minors players, however that will lead to the formation of the world order without a hegemon. Additionally, the authors predict what they term the Great Convergence, the lessening of inequities between the global core and the rest of the world, including the wealth gap between First and Third World nations.
Among the topics in this ambitious volume:
· Why politics is often omitted from economic analysis.
· Why economic cycles are crucial to understanding the modern geopolitical landscape.
· How the aging of the developed world will affect world technological and economic future.<
· The evolving technological forecast for Global North and South.
· Where the U.S. is likely to stand on the future world stage.
Economic Cycles, Crises, and the Global Periphery will inspire discussion and debate among sociologists, global economists, demographers, global historians, and futurologists. This expert knowledge is necessary for further research, proactive response, and preparedness for a new age of sociopolitical change.
“Let's be Logical” is a double invitation. Although logic often refers to a disposition of mind that we all share, this disposition might be confused once its theoretical sources are questioned. The present volume offers thirteen articles that address various aspects of the discipline of logic and its methods, notably formalism, the theory of opposition, mathematical truth, and history of logic. This volume has been prepared with the pedagogical concern of making it accessible to a wide audience of logic and philosophy readers.
The book, being the second part of the fundamental History of New Japanese Poetry, examines the developments in the realm of kindaishi and gendaishi verse of the Meiji – Taisho– early Showa period. The names of the great bards like Takamura Kotaro and Hagiwara Sakutaro, Nakano Shigeharu and Oguma Hideo, Murano Shiro and Nishiwaki Junzaburo , Miyoshi Tatsuji and Kaneko Mitsuharu are introduced along with the names of minor Japanese classics of the time. The concepts of the leading kindaishi and gendaishi schools analyzed in the monograph show the closest interaction of the Japanese authors with their counterparts in the West, which has resulted in the creative fusion of the indigenous and borrowed poetic traditions.The book is richly illustrated with portraits of the poets and lithographs by early modern artists.
The book constitutes the third part of a unique research project presenting to the Western scholars the history of Japanese poetry in the New and Modern times - from the second half of the XIX c. through the end of the XX c.. The book analyzes a brode scope of social and cultural problems scrutinizing the activity of the leading poetic associations and groupings. Literary portraits of the leading poets give a panoramic view of the age.
The general introduction to the book places the traditional genres of Japanese poetry in the national and global context by defining the typical features of tanka and haiku as a specific aesthetic system. The overview of the medieval tanka poetry since the eighth century through the first half of the nineteenth century gives the reader a general idea of the principal poetic and aesthetic concepts, to which later authors would constantly refer.
The new tanka and haiku poetry, which emerged after the Meiji Restoration was the direct successor to the classical medieval schools, transformed and renovated in the age of modernization. Since the end of the nineteenth century, tanka and haiku authors developed a novel worldview by over- coming the restrictions and regulations of the rigid poetic canon.
The pioneers of the new tanka and haiku schools, in their quest for a creative national identity, opposed the overwhel- ming flow of Western culture and instead chose to revitalize the traditional poetics, albeit in a modified form, for which they were nonetheless severely criticized by the shintaishi and kindaishi poets.
The beginning of the romantic revival in tanka was heralded by Yosano Tekkan’s literary criticism and his poetic manifesto. Tekkan was the first tanka poet of the new times who instilled in his verse civil feelings, military vigor, and masculine passion. As a response both to Tekkan’s challenge and to the European decadent trend of the fin de siècle period, there followed the outburst of erotic lyrical confessions by Yosano Akiko. Her work represents a wonderful fusion of the French Symbolist and British Pre-Raphaelite poetics projected onto Japanese tanka. The Myojo journal led by Tekkan and Akiko remained for many years the most significant literary hub in the country.
Another great reformer, Masaoka Shiki, regarded himself and his school mostly within the mainstream of tradition and considered renovation of the classic genres possible only on a conventional basis, not going to any extremes. His major shasei (“reflection of nature”) concept was derived from medieval Chinese aesthetics and had a dramatic impact on both tanka and haiku poetry of the twentieth century. Shiki propagated “objective realism,” focusing first on haiku and then applying the same principles to tanka.
Ito Sachio became the official successor of Shiki and widely promoted rgw shasei theory in his journal Ashibi. The works by Shimagi Akahiko, Nagatsuka Takashi, Koizumi Chikashi, Naka- mura Kenkichi, and other followers of Shiki who rallied around the Araragi poetic journal, eventually gained for the shasei trend poets a dominant position in the world of tanka. Their landscape poetry and “daily routine” sketches were marked by a profound comprehension of the harmony of nature. The poetic genius of Saito Mokichi, with his sharp psychological vision and original interpretation of shasei theory, remained unrivaled in modern Japan.
Some poets of the shasei trend like Tsuchiya Bunmei, Shaku Choku, and Aizu Yaichi studied early medieval art and ancient Japanese poetic monuments in search of new ways.
Meanwhile, Yoshii Isamu, Wakayama Bokusui, Kubota Utsu- bo, and Maeda Yugure chose another path and developed a refined trend of Romanticist and “Naturalist” poetry focused on human sentiment in the current of mundane metamorphoses. They expanded the boundaries of verse and enriched tanka with impressive new imagery. Their poetic collections shaped another colorful facet of the tanka world in the first half of the twentieth century.
The Symbolist spirit represented so brilliantly by Kitahara Hakushu in his kindaishi poetry was also projected onto his early tanka, which were marked by eloquent mannerism with a strong touch of exoticism. However, the evolution of aesthetic concepts later made Hakushu return to traditional values. Thus, his poems composed in the 1930s present a typical Zen vision of the universe.
A fusion of realistic worldview with expressionist techniques makes the poetry by Sasaki Nobutsuna, Kawada Jun,and Kino- shita Rigen the most fascinating product of the new tanka diction.
The poetic concept put forward by Ishikawa Takuboku and Toki Aika is known as the “Life School.” The talent of Takuboku elevated the most prosaic topics taken from daily life to the level of lyrical revelation. His successors were less gifted and eventually the social trend in tanka, which had emerged from the legacy of Takuboku, ended with extremist proletarian propaganda slogans.
In the postwar period the tanka revival contributed greatly to the formation of the new national identity of the Japanese. Kondo Yoshimi, Miya Shuji, Sato Sataro, Saito Fumi, Kimata Osamu, and many other masters of tanka poetry paved the way for the new generations.
The triumph of Tawara Machi, whose tanka collection became the number one bestseller of the twentieth century, proves that the old classic genre is still able to attract the young, overcoming the dogmatic regulations and forging a totally new stylistics.
The introductory chapter to Part II of the book gives a broad overview of the haiku world since the middle of seventeenth century and introduces the reader to the great haijin of the Edo period— Basho, Buson, Issa, et al. Their works laid the foundation of classic haiku and therefore strongly influenced the preferences of the poets after the Meiji Restoration.
New haiku were initiated by the endeavors of Masaoka Shiki, who dared to doubt the authority of Basho, opposing to his poetics the brighter style of Buson. Shiki elaborated and applied to haiku his shasei concept based on the principle of objective realism, which later developed into the most popular poetic theory of the twentieth century and founded a school, which soon would become the mainstream haiku trend in Japan.
After the death of Shiki, his major disciples followed two different paths. Kawahigashi Hekigoto treated shasei theory mostly as a call for further reforms. His concept of the “new trend” in haiku, that is, short verse not bound by any regulations and restrictions, found many adherents. Nagatsuka Ippekiro, Ogiwara Seisensui, Ozaki Hosai, and many other poets were inspired by the idea of non-orthodox haiku. The climax of this movement can be traced in the beautiful and deeply philosophical Zen haiku of Taneda Santoka.
Meanwhile, Takahama Kyoshi remained faithful to the legacy of Shiki and transformed the initial shasei doctrine into a coherent aesthetic teaching. Kyoshi remained for many decades the leader of the “Hototogisu” group and gave his blessing to such renowned poets as Murakami Kijo, Iida Dakotsu, Hara Sekitei, Maeda Fura, and Hino Sojo.
The disciples of Kyoshi who would not support the “flowers and birds” poetics of the old master formed a new society around the old Ashibi journal under the leadership of Mizuhara Shuoshi. The pure and transparent lyricism of Yamaguchi Seishi and Hashimoto Takako can be numbered among the most successful poets of this school.
Another trend in haiku was marked by a powerful humanist drive, which can be regarded as an easily recognizable trait of the poetry of Nakamura Kusatao, Kato Shuson, and Ishida Hakyo. These haiku poets, who became known in the pre-war period as members of “The Search for the Human” school, also shaped the postwar haiku world, instilling in it a vital humanist component. The poets of this trend played a crucial role in the revival of Japanese culture, opening to their readers a window to eternal ethical values and giving them hope in the abyss of pain and humiliation. They brought to life the new generations of authors in Japan and also fostered interest in modern haiku in the West.
The present article, based on field evidence collected in 2017, deals with a very recent phenomenon — the Orthodox Old Believers in Uganda. This faith originated in Russia, however in Uganda all its adherents belong to African ethnic groups. We describe the short by now history and current state of the Old-Believer communities in Uganda and then concentrate on their members’ motivation for converting to Old Believers vs. knowledge of this religion. We show that what brings them to Old Believers is the search for the true faith associated with the original and hence correct way of performing Christian rites. In this we see an intricate interplay of the features typical for authentic African cultures and acquired by them in the course of interaction with the wider world. Basing on our case study, we discuss how globalist and anti-globalist trends manifest themselves in the religious context in contemporary Africa.
The understanding of human consciousness as a kind of computer is insufficient and even irrelevant, taking into account the modern advances in the development of cognitive science. The author argues that a certain paradigm shift in the understanding of human consciousness and its creative abilities takes place. Consciousness is rather dynamic and autopoietic entity that is embedded into environment and intimately related to the human body. Consciousness is embodied, situated and enactive. A great contribution to this conception of human consciousness (mind) is made by Francisco Varela and his followers. Autopoiesis of consciousness means that it is able to maintain its integrity in the processes of self-organization in the permanently changing environment. An autopoietic activity of consciousness it directed to the search of elements that are missed, it longs for completing integral structures. For these reasons, it is possible to create a new, fresh view on the creative activities of consciousness, if we base our notions on the modern theories of complexity, dynamic chaos and self-organization. In the theoretical frames, chaos acquires a creative image; it is not simply a destroying force. Complex structures emerge in chaos and out of chaos. Chaos is organized and it organizes. When destroying, it builds. Chaos has many facets. Chaos is a way of renovation of complex organizations. A periodical immersion of human consciousness into chaos is a way of stimulation of its cognitive and creative activities.
This paper explores how Levinas redefines the traditional notion of prophecy, shifting the emphasis from the content of prophecy to the figure of the prophet, thus making prophetic inspiration a key feature of ethical subjectivity. The principal aim of the paper is to analyse the resulting triangular structure involving God and the Other. This structure is inherently unstable because God is incessantly stepping back in kenotic withdrawal. I show how this fundamental instability is reflected in the structure of the phenomenalisation of God’s glory, the structure of obedience to God’s order, and the structure of the authorship of prophecy. The prophetic experience is marked by heterogeneity; it can never be completely appropriated. Responsibility for the Other brings the subject to light as a witness of the glory of the Infinite, but not as the subject of self-identification.
Academic bibliography of Syriac and Christian Arabic Studies in Russian.
The paper deals with St. Basil's distinction between κήρυγμα (kerygma) and δόγμα (dogma), which has been the subject of much discussion over the last sixty years (Spir. XXVII.66-67).
This paper provides a foundation for a form of phenomenology, namely phenomenological, that rejects the traditional phenomenology of religion in order to provide a cognitive and non-theological discipline in the study of religion. Proposed amendments to phenomenology are based on the ideas of E. Husserl. The simultaneous strict distinction and necessary cooperation between facts and phenomena provided by the impurity of pure consciousness in admitting the outside world might enable the extension of scientific criteria to this reimagined phenomenology. Pure consciousness is considered irreducible to thought and cognitivity (feeling and accordingly, faith, might thus be viewed as a non-cognitive, purely emotional stream). This new comprehension of the phenomenology of religion could represent religion in all its contexts (God, supernatural forces as well as holy places, churches, utensils, texts etc) in the pure consciousness of the believer, as the effects of its structures, namely feeling and thought and their interactions and peculiarities.
This paper aims to rethink the peculiar conception of nothingness at work in Chaadaev’s key writings, the Philosophical Letters and the 1837 Apologia of a Madman, in which this nothingness, unbound by tradition, turns into a total, even revolutionary, ungrounding of the world-whole. This paper works with and through Chaadaev’s texts to expose his conception of immanent nothingness or the void of the Real that completely annihilates or empties out the mechanisms of history and tradition, thereby radically imploding the machinery of modernity. It is our hope that, as a result, Chaadaev’s position appears not only as a neglected genealogical element to contemporary critiques of modernity and its logic of reproduction through tradition and futurity, but also as a contribution to the ongoing critical rethinking of this logic in contemporary theory. Our aim in what follows is less to dwell with the fact that the non-historical void is, in Chaadaev, named “Russia” than it is to traverse the problematic of this terra nullius in order to make visible its aporias and ambivalences, as well as its real utopian force.
Basil of Caesarea’s treatment of the life of Moses in his Hexaemeron is traditionally taken to be dependent on Philo of Alexandria and the Jewish exegetical tradition. Without questioning the fact that Basil knew Philo’s Life of Moses, this paper seeks to demonstrate, however, that in this respect Basil was more indebted to Origen and his tripartite division of philosophy into ethics, physics, and epoptics. This allows not only to make a more balanced assessment of Origen’s influence on Basil, increasingly stressed in recent scholarship, but also to suggest a more nuanced interpretation of Basil’s Address to the youth and his program of the Christian paideia.
Ever since the interlaced exchanges between Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, and Jacob Taubes, the discourse of “political theology” has been a space structured by a set of positions – and oppositions – around a set of concepts: nomos and anomia, justice and katechon, order and nothingness, sovereignty and exception. For Schmitt, it was famously the modern sovereign who decided on the state of exception (to the law) so that a lawful order could be (re-)established. More recently, from Roberto Esposito and Giorgio Agamben to recent work in decolonial and Black studies, many have diagnosed and explored the structure of the constitutive exception at the heart of Western modernity – the way the law (of progress, providence, salvation, universal history, etc.) depends for its workings on that which it excludes, represses, exploits, and covers up. From this perspective, sovereignty becomes the decision on such exclusions and serves to uphold the very power to exclude. If we recall also the discourse of the sovereign subject as specifically modern – grasped, for example, by Hans Blumenberg in the figure of the subject’s “self-assertion” as the foundation of modern scientific worldview and the modern idea of progress – we can appreciate how fundamentally modernity depends on the conjunction of sovereignty, law, and exception. The question of modernity itself – the modern world as a structure of power and exclusion that we have inherited – thus stands at the heart of the political-theological discourse. Given that across the various inflections of political theology, sovereignty has been repeatedly seen as upholding order at the expense of the anomia indexed by the exception, an accompanying interest has emerged across contemporary theory: how to think the nonplace of exception without sovereignty, as ungrounding or fully disinvested from the work of the law (of history, humanity, or the world).
This paper speculatively reconstructs a unique intervention into this ongoing debate from within an early 19th-century Russian context – an intervention that likewise attempts to think the exception immanently, from within, affirming its full nonrelation to, and even nullity vis-à-vis, the Western, Christian-modern (world-historical) regime. However, instead of positioning exception and sovereignty against each other – whether by way of the latter deciding on and repressing the former, or the former absolutely refusing the latter – this intervention re-configures the logic of sovereignty itself, so that the sovereign act becomes an act of uncovering and affirming the void of exception as such (as the void – without tradition, history, or law). Nothingness itself, thought of as totally ungrounding the historical-whole, here becomes operative through and as the sovereign act and the figure of the sovereign.