New Article: Maja Soboleva, Ontologism in the Theoretical Philosophy of Nikolai Bukharin 

Soboleva, M. Ontologism in the Theoretical Philosophy of Nikolai Bukharin. Stud East Eur Thought (2020). LINK


This paper focuses on the theoretical philosophy of Bukharin as developed in his book Filosofskie arabeski (Philosophical Arabesques). I analyze three concepts—perception, being, and dialectics—and show that and how they deviate from the meaning that they commonly have among other Russian Marxists. In this work, Bukharin drafts a theory that can be interpreted as a “relational ontology,” since it focuses on the relations between entities and since these relations are considered to be more fundamental than the entities themselves and provide epistemic access to reality. My examination of Bukharin’s theoretical views shows that he continues Lenin’s tradition of materialist and dialectical thought. That is why, in spite of his innovative approach to some key problems of theoretical philosophy, Bukharin did not go far enough in his studies. His theoretical position appears to be an integral part of his political engagement.

This could be of interest to those who are reading Bukharin alongside Bogdanov:

The background for this consideration was the question, popular among Russian Marxists, of whether we passively reflect the external world or actively form the content of our perceptions. In other words, the question was whether sensory intuition, through which something is given, also contains the concept of an object or whether it is non-conceptual. The answers to this question, which had different ontological implications, caused the opponents to mutually accuse of idealism and subjectivism. And the debate had not only philosophical, but also political consequences. The best-known case of this debate is Lenin’s struggle against Bogdanov’s “idealistic” empiriomonism. This struggle culminated in Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism and was followed by Bogdanov’s disappearance from the political scene.

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