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Author: Mihail Buchvarov

Editor's Note: This critical compilation on the "History of Philosophical Thought in Bulgaria" has become a basic reference tool for academic scholarship. It took some fifteen years of work and the consolidated efforts of more than a dozen contributors to fulfill the task. The nominal editorship of Acad. Mihail Buchvarov is undisputed, since his collateral efforts also brought to publishing another two Anthologies - i.e., Anthology of Philosophical Thought /in 2 volumes/ & Anthology of Sociological Thought /in 3 volumes/ - which, ultimately could serve as companion readers to this critical edition. So far, we abstain from further commentaries on the subject but it would have been interesting to compare this book with similar theoretical volumes and on an international scale, ditto.   


The principal trends and fundamental characteristics of Bulgarian philosophical thought can only be understood, if they are studied in accordance with the historical, socio-economic and cultural changes which took place in the thirteen centuries of Bulgaria’s existence as a state formation. On this basis the penetration and influence of Greek, Byzantine and European philosophy upon Bulgarian philosophical culture is elucidated and its importance for European civilization is outlined.

The Bulgarian State was formed in 681 as a result of the union of three ethnic elements: proto-Bulgarians, Slavs and Thracians. They had different languages, a different way of life, culture and mythology. Gradually, out of these ethnic groups a united Bulgarian people began to take shape. The mythology, views and customs
of these ethnic groups merged into a single national Bulgarian culture.

In the 7th and 8th centuries prerequisites for the complete development of a well-formed culture and differentiated theoretical thought in the native language did not exist. The basic sphere in which abstract thinking was apparent up to the 9th century was mythology and the pagan proto-Bulgarian and Slav religions.

The first axiological attitude to the values created by man is expressed in one of Khan Omourtag’s (814-831) inscriptions, ‘Even should a man live well’, part of the text reads, ‘he dies and another is born. Let the one born later, on seeing this inscription, remember the one who wrote it’. However, this inscription and others like it can be referred to the formation of a pre-Christian philosophical culture.

Two historical facts played a special part in the development of feudal society in Bulgaria: the evolvement of Slav letters by the brothers Cyril and Methodius (855) and the adoption of Christianity as the unified religion of the Bulgarian State (865). The development of the feudal system and the spread of Slav letters in the 9th-11th century provided very favorable conditions for the flowering of literature, art, architecture, for the appearance of natural science and theological and philosophical literature. The Byzantine scientific, theological and philosophical literature, and in particular the ancient Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, neo-Platonism, etc.) had a definite influence on the process of the formation of philosophical culture in Bulgaria.

On the basis of concrete conditions and the definite needs of the country, which had already taken shape in the mid-9th century as a Slav land with a new religion and literature, and parallel with the spread of translated literature, a new original Old Bulgarian culture came into being, rich in independent thoughts and examples. Developed in the cultural centers of Preslav [Constantine of Preslav, John the Exarch, Chernorizets (the Monk) Hrabur, Tsar Symeon] and Ochrid [Clement of Ochrid, Nahum of Ochrid and others], it strongly influenced the culture of the other Slav peoples and acquired the character of an independent cultural phenomenon in European civilization.

Four basic periods stand out in the development of the Bulgarian philosophical thought:

The first period includes the time from the 9th to the 18th centuries.

The second period covers the epoch of the Bulgarian National Revival and enlightenment from the 18th to the last quarter of the 19th century.

The third period includes the time from Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule by the Russian armies in 1878 until the 9th September Socialist Revolution in 1944.

The fourth period includes the development of Bulgarian philosophical thought after the socialist revolution of 9th September, 1944 until our days.



The first period is, in its essence, a time of the formation of philosophical culture in Bulgaria. Philosophy developed chiefly within the framework of theology and that is why it is characterized as theological-philosophical thought.

The development of philosophical thought in Bulgaria is connected with the name of Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher (826-869). He is known to the cultural world and all the Slavdom, above all, by the evolvement of the Slav alphabet on the basis of the Old Bulgarian language. The historical importance of this amazing scientific feat has left ineffaceable traces in European culture. The treatise (Writing on the True Faith) occupies the principal place in the works of Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher. The theological-idealistic view of the world is substantiated in it. God is interpreted as an archetypal substance, as a demiurge of the whole world and of man. Constantine the Philosopher formulated the first definition of philosophy in Slavic culture: ‘Knowledge of divine and human matters which teaches in how far man can approach God and how by deeds he can become an image and personification of the One who has created him’. The definition of the subject and the tasks of philosophy, given by Constantine the Philosopher, has been interpreted and examined many times.

Cyril and Methodius were the creators of the first scientific and philosophical terminology in the history of Old Bulgarian and Slavonic letters. In their works, Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher and Methodius coined out an excellent literary language on the basis of their native Old Bulgarian. This literary language (it is accepted to call it Church Slavonic, Old Slavonic, etc.) was wonderfully adapted to fulfill artistic tasks, to express different shades of the thought and the emotions; it contained abstract meanings of the words which was particularly important for the translations begun from the Greek, Latin, Syrian and other languages. Cyril and Methodius introduced such general conceptions and categories as ‘substance’, ‘property’, ‘essence’, ‘nature’, ‘universe’, ‘law’, ‘existence’, ‘nonexistence’, ‘god’, ‘divinity’, ‘idea’, ‘concept’, ‘thing’, ‘wisdom’, ‘imagination’, ‘dialectics’, ‘philosophy’ and many others. In other words, the foundations were laid for the creation of a philosophical culture in Bulgaria and after that in Kievan Russia. This complex process of creating an abstract language of literature, science and philosophy was continued and enriched by Clement of Ochrid, Constantine of Preslav and particularly by John the Exarch of Bulgaria.

The basic ontological, gnoseological and ethical views of Clement of Ochrid, John the Exarch, Constantine of Preslav (9th-10th century), of the Tarnovo School (14th century), Patriarch Euthymius, Mitropolite Cyprian and Gregory Tsamblak, all have within them a reflection of the definition of philosophy given by Constantine the Philosopher. It is the central axis of Bulgarian mediaeval philosophical thought around which the interpretation of philosophical problems went deeper and became extensive.

The most eminent theoretician of this epoch was John the Exarch of Bulgaria (9th-10th century), who won the name of the most eminent philosopher in all Slav countries for his works The Heavens and Hexameron. Taking his stand on objective-idealistic positions, John the Exarch criticized the concept of the ancient Greek materialists of the existence of unformed matter before the Creation, and also the views which rendered absolute one individual substance or another as the substantial foundation of existence. ‘Wherefore do you, Parmenides, and you, Thales’, the Exarch wrote, ‘say vain thing and you, Democritus, and you, Diogenes, lie when you say that air and water and fire (were the first elements). And when you see them united, accumulated and intermingled in evil and dishonorable bodies, why do you attribute to these visible things, contradicting yourself, creative power’.

Certain dualistic deviations from idealistic monism are also subjected to criticism. Although he takes from the ancients the idea of the elements, John the Exarch considers them not as substantial principles, but as constructive particles of the material world, created by God in a definite purposeful relationship. His importance in forming the Old Bulgarian philosophical culture and in creating a conceptual-categorical apparatus and the scientific terminology in Old Bulgarian is exceptionally great. He created the first complete philosophical-world outlook and ethical system in Bulgarian culture.

The clashes in feudal society became the social foundation for the appearance and wide spread of the Bogomil heresy which emerged in the socio-ideological arena with a formed religious conception, penetrated by a number of cosmological, cosmogonical and ethical, i.e. philosophical problems and a social programme.

Having appeared in the second half of the 10th century, Bogomilism was in the nature of a religious-social teaching. Its founder, Bogomil, from whom the teaching received its name, was a Bulgarian priest. As a movement of reform, Bogomilism was an ideological expression of the interests of the peasant masses who had been deprived of rights and were serfs.

The fundamental work of the Bogomils was the Gospel according to St John (or The Secret Book as it was called). The Bogomil teaching contained cosmological, Christological and eschatological conceptions. According to the cosmological conceptions of the Bogomils, the reality which surrounded man consisted of an invisible spiritual and a visible material world. God was the creator of the invisible world and, together with it, of the elements of the visible world — fire, water, air and the earth. This pre-eternal world was later reconstructed by the devil who created man and the conditions under which he lives.

The Bogomils rejected the religious sacraments and rituals of the official Christian Church. They considered Communion as natural food consisting of bread and wine, and relics as ordinary mortal remains, baptism as an ordinary dipping into water. In their disputes with their rivals they resorted to logic and common sense. They interpreted the miracles of Jesus Christ in a figurative sense, and Christ himself they equated with the word. He only ostensibly appeared, but in actual fact he never lived on earth as a god-made-man.

The optimism of the Bogomils as regards the possibilities of human knowledge was characteristic. Socio-political ideas held a special place in their teaching. The principal feature in them was their denial of the existing socio-political reality, of the feudal system and the phenomena of social inequality connected with it: exploitation, wars, violence and murders. ‘They sneered at the rich’, Presbyter Cosmas, the chief critic of Bogomilism, emphasized, ‘taught their members not to submit to their masters. They hate the Tsar. They berate the elders. They think that the Lord hates those who work and order every slave not to work for his master’.

The Bogomil idea of public ownership of all property in the spirit of the consumer communism of the first Christian communities was rational in character. The social features of the Bogomil teaching made it vital and attractive to the mass of serfs and to other peoples. Bogomilism spread not only over the Balkan Peninsula, but its ideas were adopted by the Cathari and the Albigenses in France and Italy and also spread in part to England, Germany and Russia.

At the beginning 11th century Bulgaria was conquered by Byzantium (1018-1187). Byzantine bondage was a disaster which put an end to Bulgaria’s development in every respect for about 200 years. It delayed and deformed Bulgarian culture. The Liberation from Byzantine domination under the Assen's dynasty (12th century) and the economic advance in the reign of Tsar Ivan Assen II were the long awaited prerequisites for a new upsurge in the cultural and philosophical tradition.

Considerable manifestations of the theological-philosophical thought were to be noticed in the sects and heresies which then appeared and which engaged in strife against each other (Hezychasts, Varlaamites, Adamites, late Bogomils, etc.). In the 14th century the Tarnovo School of Literature and Patriarch Euthymius (14th century) defended and developed the principles of Hezychasm in theory and practice. The old achievements in culture were restored and the foundations were laid for a prolonged process of intellectual flourishing which were also tangibly felt in the 15th century. From a philosophical point of view the most interesting dispute in this period was that between the Hezychasts and the Varlaamites on a number of gnoseological questions. Essentially, regardless of the Bogomil terminology, the question of the potentials of man’s knowledge was under discussion, of the cognoscibility of essence and phenomenon and the reality of concepts and things. The philosophical ideas of the Tarnovo School were also developed by Mitropolite Cyprian, Gregory Tsamblak, Constantine Kostenechki and others.

A new and terrible national tragedy, the cruel Ottoman Conquest (1396), cut short for the second time the evolutionary development of Bulgarian national culture, and cast Bulgaria into darkness, ignorance and oblivion for more than four centuries. In actual fact the conditions for the development of philosophical thought were destroyed. In the period of Ottoman domination until the end of the 18th century the more significant manifestations of Bulgarian sociological, philosophical and theological thought were connected with the so-called Catholic movement. The philosophy created by Franz Xavier de Peyachevich, Jacob Peyachevich and Christopher Peikich was in the spirit of Catholic scholasticism. From a philosophical point of view the philosophical theses of Jacob Peyachevich, in which the scholastic tradition of Aristotle is preserved, are of special interest.




The second period of development in Bulgarian philosophical thought goes back to the epoch of the National Revival and the Enlightenment. The philosophical thought of the National Revival period is characterized by the fact that it began to be differentiated as an independent form of social consciousness and gradually overcame its religious cover in the first half of the 19th century. The ideology of early democratic enlightenment was differentiated on the basis of the development of economic relations and that of the Bulgarian people’s revolutionary struggle for national and social independence. After the Crimean War (1853-1856), in connection with the tasks of the Bulgarian people’s national liberation struggle and the development of cultural processes, contradictory ideological trends took shape which had different philosophical and sociological premises. The ideology of the revolutionary democrats had materialism as their philosophical foundation. But the evolutionist and reformist trend was theoretically based on idealistic philosophy and on theology.

Dr Peter Beron (1800-1871) was the most eminent thinker of the first stage of the Bulgarian National Revival. He created the Naturphilosophical system under the name of Panepistemia (All-Knowledge, All-Science). Dr Beron had outlined the initial variant of the system in his works Slavonic Philosophy (Prague, 1856, in German) and Origin of the Physical and Natural Sciences and the Metaphysical and Ethical Sciences (Paris, 1858, in French). The developed variant of his Naturphilosophical system he set forth in his seven-volume work Panepistemia (Paris, 1861-1867, in French). Dr P. Beron was under the influence of Aristotle’s philosophy. Panepistemia is the science of the origin and the laws of the movement of the material cosmos and the principles of cognition in the world by man.

Dr Beron based his work on the thesis that the initial substance was some kind of primary fluid — Electer — which did not possess the ability to move. The primary Electer, being immovable, fills the whole of space and is timeless and homogeneous. Dr Beron also recognized the existence of a second substance — the Supreme Power (i.e., God), who through supreme action deposits movement in the primary and immovable Electer.

Here Dr Beron’s ‘sui generis’ dualism stands out vividly. The world of things, having received the ability to move and having been formed from the mixture of different fluids, develops according to its own laws and no longer needs the intervention of God. In the sphere of gnoseology Dr Beron upholds the principle of the cognoscibility of the world. His sensualist ideas are built up on the theory of images. In the spirit of the theory of reflection he confirmed that man’s knowledge is a photograph, a copy of the material world. Concepts play a special part in the process of cognition together with sensations. Man’s cognition is purposeful, planned and preliminarily thought out. Man’s language is an important feature of the process of cognition and an important event in the cognitive process. In the sphere of sociology, Dr Beron keeps to the naturalistic view, according to which human society appeared and developed thanks to factors such as population, geographical environment and language.

Dr Ivan Seliminski (1799-1867) is the founder of the materialistic tradition in Bulgarian philosophical thought. He was an eminent thinker, educator and political figure. French materialistic thought, ancient Greek philosophy and the German 19th century natural science strongly influenced the formation of his views. His philosophical views can be characterized as anthropological materialism. Dr Ivan Seliminski made a step forward, in comparison with Dr Peter Beron, in the treatment of the substance of the world, overcoming his view of god as the source of movement. According to the conceptions of Dr Ivan Seliminski, the only foundation for the existing world is matter and its inner inherent property, movement. The whole material world, including organic matter and human society, submit to the basic law of nature, the law of a gradual ascending development.

In the sphere of natural sciences he advocated the ideas of evolution in the spirit of Lamarckism. Dr Seliminski’s sociology is naturalistic. He considers that the economic law lies at the foundation of social development, according to which all men should produce in order to consume. A second law acts in society, the law of moral improvement. Dr Seliminski asserts in the spirit of the principle of man’s natural predestination that a natural striving for happiness is inherent in mankind. That is why he studies philosophy as ethics, above all.

The materialist line of Dr Seliminski’s creativity in the sphere of philosophy was continued in the second half of the 19th century by the revolutionary democrats Lyuben Karavelov and Hristo Botev, and also by Todor Ikonomov (1838-1892), the enlightener-democrat.

Lyuben Karavelov (1834-1879) was an outstanding Bulgarian realist writer, publicist, aesthete, and President of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee. In the sphere of philosophy he advocated the view of the so-called ‘real’, ‘vital’ or ‘natural’ philosophy. From this point of view he criticized the idealism of Hegel and theology. His world outlook was formed under the influence of the Russian revolutionary democrats, the Western enlighteners and the German vulgar materialists. The fundamental core of his philosophical views was anthropological materialism. While recognizing the matter as primary and the spirit as secondary, he strives to substantiate the idea of ‘real philosophy’ whose subject is man. Karavelov created philosophical anthropology which has two sources, two principles: science and knowledge of man. He invariably upholds the formulae ‘Knowledge Is Force’ and ‘Know Thyself’. The world outlook thus created by Karavelov was founded on the unity of natural science and knowledge of man.

Some of Karavelov’s finest works are in the sphere of literary criticism and aesthetics. Here he showed himself to be a consistent adherent of a materialistic interpretation of realistic aesthetics.

Hristo Botev (1848-1876) is the most eminent Bulgarian revolutionary democrat, a poet of genius, a materialist philosopher and leader of the national struggle against Ottoman domination. Botev’s views were formed under the influence of the Russian revolutionary democrats (above all, A. I. Hertzen and N. G. Chernyshevsky) and the ideas of utopian socialism. The hopes of the masses were most fully reflected in the ideology of Hristo Botev. Fighting not only for the national but also for the social liberation of the Bulgarian people Botev strove to realize socialist ideas. In the spirit of his social ideal he upheld the principles of internationalism and substantiated the thesis that the Turkish working masses would take part together with the Bulgarian people in the revolution against the Ottoman Empire. From this point Botev developed the idea that a wise and fraternal alliance between the peoples would destroy their misery and sufferings, would do away with exploitation and build a communist society.

Although he was influenced by the ideas of the Paris Commune and the First International, Botev’s socialism never went beyond the framework of utopianism. In the sphere of philosophy Botev rejected any idea of the existence of god and of supernatural forces. He accepted the world such as it was in itself, considering that consciousness is secondary and depends on matter. Botev upheld the principle of movement and development and considered that in nature as in society the source of movement was the struggle of opposites, the struggle of the new against the old. Botev’s materialistic view of the world was combined with a number of dialectical features. On this basis he developed as a consistent atheist, while in the sphere of sociology he emphasized the importance of material factors in social development. Botev’s ideas and his poetry had a great influence upon the Bulgarian people.

Todor Ikonomov (1838-1893) as philosopher could be related to nature philosophy materialism. Ikonomov’s work was chiefly in promoting knowledge in the field of natural history, gnosiology and aesthetics. In the theory of knowledge he supports the thesis of the cognoscibility of the world in the light of the theory of images, his aesthetics are based on the concepts of the Russian materialists and above all the views of Belinsky.

Vassil Hadji Stoyanov-Beron (1828-1902) worked in two fields: that of logic and natural history. In his basic work “Logic” (Vienna, 1861) written in the spirit of Kant’s agnosticism he studies the laws and forms of human thinking. After a classification of the sciences, and classifying philosophy as the love of wisdom, Stoyanov-Beron devoted considerable attention to the problem of systems. His views on systems are the most valuable part of his “Logic”. The author deals with the problem of the part and the general and with possibilities of setting up a real and a logical system. The views he puts forward are still of some interest.

The philosophical outlook of V. H. Stoyanov-Beron was supported by Lazar Iovchev, aka. the Exarch Joseph (1840-1912), as well as by Marko Balabanov (1842-1919).

Lazar Iovchev covered the field of ethics and psychology, from idealistic positions in the spirit of Leibnitz’s predetermined harmony and analyzing the problems of freedom of will, duty, ambition, etc.

Marko Balabanov in a number of articles gives his interpretation of the problem of social progress considering the improvement of the mind, the idea of justice and material wellbeing as the principle factors determining social progress. Balabanov rejects Montesquieu’s view of climates as a decisive factor for social progress. Marko Balabanov was the ideologist of the conservative enlightenment movement of the seventies of the 19th century.




The third period in the development of Bulgarian philosophical thought was characterized by the spread of idealistic philosophy, on the one hand, and on the other, by the propagation and development of Marxist philosophical thought and the natural struggle between them. The principal representatives of idealistic philosophy were Ivan Gyuzelev, Ivan Georgov, Dr Krustyu Krustev, Nikola Alexiev and others.

Ivan Gyuzelev (1864-1916) was an idealistic philosopher of the Berkeley's trend, a marked opponent of materialism. His works Elements of Cognition (1904), The World as the Product of Consciousness (1907) and Absolute Consciousness (1914), sustained in the spirit of subjective idealism, were published posthumously. In them, in the final count, subjective idealism is combined with religious mysticism. Ivan Gyuzelev set out from an analysis of the logical foundations of mathematics and geometry, of the theory of proofs and from these positions considered the ontological and gnoseological problems. His views on the unity of logic and geometry are rich in content and interesting from a contemporary point of view, too.

Ivan Georgov (1862-1936) elaborated the problems of the history of philosophy from the positions of neo-Kantianism. He published only two volumes of the planned extensive history of world philosophy (1926) and (1936), covering the development of ancient and mediaeval philosophy.

Dr K. Krustev (1866-1919), editor-in-chief of the periodical Missul, had a great influence in the sphere of literature and aesthetics. Influenced as he was by neo-Kantianism, K. Krustev was opposed to materialism and Marxism, and upheld the subjective-idealistic and formalistic conception of art.

Nikola Alexiev (1877-1912) elaborated the problems of psychology from the point of view of phycho-physical parallelism, and particularly studied the problems of feelings, the will and affects in his works Fundamental Forms of Feelings (1907), Contribution to the Teaching about Affects (1908) and Contribution to the Teaching about the Will (1910). In Hippolyte Taine and His Philosophy of History, published posthumously in 1915, N. Alexiev critically analyzed the philosophically-historical conceptions of Hippolyte Taine.

The philosophy of dialectical and historical materialism developed in a struggle with bourgeois and petty bourgeois philosophical thought. The most outspoken philosophers of these trends are Dimiter Blagoev, Dimiter Mihalchev, Todor Pavlov and some others of less importance.

Dimiter Blagoev (1856-1924) was the most striking representative of Marxism and the Marxist philosophy in Bulgaria and in the Balkans. As a student in the St. Petersburg University he became familiar with the ideas of Marxism and on his return to Bulgaria founded the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Party in 1891, which was reorganized in 1919 and became the Bulgarian Communist Party. In the course of a quarter of a century Blagoev was the editor-in-chief of Novo Vreme, the Marxist theoretical periodical on whose pages he published hundreds of articles on philosophical, economic, aesthetic and other problems. Blagoev wrote a number of works on the questions of Bulgaria’s economic development, scientific communism and philosophy. The most important of them are: What Is Socialism and Are There Grounds for It in Bulgaria? (1891), Socio-Literary Questions (1901), Dialectical Materialism and the Theory of Cognition (1903), Contribution to the History of Socialism in Bulgaria (1906), Towards Marxism and Instructions for the Study of Marx’s Teaching (1911), etc. Blagoev translated into Bulgarian many works by the classics of Marxism, most notably from russian, german and other languages.

In irreconcilable struggles with the populists, neo-Kantians, reformists and other representatives of bourgeois philosophy Blagoev upheld the dialectical- materialistic view of the world. He paid special attention to the role and importance of dialectics as the spirit of Marxism. Blagoev developed the view of cognition as a reflection of reality. In the sphere of aesthetics he substantiated the principles of realism, party-mindedness and nationality in art. Blagoev rejected on good grounds the attempts from critics of every description to reduce Marxism only to an economic teaching. He sharply criticized the attempts to detach historical materialism from dialectical materialism. Blagoev substantiated and revealed dialectical and historical materialism as the philosophical foundation of the teaching of Marx and Engels. He pointed out that the appearance of Marxism was a radical turn in the history of universal philosophy, that dialectical materialism was a principally new and original philosophy.

Blagoev’s struggle with bourgeois ideology and idealistic philosophy was supported by the bulgarian Marxists Georgi Kirkov (1867-1919), Gavril Georgiev (1870-1917), Todor Petrov (1879-1924), Dr Peter Genov (1883-1923), Dr Stamen Iliev (1883-1923), Dr Tenyu Stoilov (1879-1923), Ivan Manev (1887-1925) and others. They were comrades-in-arms and disciples of Blagoev who had marked services in the defense of, spread in and application of Marxist philosophy to Bulgarian reality.

Dimiter Mihalchev (1880-1967) is a bulgarian philosopher, whose name is associated as the leading follower and foremost promulgator of the ideas of Johanes Rehmke in Bulgaria. In the 1920s and 1930s the philosophical idealistic trends, already fashionable in Europe, were advocated in Bulgaria: Bergsonism, Freudism and so on, but Rehmkeism had the greatest influence. It was in the years before the First World War, when D. Mihalchev began his activity as an opponent of the Marxist theory of cognition from the positions of neo-Kantianism, and after that he was formed as the most eminent adherent and advocate of the Rehmkean philosophy in Bulgaria. In his principal works Form and Relation (1914, 1932) and Philosophy as a Science (1933, 1946) he upheld the thesis of the existence of a third line in philosophy. Rejecting the theory of reflection, Mihalchev considers that cognition is a direct possession of the given. The subject of philosophy is not an objective reality, but what is directly given by consciousness.

Mihalchev considers philosophy as a fundamental science. As a center of scholarly activity, by means of his works and through the periodical Filosofski Pregled which he edited, Mihalchev had a great influence on the intelligentsia. Marxist thought had as its principal task the struggle against the philosophy of Rehmkeism. On these grounds the influence of Rehmkeism was also explained by the fact that in the sphere of politics Mihalchev had taken up democratic positions, criticized racism, biologics in sociology and came out in defense of the Soviet Union.

The Great October Socialist Revolution and the antifascist uprising of September 1923 had a decisive influence upon the development of Bulgarian social and philosophic thought. In Marxist and philosophical thought the twenties and thirties went down in the history of Bulgaria as a period of struggle for the Leninist stage in philosophy.

A tremendous role in establishing this process in the socio-political life of Bulgaria belongs to Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949), that remarkable son of the Bulgarian people. Already at the time of the September antifascist uprising in 1923 Georgi Dimitrov had substantiated the idea of a united front of all working people and progressive forces in Bulgaria for a struggle against fascism. Georgi Dimitrov showed that the united front had not and could not have anything in common with the ideas of the Bulgarian social democrats about class cooperation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. He expressed his opinion in defense of Leninism at the time of the Great October Socialist Revolution and translated a series of articles by V. I. Lenin into Bulgarian.

Georgi Dimitrov’s report read at the 7th World Congress of the Communist International (1935) was a model of the creative application of Marxist dialectics. A concrete analysis of the general crisis of capitalism was made in it from Leninist positions, the core of fascism was revealed, together with its purpose and social content, and attempts to interpret fascism as a supra-class rule were subjected to criticism. Georgi Dimitrov substantiated the necessity of creating a popular anti-fascist front under the leadership of the communist and workers’ parties in all countries. Creatively applying the Leninist principle of the unity of theory and practice, Georgi Dimitrov passionately fought against limited pragmatism and underestimation of theory. In the period of the people’s anti-fascist struggle against Nazism he theoretically substantiated the necessity of founding a Fatherland Front.

Todor Pavlov (1890-1977) as a philosopher is closely linked with the Bulgarian workers’ movement. His works and activity played a great role in the process of Leninization of the Party and the Marxist philosophical and ideological front, particularly in the struggle against the idealistic philosophy and ideology. In his works: Dialectical Materialism and the Theory of the Images (1929), Idealism and Materialism (1929), Rehmkeism and Materialism (1930), on the basis of Marxist philosophy and methodology, Todor Pavlov subjected D. Mihalchev’s Rehmkean philosophical conception to criticism, together with Marxist gnoseology and historical materialism which the latter had falsified. Upholding the principled positions of dialectical materialism in the struggle against idealism, Pavlov paid attention, above all, to the elaboration of the theoretical-cognitive problems of philosophy.

In the Soviet Union Todor Pavlov published his principal work Theory of Reflection (1936) in which he originally developed Lenin’s idea of reflection as a universal property of matter. On the foundation of rich factual natural scientific material he substantiated the thesis of cognition as a subjective image of objective reality, the questions of the truth, the unity of theory and practice, about the scientific and the artistic method, etc. This work of Pavlov influenced the international and worldwide Marxist philosophy.

In elaborating the problems of philosophical materialism in his work Materialism and the Remaining Philosophical Teachings (1940), Pavlov criticized on well founded grounds the philosophical trends hostile to Marxism which had struck root in Bulgaria: Bergsonism, Freudism, Machism, mechanical materialism, etc. Another sphere in which Pavlov made an original contribution is Marxist aesthetics. In his work General Theory of Art (1938) he showed the character and importance of art as a super-structural socio-ideological phenomenon, and also showed that the specifics of art consist in dialectical unity, the typicality of images, ideological content and aesthetic emotionality. Pavlov finds the roots of socialist realism in the new socialist reality. While studying art as a specific reflection, as reality, he elaborates the question of the relationship between world outlook and artistic method in art.

One of the first in Marxist literature to pose the question of the necessity of adopting Lenin’s ideological and theoretical heritage was Sava Ganovski (1897-1971). This he did in his important article, Leninism and Dialectics, published in the periodical Kommunistichesko Zname (1927). In his work Fundamental Trends in Philosophy (1934) Ganovski characterized Lenin’s contribution to the development of materialistic dialectics, and elaborated the problems of the unity and identity of dialectics, logic and gnoseology. He subjected to criticism the opportunistic ideas of K. Kautsky and G. Plekhanov.

Ganovski’s work Fundamental Laws of Scientific Philosophy (1940) popularizes and makes use of Lenin’s philosophical heritage. Here, in a struggle against idealism, he studies the fundamental laws and categories of Marxist philosophy. In a series of works, devoted to the study of the history of philosophy, Ganovski engaged in acute polemics with the representatives of idealistic philosophy and refuted the erroneous positions of the bourgeois philosophers, who consider the history of philosophy as affiliation of ideas. In the years of fascist reaction, Ganovski published a series of articles against the ideology of racism, against anti-Sovietism in Bulgaria, etc. From the 1930s of this century and until the present he has worked at a number of problems in pedagogy and education.




The fourth period in the development of Bulgarian philosophic thought began with the victory of the socialist revolution. Its characteristic feature is the overcoming of all remnants of idealistic philosophy. The Marxist Leninist philosophy became the ruling world outlook of the mass of working people and the intelligentsia, and the methodological foundation of all formal and social sciences. On the basis of the principle of dialectical materialism, teaching was reorganized in all sections of the educational system for the spread and development of Marxist philosophy. An Institute of Philosophy was founded at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and chairs of Marxism-Leninism were set at all Higher Institutions of education.

The Fifth Congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party and the report of Georgi Dimitrov to the Congress (1948) were of great importance for the development of the philosophical thought. Georgi Dimitrov analyzed the revolution, and characterized people’s democracy as socialist in its essence and as a special form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. He showed the class content, the motive powers, the fundamental law-governed processes and the perspectives of the socialist revolution in Bulgaria.

In a talk with Todor Pavlov, editor-in-chief of the periodical Filosofska Missul (1946), Georgi Dimitrov outlined the tasks of the Bulgarian philosophers. He called upon them to wage a struggle for the final uprooting of the remnants of fascist ideology, against all attempts to distort creative Marxism-Leninism, for connecting philosophy with practical life, and for the elaboration of the methodological questions of the special sciences.

The Bulgarian philosophers engaged in a discussion on overcoming Rehmkeism as a philosophical teaching. Pavlov played a great part in this respect with his work Balance of an Idealistic Reactionary Philosophy (1953). He also wrote a number of works in the sphere of the methodology of special sciences: Dialectical Materialistic Philosophy and the Formal Sciences (1956), The Essential in the Teaching of Ivan Pavlov in the Light of Dialectical Materialism (1956), On the Marxist History of Bulgaria (1954), On Marxist Aesthetics, Literary Science and Criticism (1954) and others. In these works Todor Pavlov developed the dialectical materialistic teaching of reflection and the methodological function of dialectical materialism.

After the socialist revolution Sava Ganovski, along with his great socio-political activity, published Short History of Philosophy (1945, 1973) and The Socio-Economic Formation and Peaceful Coexistence (1962). He elaborated the problems of the cultural revolution and the questions of the philosophical heritage of the classics of Marxism. He studied the Leninist stage of Bulgarian philosophic thought and contributed much to the methodological reorganization of the formal and the social science, particularly in pedagogy, psychology, history, etc.

Marxist philosophy is elaborated in the works of Asen Kiselinchev. In his work The Marxist-Leninist Theory of Reflection and the Teaching of I. Pavlov on Central Nervous Activity (1954) he attempts to elucidate the question of reflection as a response reaction of the organism to objective conditions. Kisselinchev upheld the thesis that cognition is subjective in form — as a psychic process, and objective in content — as a reflection of objective articles and phenomena. He also worked at a number of problems of Marxist psychology and dialectical method.

Questions concerning the history of philosophy and of sociological thought, and the criticism of contemporary bourgeois philosophy and anti-Marxism are the subject of works from Nikola Iribadjakov: Contemporary Criticisms of Marxism (in Russian, 1962), Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher (1978), The Sociological Thought of the Ancient World [Vol. 1., In the Bosom of Mythology and Philosophy: Egypt, Sumer, Babylonia (1978); Vol. 2., In the Bosom of Philosophy: Greece from Hesiod to Democritus (1981)], Clio Before the Court of Bourgeois Philosophy (1970), The Philosophy of Revolutionary Action (1980) and others. He worked also on the philosophical problems of biology and the questions of socialist development: Philosophy and Biology (1967), The Role of the Masses in History (1956), etc. In his work The Development of Socialist Society (1972) Iribadjakov examines the stages, the basic characteristics and criteria of mature socialism.

Together with the problems of dialectical materialism, the theory of cognition and the history of philosophy, in which Bulgarian philosophy has traditions of long standing, at the end of the 1950s and in the course of the 1960s the methodological questions of the formal sciences were also intensively elaborated. In the sphere of the philosophical problems of the natural sciences Azarya Polikarov engaged in extensive research. In his fundamental work Relativity and Quantum (1964) he analyzed the topical philosophical questions of contemporary physics. In the sphere of dialectical materialism he published his works Matter and Cognition (1961) and Methodology of Scientific Cognition (1973).

The philosophical questions of the natural sciences and particularly the methodology of the biological sciences are examined in the publications of Ivan Kalaykov Techno-Scientific Revolution and the Problems of the Social and the Biological in Man (1977), Civilization and Adaptation (1981), etc. Grozdan Vekilov has researched the medico-biological scientific field in The Psychic and Physiological Problems (1965) and Philosophy and Genetics (1970).

The questions of formal logic, the history of logic and dialectical logic have been elaborated by Angel Bunkov: The History of Logic (1959), Thinking and Language (1960), Dialectical Logic (1971). Mathematical and symbolic logic are the subject of research by Dobrin Spassov: Philosophical Introduction to Symbolic Logic (1962), The Philosophy of Linguistics versus Linguistic Philosophy (1970), etc.

The creation of collective monographs due to the efforts of Bulgarian and Soviet philosophers is an interesting phenomenon in the philosophical life of Bulgaria. Works of this kind have been published in the sphere of the theory of cognition, the history of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, scientific atheism, criticism of bourgeois philosophy, etc. Among those deserving special attention are the collective work The Theory of Reflection and the Present Time (published in Russian and Bulgarian in 1978) and the three-volume work Problems of the Theory of Reflection (in Russian, Sofia, 1973). They indicate the new achievements of the Bulgarian and the Soviet philosophers in gnoseology, materialistic dialectics and the other spheres of philosophical knowledge.

The problems of historical materialism were treated by Kiril Vassilev, Panayot Gindev, Todor Stoychev, Stoyko Popov and others. Interesting works, rich in content have been written by the middle and the younger generations of Bulgarian Marxist philosophers in the sphere of dialectical and historical materialism and of all philosophical disciplines. Among those published are some on the problems of ethics (Vassil Momov), aesthetics (Krustyu Goranov, Isaac Passi, Alexander Lilov and others), religion and scientific atheism (Nikolai Mizov and others), etc. Successful research was carried out in the sphere of the theory of social government (Marko Markov and others), social prognostication, application of the system structural approach and mathematical-statistical methods in the study of social phenomena.

The works analyzed in the four volumes of The History of Philosophical Thought in Bulgaria convincingly show the progress of philosophical thought and culture in Bulgaria and the real contribution made by Bulgarian philosophers to the treasury of Marxist-Leninist philosophy.



Copyright © 2007 by the author.