Uncovering Vladimir Bibikhin’s Work for Western Philosophy

German Translation of Bibikhin’s Philosophical Essays “Drugoe Nachalo”

Vladimir Bibikhin_2Vladimir Veniaminovitch Bibikhin (1938–2004) is one of the best and most known philosophers of his generation. In Russia his name is well known and his works are read and discussed, but so far he has not found due recognition in the West. The lack of attention to Bibikhin’s work on the part of Western philosophers is due to three reasons: firstly, his works are available only in Russian; secondly, Bibikhin himself during his lifetime did little to “promote” his own work abroad; and thirdly, since the 1990s there appears to have been a relative decline of interest among Western scholars and intellectuals in philosophy from Russia. This project wants to start off the reception of Bibikhin in the West by moving ahead on all three of these points: translation, promotion and reception. It is the work of a group of people strongly committed to Bibikhin’s work: his widow Olga Lebedewa, his students Alexander Michailowski and Artem Magun, the translator Vera Ammer and Kristina Stoeckl at the IWM.

The Works of Bibikhin

Bibkhin belonged to a generation of Soviet intellectuals that came to maturity in the post-Stalin Soviet Union. This generation “after the terror” conducted their intellectual work in relative stability but great isolation, often at the margins of the official academic canons. The members of this generation were in their 50s when the Soviet Union seized to exist, and with the political regime there dissolved an entire intellectual and academic milieu that had been upheld by an ethos of dissidence and erudition. The great intellectual potential of this generation was only poorly recognized in the immediate post-Soviet aftermath, marked by the decline of the university-system and economic hardship – if not in Russia itself, then definitely in the West. Bibikhin is probably the best and most known philosopher of his generation in Russia today. But when it comes to his reception in the West, he shares the fate of his lost generation. None of his works has so far been translated, and his name is hardly known outside the circles of specialists. However, Bibikhin deserves our attention, because his work makes a genuine, original contribution to world philosophy.

Vladimir Bibikhin_1Bibikhin was the pupil and secretary of the Russian philosopher and philologist Alexey Lossev. From 1989 to 2002 Bibikhin gave about 20 courses of lectures at the Department of Philosophy at the Moscow State University (the Lomonossov University). His publications comprise works dedicated to the thinkers of Ancient Greece, Patristics and Scholasticism as well as West-European and Russian philosophers of 19-20th centuries. The works of Macarius of Egypt, Gregory Palamas, Nicolas of Cusa, Francesco Petrarca, translated and commented by Bibikhin, have become classics of Russian historical-philosophical and philological studies. He has also edited and translated works of L. Wittgenstein, H. Arendt, W. Heisenberg, W. Dilthey, H.-G. Gadamer and J. Derrida. His most known contribution to Russian philosophy was the translation and commentary of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit, which has conceptually influenced the Heideggerian studies in Russia. Bibikhin’s work bears a universal significance and is not limited to Russia neither by its subject matter nor by its sphere of reference.


  • Vera Ammer is a freelance translator from Germany as well as a Paul Celan Visiting Fellow at the IWM ((January – March 2015).
  • Alexander Michailowski is Associate Professor at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow and a Guest at the IWM in February 2015.
  • Kristina Stoeckl (Project Coordinator) is APART-Fellow at the Political Science Department of the University of Vienna and research-director of “Religious Traditionalisms and Politics” at the IWM.

Related Event:

Phänomenologie und Religion in der Sowjetunion
Leben und Werk Vladimir V. Bibikhins (1938 – 2004)
Montag, 23. Februar 2015, 16:00 Uhr

Related Projects:

The project is related to IWM’s research focus “Modes of Secularism and Religious Responses” and Kristina Stoeckl’s research project Religious Traditionalism and Politics.