CFP: SEET Special Issue “Dostoevsky and Philosophy”

Deadline: July 1, 2021

Studies in East European Thought Special Issue “Dostoevsky and Philosophy”


The Editorial Board of SEET are calling for contributions which re-examine and reinterpret Dostoevsky’s works – creative and publicist – in the context of leading philosophical thinkers of his time – Kant, Hegel, Marx, Solovyov, Danilevsky, Ivanov, Shestov, Merezhkovsky, as well as the reception of Dostoevsky by the Russian religious and other philosophers, in order to shed new light on or find new contexts for Dostoevsky’s poetics. Readings of Dostoevsky’s works through philosophical texts are also welcome.

“Even the sternest critic must concede that Dostoevsky, for all his distance from academic philosophy, was one of the most philosophical of writers,” –   James P. Scanlan, himself an academic philosopher, claims in his rigorous study, Dostoevsky The Thinker (2010).  Scanlan’s objective in this work is “to take (Dostoevsky) the writer seriously as a philosophical thinker.” He sets his project against the tradition of seeing Dostoevsky as an artist with “merely literary” aspirations. This tradition was established by Nikolai Strakhov (1828–1896) and subsequently maintained by Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), among others. Strakhov’s comment that Dostoevsky, as an artist, did not elucidate ideas logically but rather “thought in images and was ruled by feelings” and Solovyev’s comment that “in the realm of ideas,” Dostoevsky “was more a sage and an artist than a strictly logical, consistent thinker” appeared to negate Dostoevsky’s familiarity and engagement with the rich philosophical tradition of his time. Yet generations of subsequent thinkers have mined Dostoevsky’s works for philosophical, sociological, psychological (note the 1928 Freud essay) and even political ideas which have been inferred from his creative texts. In Lev Shestov, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche: Philosophy of Tragedy (1903), Vyacheslav Ivanov   Dostoevsky and the Novel-Tragedy (1916), and Nikolai Berdyaev Dostoevsky’s Worldview (1923), for example, Dostoevsky’s works are perceived as replete with philosophical ideas.  However, different dimensions of Dostoevsky’s writings come to the fore in these studies and the scope of philosophy implied in these readings varies dramatically. The question which emerges from these different approaches to Dostoevsky’s writings is the question of the relation of Dostoevsky’s poetics to philosophy and philosophical ideas. 

What has not been extensively covered by scholarship to date is the extent to which the formal aspects of Dostoevsky’s creative writing are grounded in European epistemology and aesthetics, even when the carriers of certain ideas are not mentioned in his works or notes. His doctrine of beauty, for example, resonates with Baudelaire’s doctrine of beauty and the Classical Greek ideal, revived in German Romanticism, with which Dostoevsky was familiar since his student days.  His leading publicist ideas – “pochva” and “obshchechelovechestvo” – which inform his poetics, have not been forged in a philosophical vacuum or in an exclusively Russian ideological space, but touch on similar ideas in Hegel’s philosophy of history, which, as testified by his letters, was a text known to Dostoevsky during his Siberian exile. 

Essays not longer than 9,000 words should be submitted via the SEET online system []  by 1 July 2021. The Editorial Board recommends first submitting an abstract to the editors. Authors should closely follow the SEET Style Guide (attached). For details about the submission rules, please consult the journal website at All essays will be double blind reviewed.

For all inquiries, please contact the guest editors of the special issue:
Victoria Juharyan at