Culture, Aesthetics, Values

The Department of Culture, Aesthetics and Values ​​at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology—Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, research field Social Activeness and Worldview, is the reception unit of the Aesthetics Department and its successor Culture, Values ​​and Morality Department in the person of the aesthetic team in it.

The specificity of the Department in the fields of aesthetics, axiology and philosophy of culture is set by the theoretical analysis—both in historical-philosophical and systematic aspect—of the most significant conceptual metamorphoses in modern, postmodern and contemporary aesthetic paradigms (aestheticization, visualization, virtualization, politicization), as well as by the analysis of the problems of modern globalized culture (cyberculture, visual culture, entertainment culture, commercial art practice, etc.).

The main objectives of our research projects are aimed at studying the most significant philosophical problems of the development of contemporary art culture and human perception, and applying aesthetic theoretical constructions as a methodological guide—for a practical understanding of the importance of the place and role of culture and art for the preservation of the integrity and values ​​of the human personality.


Main fields of expertise:

  • Professional field: Philosophy—Aesthetics

The problem orientation of aesthetic studies is concentrated on the analytical and critical interpretation of the diversity of cultural and aesthetic phenomena, as the most important characteristics and metamorphoses of modern and postmodern artistic development, but also of human perception (Gr. аἴσθησις), are brought to the foreground. These cultural and aesthetic issues of the modern world correspond not only to the theoretical challenges in the analysis of aesthetic experience and the definition of aesthetics as science, artistic creation, ontological status of the contemporary work of art, the transformed structures of aesthetic perception as a result of everyday technology—but also to the pressing social needs of the development of adequate criteria for the assessment of artistic practice, for the methodological guidelines of the analysis of arts, for the aesthetic dimensions of artistic taste. The integral and interdisciplinary character of our studies allows us to combine the theoretical issues with social relevance and significance.

Our research projects in this professional field, both collective and individual, are devoted to more general and specific problems from the spectrum of philosophy of art, philosophy of aesthetic values and philosophy of perception, which are at the core of contemporary cultural and aesthetic situation, and address their motives, nature and possible solutions within the Bulgarian scientific context.

  • Professional field: Philosophy—Axiology

Culture and art are such phenomena of the development of man that engrave in the world and in matter—in artifacts, historical events and twists, in works of art—the stages of development of his perception, consciousness, worldview, spirituality and mentality. Therefore, the philosophy of values, or axiology, is an integral part of all research projects of the Department, which makes possible the convergence of aesthetics and its main subjects—art and perception, with the research of other areas of experience and culture—ethics, religion and science.

  • Professional field: Philosophy of Culture

This professional field is represented in the projects of the research team as reflection and in-depth analysis of the prerequisites, processes and results of cultural phenomena in both diachronic and synchronous aspects. The logical connection of this field with the fields of aesthetics and axiology is dictated by the fact that culture is the objectification of universal and private human values ​​and worldview—and in its purest and most enduring form these values ​​and worldviews are presented in works of art.


Staff Members:

Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD—Head of Department

Assoc. Prof. Vyara Popova, PhD

Assist. Prof. Iva Kuiumdzhieva, PhD

Assist. Prof. Galin Penev, PhD

Assist. Prof. Nikifor Avramov, PhD

Ivanka Stapova, DSc—Associate Member

Nikolina Deleva—PhD student

Iskra Vasileva—Secretary



Permanent seminar of the Culture, Aesthetics, Values Department—events:


13.11.2021 And the Alley She Whitewashed in Light Blue. Online film screening and discussion with the director Arch. Nili Portugali (Israel)

28.10.2021 The Pandemic as a Challenge to Aesthetics and the Arts. Virtual round table on a collective planning project. Participants: Prof. Ivanka Stapova, DSc; Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD; Assist. Prof. Vyara Popova, PhD; Assist. Prof. Galin Penev, PhD; Assist. Prof. Iva Kuiumdzhieva, PhD; Assist. Prof. Nikifor Avramov, PhD; Nikolina Deleva, PhD student

16.07.2021 The Pandemic as the Rise of Digital Culture (Challenges and Opportunities for the Arts). Lecturer: Assist. Prof. Iva Kuiumdzhieva, PhD

01.12.2020 Anthropological and Aesthetic Aspects in the Modeling of the Creative World in El Greco. Guest lecturer: Prof. Spartak Paskalevski, DSc

14.11.2017 Hypostasis and Icon. Lecturer: Assist. Prof. Galin Penev, PhD

01.04.2014 Systematic Potentialities of Negative Aesthetics. Guest lecturer: Sylvia Borissova, PhD



Research Projects:


  • An Attempt at an In-depth Ontology of the Artist

Individual project (vision)

Program for Supporting Young Scientists and Postdoctoral Students at the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences—2021 session

Author and manager: Assist. Prof. Nikifor Avramov, PhD

Scientific consultant: Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD

Term of implementation: 01.07.—31.12.2021

The project’s aim is to present the foundations for thinking of art through a fundamental conceptualization of the role of the human artist in it. Thus, the project appears to be a study in the field of philosophy of art, specifically the ontology of creativity in terms of systematic aesthetics. Being fundamental, it is historically located as a contemporary attempt to make sense of the beginnings of art and reflects a new possible reading on the foundations of art revealed in ancient Greek metaphysics.

Each specific work is lively, meaningfully set as the work of a certain spirit, the latter being the homogeneous, qualitative richness, whose presence distinguishes the connection between the creative elements in the organic unity of the creative event. In this sense, the text presents the concept of organicity as a category of spiritual richness in general (instead of exclusively of nature), here it also branches off from the traditionally understood distinction between φύσις and τέχνη. During this conceptual shift the role of the artist is already differentiated not by the fact that he is the the sine qua non cause of creativity, but by his ability to conduct, as a special form of active passivity, revealing the original image of the artist in the shaman, the oracle, etc. We usually understand this conductivity as in-inspiration. Here, the ancient Greek πνεῦμα (spirit) and θυμός (spirituality as character) do not imply a common etymological root, but a number of languages ​​link the spirit to the individual state of spirituality through such connections. Thus presented, the role of the artist gives meaning to the notion of τέχνη intra-ontologically, but going beyond the individuality of the artist. Thus, art itself, in turn, reveals itself theoretically and practically as a spiritual communion.


BG Аврамов, Н. 2021. Опит за дълбинна онтология на твореца в изкуството. (Първа част). // NotaBene. Бр. 54. [Avramov, N. 2021. An Attempt at an In-depth Ontology of the Artist. (Part One). // NotaBene. Vol. 54.]

BG Аврамов, Н. 2021. Опит за дълбинна онтология на твореца в изкуството. (Втора част). // NotaBene. Бр. 54. [Avramov, N. 2021. An Attempt at an In-depth Ontology of the Artist. (Part Two). // NotaBene. Vol. 54.]


  • The Pandemic as a Challenge to Aesthetics and the Arts

Collective planning project at IPhS—BAS

Project manager: Assist. Prof. Vyara Popova, PhD

Team members: Prof. Ivanka Stapova, DSc; Assist. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD; Assist. Prof. Galin Penev, PhD; Assist. Prof. Iva Kuiumdzhieva, PhD; Assist. Prof. Nikifor Avramov, PhD; Nikolina Deleva, PhD student

Term of implementation: 20.10.2020—20.10.2021

The project is a one-year philosophical-aesthetic study with both fundamental and applied orientation in its various modules, aiming as a concrete result of the work performed preparation and submission for publication of 7 articles and studies, and more generally: professional reflection and making sense of the newly created pandemic environment, helping to manage and deal with the problematic situation for both artists and citizens.

The collective study addresses the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of resilience, adaptation and metamorphosis that aesthetic and artistic values ​​and practices undergo in modern society. Seven interdisciplinary scientific and popular science articles and studies have been prepared in the field of philosophy of art, axiology, philosophical and cultural anthropology, cultural and visual studies, cultural policies, which should highlight the diverse optics of observation and analysis of the challenges posed by this pandemic before the human value compass in terms of perception, thinking and worldview, creation and creativity in their philosophical-aesthetic dimensions.


BG Борисова, С. 2021. Философия на сетивното възприятие. (За живото присъствие и мистерията на света: уроци от няколко съвременни форми на изкуство във времената на социална изолация). // Петрова, Г., Станойевич, М., Борисова, С., Хаджиева, С., Вълчева, А. 2021. Сетивни и имерсивн итеатралн ипрактики в дигитален контекст. С. 28–33. [Borissova, S. 2021. Philosophy of AestheticPerception. (On Living Presence andtheMystery of the World: Lessons from SomeContemporaryFormsof Artin the Times of Social Isolation). // Petrova, G., Stanoyevich, M., Borissova, S., Hadjieva, S., Valcheva, A. 2021. Sensory and Immersive Theater Practices in Digital Context. Pp. 28–33.]

BG Делева, Н. 2021. Изкуство и пандемия – кризата като възможност. // NotaBene. Бр. 52. [Deleva, N. 2021. Art and Pandemic – Crisis as Chance. // NotaBene. Vol. 52.]

BG Куюмджиева, И. 2021. Пандемичната криза като предизвикателство пред модела за формиране и изследване на културните политики. // Политически хоризонти. Бр. 6. С. 97–116. [Kuiumdzhieva, I. 2021. The pandemic Crisis as a Challenge to the Model for the Formation and Study of Cultural Policies. // Political horizons. Vol. 6. Pp. 97–116.]

BG Попова, В. 2021. Прилагайки лечебната и терапевтична сила на изкуството. (Първа част). // NotaBene. Бр. 54. [Popova, V. 2021. Applying the Healing and Therapeutic Power of Art. (Part One). // NotaBene. Vol. 54.]

BG Попова, В. 2021. Прилагайки лечебната и терапевтична сила на изкуството. (Втора част). // NotaBene. Бр. 54. [Popova, V. 2021. Applying the Healing and Therapeutic Power of Art. (Part Two). // NotaBene. Vol. 54.]

BG Попова, В. 2021. Прилагайки лечебната и терапевтична сила на изкуството. (Трета част). // NotaBene. Бр. 54. [Popova, V. 2021. Applying the Healing and Therapeutic Power of Art. (Part Three). // NotaBene. Vol. 54.]


  • Aesthetics of Silence and Taciturnity

Individual project No. ДФНП-17-175/03.08.2017

Program for Supporting Young Scientists and PhD Students at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences – 2017

Author and manager: Assist. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD

Scientific consultant: Prof. Ivanka Stapova, DSc

Term of implementation: 15.08.2017—14.02.2019

The research project “Aesthetics of Silence and Taciturnity” aims to give a systematic reading of silence and its subjective correlate—taciturnity as a cultural and philosophical problem in its philosophical-anthropological, existentialist and phenomenological-aesthetic dimensions; which sets the research approaches corresponding to these areas, as well as the systematic-philosophical methodology of the research. Temporal focus of the analysis is modernity in its more up-to-date phases.

The research tasks have to answer the following questions: (1) how taciturnity and the inexpressible permeate and persist in contemporary cultural discourse, which “colonized” all other discourses of Western modernity (Vattimo, Foucault); (2) how silence and taciturnity are explained as a contrast to the cultural phenomena of language, noise, visual and information overload, speed in contemporary art; (3) how they defend themselves as a negativity and what are the ultimate functions of this negativity in preserving the value human integrity and unity beyond the fragments of life in the modern cultural age of the visual, information, speed and noise; (4) how the aesthetics of silence and taciturnity is possible as a homogeneous field of research through reflection on art and its contemporary phase of development: in the words of Susan Sontag, “though no longer a confession, art is more than ever a deliverance, an exercise in asceticism”; “the ‘new’ and/or the ‘esoteric’ Silence is the artist’s ultimate other-worldly gesture”.

Working hypothesis. The etymological origin of silence and mystery is one—the Latin tacitum; and one of the meanings of the Latin word silens is ‘initiation into the sacred’, a vow of taciturnity. In the inclination of contemporary art to minimalism, absurdism, self-removal of the artist, parody and irony of the existing order—respectively, to the expansion of the territories of silence and taciturnity, be in “silent or noisy style” (Sontag)—in this visionarity of artistry, there is already a tendency that “only aesthetics will remain of religion” (Houellebecq): but it is the negative aesthetics in which sensory perception—retaining the memory of the corporeal and matter—has climbed the steps of reflexivity to master stoicism and value fullness, and in which the aesthetic circle closes with the possible, conceivable at least through art synchronicity of thought, movement and reality (Wittgenstein), the basis for a conscious and complete existence of man.

The actuality of the topic is expressed in the niche for philosophical aesthetics, but also for the discursively oriented Western philosophy of culture in general, reflection on silence and taciturnity as a discourse marginalized in principle and pushed into the realm of pure artistry and poetics (e.g., in the movements of symbolism, Japaneseism, absurdism in literature and painting) and usually associated with Eastern aesthetics and the philosophy of Zen Buddhism.

State-of-the-arts of research on the topic: Existing research on the aesthetics of silence and taciturnity in Western philosophical aesthetics is currently available in a small number of articles and studies (Susan Sontag, Ina Nekrasova, etc.), but there is no monograph on the topic to consolidate and comprehend in its entirety these essentially existentialist, phenomenological, and anthropological interpretations. In this context, the significant monographs on the broader field of philosophy and anthropology of silence and taciturnity are two: “The World of Silence” by Max Picard, 1948, and “Essays on the Anthropology of Taciturnity” by A. Bogdanov, 1998. In this sense, the current research project comes to fill this gap in the philosophical and aesthetic reflection of the studied phenomena and to update them as significant categories within modern and negative aesthetics.


BG Борисова, С. 2019. Естетика на тишината и мълчанието. ISBN 978-619-176-140-1. София: ИК Гутенберг. (232 страници). [Borissova, S. 2019. Aesthetics of Silence and Taciturnity. ISBN 978-619-176-140-1. Sofia: Gutenberg Publishing House. (232 pages).]

BG Борисова, С. 2019. Реторика на тишината в изкуството на ХХ–ХХІ век. // Реторика и комуникации. ISSN 1314-4464. Бр. 39. [Borissova, S. 2019. Rhetoric of Silence in the 20–21st Century Art. // Rhetoric and Communications. ISSN 1314-4464. Vol. 39.]

BG Борисова, С. 2019. Корените на тишината и короната на мълчанието в градината на философската естетика. // NotaBene. ISSN 1313-7859. Бр. 43. . [Borissova, S. 2019. The Roots of Silence and the Crown of Taciturnity in the Garden of Philosophical Aesthetics. // NotaBene. ISSN 1313-7859.Vol. 43.]

BG Борисова, С. 2018. „Тихата“ фантастика в Уелсовите разкази. (Послеслов). // Уелс, Х. Богът на динамото. (Избрани разкази). ISBN 9786191761043. София: ИК „Гутенберг“, с. 200–228. [Borissova, S. 2018. The ‘Quiet’ Science Fiction in Wells’ Short Stories (Epilogue). [Wells, H. The Lord of the Dynamos. (Selected Short Stories). ISBN 9786191761043. Sofia: Gutenberg Publishing House.P. 200–228.]

BG Борисова, С. 2018. Възможни ли са тишината и мълчанието като естетически феномени? // Философски алтернативи. ISSN 0861–7899. Бр. 4, с. 88–98. [Borissova, S. 2018. Are Silence and Taciturnity Possible as Aesthetic Phenomena?// Philosophical Alternatives.ISSN 0861–7899. No. 4, pp. 88–98.]


  • Shall the World Save Beauty?

Collective planning project at IPhS—BAS

Manager: Prof. Ivanka Stapova, DSc

Coordinator; manager (09.—12.2019): Assist. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD

Team members: Prof. Nonka Bogomilova, DSc; Assist. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD; Assist. Prof. Andrey Leshkov, PhD; Assist. Prof. Galin Penev, PhD; Vyara Popova, PhD student

Term of implementation: 01.07.2016—31.12.2019

If for decades Dostoevsky’s claim that the burden of saving the world falls on the fragile shoulders of beauty has been examined in all sorts of philosophical, aesthetic, literary, psychological and ideological readings, then this project aims to problematize the very limits of such ontological and axiological autonomy and responsibility of beauty, on the one hand, and of the suffering and thus even destructive state of the human world before the fragility of the phenomenon of beauty, on the other. The project topic offers an inversion of the problematic formulation: Will the world save beauty? and accordingly seeks to give alternative answers and solutions where the limits of the ontological and axiological responsibility of the human world, of man himself lie in the salvation and creation of beauty, of everything fragile, transient and fleeing, which makes this human world more alive, more colorful, lighter and better.

In this way, the project setting problematizes not only the attitude of the human world to such universal values ​​as beauty as given or ‘inherited’ cultural phenomena, but also opens the horizon for an even larger question: will modern culture save that aesthetics which central subject was beauty?


BG Стъпова, И., Борисова, С., Пенев, Г. (Съст.). 2022. Ще спаси ли светът красотата? (Научен сборник, колектив). София. (Под печат). Научни рецензенти: проф. дфн Нина Димитрова (ИФС – БАН), проф. дфн Татяна Батулева (ИФС – БАН). [Stapova, I., Borissova, S., Penev, G. (Ed.). 2022. Shall the World Save Beauty? (Scientific collection, authors’ collective). Sofia. (In print). Scientific reviewers: Prof. Nina Dimitrova, DSc (IPhS—BAS); Prof. Tatyana Batuleva (IPhS—BAS).

Table of contents:

Ivanka Stapova—Longing for Beauty—Nostalgia and Optimism (“It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that the world is eternally justified”)

  1. Beauty –A Ritual Category
  2. Victims of Beauty—The Tragedy of the Portrait and the Drama of Man
  3. The Sense of Beauty in George Santayana

Andrey Leshkov—Life and Passion—Passion and Thought (Notes on Examples to a Treatise of Love)

Sylvia Borissova— ‘The Affinity of All Beauty to Death’ as a Persistence of the Existence of Beauty in the World: The paradox in Adorno’s aesthetics

Galin Penev—Space and Symbol (Reception of the Philosophy of Space in Pavel Florensky)

Vyara Popova—Graffiti on the Periphery of Urban Practices, Vandalism and Street Art—On the Dispute over Cultural Phenomena


  • Mythology of Loss of the Beautiful. Genealogy and Actuality of Negative Aesthetics

Individual planning project at IPhS—BAS

Author and manager: Assist. Prof. Sylvia Borissova, PhD

Term of implementation: 02.12.2015—31.12.2016

The project aims to explore the genealogy and relevance of the field of negative aesthetics as a type of non-classical aesthetics in the perspective of historical-philosophical consideration of the idea of ​​beauty, central to classical aesthetics. Both the origin and the conceptual development of negative aesthetics are derived through a reconstructive analysis of the transgression of the aesthetic code of the beautiful along the main historical periods in Western culture (from the 6th century BC to the present day). The code of the beautiful, defined differently by each cultural-historical period—as a harmony of the celestial bodies, calculation of mathematical proportions (Pythagoreans), identity of the internal and the external (Hegel), harmony of value and expression (Croce, Santayana), as convulsiveness (Breton), as taboo (Adorno), as identical with truth (Heidegger) or with the wholeness in the order of things—is presented as a mythologeme; therefore, the leading concept of the beautiful for each of the periods is presented as a cultural myth, and the set of concepts of the beautiful in the course of Western culture—as a mythology of beauty.

Thus, the focus of the project is not only to bring out the mythology of loss of the beautiful by tracing back the transgression of the aesthetic code of the beautiful, but also to:

(1) prove that the loss of the beautiful, taken as a special case of ‘radical loss’ (in the axiological, ontological and existential aspects of loss, alienation, absence, deprivation—Sartre, Badiou, Yuan) is not only a secondary effect of classical mythology of the beautiful; it actually preceded the idea of ​​beauty as a cultural myth (Adorno: beauty is not a platonic pure beginning, negative experience is the origin of beauty; beauty became beauty when the frightening became ugly), but its precedence has long been pushed into the cultural unconscious. In particular, any precedent anticipating the code of the beautiful in each cultural period was marginalized until the time of modernity, when the periphery of culture became its center and, accordingly, the mythology of the beautiful was brought into crisis;

(2) on this basis, to study the ontological, existential and axiological plan; but also the philosophical-aesthetic, culturological, theological and political dimensions of the mythology of ‘loss of the beautiful’ in the contemporary situation. This is the point at which negative aesthetics should be argued as a mythology of loss of the beautiful, and its relevance as a field of explanation of modern culture should find its ultimate justification.


BG Борисова, С. 2017. Митологията на красивото като митология на идентичното. // Философски алтернативи. ISSN 0861–7899. Бр. 4, с. 83–97. [Borissova, S. 2017. Mythology of the Beautiful as a Mythology of the Identical. // Philosophical Alternatives. ISSN 0861–7899. Vol. 4. Pp. 83–97.]

BG Борисова, С. 2017. „Абсолютна метафорология“ ли е „абсолютната митология“? Мостът между Лосев и Блуменберг. // Философски алтернативи. ISSN 0861-7899. Бр. 2–3, с. 191–213. [Borissova, S. 2017. Is “Absolute Mythology” an “Absolute Metaphorology”? The Bridge between Losev and Blumenberg. // Philosophical Alternatives. Vol. 2–3. Pp. 191–213.]