Evald Ilyenkov

Evald Ilyenkov

Evald Vassilievich Ilyenkov (18 February 1924—21 March 1979) was a Marxist author and renowned Soviet philosopher who did important original work on the materialist development of Hegel's dialectics. His works include Dialectical Logic (1977), Leninist Dialectics and the Metaphysics of Positivism (1982) and The Dialectics of the Abstract and Concrete in Marx's Capital (Russian, 1960; English trans. 1982). Ilyenkov committed suicide in 1979.

David Bakhurst writes in his article; "Meaning, Normativity and the Life of Mind" in Language and Communication, 17 (1), 33-51:

"Ilyenkov was important in the revival of Russian Marxist philosophy after the dark days of Stalinism. In the early 1960s, he produced significant work in two main areas. First he wrote at length on Marx‘s dialectical method (‘the method of ascent from the abstract to concrete’). This work, though it now seems obscure, has an important political sub-text: its critique of empiricism is aimed at the positivism and scientism that Ilyenkov thought prevalent in Soviet political and intellectual culture.

Second, Ilyenkov developed a distinct solution to what he called ‘the problem of the ideal;' that is, the problem of the place of the non-material in the natural world. The latter involves a resolute defence of the objectivity of ideal phenomena, which are said to exist as aspects of our spiritual culture, embodied in our environment. ... there are important continuities between Ilyenkov‘s ideas and controversies in Soviet philosophy and psychology in the 1920s and ‘30s, particularly ... with Vygotsky‘s socio-historical psychology.... .After the insightful writings of the early 1960s, his inspiration diminished as the political climate became more oppressive. ... He died in 1979, by his own hand.”

In an email message, Peter Jones, of Sheffield Hallam University, wrote:

"On the political angle, colleagues have mentioned the difficult circumstances under which Ilyenkov and his colleagues worked. Ilyenkov indeed suffered from the ministrations, censorship and repressive activity of the regime on different occasions and in different ways (although his work was also celebrated). But Ilyenkov was an absolutely sincere Marxist and communist (with a small c). His political and economic writings (none of which have so far appeared in English to my knowledge) posthumously published in the 1991 Collected Works volume show him as a trenchant Marxist critic of official soviet ideology and ‘socialist economics’ and there is no wonder these things were not published (or perhaps were not even submitted for publication) during his lifetime.”

An article, "Marx and the Western World," was published in English in a book of the same name in 1967, but this work is little known.

On the other hand, Ilyenkov's work (especially his masterpiece, the study on "Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete in Marx’s Capital" from 1960, and the collection of essays entitled "Dialectical Logic" from 1974) deeply influenced the reception of Marx' economic writings from the 1960s onwards, in the Soviet Union and the GDR as well as in the West. His influence can be witnessed in the international research effort concerned with the publication of Marx' economic manuscripts (in Marx/Engels: "Gesamtausgabe", or MEGA, section II, 1976 ff.). His influence is also evident in the intense debates on economic reform that was going on in the Soviet Union in the 1970s (e.g., in the works of A. K. Pokrytan).

Some of Ilyenkov's major works have been published in English and German translations. His "Dialectical Logic" (1974) was published in English by Progress Publishers in Moscow in 1977. A German translation of his "Dialectics of the Abstract and the Concrete in Marx’s Capital" (1960), was published by the same publisher in 1979 (and simultaneously by Das europäische Buch, West Berlin); an English translation of the book was published by Progress Publishers in Moscow in 1982.

References

*Text from [http://www.marxists.org/ The Marxists Internet Archive] under the terms of the [http://www.marxists.org/admin/legal/cc/by-sa.htm Creative Commons Commons Deed]

See also

*Philosophy in the Soviet Union
*Aleksandr Zinovyev

External links

* [http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/ Archive of Writings in English at the MIA]
* [http://caute.2084.ru/ilyenkov/eng/index.htm Biography including Archive of Writings in English/Russian]


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