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Il’enkov, Eval’d Vasil’evich (1924–79)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-E070-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Eval’d Il’enkov advanced a distinctive brand of Hegelian Marxism that was influential in the rejuvenation of Soviet philosophy after Stalin. Il’enkov draws on Hegel and Marx to argue that non-material phenomena can exist as genuine features of objective reality independent of the consciousness and will of individuals. Il’enkov argues that the existence of such phenomena, conceived as objectifications of human social activity, is central to the explanation of the nature and possibility of the human mind. The world becomes a possible object of thought through its ’idealization’ by activity, and children attain mental capacities in the full sense only through the appropriation of the ideal as it exists objectified in ’humanity’s spiritual culture’.

Il’enkov’s defence of the reality of culture represents a critique of positivism and scientism, a critique he pursued in many other writings. A tireless opponent of reductionist theories of mind and ’biological determinist’ theories of human development, he advanced a view of persons as socially constituted beings and stressed socialism’s obligation to create the circumstances in which human beings may develop their almost limitless potential. Like many in the post-Stalin era, his criticism of the Soviet philosophical establishment takes the form of a call for a genuinely orthodox form of Marxism, faithful to the spirit of Marx’s thought.

Citing this article:
Bakhurst, David. Il’enkov, Eval’d Vasil’evich (1924–79), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-E070-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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