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E.V. Ilyenkov and Creative Soviet Marxism: Introduction to Dialectics of the Ideal

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Chapter Summary

Dialectics of the Ideal is a pivotal intervention in Soviet philosophy, and one of the most insightful examples of the subterranean tradition of creative Soviet Marxism. It provides an important window into the highly contested, yet poorly researched, intellectual history of Marxist theory in the Soviet Union in the post-Stalinist period. Soviet Diamat was the official interpretation of Marxist theory sanctioned by the state. Evald Vasilyevich Ilyenkov's review of the concept of the ideal through the history of Western philosophy illustrates the achievements of 'intelligent' idealism, as well as the poverty of what Lenin called 'silly' materialism. Most significantly, it demonstrates Marx's distinct solution to the problem of the ideal how it differs from idealist, but also from crude materialist conceptions. For Ilyenkov, the ideal is not a thing, but part of a process that involves the human representation of things in the body of other things.

Keywords: creative Soviet Marxism; Dialectics of the Ideal; Evald Vasilyevich Ilyenkov; intelligent idealism; Soviet Diamat; Soviet philosophy



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