Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy

From the Bolsheviks to Evald Ilyenkov

Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy

This is the first critical history of the philosophical culture of the USSR, and the first substantial treatment of a modern Soviet philosopher's work by a Western author. The book identifies a significant tradition within Soviet Marxism that has produced powerful theories exploring the origins of meaning and value, the relation of thought and language, and the nature of the self. The tradition is presented through the work of Evald Ilyenkov (1924-79), the thinker who did the most to rejuvenate Soviet philosophy after its suppression under Stalin. Professor Bakhurst sets Ilyenkov's contribution against the background of the bitter debates that divided Soviet philosophers in the 1920s, the "sociohistorical psychology" of Vygotsky, the controversies over Lenin's legacy, and the philosophy of Stalinism. He traces Ilyenkov's tense relationship with the Soviet philosophical establishment and his passionate polemics with Soviet opponents. This book offers a unique insight into the world of Soviet philosophy, the place of politics within it, and its prospects in the age of glasnost and perestroika.


 Reviews:

"For all who see something of value in activity theory, this book is a MUST READ!...This book offers a highly readable yet critical and scholarly account of an important variant of this philosophy, and promises to enlighten us as to why activity theory appears so attractive against our backgrounds of frustrated empiricism." Charles W. Tolman, Multidisciplinary Newsletter for Activity Theory

"Bakhurst succeeds in bringing Ilyenkov's philosophy to life in a way that [other] translations fail to do. He gives an outstandingly clear, vivid, and compelling account of Ilyenkov's ideas, and defends them persuasively against criticism." Canadian Slavonic Papers

"David Bakhurst considers the possibility that we have witnessed the final chapter of Soviet philosophy a 'stark' one, but the chapter he has written, the first such substantial account of an individual, is none the less an important undertaking. Philosophical culture, however, has been far more widely alive in Russia than just among critical Marxists, and a new chapter in Russian philosophy is an exciting prospect." Robin Aizlewood, Times Higher Education Supplement

"David Bakhurst has written a sympathetic and insightful elucidation of the philosophy of the late Evald Ilyenkov (1921-1979) and an engaging and thought-provoking discussion of his importance for both Soviet and Western philosophy." David G. Rowley, Russian Review

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