Sergei Mareev

Entry in Encyclopedia  of Russian Philosophy, 3rd edition, General editor M. A. Salina. Moscow, Mir Philosophii, 2020.

Published with the kind permission of Andrey V. Maidansky

Translated by Alla Potapova

MAREEV Sergey Nicolaevich (2 May 1941 – 12 September 2019, Moscow) was a philosopher, a doctor of philosophy and a university professor. He was the pupil and associate of Ilyenkov, a specialist in the field of dialectical logic and a historian of Soviet philosophy.

He was a committee member of the “Dialectics and Culture” philosophical society, responsible for organising international readings of Ilyenkov’s work. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1969 with a degree in philosophy and worked in the Institute of Marxism-Leninism within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1970-1972), then in the Soviet Academy of Science’s Institute of Philosophy (1972-1984) and various other academic institutes in Moscow. He defended his doctoral dissertation on the “Dialectics of the logical and historical and the concrete historicism of Karl Marx” in 1986.  He headed the philosophy school in the Moscow Academy of Modern Humanitarian Sciences between 2002-2018. Until recently he headed the philosophy section in Moscow’s International Business School.

In his monograph The Dialectic of the Logical and Historical, and the Concrete Historicism of Karl Marx (1984) Mareev studied the logical method of Capital (categories of the abstract and concrete, historical and logical, singular and universal, identical and different; contradictions and etc.) According to him, concrete historicism holds a particular concept of the interconnection between logic and empiricism, theory and fact. This method calls for theory to reflect the immanent logic of facticity [the quality or state of being a fact], i.e. their substantial interconnectivity within a concrete entity. The key criterion distinguishing what was essential for a particular entity isolated from external and occasional influences was its internal contradiction. The problem was to find a concrete existing fact, which assists the resolution of such contradiction, and there emerges a new universal historical form of existence.

In his joint research Principles of Materialistic Dialectics as a Theory of Cognition (1984) Mareev studied the category of a system, which forms the cornerstone of the monist theory of knowledge (chapter “The Principle of Systems Theory and Dialectics”). The dialectical principle of systematic development or “organic integrity”, according to Mareev, contradicts the formalised “or systems approach” which prevails in analytical philosophy.

In his works written during the 1980s, Mareev offered a conceptual analysis of content and form. He adopted Hegel’s concept of a dual connection between a form and its content. He pointed out that purely formal movement was bound to contradict the content at some point, which in itself was not devoid of a form and has an inner immanent form. This form would be discovered by a different logic, known as dialectical logic. Dialectical categories are based on the principal of relating thought to existing and thus represent meaningful, “existential” forms of thought or “concrete abstractions” (E.V. Ilyenkov). Mareev laid special emphasis on the category of  “a formal form”, originally mentioned in Marx’s economic manuscripts. In the early 1990s he undertook the logical analysis of various theories and categories of economics and published the Introduction to the Post-market Economics (1993). He also published a book about his teacher Ilyenkov. A number of his textbooks on the history of philosophy, logic and philosophy of science were published in the 2000s.

The dialectical-materialistic analysis of Soviet philosophy occupies a special place in Mareev’s works.  In this analysis, for the first time in his native [Russian] literature, he identified a line of intellectual continuity: Lukács-Vygotsky-Ilyenkov. Mareev offered theoretical analysis of the key tendencies in the development of the Soviet philosophy, which had multiple conflicting interpretations of the subject matter and the method of the Marxist philosophy, materialist dialectics, the interconnection between dialectics, logic and cognition. Mareev saw the key source of such contradictions in the way that Marxist philosophy was interpreted by Lenin and Plekhanov. Mareev believed that it was Plekhanov’s followers who influenced the formation of the officially-accepted [in the USSR] theory of dialectical and historic materialism. Dialectics, recognised as the general theory of development, formed the basis of philosophy teaching in higher educational establishments in the Soviet Union. Initially it was György Lukács who offered a different concept in Soviet philosophy, and then in the post-war period Ilyenkov presented the essence of Marxist philosophy in its method of materialistic dialectics, identical to the logic and theory of consciousness. Mareev pointed out that it was Ilyenkov, who on the basis of the economic, pedagogical, and aesthetical history of philosophy, demonstrated the advantage of concrete historicism as the foundation of dialectical logic. Vygotsky shared this view and strove to overcome the methodological crisis in the Soviet psychology.


Works: Dialectics of the logical and historical and the concrete historicism of Karl Marx. M., 1984, Principles of systems and dialectics. Principles of materialist dialectics as the theory of knowledge. M., 1984; Formal and meaningful systems in scientific knowledge/Questions of philosophy.1986; Introduction into post-market economics. M.,1993; Meeting E. Ilyenkov, a philosopher. M.,1994; From the history of Soviet philosophy: Lukács-Vygotsky-Ilyenkov. M., 2008;  Marx’s  theory of economics and its critics. M., 2011; The Berdyaev myth. M., 2012; Ilyenkov: Dedicate one’s life to philosophy. M., 2015; Concrete historicism. M., 2017 Vygotsky: philosophy, psychology and art. M., 2017; The accidental and inevitable nature of the October revolution/from October revolution to Soviet socialism: A view 100 years on. M., 2017; Liberalism and Democracy in Russia//Political education.2018 No 4; Karl Marx’s Theory of communism/Communism. Anticommunism. Russophobia. M., 2019 and other works.


See tribute by Corinna Lotz – Sergei Mareev: champion of Ilyenkov and thinker in his own right

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