Discoveries in the Ilyenkov archive

Andrey Maidansky explains what has been found in the archive belonging to Ilyenkov’s daughter Illesh:

Chatlog:  Questions to Andrey Maidansky, IFI webinar 13 January 2022

You have explained that Ilyenkov’s “Leninist Dialectics” was heavily censored. Does that mean that our edition we have in English is very different than he intended?

Is there any correspondence or documentation in the archive about the agreement with New Park Publications to translate it into English?

What new light has your work in the archive shed on Ilyenkov’s struggle with the authorities at the Philosophy Institute and how this related to the political changes in the USSR?

Is it becoming clearer exactly what made the authorities so angry? Was it because he said in his letter to the Central Committee (December 1967) that “it is quite clear for economists themselves that we don’t have the political economy of socialism”?

Are answers to these are in Illesh Ilyenkov’s 2016 book? Is there any chance of someone doing an English translation of her book with the archival material including “transcripts of faculty and party meetings and unpublished writings” (quote is from Bakhurst’s article Punks versus Zombies, included in Lektorsky and Bykova’s book).

What are the differences, if any, between the dialectical materialist philosophy typical of the Stalinist period and that after the 20th Congress, the role of Ilyenkov in both periods?

Are there topics Ilyenkov covers in the archived material that we don’t have any record of him discussing in the published work, or whether he’s retracing the same ground.

What is socialism, the USSR and Stalin according to Ilyenkov?

Monism vs. pluralism: Ilyenkov affirms that everything is connected to everything through millions of mediations, or even that reality is fractured. How is this related with abstract definitions of monism? If reality is fractured and needs several sciences to be understood, how could we determine the limits of each determined science according to Ilyenkov?

In recent times, there has been a lot of debate about civilization. Is there a concept of civilization that fits with Ilyenkov’s concept of the ideal?

Ethology develops from the 70’s. Is it possible that Ilyenkov was not aware of the research on the cultures of some species of animals?

Kyrill Potapov: And certainly his critique of why animals don’t have cultures still holds – see Derek Bickerton. Still no ideal discovered even among chimps.

Do you know anything about the attached manuscript (TIF) translation into German (first page of 24). It’s been sent to us by a PhD student researching in Germany who can’t remember where he found it.

Can we expect unknown works to appear?

In one of Ilyenkov’s essays on Hegel, he mentions parenthetically the “pessimism of the Frankfurt School”. He does not draw any difference between Adorno, Horkheimer or Marcuse, and does not deepen the point. So the question is: Are there any indications that Ilyenkov had access or studied the works of Theodor Adorno?

And perhaps more generally: Can we see with which other philosophical/marxist traditions outside the USSR Ilyenkov was in touch or interested him?

Did Ilyenkov read Franfurt School, Yigoslav Praxis School, Lukacs’ school, Karel Kosik in Czechoslovakia, Polish dissident thinkers, Poznan School….?

The basic idea of “The Cosmology of the Spirit” seems to be expression of a “young” Ilyenkov. The later writings do not encounter themselves in any principle contradiction with the idea of cosmological communism described in the essay, but the reflection of such themes seems to have got in the background of Ilyenkovs thinking. So the question would be:

Are there any indications that Ilyenkov occupied himself seriously with other works of cosmism, like Bogdanov, or that he had any interest in such cuestions that we would today assign to “Science Fiction” (I mean serious Science Fiction, from a philosophical standpoint, not Star Wars or things like that).

Comment by Ralph Dumain) Re Ilyenkov and science fiction (besides RED STAR). This reminds me of Lukacs’ limited aesthetics, including Lukacs’ disregard of science fiction. Apparently Stanislaw Lem was very popular in USSR but the authorities tampered with the Russian translations

                “Paths of Cain”

Poem by Voloshin posted by Andrey.

                Self detonating Man, be dynamite yourself.

                Blow up the Earth like Universe’s hearth!

                Stronger swing! Throw your outmoded planet

                As a bomb into the starry worlds!

                Don’t wait until the frozen Earth

                Falls into lumps of mud.

                Make it blaze up and flare as a new Sun –

                a shaggy heart of the Milky Way.

                Самовзрыватель, будь же динамитом.

                Земля, взорвись вселенским очагом!

                Сильней размах! Отжившую планету

                Швырните бомбой в звездные миры!

                Ужель вам ждать, пока комками грязи

                Не распадется мерзлая земля?

                И в сонмах солнц не вспыхнуть новым

                солнцем – Косматым сердцем Млечного Пути?

                Maximilian Voloshin, a 20th century Russian poet             

Miguel Borrajo: I wanted to ask about affect and the new post-cognitivist proposals. For example, the whole extended theory of mind, ecological psychology and 4e cognition in general. Are these approaches close to Iliénkov’s theory?

Ralph Dumain: What was Ilyenkov’s general assessment of Lukacs on dialectics? Interesting questions about Bogdanov, Carnap. I didn’t know about anti-Carnap views, but I haven’t read everything in English. I do recall Ilyenkov’s dislike of neopositivism.  Of what has been mentioned, it seems that priorities for further English translation would be Ilyenkov’s relation to other thinkers discussed.

A Brown: Thanks for answer on Lukacs. Your answer re. ontology very interesting. Relevant to current Western debates (e.g. Roy Bhaskar’s critical realism which emphasises ontology; also Lukacs currently influential [e.g, amongst group of Marxist economists in Brazil, as it happens])

Could you tell us a bit more about the discussions with Zinoviev and other philosophers regarding Marx’s method?

Names and books mentioned:

“Why was Idols and Ideals supressed?”

“Dialiéctika idealnovo”, can be read in Evald Iliénkov. Iskusstvo i kommunistícheski ideal, Moskva, 1984

Ukraintsev, the director of Philosophy Institute

Sympathetic to Ilyenkov: Kopnin, Lektorsky

Leo Naumenko who worked in Obninsk, a physics institute, where Ilyenkov gave talks.

Photos of Naumenko:

Boris Batishchev

Russian to English translation recommended by Andrey:

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