A Theory and Practice of Cognition for Our Time: Building on Ilyenkov’s Dialectical Logic

Corinna Lotz
Pages 53-71| Published online: 16 Sep 2022

Lotz, Corinna 2023. “A Theory and Practice of Cognition for Our Time:Building on Ilyenkov’s Dialectical Logic.” Marxism & Sciences 2(1): 53–71. 


This article focuses on taking seriously Marx’s statement that the point of philosophy is not simply to explain the world but to change it. This was a gauntlet thrown down to the future to develop an epistemology, a theory of knowledge, that arises from human beings’ actual relations with nature and even the wider cosmos of which they are a part. It demands that we focus our attention in areas where philosophers sometimes fear to tread—the actual role and purpose of (in this article’s argument) thinking, that is, conscious thinking—cognition—in materialist dialectical concepts. I argue that we can trace out the process and practice of cognition with a view to revolutionary transformation. I focus on two thinkers who developed materialist dialectics boldly with this specific aim in view Vladimir Lenin, especially in his reading of Hegel, and Evald Ilyenkov, whose work on The Ideal took materialist dialectics into new and exciting territory. Using these two sources and in company with many others I trace the path of cognition. It is a challenge to Marxists in this moment of global disorder as new generations seek the resources for positive transformation of our global society.

KEYWORDS: Epistemology, cognition, self-movement, materialist dialectics, sensation, negation, concepts, Ideal, practice.


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