Friedrich Engels and the technoscientific reproducibility of life

Science and Society : A Journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis 84 (3):369- 400 (2020)
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Abstract

Friedrich Engels’ dialectical assessment of modern science resulted from his fascination with the natural sciences in combination with his resurging interest in the work of “old Hegel.” Engels became especially interested in what he saw as the molecular essence of life, namely proteins or, more specifically, albumin, seeing life as the mode of existence of these enigmatic substances. Hegelian dialectics is crucial for a dialectical materialist understanding of contemporary technoscience. The dialectical materialist understanding of technoscience as a research practice builds on Engels, but also on later authors who were inspired by his writings, e.g., life scientists such as Haldane and Bernal. Considering the criticism raised against Engels’ dialectics by 20th-century Marxists, a dialectical diagnostic of contemporary technoscience can be achieved, which shifts the focus from artificial albumin as “living matter” to contemporary research on synthetic cells

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Hub Zwart
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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