University of Warwick
Distinguished Lecture Series
14 February 2013
David Harvey is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a leading political economist and social theorist of international standing. He is a highly cited academic and the author of many books and essays. Professor Harvey received his BA, MA and PhD from Cambridge University and was formerly Professor of Geography at John Hopkins University, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and Senior Research Fellow at St Peter’s College Oxford.
His numerous awards include Outstanding Contributor Award of the Association of American Geographers, the Centenary Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for contributions to critical human
The Ideal in Human Activity
Marxist Internet Archive Publications (www.marxists.org), Pacifica CA, 2009. 396pp. $25 pb
The Ideal in Human Activity by E. V. Ilyenkov is a substantial tome consisting of two complete books and three articles, which offers for the first time in the form of a single volume the majority of this renowned Soviet philosopher’s work currently available in English translation. This publication constitutes an important intervention in the problem of consciousness, which has figured prominently in the canon of Western social and political thought from Plato to the present. Theories about the origin and nature of human thought have fundamentally shaped our notions of politics, taking a substantial turn in the nineteenth century in light of the critical significance that Marx ascribed to the role of consciousness in the process of revolution (Lowy 2005, p. 10). Consequently, the key debates on political organization in classical Marxism turned on the question of how to displace the hegemony of ruling ideas produced by false consciousness with the objectively correct perspective articulated by the class-conscious vanguard of the proletariat in the form of the communist party (Lukacs 1971; 2000; Second Congress of the Comintern 1977). But when the organizational innovations ascribed to Lenin (Lih 2005) did not yield in Central and Western Europe the same results ‘as in Russia’, the principal figures of a tradition retrospectively known as Western Marxism (Anderson 1976), set out in the early 1920s to re-examine some of the most foundational concepts on which the problem of consciousness rests in an effort ‘to rescue Marxism from positivism and crude materialism’ (Jacoby 1983, p. 524).