Thesis ID: CBB788357060

As the Snake Sheds Its Skin: The Revolutionary Art and Science of Alexander Bogdanov (2023)


This dissertation presents the life and work of Alexander Bogdanov, a revolutionary public intellectual in Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. I begin with Bogdanov’s living experience, situating his theoretical interventions in the political and intellectual context of his time. Then I introduce Bogdanov’s unique Marxist approach to systems science, or “tektology,” which Bogdanov thought of as a new “organizational point of view” that would synthesize all historical knowledge and create theoretical tools for revolutionary transformation of human social systems. In particular, I look at how Bogdanov applied systems science to questions of communication and culture, including his labor theory of speech, his structural-analogical model of base and superstructure correlations, and his grand narrative of progressive development from authoritarianism through anarchy and into socialism. Lastly, I offer a close reading of Bogdanov’s lesser-known science fiction novel Engineer Menni, which Bogdanov presented as an analogy to the situation faced by socialists in the epoch of monopoly capitalism, and which offers insights into the characteristics of Bogdanov’s distinctive cultural and political theory of social change.

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Authors & Contributors
Rispoli, Giulia
Bessudnova, Zoya A.
Dugatkin, Lee Alan
Firsov, Alexander
Fuller, Steven
Gordin, Michael D.
Research in the History of Technology
Journal of Biosciences
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Science as Culture
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Basic Books
Edizioni ETS
Gebrüder Bornträger
Science and politics
Philosophy of science
Bogdanov, Alexander
Mach, Ernst
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich
Bogdanov, A. Aleksandr
Belousov, Boris Pavlovich
Bernal, John Desmond
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
Soviet Union

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