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Thinking as an Engelsian

Royle, Camilla ORCID: 0000-0002-2477-5973 (2022) Thinking as an Engelsian. Human Geography(United Kingdom), 15 (1). 66 - 72. ISSN 1942-7786

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Identification Number: 10.1177/19427786211050982


In this essay, I address the question of how Marxism influences our thought and action as radical intellectuals by focusing on Friedrich Engels’ work, Dialectics of Nature, the way it has been taken up in critical environmental studies and how Engels’ thinking has influenced me. In later life, Engels made important contributions on topics that are distinct from Marx's economic work. He attempted to apply dialectical methods to the “natural sciences” and he also used his knowledge of anthropology to produce a study of the historical origins of private property and women's oppression. In both cases he has been accused of adopting a positivist approach that lacks the emphasis on human agency found in Marx. Here, I challenge this view by showing how Engels’ work has been of use to practicing scientists – particularly to Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin in their book The Dialectical Biologist. I further argue that this understanding of dialectics is fully commensurable and actually advances an approach to Marxism that is based on human self-emancipation. As an undergraduate biology student these scientists inspired me with their approach to their subject as well as their activism. The essay concludes with some brief thoughts on the importance and limitations of adopting a Marxist method when considering socio-environmental change.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2022 14:24
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 22:48

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