Practical Materialism” in Understanding Thinking: E.V. Ilyenkov and F.T. Mikhailov



F.T. Mikhailov called E.V. Ilyenkov ‘the first of us’ and was guided in his work on The Riddle of the Self by the dialectical logic Ilyenkov developed — the objective-oriented activity theory of thinking. The article explores the differences between the two editions of this book 'and discusses the concept of ‘practical’ materialism opposing ‘somatic’ materialism. The latter considers organic body, which is gifted to man by nature, to be the subject of activity. In practical materialism, objective activity (social labour) is treated as the substance whose ‘results and moments’, as Mikhailov puts it, are thought, bodily organization and everything specifically human altogether. Cultural objects form a ‘language of real life’, a special kind of symbol system that brings people together and guides their activities. In the study of this language, Mikhailov sees the key to solving the riddle of the human Self

General Information

Keywords: objective-oriented activity, labour, language, inorganic body, interiorization, deobjectifica¬tion, activity approach.

Journal rubric: Memorable Dates


Funding. The study was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-011-00646.

For citation: Maidansky A.D. Practical Materialism” in Understanding Thinking: E.V. Ilyenkov and F.T. Mikhailov. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 37–41. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170106. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Andrey D. Maidansky, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Professor, Chair of Philosophy, Belgorod National Research University, Associated Researcher, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Belgorod, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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