Sheehan retraces the development of a Marxist philosophy of science through detailed and highly readable accounts of the debates that shaped it. Skilfully deploying a large cast of characters, Sheehan shows how Marx and Engel’s ideas on the development and structure of natural science had a crucial impact on the work of early twentieth-century natural philosophers, historians of science, and natural scientists.
With a new afterword by the author.
“Sheehan’s book remains the single best secondary analysis of the debates over Marxist philosophy of science from its creation in the late nineteenth century … until the close of World War II. It is an indispensable reference to the polyglot efflorescence of dialectical materialist thought across Europe, with especial emphasis on writings in German, Russian, and English, though she impressively ventures even farther afield. It is essential reading for anyone interested in these questions.”
“A remarkably effective combination of solid scholarship and engaging writing … For Sheehan’s prose is lively and full of feeling, and she approaches the philosophy of science not as a narrow specialty but as the key to understanding and appraising the many different turns taken by Marxist thinkers in the doctrine’s first hundred years.”
“A singular achievement. Sheehan is masterful in her presentation of the dialectics of nature debates, which begin with Engels and recur throughout the periods covered by this book.”