Science: model, icon, and the subjective factor

Alex de Jong


In the long tradition of Marxism, the central aim was, and is, to develop a theory that enables the emancipating subject to understand the why and how of the present in order to set out a policy for a better, human, future.
Against all kinds of romantic utopian phantasies of the early socialists, Marx & Engels started a research programma to guide the striving for human emancipation from its social chains and in understanding human nature in relationship with the non-human nature .
In this process they expressed keen interest in the exploding developments in all sciences, from agriculture to chemistry, and from biology to physics. And in particular the successes of their applications in the economic fabric of their time.
Later, the weak spot became the idea that the dialectical unity of social practice and scientific developments can be put under one umbrella term: dialectical materialism as an encompassing methodological term for the science of historical materialism. This methodological monism is seen as a self perpetual approach that enables to cater for all new research findings. In the long tradition of research in the role of science (as it is) and scientists (as they are) in emancipatory politics, exemplified by Bernalism and its offsprings, the understanding of the very notion “science” as human endeavour is often left out in the equation. In this presentation the approaches of astronomer council communist Anton Pannekoek and CP Crystallographer J. Desmond Bernal are compared. They both take dialectical materialism as the science of the proletariat but they take a different approach to the role of science, the role of dialectics, the subjective factor, as well as the role of the intellectual.

Note: This is an expanded and further developed work of:
Alex de Jong and Joost Kircz: Pannekoek and the missing subjective factor.,
Presented at: Anton Pannekoek (1873-1960): Ways of Viewing Science and Society, Royal Academy, Amsterdam, 9&10 June 2016. To be published.

science - subject