A Talk on Evald Vasilyevich Ilyenkov “Personality and collective” with Kyrill Potapov and Corinna Lotz

27 April, 2023 20:00 (London time)

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Corinna Lotz and Kyrill Potapov

Kyrill Potapov is an organiser at the International Friends of Ilyenkov. He is a researcher in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London with an interest in social practice, agency and learning.

Corinna Lotz co-founded International Friends of Ilyenkov and wrote Finding Evald Ilyenkov: how a Soviet philosopher who stood up for dialectics continues to inspire. She helps organise the Real Democracy Movement.


  1. E. V. Ilyenkov. What is personality? translated by Giuliano Vivaldi
  2. Finding Ilyenkov: How a Soviet Philosopher Who Stood Up for Dialectics Continues to Inspire by Corinna Lotz, 2019
  3. Who Are The International Friends of Ilyenkov by Corinna Lotz (below)

Who Are The International Friends of Ilyenkov

by Corinna Lotz

Three women (from Finland, Scotland and England) co-founded IFI in 2012 after meeting at Spinoza in Soviet Thought, a conference organised by Professor Vesa Oittinen at Helsinki university. There we shared papers with Vesa himself, Sergei and Elena Mareeva, Andrey Maidansky and other scholars.

Ilyenkov matters to us and all those with revolutionary aspirations because he was a great 20th century thinker as well as a true Marxist. He did not believe the Soviet Union had reached socialism. He struggled for a philosophical approach in tune with Lenin’s vision of socialism, with dialectics as its heart and soul.

Thanks to the rise of videoconferencing (and forced by the pandemic) we have read Ilyenkov’s writings with IFI members around the world. In particular, Dialectical Logic, The Dialectics of the Abstract and Concrete in Marx’s Capital, and the first English version of The Ideal.  We’ve been encouraged by Andrey Maidansky, who with Ilyenkov’s daughter, Ilena Ilesh, curates the Ilyenkov archive.

We’ve heard contributions from US/Russian culturologist Mikhail Epstein, the Leport Literary Club of Kyviv, UK economist Andrew Brown, Israeli American curator Joshua Simon, Vygotsky scholar Kyrill Potapov and art theorist Keti Chukhrov, to mention only a few. Our format encourages maximum discussion and a dialogical approach rather than passive “top-down” listening. Most of these sessions are available on our Website and YouTube channel.

Corinna Lotz’ monograph about Finding Evald Ilyenkov How A Soviet Philosopher who stood up for dialectics continues to inspire introduced him as Soviet philosopher and anti-Stalinist revolutionary explained how he came to be known to English readers in a popular way. It has recently been translated into Spanish.

We have held three international symposia: in Helsinki 2014, Copenhagen 2018 and London in November 2022, our most successful yet. Up to 70 scholars and activists from 26 countries in 5 continents took part. They responded to our call, Futures and Ideals, Ilyenkov’s philosophy of development, because despite being in a wide range of disciplines, they are inspired by Ilyenkov’s materialist dialectical approach and his concept of the Ideal, as well as his political courage of thought.

The distinguished epistemologist, 91-year-old Vladislav Lektorsky, sent a conceptual address and Canadian scholar David Bakhurst introduced Ilyenkov’s approach to philosophy as “method, not doctrine”. We were supported by the Institute of Education’s philosophy department at University College London. All the participants and what they spoke about are on our website at International Friends of Ilyenkov – discussing the relevance of Evald Ilyenkov’s work ……. for the 21st century …… Come and join us! (ilyenkovfriends.org)

During the past years, we have witnessed a global renaissance of Ilyenkov studies with new publications based on Ilyenkov’s original uncensored manuscripts, translations into Spanish, Portuguese, French, English and other languages. More materials edited by Sascha Freyberg will be offered soon as an open access book, sponsored by Max Planck Society and Ca Foscari university.

Our conference reflected this flourishing and we will work for it to continue, given the huge challenges posed, not least by the present war in Ukraine, as we head towards celebrating the centenary of Ilyenkov’s birth in 2024. Everyone is welcome to attend our online discussions which feature on the International Friends of Ilyenkov Facebook events. Anyone can ask to be on our email list for news and updates at ilyenkov2020@gmail.com.

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