Political emancipation and the domination of nature: The rise and fall of soviet prometheanism

Abstract Frolov, I. T. (1990) Man, Science, Humanism: A New Synthesis (Buffalo, NY, Prometheus Books), 342 pp. Graham, L. R. (Ed.) (1990) Science and the Soviet Social Order (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press), ix + 443 pp. Understanding the place of science in Soviet culture is essential if we are to understand the distinctive character of the Soviet Union, its failings and contradictions, and its prospects for the future. This paper examines Soviet conceptions of the role of science in the socialist project. Focusing on Loren Graham's collection Science and the Soviet Social Order, the article critically assesses the claim that science and technology have been liberalizing influences on Soviet political culture. The paper concludes by considering Ivan Frolov's, Man, Science, Humanism, which attempts to reform Soviet conceptions of science by establishing a Marxist ?scientific humanism?. Although Frolov challenges the idea of science as a means to subordinate nature, his approach is belied by his uncritical acceptance of a classic Soviet attitude to science; namely, the necessity of a total, systematic theory of humanity, nature and society. It is argued that the later stages of perestroika saw a marked loss of confidence in the power of science as a source of such ?total theory?, and with this the history of Soviet Prometheanism appears to have come to a close
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DOI 10.1080/02698599108573395
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