The Stofflichkeit of the Universe

I’d like to recommend this essay – The Stofflichkeit of the Universe: Alexander Bogdanov and the Soviet Avant-Garde – from e-flux journal written by Maria Chehonadskih. It is an original discussion not only of the Soviet avant-grade but, most interestingly, also of Bogdanov’s empiriomonist ideas – these are made relevant to contemporary conversations and presented in a way that makes them clear (despite Bogdanov’s often odd style in his early philosophical works). Also Bogdanov moves away from these earlier philosophical experiments later in 1910s with his forays into what will eventually become known as ‘tektology’, it is perhaps fair to suggest that he never fundamentally disowned his earlier philosophical texts – he just moved away from the idiom of ‘philosophy’ to his ‘organizational science’.

Bogdanov’s empiriomonism tends to reformulate the biological and the social in terms of the organizational logic of psychophysical complexes. Taken as isolated entities, psychical and physical complexes exist in a pure state of spontaneity, or the lowest level of organization. This spontaneity preserves higher organizational forms only in analysis and in the practical composition of the elements into new series. A rock is a spontaneously formed physical combination of minerals, and fear is a spontaneously formed psychical combination of stimuli and reaction. But the fear of wild animals that leads to the construction of a house made out of rock is a product of a higher psychophysical organization.

Here is an earlier version of this argument presented by Maria Chehonadskih in Berlin in the fall of 2017:

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