Friedrich Engels’ dialectical assessment of modern science resulted from his fascination with the natural sciences (cell physiology, thermodynamics, theory of evolution) in combination with his resurging interest in the work of “old Hegel.” Engels became especially interested in what he saw as the molecular essence of life, namely proteins or, more specifically, albumin (Eiweiß), seeing life as the mode of existence of these enigmatic substances. Hegelian dialectics is crucial for a dialectical materialist understanding of contemporary technoscience. The dialectical materialist understanding of technoscience as a research practice builds on Engels, but also on later (scientific) authors who were inspired by his writings, e.g., life scientists such as Haldane and Bernal. Considering the criticism raised against Engels’ dialectics by 20th-century Marxists, a dialectical diagnostic of contemporary technoscience can be achieved, which shifts the focus from artificial albumin as “living matter” (as discussed by Engels) to contemporary research on synthetic cells (as anticipated by Engels)

Additional Metadata
Keywords Dialectics of nature, dialectical materialism, Friedrich Engels, synthetic biology, philosophy of science, Marxism and science
Persistent URL
Journal Science & Society : A journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis
Zwart, H.A.E. (2020). Friedrich Engels and the technoscientific reproducibility of life. Science & Society : A journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis, 84(3), 369–400. Retrieved from