Open Access

Knowledge as Film vs. Knowledge as Photo: Alternative Models in Early Soviet Thought

   | Dec 22, 2021


While Lenin considered human knowledge to be similar to a mirror-like reflection of the object, Aleksandr Bogdanov emphasized the creative role of the subject in organizing the world. On the basis of some textual evidence, it is possible to describe the epistemologies of the two most influential Russian Marxists at the beginning of the twentieth century using the two metaphors of photography, on the one hand, and cinema, on the other. In particular, while discussing Einstein’s relativity, Bogdanov considers sense organs, memory, and all the apparatus of human knowledge ‘as a certain kind of cinematographic device’. Sergei Eisenstein deems that cinema is ‘an excellent instrument of perception … for the sensation of movement’. Although it is difficult to find compelling proof of exchange and influence, this is an actual ‘tangential point’ between Bogdanov’s and Eisenstein’s ideas on human knowledge.