Base and Superstructure: the Role of Consciousness
This chapter explores the concept's underlying theoretical and philosophical assumptions. It addresses the following questions: How does Antonio Gramsci view the relationship between the economic base and the superstructure of society? What are his epistemological premises? How does he conceive the nature of reality itself? It is hoped that all his political thinking which is illustrated in the course of this work is inextricably intertwined with his answers to these questions. In addition, this study relies heavily, though not entirely, on the two critiques (Bukharin and Croce) for evidence of Gramsci's position. It provides a close examination of Gramsci's relationship to Croce and other strands of idealist thought. In general, Gramsci by no means casted doubt on the reality of the natural sciences. Neither did he say that the human spirit creates the world ex nihilo or that ‘to be’ is the same thing as ‘to be thought of’ or that physical objects are only disguised forms of mind. Moreover, the chapter assesses how Gramsci fits into the Marxist tradition. In Gramsci, a Marxism strongly affected by traditional philosophical concerns and concepts can be found.
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