History and Ideology in Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) made his notes on science within
his Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) written between 1929 and 1935, while
imprisoned by the Italian fascist regime. This overview focuses mainly
on three themes: 1) the Gramscian criticism of the idealist (Croce) and
materialist (Bukharin) conceptions of science and, in particular, his criticism
of the alleged “objectivity of reality”; 2) the historical and ideological
nature of scientific knowledge and the relationship between history of science
and history of technology; 3) the interrelation between science, politics and
society in the framework of Gramsci’s “philosophy of praxis”.
Gramsci, science, technology, ideology, absolute historicism.
and historical materialism in the Prison
The nature of science and its role within society are topics that
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) did not develop systematically, although he devotes
several notes to them: the majority of these, in their “final” version,
are collected in notebook 11 (especially in the third and in the fourth
sections, entitled respectively La scienza e le ideologie scientifiche (Science and scientific ideologies) and Gli strumenti logici del pensiero(The logical instruments of thought),
but also other notebooks contain reflections on issues (more or less) related to the epistemological
dimension of scientific knowledge. This theme remained at the margins of the investigation of
Gramscian philosophy and only in recent years has been given some attention. Even if Gramsci’s observations on scientific knowledge do
not have a systematic character, they can provide useful hints for the
present-day debate about the history of science.
In the Prison Notebooks several core concepts of
politics and philosophy are defined. As for science, the most meaningful definitions are
contained in Q 11, § 15 and in Q 11, § 37. In Q 11, § 37 Gramsci shows his
intention to “bring together the principal definitions that have been given of
science”, and in particular he recalls the positivistic definition of science
as research of the constants in the relationships between phenomena in order to
forecast future developments.
In Q 11, § 15, however, his approach is critical of the
extension of this expectation to history: he says that “situating the problem
as a search for laws and for constant, regular and uniform lines is connected
to a need, conceived in a somewhat puerile and ingenuous way, to resolve in a peremptory
fashion the practical problem of the predictability of historical events”. Furthermore, by recalling the authority of Marx, he warns
against the application of the scientific model of forecast beyond natural
regularities. Scientific prediction, in the historical and political context,
is not a pure theoretical and abstract activity, but a highly practical one and
requires voluntarism and concrete effort:
Since it “appears”, by a strange inversion of the
perspectives, that the natural sciences provide us with the ability to foresee
the evolution of natural processes, historical methodology is “scientifically”
conceived only if, and in so far as, it permits one “abstractly” to foresee the
future of society. Hence the search for essential causes, indeed for the “first
cause”, for the “cause of causes”. But the Theses on Feuerbach had
already criticized in advance this simplistic conception. In reality one can
“scientifically” foresee only the struggle, but not the concrete moments of the
struggle, which cannot but be the results of opposing forces in continuous
movement, which are never reducible to fixed quantities since within them
quantity is continually becoming quality. In reality one can “foresee” to the
extent that one acts, to the extent that one applies a voluntary effort and
therefore contributes concretely to creating the result “foreseen”. Prediction
reveals itself thus not as a scientific act of knowledge, but as the abstract
expression of the effort made, the practical way of creating a collective will.
As clearly stands out from these
observations, Gramsci’s position on scientific knowledge is definitely not so
straightforward: he is aware of the practical and theoretical relevance (and of
the difficulty) of the issue and he intends to deepen it by rejecting its “mistakes”
and, at the same time, by highlighting its positive and progressive aspects.
Gramsci’s aim is to contextualise this topic within the framework of historical
materialism. In other words, his analysis of science is at the crossroads of
different crucial aspects of his thought. Consequently, although not
systematic, his investigation on the nature and role of the scientific
knowledge is of absolute interest.
To account for this
complexity, I shall start by identifying the polemical targets of Gramsci and
show what is mistakenly attributed to science according to his opinion. After
the pars destruens, I will concentrate
on the pars construens, namely on the
far-reaching connection between the Gramscian conception of science, his “absolute
historicism” and his “philosophy of praxis”.
Against Croce and Bukharin
In his notes on science Gramsci refers more or less
explicitly to two polemical targets. The first one is represented by the
idealism of the leading Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce – this is, more
generally, one of the most important points of (critical) reference of
If, on the one hand, he agrees with Crocean criticism against the blind faith in science and
scientific development of their contemporaries, on the other hand he finds
Croce’s conception of science clearly reductive, insofar as it considers
natural sciences as “composed of empirical concepts (which are not true
knowledge)”. As explained by Derek Boothman, in Croce’s philosophy “the existence of the
object becomes a ‘position’, that is to say, something opposed to the spirit,
or given to the spirit”; in other words, “nature is reduced to a construction
of the spirit” and the scientific knowledge is constituted by “pseudo-concepts [pseudo-concetti]”. The logical consequence of this strongly
relativistic position is the reduction of science to a collection of “classifications
of facts [classificazioni di fatti]”.
statement has a paradoxical outcome; while it denies the autonomy of scientific
thought, Croce’s conception of science turns out to be very similar to the
positivistic one he is questioning. In fact, according to Gramsci, an effective
scientific theory cannot be constructed starting from a simple collection of
facts (as positivists – and also Croce – tried to do), since it requires a meta-factual
concept that joins them; not by chance, in Q 11, § 45 does Gramsci mention the “abstract
‘classification’” as an example of the “philosophical Esperantism [...] especially rooted in positivist and naturalistic conceptions”. Moreover, the mere instrumental
character of this conception hinders any investigation of the epistemological
value of science and prevents from any serious consideration of the role of the
scientists within the intellectual community (they are marginalised by “humanistic”
intellectuals as Croce and Gentile).
The second target of Gramsci’s
criticism is represented by the positivistic approach that underlies the Soviet
Marxism embodied in Bukharin’s Popular Manual. The literature on Gramsci’s criticism against
Bukharin is huge and cannot be summarised here. However, it is a fact that the
Gramscian critique of his conception of science plays an important role within
his more general reflection on Bukharin. Notebook 11 – that is the one that contains
most of the notes on scientific knowledge – is usually conceived as the “Anti-Bukharin”; its second section
is entitled Osservazioni e note critiche su un tentativo di “Saggio popolare di sociologia” (Observations and critical notes on an
attempt of “Popular Manual of Sociology”) and collects the texts
on Bukharin contained in the three series of the miscellaneous notebooks Materialismo e idealismo(Materialism and idealism). Furthermore, Gramsci had at his
disposal also the book Science at the Cross Roads, which contains the
papers of the Russian delegation at the International Congress of History of
Science and Technology that took place in 1931 in London (Bukharin was the head
of the delegation and his introductory speech, Theory and Practice From The
Standpoint of Dialectical Materialism, represents a meaningful sample of
his idea of the relationship between Marxism and science).
In brief, Bukharin understands scientific knowledge as
a blueprint for historical materialism, which appears therefore to Gramsci as a “sociology”, i.e., as a kind of new, naïf metaphysics:
The philosophy implicit in the Popular Manual could
be called a positivistic Aristotelianism, an adaptation of formal logic to the
methods of physical and natural science. The historical dialectic is replaced
by the law of causality and the search for regularity, normality and
uniformity. […] If “speculative idealism” is the science of categories and of
the a priori synthesis of the spirit, i.e. a form of
anti-historicist abstraction, the philosophy implicit in the Popular Manual is idealism upside down, in the sense that the speculative categories are
replaced by empirical concepts and classifications which are no less abstract
This “vulgar”, materialistic
interpretation of Marxism, which was influenced by different elements, last but
not least by Engel’s Antidühring, has strong
implications: a firm deterministic
view of the historical evolution and, above all, a “scientific objectivism”
that is mirrored in Bukharin’s strong belief in the objectivity of the
Thus, the position of Croce and that of Bukharin are
opposite but assimilable insofar as they promote a a-historical and a-critical conception of science, which is heavily stigmatized
The alleged “objectivity of reality”
of all, Gramsci aims at dispelling the myth of the “universality” of the
scientific method. In contrast to the assertion that science represents “‘the
most economic description of reality’”, apt to describe the similarities and the relationships
between phenomena, Gramsci highlights the limits of scientific knowledge: he
does not allow a generalisation of the scientific approach (if “scientific” is
not simply a synonym of “rational” or “‘in conformity with the end’”) and claims the dignity and the methodological autonomy of
every single discipline: “every research has its own specific method and
constructs its own specific science, and that the method has developed and been
elaborated together with the development and elaboration of this specific
research and science and forms with them a single whole”.
Gramsci’s critique against the
universal applicability of scientific method is counterbalanced by the
confutation of the alleged “objectivity of reality”, which constitutes the
basis of the authority of scientific knowledge. This issue plays a central role in
the Gramscian analysis of science; it is the theme of many notes of Notebook
11, which recover notes contained in miscellaneous Notebooks 4 and 7. As he affirms in Q 11, § 37,
the most important question to be
resolved about the concept of science is this: whether science can give us, and
if so in what way, the “certainty” of the objective existence of so-called
external reality. [...] One may maintain it is an error to ask of science as
such the proof of the objectivity of reality, since this objectivity is a
conception of the world, a philosophy and thus cannot be a scientific datum.
Science makes a selection of sensations, the primordial elements of knowledge:
it considers certain sensations as transitory, as apparent, as fallacious
because they depend on special individual conditions and certain others as
lasting, as permanent, as superior to those special conditions. [...] One thus
establishes what is common to everyone, what everyone can control in the same
way, one independently from another, as long as each has observed to an equal
degree the technical conditions of ascertainment. “Objective” means this and
only this: that one asserts to be objective, to be objective reality, that
reality which is ascertained by all, which is independent of any merely
particular or group standpoint. But, basically, this too is a particular
conception of the world, when taken in its entirety, can be accepted by the
philosophy of praxis because of the direction it indicates.
In Gramsci’s view, “objective” is equivalent to “intersubjectively shared”, or, as Cospito wrote, “humanly ‘subjective’ [umanamente ‘soggettivo’]”. As Gramsci wrote shortly after the
aforementioned passage, 
in science, too,
to seek reality outside of humanity, understood in a religious or metaphorical
sense, seems nothing other than paradoxical. Without humanity what would the
reality of universe mean? The whole of science is bound to needs, to life, to
the activity of the humanity. Without humanity’s activity, which creates all,
even scientific, values, what would “objectivity” be? A chaos, i.e. nothing, a
void, if one can indeed say that, because in reality, if one imagines that
humanity does not exist, one cannot imagine language and thought.
discourse about reality does not make sense if it does not take into account
the human beings that create it and live in it. Therefore the objectivity of reality
is just the result of a convention among scientists as Omodeo has pointed out:
“for him [Gramsci] it does not exist a ‘nature’,
neither human, nor extra-human: nature is a concept, a relationship: it does
not build up the scientific activity, but it is a product of it”. In another note this conception is further illustrated
through a hint at the concepts of “West” and “East” and with a meaningful
example from Bertrand Russell.
Later I will dwell on the features of
scientific knowledge that emerge from these observations; now I would like to
concentrate myself on the pars destruens of
his argument. The objectivity of reality is in no way brought into question by
the “common sense” of a “religious” (even when secularised) belief. The author of the Popular Manual, Gramsci argues,
shares the same “mythological conception of the world” when he sets himself against the supporters of a “subjectivist
conception of reality”. Instead of taking it seriously into account, as the
philosophy of praxis should do (Gramsci reconnects the “idealist assertion of
the reality of the world as a creation of the human spirit” to his conception
of the historicity of the ideologies and of the superstructures), in his essay of 1931, he rejects it harshly (in this way
Gramsci demonstrates the “conservatism” of Bukharin’s conception and its
fetishism for positivistic science): 
The point that must be made against the Popular Manual is that it has presented the subjectivist conception
just as it appears from the point of view of common-sense criticism and that it
has adopted the conception of the objective reality of the external world in
its most trivial and uncritical sense without so much as a suspicion that it
can run into objections on the grounds of mysticism, as indeed it has.
The “cumulative” nature of science
In his effort to overcome both the
idealist and the materialistic construct, Gramsci outlines an idea of science
that is deeply influenced by his “absolute historicism”, as clearly emerges
from the pars construens of his analysis.
In this formula he
synthesises his rejection of the “philosophy of history” and his claims to the
complexity and the irreducibility of reality, which cannot be understood from
an external and superior point of view. Not by chance the core of this
conception is the category of “immanence”, which demolishes every belief in a
transcendent truth by arguing the inescapable “earthliness” of human thought
and action. Thus, Gramscian historicism strongly opposes the mechanistic and
economistic (i.e. teleological) approaches to history, as well as the classical
and idealistic (speculative) interpretations of historicism; the label of “absolute”
distinguishes it from these misleading readings and highlights the inclusive
essence of his philosophy of praxis. 
If this is the general context, it
reflects significantly on Gramsci’s notes on science. If, on the one hand, in
his stressing the singularity of science there is of course a polemical intent
(notably to distinguish historical materialism from scientific knowledge,
stigmatising Bukharin’s approach), on the other hand, the affirmation of the “incommensurability”
of scientific research entails a peculiar historical nature of the discipline.
Gramsci, the main feature of science lies in its nature of “work in progress”.
This implies not only its character of continuing revision of previous hypotheses
and instruments, but also the existence of a structural “ignorance” (at this
point a parallel with Veca’s concept of “explorative
incompleteness” could be particularly stimulating):
Scientific work has two main
aspects: the first constantly corrects our way of knowing, corrects and
reinforces our sensory organs, formulates new and complex principles of
induction and deduction, that is to say refines the very instruments of
experiment and experimental control; the second one applies this ensemble of
instruments (on a material and on mental variety) to draw a dividing line
between what is essential in the sensations and what is arbitrary, individual,
transitory. [...] If scientific truths were conclusive, science would have
ceased to exist as such, as research, as new experiments, and scientific
activity would be reduced to popularising what has already been discovered.
Fortunately for science this is not true. But if scientific truths themselves
are not conclusive and unchallengeable, then science too is a historical
category, a movement in continual development. Only that science does not lay
down any form of metaphysical “unknowable”, but reduces what humanity does not
know to an empirical “not knowledge”, which does not exclude the possibility of
its being known, but makes it conditional on the development of physical
instrumental elements and on the development of the historical understanding of
For Gramsci, the development of
science is different from that of the other disciplines; whereas in literature,
art or philosophy there are “changes of tendency” rather than an evolution,
science owns a peculiar “cumulative” nature, i.e., it adds knowledge to
knowledge and considers the earlier notions as the basis for the successive
ones (“has the whole process of science not up to now been manifested in the
fact that new experiments and observations have corrected and extended previous
experiments and observations?”). Furthermore, in
Gramsci’s opinion, the existence of the scientific objects itself is
historically determined. As he says about the matter: 
Clearly, for the philosophy of praxis, “matter” should be
understood neither in the meaning that it has acquired in natural science […]
nor in any of the meanings that one finds in the various materialistic
metaphysics. […] Matter as such therefore is not our subject but how it is
socially and historically organised for production, and natural science should
be seen correspondingly as essentially an historical category, a human
relation. Has the ensemble of the properties of all forms of matter
always been the same? The history of the technical sciences shows that it has
not. For how long was the mechanical power of steam neglected? Can it be
claimed that this mechanical power existed before it was harnessed by man-made
machines? Might it not be said in a sense, and up to a certain point, that what
nature provides the opportunity for are not discoveries and inventions of
pre-existing forces – of pre-existing qualities of matter – but “creations”,
which are closely linked to the interests of society and to the development and
further necessities of development of the forces of production?
Then he takes also electricity as an example: 
Electricity is historically active, not merely however as a
natural force (e.g. an electrical discharge which causes a fire) but as a
productive element dominated by man and incorporated into the ensemble of the
material forces of production, an object of private property. As an abstract
natural force electricity exists even before its reduction to a productive
force, but it was not historically operative and was just a subject of
hypothetical discourse in natural history (earlier still it was historical
“nothingness”, since no one was interested in it or indeed knew anything about
Scientific discoveries, according to
Gramsci, are to be considered “creations” since the aspects of the reality they
describe do not “exist” before the men become conscious of them and they become
part of human history: it means, according to the Gramscian re-elaboration of
the Marxian Critique of 1859, until the conditions for a change become
available. Consequently, it is apparent that science is something “historical”,
despite the claims of many theoreticians and scientists about the “Esperanto or Volapük of philosophy and science”.
The scientific “ideology”
Due to this cumulative aspect, the
evolution of science appears as a “justificatory narration”, i.e., a kind of
knowledge the necessity of which is warranted by its own historical genealogy. From a Gramscian
point of view this means that even science is a form of ideology. As is known,
in Gramsci’s theory the concept of ideology is pivotal. By reassessing Marxian
principles, he gives a positive definition of ideology: “ideological” is every
kind of knowledge, since the knowledge entails theory and praxis and is
variously connected to the historical and political context in which knowledge
is developed and which is, in its turn, influenced by knowledge.
To argue that
science is an ideology means that the scientific knowledge is not a universal,
abstract and lifeless achievement, but, on the contrary, it is unavoidably
related to the determinate historical conjunctions and to the single human
beings that make it possible (therefore science involves, although not
directly, an entire world of social relations, political beliefs, etc.). A demonstration of
the “superstructural” (i.
e. ideological) character of scientific knowledge is provided by the history of
culture: it is known, in fact, that in the past
science was defeated by stronger ideologies and encountered “eclipses”. As he
writes in Q 11, § 38, 
science too is a
superstructure, an ideology. […] That science is a superstructure is also
demonstrated by the fact that it has had whole periods of eclipse, obscured as
it was by another dominant ideology, religion, which claimed that it had
absorbed science itself: thus the science and technology of the Arabs seemed
pure witchcraft to the Christians. Further, and notwithstanding all the efforts
of scientists, science never appears as a bare objective notion – it always
appears in the trappings of an ideology: in concrete terms, science is the
union of the objective fact with a hypothesis or system of hypothesis which go
beyond the mere objective fact.
Also the historical delay of Italy
in the scientific field, on which Gramsci focuses in some notes, is a consequence
of this fight between antagonistic ideologies and of the influence of the
science and history of technology
The demonstration of the ideological nature of science
is in line with the conception of the role of technology. If it true that the
improvement of the instruments and of the techniques greatly contributes to the
development of scientific knowledge, it is also true that the history of
science cannot be reduced to the history of technology, as affirmed by Bukharin
(and Loria before him). As the examples of geology and
mathematics show, the principal “instrument” of a scientist is his/her mind: 
It can be said in general that the advance of science cannot be
materially documented. The history of the sciences can at most be brought alive
in the memory and that not in all cases, through the description of the
successive perfecting of the instruments which have been one means of advance
and through the description of the machines which have been applications of the
science itself. The principal “instruments” of scientific progress are of an
intellectual (and even political) and methodological order and Engels has
written that “intellectual instruments” are not born from nothing and are not
innate in man, but are acquired, have developed and are developing
Even if the materiality plays an important role in the
development of scientific knowledge (see Q 11, § 29, where, by stigmatising the
position of Bukharin’s Popular Manual, he shows how difficult it is to
distinguish clearly between what can be considered “structure” or “superstructure”), science remains an ideology and its
development is influenced by the historical and political circumstances in
which scientists work.
For a “unified” conception of reality
Gramsci’s claim against the absoluteness of scientific
knowledge implies a strong critique of the necessity of progress and, more
generally, a refusal of every “scientific superstition”. Nevertheless, science represents
also a “forerunner” of the philosophy of praxis since it is able to join the
abstract and intellectual reflection with the practical activity (in other
words, to find a mediation between nature and culture, according to Gramscian
Engels’ phrase that “the materiality of the world is
demonstrated by the long and laborious development of philosophy and natural
science” should be analysed and made more precise. Does science mean
theoretical activity or the practical-experimental activity of scientists, or a
synthesis of the two? One might say that the typical unitary process of reality
is found here in the experimental activity of the scientist, which is the first
model of dialectical mediation between man and nature, and the elementary
historical cell through which man puts himself into relation with nature by
means of technology, knows her and dominates her. There can be no doubt that
the rise of the experimental method separates two historical worlds, two
epochs, and initiates the process of dissolution of theology and metaphysics
and the process of development of modern thought whose consummation is in the
philosophy of praxis. Scientific experiment is the first cell of the new method
of production, of the new form of active union of man and nature. The
scientist-experimenter is also a worker, not a pure thinker, and his thought is
continually controlled by practice and vice versa, until there is formed the
perfect unity of theory and practice.
As stated in this passage from Q 11, § 34, the
scientific activity constitutes the first, concrete step towards the
elaboration of a “unified” conception of reality (and this unification must not
be confused with an idealist or materialism monism). At the same time, science
is also the first example of a new form of life and production, i.e., it is the basis of a desirable “intellectual
and moral reform” of the society. Moreover, science has also a
privileged position among the superstructures: because of the possibility of
distinguishing between the fact and the hypothesis (as he says in Q 11, § 38),
it enables the proletariat to take possession of the scientific knowledge of
the bourgeoisie, with the great advantage of the workers’ movement.
Science and hegemony
Last but not least, the ideological character of
scientific knowledge implies a reassessment of it within the context of “cultural
hegemony”, which has to be considered as a part of the general hegemonic
A reconsideration of the role of the
society, a bigger awareness of the (in a broader sense) political meaning of
scientific knowledge, as well as a critical reflection on the purposes of the
operations of science popularisation are logical consequences of a serious “interiorisation” of Gramsci’s observations. From this point
of view, in fact, the Gramscian notes represent a starting point for further
reflections rather than a complete analysis of the issue. In the Prison
Notebooks it is possible to find some significant consideration on the
appropriation of scientific knowledge by the ruling class, on the application
of scientific methods to economical production and on science education and
popularisation that can be fruitfully applied to different historical and
To sum up, this paper presents an
overview of Gramsci’s idea of science from his Prison Notebooks. First
of all I concentrated on his polemical targets, Croce and Bukharin; although
their conceptions originated from very different cultural milieux,
they similarly consider science as an a-critical and
a-historical form of knowledge (in particular I analysed
Gramsci’s discard of Bukharin’s positivistic belief in the alleged “objectivity
of the scientific knowledge”).
focussed on the connection between his notion of science and his “absolute
historicism”, by highlighting the peculiar “historical” nature of scientific
knowledge and its impossibility of being compared with other disciplines (art,
literature, etc). As far as the evolution of science is the result of a
cumulative process, it appears as a “justificatory narration” and,
consequently, as a form of ideology.
entails a new reading of the history of science, which appears strictly
connected to the social and political contexts and to the single human actors
that made it (and not simply, as was affirmed, to the development of technical
instruments). Moreover, the ideological character of science implies a
reconsideration of it in the context of the struggle for “hegemony”, i.e., a
reassessment within the framework of the political and social transformations
analysed by Gramsci.
are the critique of the concept of progress and, more generally, the refusal of
blind faith in scientific knowledge. However, the most important consequence of
these observations, in Gramsci’s view, is the possibility of taking science as
a model of a “unified” conception of reality, which, according to his “philosophy
of praxis”, is able to join intellectual reflection with practical activity.
In conclusion, the notion of science
represents not only a useful critical tool, but also a meaningful tessera of the bigger mosaic of the Prison
Notebooks: I have tried to show how Gramscian reflections on scientific
knowledge involve many different aspects of his conceptual system and of his
interpretation of Marxism. Due to its richness, Gramsci’s interpretation
constitutes a fruitful field of speculation for historians of science, a
starting point not only to reflect on the nature of scientific knowledge in
itself, but also to get a deeper comprehension of the historical and political
mechanisms that govern the (lack of) success of a specific scientific theory.
I wish to thank Derek Boothman,
Giuseppe Cospito and Pietro Daniel Omodeo for their
precious suggestions. A special thanks to Robert Jackson for checking my
* PhD Candidate in History of Philosophy at the
University of Pavia, Italy.
 As is known, however, the unsystematic character is a typical feature of the Quaderni as a whole. From a general point of
view on the Prison Notebooks, see Gianni Francioni, Come lavorava Gramsci, in Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere. Edizione anastatica dei manoscritti, vol. 1
(Cagliari: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana-L’Unione Sarda,
2009), pp. 21-60; on the new critical edition (forthcoming) and on the new
chronology see Cospito, Giuseppe, “Verso l’edizione critica e integrale dei Quaderni del carcere”, Studi Storici, 2011, 4: 881-904.
 On Notebook 11 see in particular Fabio Frosini and
Gianni Francioni, Nota introduttiva al Quaderno 11 (1932), in Gramsci, Edizione anastatica,
vol. 15, pp. 1-22.
 After the pioneering studies by Aloisi, Rossi and Lefons (Aloisi, Massimo,
“Gramsci, la scienza e la natura come storia”, Società,
1950, 3: 106-110; Aloisi, Massimo, “Scienza, natura e storia in Gramsci”, Società,
1951, 1: 95-110; Rossi, Paolo, “Antonio Gramsci sulla scienza moderna”, Critica Marxista,
1976, 2: 41-60; Lefons, Chiara, “Scienza, tecnica e organizzazione del lavoro in Gramsci”, Critica Marxista, 1978, 4: 103-132) the topic was
neglected for a long time. A first renewal of interest took place in the late
1980s and in the middle of the 1990s: Silvano Tagliagambe, Gramsci, Bucharin e il materialismo dialettico sovietico,
in La questione meridionale. Atti del convegno di studi di Cagliari, 23-24 ottobre 1987 (Cagliari: Edizioni del consiglio regionale della Sardegna, 1988), pp 220-254; Derek Boothman, Gramsci, Croce e la scienza, in Ruggero Giacomini, Domenico Losurdo and Michele Martelli (eds) Gramsci
e l’Italia (Napoli: La Città del Sole, 1994), pp. 165-186; Derek Boothman, General introduction, in Antonio Gramsci, Further
Selections from the Prison Notebooks (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1995), pp. VII-LXXXVII, partially translated in Boothman, Derek, “Scienza e traducibilità nei Quaderni di Gramsci”, Critica Marxista, 1995, 2: 47-55. But especially in the
last few years many critics dealt with the theme: Giuseppe Cospito, Il marxismo sovietico e Engels. Il problema della scienza nel Quaderno 11, in Francesco Giasi (ed), Gramsci nel suo tempo (Roma: Carocci,
2008), pp. 747-765; Derek Boothman, Scienza, in Guido Liguori and Pasquale Voza (eds), Dizionario gramsciano:
1926-1937, (Roma: Carocci, 2009), pp 746-749;
Omodeo, Pietro Daniel, “La via gramsciana alla scienza”, Historia Magistra,
2010, 4: 53-68; Nieto-Galan, Agustí, “Antonio Gramsci Revisited: Historians of
Science, Intellectuals, and the Struggle for Hegemony”, History of Science,
2011, 49: 453–478; Voza, Pasquale, “La critica di ciò che è ‘oggettivo’. Appunti su scienza e tecnica in Gramsci”, Critica Marxista,
2013, 6: 45-54. Particularly remarkable are also the proceedings of the
conference organised by the Istituto Gramsci of
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, entirely devoted to the Gramscian conception of science,
Marina Paladini Musitelli (ed), Gramsci e la scienza. Storicità e attualità delle note gramsciane sulla scienza, (Trieste: Istituto Gramsci del Friuli-Venezia Giulia, 2008) with the following contributions: Silvano Tagliagambe, Gramsci,
la modernità e la scienza,
pp. 17-42; Pietro Greco, Antonio Gramsci e i quanti, pp. 43-62; Giuseppe Cospito, Gli strumenti logici del pensiero: Gramsci e Russell,
pp. 63-80; Andrea Catone, Gramsci, Bucharin e la scienza, pp.
81-108; Antonio Di Meo, L’“oggettività del reale”: riflessioni gramsciane su scienza e neotomismo fra programma nazionale e cosmopolitismo, pp. 109-146. For a review of the volume
see Baratta, Giorgio, “Gramsci e la scienza”, Critica Marxista, 2009, 2:
76-77. On the unsystematic character of the Gramscian reflections on science see Lefons, “Scienza, tecnica, lavoro”, p. 108;
despite the lack of method of the Quaderni,
however, it is excessive to deny tout court the existence of some
coherent theoretical framework, as Lefons sometimes
 In my paper I quote always from the Italian critical edition by Valentino Gerratana (Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, 4 voll.
(Torino: Einaudi, 1975)); in the following pages I
indicate it only with the number of the notebook (Q), that of the paragraph (§)
and, if necessary, that of the page(s). I refer mainly to Notebook 11; only on
a few occasions do I mention the first version of the texts in parenthesis (for
the sake of brevity I omit dealing here with the philological problem of the
differences between the first and second versions of the notes). As to the
translation, I quote the following English editions: Antonio Gramsci, Selection
from the Prison Notebooks, edited by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971 – I
use the electronic reprint (London: ElecBook 1999)),
henceforth SPN; Antonio Gramsci, Further Selections from the Prison
Notebooks, edited by Derek Boothman (Minneapolis:
Minnesota University Press, 1995), henceforth FS. When the English version is
not available, the translation is mine, unless otherwise indicated.
11, § 37, p. 1455. FS, p. 290: “Bring together the principal definitions that
have been given of science (in the sense of natural science). ‘Study of
phenomena and of their laws of similarity (regularity), coexistence
(coordination), succession (causality)’. Other tendencies, taking into account
the most convenient order that science establishes between phenomena, in such a
way so as to be better able to master
them through thought and dominate them for the purposes of action, define
science as the ‘the most economic description of reality’”.
 Q 11, § 15, p. 1403; SPN, p. 796.
 Q 11, § 15, pp. 1403-1404; SPN, pp. 796-797. On
the issue of the forecast in Gramsci’s thought see Mancina,
Claudia, “Rapporti di forza e previsione. Il gioco della storia secondo Gramsci”, Critica Marxista,
1980, 5: 41-54 and De Giovanni, Biagio, “Il ‘moderno Principe’ tra politica e tecnica”, Critica Marxista,
1981, 3: 51-79; with special regard to its reflection on science see Lefons, “Scienza, tecnica, lavoro”, pp. 114-115.
 These aspects (and in particular the connection between
science and Gramsci’s absolute historicism) have not been thoroughly
investigated, despite the growing interest for the Gramscian reflections on
science: my aim then is to shed some light on them.
 Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) was an Italian neo-idealist
philosopher who was one of the main intellectual figures of the interwar period
(and also before) and the discussion of his thought plays a big role within the
Gramscian reflection. The literature on Gramsci and Croce is huge; for a
general overview on the question see Fabio Frosini, Il neoidealismo italiano e la filosofia della praxis, in Giasi, Gramsci nel suo tempo, pp. 727-746 and more recently Fabio Frosini, La religione dell’uomo moderno. Politica e verità nei Quaderni del carcere di
Antonio Gramsci (Roma: Carocci 2010).
 Benedetto Croce, Logic as the Science of the Pure Concept, translated by
Douglas Ainslie (London: MacMillan, 1917), p. 332.
 Boothman, “Gramsci, Croce”, pp. 172-173 (but see also pp.
174-176). On Croce’s conception of science see also Zappoli,
Stefano, “Benedetto Croce’s Theory of Science”, Logic and Philosophy of
Science, 2011, 1: 531-537.
 Croce, Logic, p. 333.
 Q 11, § 45, p. 1476; FS, pp. 303-4. See Q
17, § 23, p. 1926; FS, pp. 283-284: “The investigation of a series of facts to
find the relationships between them presupposes a
‘concept’ that allows one to distinguish that series from other possible ones:
how does the choice of the facts to be adduced as proof of the truth of one’s
assumption come about, if the criterion of choice is not already in existence?
But what will this criterion of choice be, if it is not something that is a
higher level that each individual fact investigated? [...] (This observation is
to be linked to the other on the ‘sociological law’ by which one does nothing
other than repeat the same fact twice, the first time as a fact, the second as
a law – this is sophism of the double fact, not a law”. On this issue see also Boothman, “Gramsci, Croce”, p. 174.
 See Q 14, § 38; FS, pp. 439-40. See Cospito, Il marxismo sovietico e Engels, p. 750.
 Manuale popolare (Popular
Manual) is the name usually given by Gramsci to the famous book by Nikolai
Bukharin Historical Materialism. A System of Sociology (London: International Publishers, 1925 - first
published in Moscow in 1921).
 Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin
(1888-1938) was a Bolshevik politician, usually considered as the head of the
“right” wing of the Russian Communist Party. After having initially supported
Stalin’s positions (1926-1929), from the end of the 1920s Bukharin fell into
his disfavour, and was executed in 1938. As a theoretician, he was the
representative of a deterministic and vulgar conception of the historical
materialism that Gramsci strongly opposes in the Prison Notebooks. For
an introduction to the question see Valentino Gerratana, Introduzione, in Nikolai Bukharin, Teoria del materialism storico(Italian version) (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1977), pp. V-XXXVII and, more
recently, the entry Bukharin by Fabio Frosini in Liguori-Voza, Dizionario gramsciano, pp. 85-88.
 See Cospito, Il marxismo sovietico e Engels,
pp. 752-754 and Omodeo, “La via gramsciana”,
 Nikolai I. Bukharin, Science at the
Cross Roads. Papers from the Second
International Congress of the History of Science and Technology (London: Kniga, 1931). See also the edition with a preface by Joseph Needham and an introduction by
Paul G. Werskey (London: Frank Cass, 1971), which has
recently been reprinted (New York: Routledge, 2013). See Omodeo,
“La via gramsciana”, pp. 64-65 and Catone, Gramsci, Bucharin,
 Q 11, § 14, pp. 1402-1403; SPN, pp. 795-796.
 See Q 11, § 32; SPN, pp. 606-607. See Cospito, Il marxismo sovietico e Engels, p.
 See Q 11, § 64, p. 1492. Here he is
discussing an article from the Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica: “for Catholics ‘... the whole theory of idealism is based on the denial
of the objectivity of all our knowledge and on the idealistic monism of
‘Spirit’ (a monism which, as such, is equivalent to the positivistic monism of
‘Matter’)” (SPN, p. 699). In this context he reaffirms that both approaches are
wrong and argues that the correct “monism” is an “identity of contraries in the
concrete historical act, that is in human activity
(history-spirit) in the concrete, indissolubly connected with a certain organised
(historicised) ‘matter’ and with the transformed nature of man. Philosophy of the act (praxis, development), but not of the ‘pure’
act but rather of the real ‘impure’
act, in the most profane and worldly sense of the word” (SPN, pp. 699-700). On the
interpretation of this equivalence between Croce’s idealism and Bukharin’s
materialism see Frosini, La religione dell’uomo moderno, pp.
 Q 11, § 37, p. 1455; FS, p. 290.
 Q 6, § 180, p. 826; FS, p. 282.
 Q 11, § 15, p. 1404. SPN, pp. 796-797. See
also the already mentioned Q 6, § 180, p. 826; FS, pp. 281-2: “The ambiguity
about the terms ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ stems from the fact that they took
on this meaning from a certain group of sciences, that natural and scientific
sciences to be precise. Any method that was similar to the method of research
and investigation current in the natural sciences – which became the sciences par
excellence, science-as-fetish – was called ‘scientific’. There do not exist sciences par excellence and there does not
exist a method par excellence, ‘a method in itself’. Every type of
scientific research creates an appropriate method for itself, its own logic,
the generality and universality of which consist solely in being ‘in conformity
to the end’”.
 Almost all the scholars who dealt with this issue have
recognised its crucial character for the comprehension of the Gramscian
conception of science, but see in particular Voza,
“La critica di ciò che è ‘oggettivo’” and Di Meo, L’“oggettività del reale”, pp. 133 ff. See moreover Frosini, La religione dell’uomo moderno, pp. 67-80.
especially Q 4, § 41 (→ Q
11, § 37); Q 4, § 37 (→ Q 11, § 64); Q 4, § 43 (→ Q 11, § 34); Q 7, § 25 (→ Q 11, § 20); Q 7, § 47 (→ Q 11, § 17).
 Q 11, § 37, pp. 1455-1456; FS, pp. 290-1.
 Cospito, Il
marxismo sovietico e Engels, p. 757. See Q 11, § 17, pp. 1415-1416; SPN, p. 807:
“Objective always means ‘humanly objective’, which can be held to correspond
exactly to ‘historically subjective’: in other words, objective would mean
‘universal subjective’. Man knows objectively in so far as knowledge is real
for the whole human race historically unified in a single unitary
 Q 11, § 37, p. 1457; FS, p. 292.
 Omodeo, “La via gramsciana”, p. 66.
 See Q 11, § 20, p. 1419; SPN, pp.
809-810: “To understand exactly what might be meant by the problem of the
reality of the external world it might be worth taking up the example of the
notions of ‘East’ and ‘West’,
which do not cease to be ‘objectively real’ even though analysis shows them to
be no more than a conventional, that is
‘historic-cultural’ construction. […] One can also recall the example contained
in a little book by Bertrand Russell […] Russell says approximately this: ‘We
cannot, without the existence of man on the earth, think of the existence of
London or Edinburgh, but we can think of the existence of two points in space,
one to the North and one to the South, where London and Edinburgh now are.’ It
could be objected that without the existence of man one cannot think of
‘thinking’, one cannot think at all of any fact or relationship which exists
only in so far as man exists. What would North–South or East–West mean without
man? They are real relationships and yet they would not exist without man and
without the development of civilisation. Obviously East and West are arbitrary and conventional, that is historical, constructions,
since outside of real history every point on the earth is East and West at the
same time”. On Gramsci and Russell see Cospito, Gli strumenti logici del pensiero.
Q 11, § 37, p. 1456; FS, p. 291: “Common sense asserts the objectivity of the
real in so far as reality, the world, has been created by God independently of
and before humanity”. On the Gramscian conception
of “common sense” see the entry Senso comune by Guido Liguori in Liguori-Voza, Dizionario gramsciano, pp. 759-761 and Gensini, Stefano, “Appunti su ‘linguaggio’,
‘senso comune’ e ‘traduzione’ in Gramsci”, il cannocchiale, 2012, 3: 163-193. A very
interesting Gramscian topic (that, for reasons of space, I cannot deepen here)
which is connected to the relation of science and common sense is represented
by the use of the scientific knowledge made by the Church and in particular by
the Jesuits; see Di Meo, L’“oggettività del reale” (on the neo-scholastic).
 Q 11, § 37, p. 1456; FS, p. 291.
 See Q 11, §§ 36-68. The supporters of a subjectivist conception of the world
are, in Gramsci’s view, the representatives of the so called “new physics”
(i.e., quantum mechanics); however, he criticises more directly with two
Italian intellectuals (Giuseppe Antonio Borgese and
Mario Camis) who tried to “popularise” this
conception – see for all these questions Greco, Antonio Gramsci e i quanti.
 Q 11, § 17, p. 1413; SPN, p. 803. Here is
the entire passage: “It is surprising that there has been no proper affirmation
and development of the connection between the idealist assertion of the reality
of the world as a creation of the human spirit and the affirmation made by the
philosophy of praxis of the historicity and transience of ideologies on the
grounds that ideologies are expressions of the structure and are modified by
modifications of the structure” (SPN, p. 803).
11, § 17, p. 1415; SPN, p. 806.
 See Q 11, § 27, p. 1437; SPN, p. 836 (“The
philosophy of praxis is absolute ‘historicism’, the absolute secularisation and
earthliness of thought, an absolute humanism of history”). On the thorny
problem of Gramscian “absolute historicism” and on his connection with the
category of “immanence” see the entry Storicismo by Giuseppe Cacciatore and Immanenza by Fabio Frosini, in Liguori-Voza, Dizionario gramsciano,
respectively, pp. 814-818 and pp. 408-412; see also Frosini,
Fabio, “Storicismo e storia nei Quaderni del carcere di Antonio Gramsci”, Bollettino filosofico, 2011-2012, pp. 351-367 and Frosini, La religione dell’uomo moderno, cap. II, pp. 112-161.
 See Salvatore Veca, L’idea
di incompletezza. Quattro lezioni (Milano: Feltrinelli 2011), p. 14. The occasion that gave
birth to this essay was in fact the reading of Salvatore Veca’s recent book about the idea of incompleteness. In this work Veca focuses on the limits and on the structural problems of answering to the
“request for theory”, i.e., the request for a theoretical explanation of
“uncertain” situations, by rejecting both the so called “new realism” and the
“postmodern”, Nietzschean interpretation of the issue
(pp. 7 ff). Within this context he investigates also the nature of science: on
the one hand it differs from the humanistic knowledge for
its “cumulative” nature and for its character of “justificatory narration” (i.e.
every scientific theory takes into account and explains the previous one; see
p. 56); on the other hand, science is similar to art and literature, in so far
as it is historically determined and sometimes lives “crises of explanation” (Veca underlines the complex historical dynamics that bring
to scientific discoveries; see p. 59). Therefore, science appears as a form of
knowledge that should be considered not only in relation to its “completeness”
but also in relation to its “incompleteness” and historicity. In my opinion
these categories can offer an original and stimulating theoretical frame to
analyse Gramsci’s reflection.
 Q 11, § 37, pp.
1455-1457; FS, pp. 291-2.
 Q 11, § 36, p.
1452; FS, p. 287. On the
cumulative character of science see also Q 11, § 30, p. 1445 (SPN, p. 840).
Here, while discussing the atomistic theory and the latest scientific
discoveries, Gramsci wrote: “Is modern atomic theory a ‘definitive’ theory,
established once and for all? What scientist would dare make such an assertion?
Might it not rather be simply a scientific hypothesis which may be superseded,
that is to say, absorbed into a vaster and more comprehensive theory? […] If
atomic theory is what the Manual makes it out to be, given that the history of society is a series of upheavals
and there have been many forms of society whereas atomic theory would appear to
be the reflection of an ever-constant natural reality, how then has society not
always obeyed this law? Or is it being claimed that the change from the
mediaeval corporate regime to economic individualism was antiscientific, a
mistake of history and of nature? According to the theory of praxis it is
evident that it is not atomic theory that explains human history but the other
way about: in other words that atomic theory and all scientific hypotheses and
opinions are superstructures”.
 Q 11, § 30, pp. 1442-1443; SPN, pp. 836-837.
 Q 11, § 30, pp. 1443-1444; SPN, p. 838.
 See Q 11, § 45, pp. 1466-1467; SPN, pp.
303-304: “From an incomprehension of the historicity of languages and therefore
of philosophies, ideologies and scientific opinions, there stems a tendency
that is characteristic of all form of thought (including idealist-historicist
ones) to build themselves up as an Esperanto or Volapük of philosophy and science. [...] For the Esperantists of philosophy and
science, everything that is not expressed in their language is a delirium, a
prejudice, a superstition, etc. [...] Philosophical Esperantism is especially rooted in positivist and naturalistic conceptions”.
Sarcastically, Gramsci quotes two artificial and a-historical languages as
examples of conceptions of the world detached from history and, more generally,
from human reality (see also, mutatis mutantis,
Q 11, § 18, p. 1417; SPN, p. 812: “methodical anti-historicism is sheer
metaphysics”; the Volapük is an artificial language
created by the German priest J. M. Schleyer in
1879-1880; it was replaced by the creation of the far more popular Esperanto at
the end of the 19th century). Gramsci discusses the topic of the scientific
languages in some other notes of notebook 11 (in particular in the fifth
section of the notebook entitled Traducibilità dei linguaggi scientifici e filosofici [Translatability of the scientific and philosophical languages]).
On the theme of language see the entry Linguaggio by Derek Boothman in Liguori-Voza, Dizionario gramsciano,
pp. 482-483, but especially Giancarlo Schirru, Filosofia del linguaggio e filosofia della prassi, in Giasi, Gramsci nel suo tempo, pp. 767-791
and Alessandro Carlucci, Gramsci and Language. Unification, Diversity,
Hegemony, (Leiden: Brill, 2013).
 Veca, L’idea di incompletezza.
the Gramscian reappraisal of the Critique of 1859 and on the concept of
ideology see the entry Ideologia by Guido Liguori in Liguori-Voza, Dizionario gramsciano,
pp. 399-403, but especially Fabio Frosini, Gramsci
e la filosofia. Saggio sui Quaderni del carcere (Roma: Carocci, 2003), pp. 79 ff., Fabio Frosini, Da Gramsci a Marx.
Ideologià, verità e politica, (Roma: DeriveApprodi, 2009) and Frosini, La
religione dell’uomo moderno, pp. 76 ff. et passim.
 See also Omodeo, “La via gramsciana”, pp. 60-61.
 Q 11, § 38, p. 1458; FS, p. 293.
 See Omodeo, “La via gramsciana”, p. 61 (he quotes Q 6, § 152, p. 809).
 See Q 11, § 21, pp. 1420-1422; SPN,
pp. 824-825: “It is affirmed, in the Popular Manual, that the progress
of science is dependent, as an effect from a cause, on the development of the
instruments of science. This is a corollary of the general principle adopted by
the Manual, originating with Loria, about the historical function of the ‘instrument of
production and work’ (which is substituted for the ensemble of social relations
of production). But in the science of geology no instruments except a hammer
are used and the technical progress in hammers is in no way comparable with
progress in geology. If the history of sciences can be reduced, as the Manual claims, to the history of their
particular instruments, how can one produce a history of geology? It is no good
saying that geology is based also on the progress of a complex of other
sciences so that the history of the instruments of these sciences helps to
describe the history of geology, because with this let-out one ends up with an empty
generalisation and a recourse to ever-wider movements
right up to the relations of production. It is very apt that the motto of geology
should be ‘mente et malleo’”
(it seems Gramsci ignores basic field equipment of geology, as for instance
maps, compasses, theodolites, photographic cameras, microscopes and 3D models,
then used for quite some time). Shortly after that he mentions mathematics as
example: “How superficial the affirmation in the Manual is can be seen
from the example of the mathematical sciences which have no need of any
material instruments (the development of the abacus, is not, I think, a valid
counter-example) and which are themselves an ‘instrument’ of all the natural
sciences” (SPN, p. 826).
On Bukharin’s “degeneration” see also Q 11, § 29, pp. 1441-1442; SPN, pp. 830-831: “It is clear that the whole
theory of the technical instrument in the Manual is pure abracadabra and
comparable to the theory of memory concocted by Croce to explain why artists
are not content to conceive their works purely in an ideal form but write them
or sculpt them. etc. […] There is no doubt that all this is just an infantile
deviation of the philosophy of praxis generated by the baroque conviction that
the more one goes back to ‘material’ objects the more orthodox one must be”. On
this theme see Lefons, “Scienza, tecnica”, pp. 117-118, Cospito, Il marxismo sovietico e
Engels, p. 755 (and especially footnote 43, that contains interesting
observations on the differences between the first version [Q 7, § 5] and the
second version of the note [Q 11, § 21]) and Voza,
“La critica di ciò che è ‘oggettivo’”, pp. 50-51.
 Q 11, § 21, p. 1421; SPN, p. 825. And
it continues: “How great a contribution to the progress of science was made by
the expulsion from the scientific fields of the authority of Aristotle and the
Bible? And was not this expulsion due to the general progress of modern
society? Recall the example of theories on the origin of springs. The first
exact formulation of the way that springs are produced is to be found in the Encyclopaedia of Diderot, etc. While the ordinary people can be shown to have had correct
opinions on the question before then, in the scientific world there were a
succession of the most arbitrary and bizarre theories which aimed to reconcile
the Bible and Aristotle with the experimental observations of good sense” (SPN,
11, § 29, p. 1441; SPN, pp. 826-831. In this case it is interesting to confront
the first version of the note (Q 4, § 12 and § 19) with the second one (Q 11, §
29): not only in the second version Gramsci has deeply re-elaborated the text,
but also the references to Bukharin and Loria are
clearer and sharper.
 See Q 28, § 11, p. 2330: “The Land of Cokaygne motif that Croce finds in Graziadei is of a certain general interest, since it serves to outline a subterranean
current of romanticism and popular phantasizing that
is fuelled by the ‘cult of science’, by the ‘religion of progress’ and by
twentieth century optimism, which itself is also a form of opium” – I thank
Derek Boothman for having provided me with this
translation). The same motive of the “Land of Cokaygne”
and of the intellectual opium is recalled also in Q 11, § 39, pp. 1458-1459;
FS, pp. 294-5: “is to be noted that, together with the most superficial
infatuation for the sciences, there exists in reality the greatest ignorance
about scientific facts and methods, things that are very difficult and are
becoming all the more difficult because of the progressive specialisation of
new branches of research. Scientific superstition carries such ridiculous
illusion and such infantile conceptions that religious superstition finds
itself ennobled by them. Scientific progress has given birth to belief in and
the expectation of a new Messiah who will bring about the Land of the Cokaygne on this earth. The forces of nature, without any
intervention from human toil but through the action of eve more perfected
mechanisms, will give society an abundance of everything necessary for
satisfying its needs and living at ease. This infatuation – the abstract
superficial faith in humanity’s miracle-working ability – leads paradoxically
to the sterilisation of the very bases of this ability and to the destruction
of all love for concrete and necessary work in new type of opium”. On the
concept of progress see also Q 10, II, § 48, p. 1335; SPN, p. 677: “Progress is
an ideology: [...] ‘Progress’ depends on a specific mentality, in the
constitution of which are involved certain historically determined cultural
elements: ‘becoming’ is a philosophical concept from which ‘progress’ can be
absent. In the idea of progress is implied the possibility of quantitative and
qualitative measuring, of ‘more’ and ‘better’”.
 See Omodeo, “La
via gramsciana alla scienza”, p. 55 and Di Meo, L’“oggettività del reale”, p.
11, § 34, pp. 1449-1449; SPN, pp. 808-809.
 See Boothman, “Scienza e traducibilità”, p. 51. See also Voza,
“La critica di ciò che è ‘oggettivo’”, pp. 51-52.
 See on this point Voza, “La critica di ciò che è ‘oggettivo’”, p. 52.
However, as Voza also recognised,
this Gramscian statement is problematic (Voza rightly
underlines the obscure style of the passage as well).
 For an introduction to the Gramscian category of “hegemony”
see Giuseppe Cospito, Egemonia,
in Fabio Frosini and Guido Liguori (eds), Le parole di Gramsci (Roma: Carocci, 2004), pp. 74-92. On the topic see also Giuseppe Cospito, “Il ritmo del pensiero”. Per
una lettura diacronica dei Quaderni del carcere di Gramsci (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 2011), chapter II, pp. 77-126, Angelo D’Orsi (ed), Egemonie (Napoli: Dante &
Descartes, 2008) and Mauro Pala (ed), Narrazioni egemoniche. Gramsci, letteratura e società civile (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2014). I
would like to note also the papers on the concept of hegemony by Cospito, Frosini and Schirru, which were presented during the Ghilarza Summer School 2014 – Scuola Internazionale di Studi Gramsciani (Ghilarza (OR),
Italy, 8th-12th September 2014) and will be published
soon; the programme is available at: http://www.internationalgramscisociety.org/communications/gss2014.html). In general, “cultural hegemony” represents only an aspect
of the multifaceted hegemonic process investigated by Gramsci; as Cospito wrote, “the civil or political hegemony [is] connected and not opposed to the cultural and intellectual one” (Cospito, Egemonia,
p. 89). As a matter of fact, the cultural
aspect of hegemony is strictly linked to the role of intellectuals within
society and to “intellectual and moral reform” with all its political and
practical consequences (this issue, however, is very complex and cannot be
examined deeply here).
 See first of all Nieto-Galan, “Antonio
Gramsci Revisited” and Gavroglu, Kostas, “Science
popularization, hegemonic ideology and commercialized
science”, Journal of History of Science and Technology, 2012, 6: 85-99. The conference that took place in Barcelona on 22th-24th January 2014 (Science as Cultural Hegemony. Gramscian Concepts
for the History of Science, Centre d’Història de
la Ciència (CEHIC), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona-Institut d’Estudis Catalans), where a first version of this
paper was presented, was a unique occasion to discuss these topics.
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