Darwin in Russian Thought by Alexander Vucinich

By Alexander Vucinich

Darwin in Russian Thought represents the 1st accomplished and systematic learn of Charles Darwin's impact on Russian idea from the early 1860s to the October Revolution. whereas focusing on the position of Darwin's idea within the improvement of Russian technological know-how and philosophy, Vucinich additionally explores the dominant ideological and sociological interpretations of evolutionary proposal, delivering a deft research of the perspectives held by way of the leaders of Russian nihilism, populism, anarchism, and marxism.

Darwin's considering profoundly stimulated highbrow discourse in Russia: it effected the emergence of "theoretical theology," a contemporary attempt to supply theological responses to the progressive adjustments within the typical sciences, contributed to the evolution of a contemporary medical neighborhood, and spurred the speedily turning out to be predicament with the epistemological and moral foundations of technological know-how commonly. Scholarly battles have been waged one of the critics of Darwin—Karl von Baer, Nikolai Iakovlevich Danilevskii and Sergei Ivanovich Korzhinskii, and others—and the defenders of the faith.

Vucinich is ready to delineate the exact nationwide features of Russian Darwinism: the robust impact of Lamarckian proposal, the not on time acceptance of the contributions of genetics, the near-universal rejection of Social Darwinism, the early anticipation of the triumph of "evolutionary synthesis," and the heavy focus at the social and ethical features of evolutionary proposal. Vividly argued and wealthy intimately, Darwin in Russian Thought presents a distinct glimpse into the Russian psyche.

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A. Timiriazev published a long comment on the new theory, which led to the first Russian book on Darwin's contributions to biology. A. O. Kovalevskii launched his distinguished work on the embryology of marine invertebrates and published his first evolutionary paper in the Memoirs of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences when he was twenty-five years of age. Russian Pioneers in Evolutionary Embryology: A. O. Kovalevskii and I. I. [90] Although Darwin did not make extensive use of embryological evidence in favor of evolution, he fully sensed its vital importance for the future development of transformist biology.

The scientific work of Kovalevskii and Mechnikov represented the crowning point in the reception and early application of Darwin's ideas by Russian natural scientists. But how were these scientists regarded by the Russian scientific community? Although the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences published their papers, they had difficulty in finding suitable employment. At the time when St. Petersburg and Moscow provided the most coveted academic positions, Kovalevskii and Mechnikov had no choice but to seek teaching positions in provincial universities, ― 43 ― equipped with poor laboratories and libraries and wanting in intellectual stimulus for sustained scientific work.

He based his statement on two arguments. First, he thought that there was no sufficient empirical base for viewing the transformation of lower animals to higher animals as an indisputable scientific fact. Second, he was convinced that the material presented by Darwin invited contradic- ― 54 ― tory interpretations. Despite these cautions, he chose not to challenge the idea of the anthropoid origin of man, nor did he question the correctness of Darwin's approach. He wanted to protect the tranquillity of scientific work by avoiding a bitter confrontation with the fast-growing ranks of anti-Darwinists outside the scientific community.

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