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Darwin In Russian Thought
by Alexander Vucinich
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Darwin in Russian Thought represents the first comprehensive and systematic study of Charles Darwin's influence on Russian thought from the early 1860s to the October Revolution. While concentrating on the role of Darwin's theory in the development of Russian science and philosophy, Vucinich also explores the dominant ideological and sociological interpretations of evolutionary thought, providing a deft analysis of the views held by the leaders of Russian nihilism, populism, anarchism, and marxism.
Darwin's thinking profoundly influenced intellectual discourse in Russia: it effected the emergence of "theoretical theology," a modern effort to provide theological responses to the revolutionary changes in the natural sciences, contributed to the evolution of a modern scientific community, and spurred the rapidly growing concern with the epistemological and ethical foundations of science in general. Scholarly battles were waged among the critics of Darwin--Karl von Baer, Nikolai Iakovlevich Danilevskii and Sergei Ivanovich Korzhinskii, and others--and the defenders of the faith.
Vucinich is able to delineate the distinctive national characteristics of Russian Darwinism: the strong influence of Lamarckian thought, the delayed recognition of the contributions of genetics, the near-universal rejection of Social Darwinism, the early anticipation of the triumph of "evolutionary synthesis," and the heavy concentration on the social and moral aspects of evolutionary thought. Vividly argued and rich in detail, Darwin in Russian Thought provides a unique glimpse into the Russian psyche.
About the Author
Alexander Vucinich is Professor of History of Science, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania and author of Empire of Knowledge: The Academy of Sciences of the USSR (California, 1984).
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