Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

By Loren R. Graham | Go to book overview

VI
Genetics

To many persons the phrase "Marxist ideology and science" will bring to mind one word -- "Lysenko." Of all the issues discussed in this volume, the "Lysenko affair" is best known outside the Soviet Union. It is frequently considered the most important of the various controversies concerning dialectical materialism and the natural sciences. It has been discussed in hundreds of articles and dozens of books.

How ironic it is, then, that the Lysenko affair had less to do with dialectical materialism as Marx, Engels, Plekhanov, and Lenin knew it than any of the other controversies considered in this study. The interpretations advanced by Lysenko arose neither among Marxist biologists nor established Marxist philosophers.1

Compared with the other scientific issues involving dialectical materialism, the Lysenko controversy was unique in still other ways. Intellectually it is far less interesting than the other discussions. A person may experience at moments a certain fascination in watching in detail through historical sources the suppression of a science, but this reaction surely issues only from either a dramatic sense of tragedy or a desire to know how to avoid such occurrences in the future. The Lysenko episode was a chapter in the history of pseudoscience rather than the history of science.

A number of authors have maintained that one of the most important reasons for the rise of Lysenko was the existence in pre-Revolutionary Russia of an unusual school in biology.2 Some would tie the birth of this movement to Marx and Engels, while others would look to the populist

-195-

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Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I Introduction: - Background of The Discussions 3
  • II- Dialectical Materialism: The Soviet Marxist Philosophy of Science 24
  • Iii Quantum Mechanics 69
  • Iv Relativity Theory 111
  • V- Cosmology And Cosmogony 139
  • VI - Genetics 195
  • Vii Origin of Life 257
  • Viiistructural Chemistry 297
  • IX - Cybernetics 324
  • X- Physiology And Psychology 355
  • Concluding Remarks 430
  • Appendixes 441
  • Appendix I Lysenko and Zhdanov 443
  • Appendix II H. J. Muller on Lenin And Genetics 451
  • Notes 471
  • Bibliography 553
  • Index 585
  • A Note on the Author 601
  • A Note on the Type 603
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