Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

Excerpt

The writing of this book began in the fall of 1959, although at the time I did not know that a full-length study would be the result of my research. I was a chemical engineer who had re-entered university studies in order to become a historian. As a member of a seminar at Columbia University under Professor Henry Roberts, I found my attention attracted to a specific topic in science that had caused some discussion in the Soviet Union: the theory of resonance. In the course of investigating that issue, I followed one different thread after another until an entire web of scientific, philosophical, and political issues became visible. This web constituted a single historical problem, yet it encompassed far more than any one historian could hope to master. The problem proved to be one of the most interesting and unexplored questions I could ever anticipate encountering, but it was thoroughly intimidating in its dimensions. In the years that followed, I worked on another book, a history of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, but I continued to collect information on the relation of Soviet Marxism to specific problems of scientific interpretation. Until 1964 I did not believe it possible or proper for a single person to try to bring together in one frame issues requiring competence in such diverse technical backgrounds. Nonetheless I was unconsciously building toward this larger goal. Through study of the Soviet Academy I had gained a better understanding of the political and institutional framework of science in the Soviet Union. During a year as an exchange graduate student at Moscow University in 1960-61 I frequently discussed dialectical materialism with Soviet . . .

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