Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union

By Loren R. Graham | Go to book overview

VII Origin of Life

With the topic of the origin of life we come to one of the most interesting and least understood of the areas of the interaction between science and Marxist philosophy. Much essential information on this topic is still missing and will be uncovered only by careful monographic studies of the original workers in this field in the twenties and thirties, particularly in Russia and Britain. Recently attention has begun to shift in that direction; in 1968 C. H. Waddington, the distinguished British geneticist, commented:

In the late Twenties and early Thirties the basic thinking was done which led to the view that saw life as a natural and perhaps inevitable development from the non-living physical world. Future students of the history of ideas are likely to take note that this new view, which amounts to nothing less than a great revolution in man's philosophical outlook on his own position in the natural world, was first developed by Communists. Oparin of Moscow, in 1924, and J. B. S. Haldane, of Cambridge, England, in 1929, independently argued that recent advances in geochemistry suggested that the conditions on the surface of the primitive earth were very different from those of today, and were of a kind which made it possible to imagine the origin of systems that might be called "living."...1

Most scientists and historians of science are very skeptical of easy associations of science and political ideology, and no doubt Waddington did not intend to imply a direct causal link here. In this rather casual comment in a book review he was opening the question of the possible influence of Marxism on the significant theories of life of the

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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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