SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY IN THE SOVIET UNION by Loren R. Graham

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY IN THE SOVIET UNION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To discuss competently the major problems in scientific fields ranging from quantum mechanics to psychology is a large order. But this is exactly what Graham, a Columbia historian, succeeds in doing. He set out in 1959 to investigate the relation of science to dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union. Since Soviet scientists have been involved in practically every major dispute among scientists in the West, Graham ends up covering nearly all modern science in order to explain the Soviet role. Starting with the origins of the Russian philosophy of dialectical materialism in the writings of Engels and Lenin, Graham goes on to systematically explain the interlocking of scientific and philosophical issues in physics, chemistry, the origin of life, cybernetics and psychology. The dark period of Lysenkoism is included as well, although it raised no real philosophical questions. Graham brings the question of method to the fore and in many fields Soviet. scientists prove more sensitive to methodological and philosophical aspects than their Western colleagues. The Soviet battle, led by Oparin, against mechanical and static views of living beings held by Western scientists is a particularly impressive example. Throughout, Graham exhibits a solid competence and lucid style, although a certain scientific literacy is expected on the reader's part. Only in the introduction, on the relation of Marxism to dialectical materialism, does he fail to go into sufficient depth. Overall, for anyone who wants to know where science is and where it's going, both in the West and in Russia, this is essential reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Knopf