Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr

From: Eirik Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Sat Jun 23 2007 - 13:37:19 PDT

David K.,

You mentioned Graham's book. Graham stresses that the advent of Darwinism to
Russia coincided with the era of great reforms promoted after the Crimean war -
a time when Russian intellectuals were ready for unorthodox ideas: "Darwinism
supplied both opposition to religious creationism and, at least implicitly,
support for social and political change” (p. 57). Radical thinkers of the 1860s
looked to the natural sciences for the ultimate solution of all problems and
enthusiastically received Darwinism as the corollary in biology of Newton's
laws in physics.

“It was not difficult to turn Darwinism into a message of anthropological
materialism, even atheism, and the more radical members of the Russian
intelligentsia exploited this possibility. [...] Science was regarded by many
Russian intellectuals as a natural ally of political change and as a natural
enemy of tyranny and religious orthodoxy. Darwinism was the latest and most
exciting weapon in this struggle” (ibid).

The anti-Malthusian criticism within the Russian intellectual community also
used strong objections to Darwin. According to Daniel P. Todes ("Darwin without
Malthus: The Struggle for Existence in Russian Evolutionary Thought", Oxford &
NYC: OUP, 1989), the arguments of the early pre-Darwinian opposition to Malthus
were invoked against Darwinian Malthusianism.

Radicals hoping to build a socialist society saw Malthusianism as a
reactionary current in bourgeois political economy. Monarchists hoping to
preserve the communal virtues of tsarist Russia, saw it as an expression of
the "British national type," while religous thinkers in the Orthodox church
claimed that Malthus was a heretic who blasphemously accused God of implanting
a contradiction within the natural order.


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Received on Sat Jun 23 13:39 PDT 2007

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