Ivan Pavlov A Russian Life in Science

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-11-12
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Winner of the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society

"Contrary to legend, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) never trained a dog to salivate to the sound of a bell."

So begins this definitive, deeply researched biography of Ivan Pavlov. Daniel P. Todes fundamentally reinterprets the Russian physiologist's famous research on conditional reflexes and weaves his life, values, and science into the tumultuous century of Russian history-particularly that of its intelligentsia-from the reign of tsar Nicholas I to Stalin's time.

Ivan Pavlov was born to a family of priests in provincial Riazan before the serfs were emancipated, and made his home and professional success in the booming capital of St. Petersburg in late imperial Russia. He suffered the cataclysmic destruction of his world during the Bolshevik seizure of power and civil war of 1917-21, rebuilt his life in his seventies as a "prosperous dissident" during the Leninist 1920s, and flourished professionally as never before in the 1930s industrialization, revolution, and terror of Stalin times.

Using a wide variety of previously unavailable archival materials, Todes tells a vivid story of that life and redefines Pavlov's legacy. Pavlov was not, in fact, a behaviorist who believed that psychology should address only external behaviors; rather, he sought to explain the emotional and intellectual life of animals and humans, "the torments of our consciousness." This iconic "objectivist" was actually a profoundly anthropomorphic thinker whose science was suffused with his own experiences, values, and subjective interpretations.

Todes's story of this powerful personality and extraordinary man is based upon interviews with surviving coworkers and family members (along with never-before-analyzed taped interviews from the 1960s and 1970s), examination of hundreds of scientific works by Pavlov and his coworkers, and close analysis of materials from some twenty-five archives. The materials range from the records of his student years at Riazan Seminary to the transcripts of the Communist Party cells in his labs, and from his scientific manuscripts and notebooks to his political speeches; they include revealing love letters to his future wife and correspondence with hundreds of scholars, artists, and Communist Party leaders; and memoirs by many coworkers, his daughter, his wife, and his lover.

The product of more than twenty years of research, this is the first scholarly biography of the physiologist to be published in any language.

Author Biography

Daniel P. Todes is Professor, Institute of History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Table of Contents


PART ONE: The Seminarian Chooses Science (1849-1874)
1. The Pavlovs of Riazan'
2. Seminarian in the `Sixties
3. St. Petersburg University

PART TWO: Wilderness Years (1875-1890)
4. The Reluctant Physician
5. Serafima Vasil'evna Karchevskaia
6. Time of Troubles
7. In From the Cold

PART THREE: Man of Tsarist Science (1891-1904)
8. A NonChekhovian Type
9. The Pavlovs of St. Petersburg
10. Professor of Physiology
11. The Physiology Factory: Forces of Production
12. The Physiology Factory: Relations of Production
13. Favorite Dogs
14. A Convincing Synthesis
15. Dacha Life
16. A European Reputation
17. Targeting the Psyche
18. The Nobel Prize

PART FOUR: Nobelist in the Silver Age (1905-1914)
19. Amid Russia's Political Crisis
20. Family Life
21. Pavlov's Quest
22. The Factory Retooled
23. Battle of the Titans
24. Women Coworkers and the Physiology of Emotion
25. Mariia Kapitonovna Petrova

PART FIVE: War and Revolution (1914-1921)
26. War
27. Revolution
28. Cataclysm
29. Where Are You, Freedom?
30 To Leave My Homeland

PART SIX: Prosperous Dissident (1922-1929)
31. The Pavlovs of Leningrad
32. A Great Journey
33. Laboratory Revival
34. Lecturing the Bolsheviks and Leaving the Academy
35. The Commissar and the Dialectician
36. Freud, the Flood, and the Physiology of Personality
37. Two Books and a Beast
38. Types, Temperament, and Character
39. Work and Play in City and Countryside
40. On the Eve of the Great Break

PART SEVEN: Icon of Soviet and World Science (1929-1936)
41. International Celebrity
42. Stalin Times
43. Pavlov's Communists
44. Koltushi: Pavlov's Science Village
45. Psychiatry
46. Gestalt Pavlov-Style
47. Year of Climaxes
48. At the Summit: The International Physiology Congress
49. Final Days


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