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Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1993 Apr-Jun;28(2):137-42.

The politics of physiological psychology. Ivan Pavlov's suppressed defense of scientific freedom and its consequences.

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Department of Sociology, Rutgers-State University, New Brunswick 08903.


This statement, first presented at a plenary session of the Pavlovian Society on 9 October 1992, in Los Angeles, California, attempts to assess the recently released speech delivered by Ivan Pavlov in 1923, but publicly brought to light only in 1991, on the subject of "Communist Dogmatism and the Autonomy of Science." This speech, noteworthy for the courage of the delivery under adverse circumstances no less than the contents of its remarks, compels a new estimate of the place of science in a totalitarian system boasting an ideology of physiological psychology. It also sheds new light on the Russian Nobel laureate and pioneer in the areas of behavior modification induced by the functions of the higher nervous system. These remarks take an in-depth view of American radical and Marxian appraisals--how they followed the Soviet lead in harnessing Pavlov to the Communist cause, and in attempting to discredit the work of Sigmund Freud. This lethal combination of Communist political needs and ideological proclivities served to rationalize the implementation of slave labor as work therapy during the Stalinist era. The linkage of Pavlov to Makarenko in education and Michurin in biology serves as a case study in the manufacture of tradition. The collapse of the Soviet system permits a recasting of the history of science and Pavlov's place in Russian life. Such new conditions also provide a lesson in the distortive role of ideology in the evolution of modern science.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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