Between ideology and science: Dialectics of dispute on physics in 1920s-1930s Soviet Russia

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between Soviet scientific community and authority in the Stalin era by investigating how specialists of physical sciences and communist ideologues deal with interpretation of physical theories or concepts in the 1920s and 1930s. Soviet physico-philosophical disputes have often been regarded as a persistent attack on modern physical theories by well allied ideologues or ignoramuses. Minute study of historical documents with a consideration of socio-political context tells us, however, that this view must be radically revised. Attacks on leading physicists were not well formed, except for the comparatively short period of the Great Terror. Physicists also sought to find the way of description of physics, which is compatible with Marxist ideology dialectical materialism. We will suggest that it will be suitable to grasp the process of dispute as one of acquiring "Soviet Newspeak", not as a success on showing the correctness or usefulness of physics by leading physicists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalHistoria Scientiarum
Volume22
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History and Philosophy of Science

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