Nineteenth century Russian intellectuals perceived a Malthusian bias in Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection. They identified that bias with Darwin's concept of the "struggle for existence" and his emphasis upon the evolutionary role of overpopulation and intraspecific conflict. In this book, Todes documents a historical Russian critique of Darwin's "Malthusian error", explores its relationship to such scientific work as Mechnikov's phagocytic theory,Korzhinskii's mutation theory and Kropotkin's theory of mutual aid, and finds its origins in Russia's political economy and in the very nature of its land and climate. This is the first book in English to examine in detail the scientific work of nineteenth century Russian evolutionists, and the first inany language to explore the relationship of Russian theories to the economic, political, and natural circumstances in which they were generated. It combines a broad scope (dealing with political figures and cultural movements) with a close analysis of scientific work on a range of topics.
"This serious analysis is important to anyone concerned with problems of the current state of the study of evolution, the history of ideas, or the background of Soviet thought."--Bioscience
"Todes has provided an excellent historical account of the 19th century evolutionary tradition among Russian naturalists. This book should be of interest to evolutionary biologists in general, and will be invaluable to scholars in the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology. The writing style is clear and the book is well edited."--Ohio Journal of Science
"Excellent and fascinating."--Taxon
"Clearly written, persuasively argued, and based on a broad body of primary source material. It is an important contribution to Russian intellectual history and to the history of Russian science. Those who wish to understand the hostility toward the market in twentieth-century Russia would do well to ponder its message."--Bulletin of the History of Medicine
"A scholarly account."--Evolutionary Theory and Review
"A fine precise analysis" --The Russian Review
"The reader is treated to a bonanza of information....Unusually rich in significant details on the changes and vibrations of personal views on Darwin's legacy....The chapter on Mechnikov is the best and most impressive essay in the book....An outstanding contribution to the challenging and exhilirating world of Darwin studies. It is a lucidly written, precisely structured, and richly documented addition to the historical study of the social dynamics of Russian science and rationalist tradition."--American Historical Review