Ivan Petrovich Pavlov: Bolshevism’s Sharpest Critic

  • Vera Tolz
Part of the Studies in Russian and East European History and Society book series (SREEHS)


The case of the Russian physiologist Academician Ivan Petrovich Pavlov represents one of the most peculiar examples of the relationship between scientists and the Soviet government. Among Russian/Soviet scientists and scholars, Pavlov was the sharpest and the most persistent critic of the Bolshevik regime. According to the widely accepted view, by the end of his life Pavlov had abandoned his adamant opposition to the October Revolution. Pavlov’s letters to the Soviet government, published in the Russian press in the late 1980s, seem to suggest, however, that this was not the case and that the physiologist in fact always remained firm in his critical view of Stalin’s policy. And yet, his approach to physiology, proclaimed materialistic by Soviet ideologists, and the world fame his theories acquired, impressed the Bolsheviks and served Pavlov well as protection. Moreover, in the 1930s, Pavlov ‘was officially proclaimed…the discoverer of the dialectical materialist way to an understanding of the psyche’.1


Military Medical Academy Soviet Government October Revolution Soviet Leader Soviet Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Vera Tolz 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Tolz
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SalfordEngland

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