Pavlov's Physiology Factory
Experiment, Interpretation, Laboratory Enterprise
Russian physiologist and Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov is most famous for his development of the concept of the conditional reflex and the classic experiment in which he trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell. In Pavlov's Physiology Factory: Experiment, Interpretation, Laboratory Enterprise, Daniel P. Todes explores Pavlov's early work in digestive physiology through the structures and practices of his landmark laboratory—the physiology department of the Imperial Institute for Experimental Medicine.
In Lectures on the Work of the Main Digestive Glands, for which Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in 1904, the scientist frequently referred to the experiments of his coworkers and stated that his conclusions reflected "the deed of the entire laboratory." This novel claim caused the prize committee some consternation. Was he alone deserving of the prize? Examining the fascinating content of Pavlov's scientific notes and correspondence, unpublished memoirs, and laboratory publications, Pavlov's Physiology Factory explores the importance of Pavlov's directorship of what the author calls a "physiology factory" and illuminates its relationship to Pavlov's Nobel Prize-winning work and the research on conditional reflexes that followed it.
Todes looks at Pavlov's performance in his various roles as laboratory manager, experimentalist, entrepreneur, and scientific visionary. He discusses changes wrought by government and commercial interests in science and sheds light on the pathways of scientific development in Russia—making clear Pavlov's personal achievements while also examining his style of laboratory management. Pavlov's Physiology Factory thus addresses issues of importance to historians of science and scientists today: "big" versus "small" science, the dynamics of experiment and interpretation, and the development of research cultures.
About the Author
Daniel P. Todes is an associate professor of the history of science, medicine, and technology at the Johns Hopkins University.
"A marvellous book... He is, as far as I can judge, so in control of his primary material and so informed historiographically about how to use it that admiration seems the appropriate response."
"A thought provoking and important book...Daniel Todes is a fine scholar and craftsman. Historians of life science, and anyone interested in the life of science, will read this book with pleasure and profit."
" Todes has achieved an impressive feat of scholarship, combining meticulous research with analytical clarity, which does full justice to his compelling subject."
"Todes's account of Pavlov's physiology factory is a fascinating study of social and political, as well as intellectual, aspects of the creation and maintenance of a successful research school."
"Beyond providing a vivid portrait of Pavlov as scientific entrepreneur, Todes sheds new light on how Pavlov came to his theories of conditional reflex, his most enduring legacy.This extensively research and satisfying book on the experimentation leading up to the 1904 Nobel prize whets the reader's appetite for a fuller rendition of this remarkable scientist's life."
"For anyone wanting particulars about Pavlov's research protocols, results, and practical applications, this is an excellent source."
"Daniel Todes has written a masterful book that offers a unique combination of an insider's understanding of Pavlov's science and the outsider's perspective of the critical historian. His book is a significant contribution to the recent spate of studies that emphasize laboratory praxis... [A] wonderfully complex and intricate story."
"Todes analyzes the unfolding of Pavlov's central scientific vision with a sureness of hand that will be hailed by historians of science... Readers will find their own favorite chapters in this enticing book."
"Pavlov's physiology has fully benefited from Todes' extensive and intimate knowledge of the protagonist... Living up to the intention to appeal not only to humanities scholars, but also to scientists, Todes treats the basics of science and of history-writing symmetrically."
"Todes's excellent work takes its place among the histories of experimentation that place empirical analysis and precision within the context of social relations, politics, institutions, and personalities, in this case, dog as well as human. "
"Todes's book is particularly rich."
"Pavlov's Physiology Factory is a work of prodigious scholarship, utilizing a massive collection of published and unpublished resources which would be otherwise inaccessible to English-speaking readers. The work is rich, not only in its portrayal of this particular enterprise, but in its suggestion of approaches applicable to other case-histories in the evolution of modern large-scale laboratories."
"Todes engages Pavlov's complex personality in a unique way—through his management of a large and productive scientific laboratory. This original and insightful study will be useful to historians of science, physiologists, and psychologists who want to investigate the origins of current methodology."
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
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