Religion and ideological confrontations in early Soviet mathematics: The case of P.A. Nekrasov

Almagest 9 (2):13-38 (2018)
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Abstract
The influence of religious beliefs to several leading mathematicians in early Soviet years, especially among members of the Moscow Mathematical Society, had drawn the attention of militant Soviet marxists, as well as Soviet authorities. The issue has also drawn significant attention from scholars in the post-Soviet period. According to the currently prevailing interpretation, reported purges against Moscow mathematicians due to their religious inclination are the focal point of the relevant history. However, I maintain that historical data arguably offer reasons to cast reasonable doubts on this interpretation. In this paper, by reviewing the relevant literature, I raise some methodological and philosophical concerns, in an attempt to contribute to a better understanding of the issue. I maintain that an efficient line of reasoning is to discuss issues in the context of their making, taking into consideration the specific features of each era’s culture. Thus, by focusing on P.A. Nekrasov’s case, I attempt to point to an alternative interpretation, in which the different treatment of religious inclined mathematicians by Soviet authorities is explained in the context of the ideological confrontation between two contrasting worldviews, as part of the ongoing class war in the several phases of Soviet history.
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Archival date: 2019-02-27
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