Vernadsky Vladimir

Ivanovich

1863-1945

VERNADSKY, Vladimir Ivanovich (b. March 12, 1863, St. Petersburg; d. January 6, 1945, Moscow) – Russian polymath; author in new science disciplines and fields – genetic mineralogy, geochemistry, radiogeology, biogeochemistry, cosmochemistry, meteoritics, doctrine of natural waters, biosphere and noosphere, the greatest organizer and historian of science, original philosopher and thinker. Vernadsky’s ideas, because of their heuristicity, continue to define not only the development of globalistics, but also many other fields of contemporary science. Vernadsky was the founder of many scientific schools, academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1912), Russian Academy of Sciences (1917), Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1925), founder and first president of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (1919). He was one of the founders and chair- man of the Commission for Study of Natural Productive Forces (1915–30). He was organizer and director of the Radium Institute (1922–39), and the Biogeochemical Laboratory (1928) (now the Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry which is named after him).

During the pre-revolutionary period, he actively participated in the liberation movement, and was one of the founders and leaders of the Union of Liberation, a member of Country Movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party (1905), in 1917 becoming a member of its Central Committee. In August–October 1917 he was Comrade (Deputy) Minister of People’s Education of the Interim Government.

The main direction of Vernadsky’s natural science interests is the development of the holistic theory of biosphere – the Earth sphere, in which the overall activity of living organisms, including humans, is presented as a geo- chemical factor of planetary scale and significance. The next evolutionary stage of biosphere is noosphere (the sphere of mind) – a qualitatively new form of organization of the biosphere arising from the interaction of nature and society which as a result transforms the world of human creativity, based on scientific thought.

Anthropogenic human activity becomes, according to Vernadsky, the decisive factor of development, a powerful force comparable in its impact on nature to geological processes. Vernadsky’s theory about the relationship between nature and society made a decisive impact on the formation of contemporary environmental consciousness; it became the theoretical basis for environmental protection activities. The principal points of the noosphere concept can be summed up as the theory of historical process.

Notions of “biosphere” and “noosphere” (misunderstood and not properly used while Vernadsky was alive) increasingly determine the intellectual climate today.

Various fields of social consciousness now recognize the value of the Earth’s biosphere, its uniqueness in the solar system and its decisive importance for humanity. The traditional system of values and the basis for human activities are reinterpreted, with noosphere views being used for judging socio-economic and technological development perspectives regarding material and spiritual culture in general. Throughout Vernadsky’s life his ideology changed, developed, and became enriched, but it was always a holistic natural-scientific system of beliefs based on common theoretical grounds. A substantial part of his research comprises philosophical and methodological issues, the variety of spatiotemporal states of matter, structure, and properties of time, the logic of experimental and observing sciences, the ratio between theoretical and empirical in scientific knowledge, the nature of the scientific worldview, the history and organization of science and rules of its development, the philosophy of natural science, the interaction of natural science and philosophy, the social functions of science, and the ethics of scientific creativity. Vernadsky was one of the founders of Russian cosmism – a system based on the idea of the inner unity of man and the cosmos, in which natural-historical, natural (in the sense of cosmic), and socio-humanitarian human tendencies of science’s development are harmoniously blended into one entity.

Works: Works and Speeches, p. 1922, Issues 1–2; Correspondence with B.L. Lichkov, Books 1–2 (Moscow, 1979–80); Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon (Moscow, 1991); Library of Works of Academic V.I. Vernadsky; Chief Editor of the Academy A.L. Yanshin. M, 1992–2000; Living Material and Biosphere (Moscow, 1994); Works on Philosophy of Natural Science (Moscow, 2000); Chemical Structure of Earth Biosphere and Its Environment (Moscow, 2001).

Lit.: B.L. Lichkov, V.I. Vernadsky (Moscow, 1948); Life and Work of V.I. Vernadsky from the Memories of His Contemporaries (to the 100th Anniversary of His Birth) (Moscow, 1963); I.I. Mochalov, Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863–1945) (M, 1982); R.K. Balandin, Vernadsky: Life, Thought, Immortality (Moscow, 1988); L.I. Gumilevsky, Vernadsky (Moscow, 1988); “Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky,” Materials to Scientists’ Bio-Bibliography (Moscow, 1992); Vladimir Vernadsky: Collection (Moscow, 1993); G.P. Aksenov, Vernadsky (Moscow, 1994);