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A poetic extract by A. S. Pushkin in the context of a changing scientific paradigm

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2018. Vol. 7. No. 4. Pp. 295-304.
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Nikolaev N. I.
Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M. V. Lomonosov
6 Voronin Street, 164501 Severodvinsk, Russia


The article is focused on the widely known extract from a poetic text by A. S. Pushkin and its interpretation at various historic stages. In the author’s opinion, the exclusion of A. S. Pushkin’s text finishing line from the quote presented in the caption of TV show of S. P. Kapitsa “Evident - Incredible” is not coincidental and conditioned by a substantial change of the scientific paradigm. The last line by Pushkin did not match to S. P. Kapitsa’s concept of the TV show, since it contradicted to his modern ideas on purposes and values of scientific studies. The value system of the great Russian poet was formed in a completely different historic context. The main content of this article is all about clarification of that context. The initial ideas of aims and meanings of scholastic attainments were formed in Russia in the first third of the 18th century (Peter the Great’s epoch), when the Russian Academy of Sciences was established. The picture of the world that was emerging in a Russian mind at that time was substantially different from that which had dominated in the previous epoch. The main innovation consisted in keen interest for the role of “chance”; “coincidental” became the key factor in forming the worldview. It destroyed the harmony of medieval Russian ideas of the universe creation. The new worldview containing the “coincidental” as its conceptual element conditioned the emergence of adequate forms of scientific presentation of this concept. One of the examples is the famous museum collection of the Kunstkamera (or Cabinet of Curiosities, which later became the first department of Academy of Sciences). The conceptual peculiarity of this collection is all rare, abnormal, and unexpected. The exhibits of Kunstkamera proved the meaning of “coincidental” as an essential factor of the world. Before the Lomonosov’s epoch, the search for regularities was not perceived as the purpose of science in Russia. By setting such task, M. V. Lomonosov made a principal change in the history of Russian science. However, the ideas of the great Russian scientist were formed in the scientific community of the previous generation of his fellow-countrymen. For him, like for the majority of his contemporaries, the scientific cognition was realized within “coincidental vs regular” notional range. The 20th century was marked by change of the scientific paradigm. The “probabilistic worldview” became the factor that determined the scientific cognition vector, which in its turn cardinally changed the sense and meaning of the researcher’s actions. The coincidental was no longer perceived as determining the direction of the world cognition. The cognition was realized within the “evident vs credible and credible vs incredible” notional range. The title of S. P. Kapitsa’s TV show “Evident - Incredible” was beyond any doubt oriented to this new scientific paradigm. In the new scientific worldview, there was no longer place for “coincidental” as it was ousted by the notion of “credible”. The interpretation of A. S. Pushkin’s extract was corrected by the modern context and determined the peculiarity of quoting it in Kapitsa’s program.


  • • Russian literature
  • • worldview
  • • A. S. Pushkin
  • • paradigm
  • • interpretation


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