The history, personality, and dogs of one of the western world’s most well-known names in behavior research, Ivan Pavlov, is the subject of an essay in the New Yorker based on a new biography. “In fact, much of what we thought we knew about Pavlov has been based on bad translations and basic misconceptions.”

Pavlov apparently worried about the long-term repercussions of his own desires to pin the human mind down to basic elements of conditioning, states the New Yorker. “Not long after ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ was published, Pavlov confessed to his future wife, Seraphima Vasilievna Karchevskaya, who was a friend of Dostoyevsky’s, that he identified with the rationalist Ivan Karamazov, whose brutal skepticism condemned him, as Todes notes, to nihilism and breakdown. ‘The more I read, the more uneasy my heart became,’ Pavlov wrote in a letter to Karchevskaya. ‘Say what you will, but he bears a great resemblance to your tender and loving admirer.’

Drool (The New Yorker, November 24, 2014)

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