Dyadkovsky, Iustin Evdokimovich

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(b. Dyadkovo. Ryazan gÜbernia. Russia. 12 June 1784; d. Pyatigorsk, Russia. 2 August 1841), medicine


The son of a sexton, Dyadkovsky received his primary education at the Ryazan religious seminary. In 1809 he entered the Moscow Medical Surgical Academy, and after graduating in 1812 he was retained to prepare for a scientific career. He served for two years in the Moscow militia and returned in 1814 to the academy, where he was named assistant to the professor of botany and pharmacology. Two years later he was awarded the M.D. degree for a dissertation on the mode of action of medicine in the human body. He was professor at the academy from 1824 and, from 1831, simultaneously professor at Moscow University, at various times teaching botany, pharmacology, general pathology, and therapy. His dismissal from the university in 1835 for atheism terminated his teaching and scientific career.

An outspoken opponent of Naturphilosophie and vitalism, Dyadkovsky believed that the movement of matter underlies all natural phenomena; matter is the source of development of everything that exists and alone explains all observed phenomena. At the same time he defended the thesis of the unity of matter and motion, striving to free the theory of matter both from mechanistic concepts and from the speculations of the dynamists, particularly the followers of Schelling. In his opposition to trivial empiricism and rationalism, he held that knowledge must come from an organic combination of experimental research and theoretical generalizations made in accord with materialistic ideas about nature. The organic world, according to Dyadkovsky, evolved from the inorganic through natural transformations under specific conditions. Thus, in 1816 —long before scientific recognition of the theory of evolution he supported the idea of the transformation of species under the influence of food, climate, and way of life.

Following Diderot. Dyadkovsky held that the basis of perception lies in the property of matter to correspond, in one form or another, to influences from the external world; and he considered this property to be the essential quality of matter. Gradually, by means of the increasing complexity of organic matter, there arose the capacities of perception and then of thought, for which he considered the brain to be the sole organ.

According to Dyadkovsky, life is a continuous physicochemical process influenced by the interaction of the organism and its environment. Thus, he challenged the vitalistic denial of the applicability of the laws of physics and chemistry to physiological phenomena, believing that physicoehemical study of living bodies and their processes forme the very basis of physiology. In opposition to the idealists, he stated that “experience is the sole source of our Knowledge” and argued for the transformation of physiology into an experimental science based on precise methods of research. Transcending simplified mechanistic concepts of the organism, he refuted the absolute distinction between living and nonliving, emphasizing the qualitative difference between living and inorganic bodies.

The essence of Dyadkovsky’s work was his attempt to discover the general theoretical bases of medicine, without which, he believed, it would never rise to the level of a science. The most important area of his investigation was his theory of and its role in the life of an organism, and he believed that the nervous system and the brain govern every vital activity Especially concerned with mental illness, he considered the necessity of substituting physiological research for abstract speculation about it and saw its cause exclusively in the disturbance of the normal functioning of the nervous system and brain. The origin of this disturbance was, in turn, to be found in external living conditions. The nervous system itself formed the basis of his classification of illnesses (1833), A merely mechanical summary of symptoms, according to Dyadkovsky, does not give any indication of the nature of the illness, which can be understood only by examining the organism as a whole in relation to living conditions and the environment.

Dyadkovsky was popular both as a practicing physician and as a theoretician. His friends and paentienti included the great Russian writer N. V. Gocol. the philosopher P. Y. Chaadaev, and the historian T. N. Granovsky.


I. Original Works. Only eight of Dyadkovsky’s scientific writings were published during his lifetime, They include De mode quo agunt medicaments in corpus humanum (Moscow, 1816), also in Russian (Moscow, 1845), his doctoral diss,; and Systema morborum (Moscow, 1833), His lectures on private therapy were published posthumously by his student K. V. Lehedev as Prakticheskaya meditsina (“Practical Medicine”), 2 vols, (Moscow, 1845- 1847), Dyadkovsky’s mum writings were collected in his Sochinenia (“Works” Moscow, 1954). Many of his MSS are at the Lenin Library, Moscow.

II. Secondary Literature. See A, G. Lushnikov, I. E, Dyadkovsky i klinka vnutrennikh bolezeny pervoy poloviny XIX v. (“Dyadkovsky and the Clinic of Internal Disease in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century”Moscow, 1953); S. R. Mikulinsky. I. E. Dyadkor sky. Mirovozzrenie i obshchebiologicheskie vzglyady(“… World View and General Biological Views”: scow, 195.1). with detailed bibliography; and S. L ioboL “I, E. Dyadkovsky—russky materialist-biolognachala XIX v.” (“… Russian Materialist Biologist of the Early Nineteenth Century”), in Trudy Institute isto rii evoznaniya. Akademiya mwk SSSR,5 (1953), 145-190.

S. R. Mikulinsky

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