Boris Fedorovich Porshnev
  Boris Porshnev  
He had many apprentices but hardly any followers


By the Centenary of
Boris Fedorovich Porshnev 
(March 7, 1905 -- November 26, 1972)

Why Boris Porshnev Piques Our Interest Today?

     In his lifetime Boris Porshnev received a wide, even worldwide recognition only in a few fields of his creative work. Some people saw him as a major historian of the XVII-XVIII centuries, others - as one of the first Soviet social psychologists, the third recognized his merits in the theoretical analysis of economic and social life, the fourth were aware of his study of the problem of relict paleoanthropes (so-called "snowmen").


Porshnev himself regarded the book "At the Dawn of the Human History (Problems of Paleopsychology)"as his main scientific study. He distinctly realized that "the dawn" provides the key to the whole complex of sciences concerning "social individual and human society". This key brings together all fragments of his studies combining them into a single whole, into a solid research program.

The essence of Porshnev's approach to anthropogenesis boils down to the three items:

I. Most investigators spot in animals all main human qualities, but only "in embryo". Being a materialist, atheist and Marxist, Boris Porshnev regards as legitimate the religious view on the animal called "human" as on a being, distinct in kind from all other animals (hence "the evolutionary gap"). He also accepts the religious view on creativity as on the deepest and most generalized characteristic of man, which is lacking in any animal even "in embryo".

II. Porshnev purposely analyze problems which most investigators pay no attention to: 

  1. emergence of neoanthrope and the rapid break-off of the tempo of evolution of the "neoanthrope community" from the tempo of evolution of the natural environment;

  2. relationship of the ancestors of neoanthropes with the environment, above all with the wildlife; 

  3. anthropogenesis from the viewpoint of physiology of the higher nervous system and psychology.

III. Most investigators study the transition from animal to man through the "specimen - environment" model. Boris Porshnev centers his analysis on the model "specimen - specimen". He investigates the specific mechanism of specimens' influence on each other, prerequisites for which are found in the physiology of animals; he reconstructs conditions that formed this mechanism in man's nearest ancestors, as well as the first stages of its development up to the produced by it human verbal communication, human mentality, human specific social organization, human creativity.

Goals of the Project

  • Creation of a public Fund to support publishing, investigatory, educational, etc. projects, linked to Porshnev's scientific heritage and realization of his research program.

  • Publication of Boris Porshnev's scientific studies both already published and unpublished, aiming at accomplishing his complete works.

  • Publication of scientific works which are in line with the Porshnev's research program.

  • Creation of a three-language (Russian, English, French) website, with Porshnev's works, works about Porshnev, as well as works in accordance with his research program.

Already Done

  • We have prepared for publication author's complete version of the book "On the Dawn of Human History", 50% bigger one as the version published in 1974.

  • We have collected in electronic form almost all of Porshnev's works on problems of anthropogenesis and social psychology; many works on history, theory of historical process, political economy; a number of English and French translations. Over a quarter of collected works have never been published.

Our plans for the Porshnev Centenary

  • Publication of the book "On the Dawn of Human History" in keeping with the author's complete manuscript, simultaneously in Russian and Bulgarian languages. 

  • Opening of a three-language web site.

  • Legal registration of the public Fund.

  • Holding in Moscow of a one-day international seminar, with presentation of the two published books, the web site and the Fund.

Participation, Assistance, Support

Any form of support will be greatly appreciated:

  • money donations;

  • equipment, gifts to the Fund's library and archives;

  • volunteer help in archives and libraries, articles about Boris Porshnev and his studies, translations, promotion of Porshnev's works in various languages;

  • provision of any useful information.

Please write to:
Project manager,
Oleg Vite

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