Whately on species

Given the mythology that species were defined by essences prior to Darwin found in nearly every textbook, I find this passage, published in 1826 by Archbishop Richard Whately (1787–1863), first in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (a project initially proposed by Coleridge) and then as a separate textbook, very telling. Whately was Archbishop of Dublin in the Read More…

New species book contract!

Hi all. I have signed a new contract with Taylor and Francis for my revision of the species book, which is now to be known as Species: The History and Philosophy of the Idea. Much will be new in it – I will be fixing and expanding on many topics, adding an entire review of the Read More…

Prichard on species 2

James Prichard wrote his Researches into the physical history of mankind in 1813, in which he argued not only that humanity was a single species (a view called monogenism), but that they were effectively the same in their intelligence and faculties. In the course of this, he spoke repeatedly about what counted as a species. In the Read More…

Species Rewrite

I’m thinking of doing a rewrite of Species: A History of the Idea. Do my readers have any suggestions or wishes for it? Let me know in the comments. Some ideas: Make the subtitle and the content: The History and Philosophy of the Idea More stuff on the 15th century More on the modern debates More Read More…

The Triumph of Stupidity

The following essay was written by Bertrand Russell in 1933. I have changed the names of the countries and made some minor amendments to make it applicable to today: What has been happening in America is a matter of the gravest portent for the whole civilised world. Throughout the last hundred and fifty years, individual Read More…

The History of Life: Aristotle’s explanations

Causes Aristotle is (in)famous for his four causes, although they are better thought of as types of explanations. They are usually given standard names, but to make them a bit clearer, I’ll give some simpler  names first (just as Aristotle did in Greek). Composed-of (the material cause): the properties something has due to the material Read More…

The History of Life: Aristotle – Underlying philosophy

Plato’s pupil, and later Alexander the Great’s tutor, Aristotle was born in Stagira in Macedonia in 384 BCE (died 322 BCE), and is sometimes known as the “Stagirite” in older writings. His activity was mostly in Athens, where he studied with Plato, and where he set up a school after Plato’s death, where he and Read More…