The History of Life: Before Aristotle 2: The Eleatics and the atomists

I will be passing over many philosophers, such as Heraclitus (“everything flows”) only because they said nothing of great influence directly on biology. As we shall see when we finally get to the modern era, this doesn’t mean that some philosophers like Whitehead or Teilhard didn’t draw biological conclusions from them. For perhaps the most Read More…

The History of Life: Before Aristotle 1; the Milesians and monism

Normally in the history of philosophy the earliest Greek thinkers are referred to as “pre-Socratics”, but in biology, the first systematic thinker is Aristotle, so here we look at his predecessors. One of the issues in histories of ideas is that one can find precursors for nearly every idea you like. Back in the 1890s, Read More…

The History of Life: Nature versus Humanity

Before there was a literate, and philosophical, historical record, humans existed at least some 80,000 years. Around 12,500 years ago in the region surrounding Anatolia in modern Turkey, agriculture slowly began (the Neolithic Revolution, which spread across Eurasia over a period of some five thousand years or more), at first with the domestication of sheep, Read More…

The History of Life: Prelude

I thought I might write a series on the history of biology from prehistory to the present day. It might take a while… However, perspicacious students of history will note that the very first sentence contains a fallacy, so some words might be necessary. Biology did not exist as a separate discipline of study from Read More…

My latest publication

Book ReviewMetasciencepp 1-4 First online: 15 June 2016 Drawing the tree of life J. David Archibald: Aristotle’s ladder, Darwin’s tree: The evolution of visual metaphors for biological order. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014, 256 pp, US$65.00/£45.00 HB John S. Wilkins  

Closet Darwinism, and definitions

Every so often, somebody makes the case that “Darwinism”, “Darwinist” and “Darwinian”, being the generic noun, the individual term, and the adjective of Darwin’s name and therefore (supposedly) theory, are dead terms that cause nothing but harm (see Scott and Branch 2009). Larry Moran has just made this very argument, refusing to be called a Read More…

Speciation – a brief history: Linnaeus

One of the fundamental aspects of evolution is speciation. This is the process by which more species come into being, and there are many different definitions and mechanisms that have been proposed by biologists in the last couple of centuries. I aim to write an occasional series on what it is supposed to be at Read More…