The History of Life: Before Aristotle 3 – The Four Elements

The Four Elements (Empedocles) Empedocles (ca. 495–435 BCE), who lived in Sicily, was influenced both by the Pythagoreans and Parmenides (in his poem “On Nature”) and proposed what came to be called the “four elements” theory to explain why there was change if the universe was monistic. It was just recombination of eternal and unchanging elements (he called Read More…

Evopsychopathy series in PDF

I have converted my series on Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology to a handy PDF. Feel free to download it or even better, download it and pay something. Wilkins on Evopsychopathy [PDF] I will be converting other series also. Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see in this format.

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…

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  

Is the brain a computer?

There is an ongoing debate over whether or not our brains are computers lately (against | for). This is an old debate, going back at least to Turing’s famous “Can Machines Think?” paper of 1950. To answer why I think that brains are not computers, contrary to my friend Jeff Shallit (second link above), let Read More…