British metaphysics as reflected in Robert Broom's evolutionary theory


Authors: Petr V

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 75, issue 1; pages: 73 - 88;

Keywords: history of science, philosophy of science, metaphysics, Robert Broom, evolutionary theory, convergent evolution, tempo of evolution, Plato, Isaac Newton, Richard Owen, Julian Huxley, Arthur C. Clarke, Alfred Russell Wallace, deistic religion, dualism, supernatural Creator, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, non-duality,

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Broom is pictured as an admirer of the work of Richard Owen, as a lifelong and thorough student of the Bible, as an evolutionist who believed in the disembodied existence of spirits as well as in transcendental spiritual force who guided his research activities and discoveries. Broom's evolutionary theory is based on the existence of some sort of 'intelligent spiritual agency' of two types: a) the lower agency, present in animals and plants, of limited vision and limited power, and b) that of a much higher type which has planned and directed evolution (via directing from time to time the former, inferior agencies). Broom pointed to the presence of an uncountable multitude of convergences which cannot be explained satisfactorily by lamarckism or by darwinism. Broom announced that evolution is practically finished, that the physical evolution has stopped but the process continues on a higher, spiritual plane. Relation of Broom's evolutionary theory to the standard British metaphysics is discussed and compared with related ideas of other great British scientists (including e.g. Isaac Newton, Arthur C. Clarke, Julian Huxley) and some present-day conceptions (e.g., darwinism and scientific creationism) as well as with those of some conflicting 'non-dual' philosophies (e.g. of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz).