Author's note: these pages were written some years ago. I am not planning to update them. For a more current coverage, see the link to palaeos com Palaeos website (to which many links on these pages point to anyway. More info here

Evolutionary Platonism

Conventional Platonism is based on the idea of fixed eternal unchanging archetypes.  Hence there can be no such thing as evolution, unless it is a transition from a morphotype lacking archetype to possessing one (as in the Aristotlean idea of the universe evolving to perfection)

By evolutionary platonism I mean the idea that there are forms or archetypes or blueprints, but these are not permanent.  Like everything else, they also undergo change and transformation.  An example of this way of thinking is Rupert Sheldrake's Morphogenetic Fields, one of the most profound philosophical ideas of the twentieth century, and still considered heresy by the mainstam establishment.

Unlike Cladistics, Phenetics, and Evolutionary Systemmatics, according to all of which only the species is "real", this position considers every taxonomic ranking as "real".  In terms of philosophcal categories, it is idealistic rather than nominalisticBiology (the study of life) thus becomes Biosophy (the wisdom of life), and living organisms are seen as the external expression of spiritual beings.
There are three ways to categorise organisms in such a taxonomy.

According to Morphotype, as generated by the Morphogenetic Fields and convergent or parrallel evolution, iirrespective of the phylogenetic background.  Dolphins, sharks and link to palaeos com ichthyosaurs are similiar in appearance and lifestyle (stereamline marine carnivores), even though only distantly related.  Includes Polyphyletic, Paraphyletic and Monophyletic taxa.

According to Morphotype as a fixed stage in the overall phylogenetic process.  e.g. fish, Wikipedia link amphibia.  and reptiles all all fixed categories, like in the traditional (pre-evolutionist) Linnean arrangement.  The amphibian is a fixed stage or archetype between the fish (which lives solely in water) and the reptile (which can live completely on dry land).  Includes Paraphyletic and Monophyletic taxa.

According to the dynamic phylogenetic process of evolution.  Each taxon is a dynamic process of change.  This perspective is much closer to the understanding of quantum physics, chaos theory, the I Ching, etc.  Includes e.g. the link to palaeos com Theropsida (in cladistics called Synapsida) as a group embracing reptile-like pelycosauria, mammal-like reptiles, and true mammals.  The pelycosaurs, mammal-like reptiles, and mammals are three stages in a single overall evolutionary process - the transition from the fixed reptile stage to the fixed mammal stage.  Includes Paraphyletic and Monophyletic taxa.


page history

page uploaded 27 November 1998
modified 28 November
revised 1 December