Past and Future
Edited By Michael Welker
If the Evolution of Intelligence is inevitable, then what are the Metaphysical Consequences?
If you could meet anybody from anytime, who might it be? For historians may be Tacitus (what were in those missing books?) or perhaps Thucydides? For artists maybe a conversation with Giorgione, or failing that Constable? And what about evolutionary biologists? For many of them first in the list would surely be Charles Darwin. I think that I might be less enthused. Does this surprise you? After all he comes with the highest credentials. A genius, of course. But more than that. Where he felt his ideas fell short he could be painfully self-critical, although I do not think we should underestimate his rhetorical skill (If any one fact should conspire to show the opposite then my theory will be utterly destroyed, and so on and so forth…). Definitely one of the greatest of scientists, but also devoted to his children, not least the luckless Annie. Not so far as we know, and in contrast to many other Victorians, an adulterer, a frequenter of brothels, a gambler or even a wife-beater. And yet, and yet. Am I alone in wondering about his valetudinarism, the hovering women acting as ministering angels,1 the dogged reclusiveness that ironically found its apotheosis with his permanent interment in Westminster Abbey? His mood swings of triumphalism as against a remarkably short temper with those who crossed him, not least the curious, neglected and ultimately tragic figure of St. George Mivart.
Darwin? A complex chap, alright. But why I suspect this hypothetical...
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