“There is no need to show at length, that nature has no particular goal in view, and that final causes are mere human figments.” – Spinoza, Ethics
Thompson had little time for natural selection or for the whole tradition that it represented. He always looked back beyond the Enlightenment and the two thousand years leading up to it, finding his true spiritual home back in ancient Athens. Like Aristotle particularly, he was ever committed to a world that was more than just dead matter..
Due in no small part to the coming of computers, there is now a whole school that works in Thompson’s tradition, trying to show how features Darwinians ascribe to selection are truly the result of mathematics and nature’s unguided laws.
Romanticism – a protest on behalf of an organic view of nature, and also a protest against the exclusion of value from the essence of matter of fact
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. We have the same philosophical approaches to the same philosophical problems. All that changes is the science in which everything is dressed up.
Thomas Nagel calls himself a "neutral monist"
many denied strongly that reasons (that is, reasons with outcomes we desire) can function unambiguously as causes—efficient causes, that is. It was argued that reasons get us into a whole new, noncausal ball game. The classic text was Elizabeth Anscombe’s Wittgenstein-influenced little book Intention (1957).
For someone like William James, the struggle for existence and natural selection translated readily into a theory of knowledge—ideas fight it out just as organisms fight it out.2 No more, but certainly no less.
Russell, even more so, was hostile to Darwinism, belittling pragmatism as a “power” philosophy and narrowly defining the true scope of inquiry so that an empirical science like Darwinism almost by definition could have no role.