In this ground-breaking book, Wynand de Beer utilizes insights derived from Hellenic cosmology and bio-philosophy in a wide-ranging discussion of the fundamental question of the origins and mechanisms of organic diversity on our planet Earth. These insights include: the numerical cosmology of Pythagoras and its extension into the organic realm; the Logos of Heraclitus as cosmic lawgiver and regulator; the role of the Demiurge in Plato’s cosmology; the fourfold causal scheme of Aristotle; the Neoplatonic reason-principles (logoi) indwelling the manifested order; and the hierarchical, all-embracing Chain of Being linking the levels of cosmic reality—an essential element in Greek Patristic and Latin Scholastic traditions. Building upon the traditional concept of evolution as the unfolding of inherent possibilities, de Beer also explores organic form and transformation, emphasizing the mathematical foundations thereof.
The Neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is subjected to a wide range of criticism on both philosophical and scientific grounds, without denying the reality of organic evolution. A clear distinction is made between two dimensions of evolution: micro-evolution and macro-evolution. The author develops an alternative theory of macro-evolution, characterized by regularity, direction, and convergence, incorporating nomogenesis (evolution according to natural law) and orthogenesis (directed evolution). In this way evidence from palaeontology and molecular biology is accommodated, while fulfilling the metaphysical requirements of formal and final causality.