Conwy Lloyd Morgan (1852-1936)

The Whitehead Encyclopedia (2023)
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Abstract

Conwy Lloyd Morgan developed an evolutionary philosophy of nature that was a point of departure and major influence on philosophers in the 1920s. He both influenced and was influenced by Alfred North Whitehead. Following Henri Bergson, Lloyd Morgan argued for a place for emergence to supplement Darwin’s thesis of continuity in evolution, developing Herbert Spencer’s thesis that evolution proceeds from the inorganic to the organic to the super-organic, associated with mind and society. In doing so, Lloyd Morgan offered an event ontology and developed the notion of emergence within a monistic framework, giving a central place to “organisms”. While the notion of emergence was marginalized for several decades after the 1930s, it was revived towards the end of the Twentieth Century. While some process philosophers inspired by Whitehead defended panexperientialism in opposition to theories of emergence, recent process philosophers have embraced and further developed the theory of emergence, arguing process philosophy is required to make emergence intelligible. This has led to a new appreciation of the problem of emergence and the relationship between Lloyd Morgan and Whitehead.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology

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