Thomson, Prof. John Arthur

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Thomson, Prof. John Arthur

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8 July 1861 - 12 February 1933


(from Wikipedia entry)

Sir John Arthur Thomson (8 July 1861 - 12 February 1933) was a Scottish naturalist who authored several notable books and was an expert on soft corals. Born in Saltoun, East Lothian, he taught at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College from 1893 until 1899 then University of Aberdeen from 1899 until 1930, the year he was knighted. His popular works sought to reconcile science and religion. Thomson's Outline of Science, published in 1922, sold more than one hundred thousand copies in five years. In his Gifford lectures and a number of books written with his friend Patrick Geddes he argued for a form of holistic biology in which the activity of the living organism could transcend the physical laws governing its component parts. Some had termed the work of Geddes and Thomson as neovitalist though the position presented in their books is more closer to panpsychism as Thomson had claimed that mind can not emerge from matter and that it has existed in nature all the time. Thomson had believed there was life at all levels, he wrote that "there is nothing inanimate". He had however found the vitalist ideas of Henri Bergson inspirational.

According to Peter J. Bowler Thomson was a popular science writer who had promoted a nonmaterialist interpretation of science though his interpretation was not accepted by all within the scientific community as some had claimed his views were neovitalist and thus outdated.

Thomson had also promoted the importance of symbiosis and cooperation in nature as opposed to the idea of struggle.

While at the University of Aberdeen Thomson supervised the research of respected carcinologist Isabella Gordon.

He died in Limpsfield, Surrey.

For more information, see Wikipedia entry at:


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Welby, Victoria, Lady, 1837-1912 (1837-1912)

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1905-1906, 1908-1909

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Created 2015-10-29 by Anna St.Onge.


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