Robert Anthony Bolton


I was born in Scotland in 1941, the family having moved there because of the war. My secondary schooling was at Abingdon School, when we lived in the Oxford area. I specialized in physics and chemistry, and found those subjects and mathematics fascinating. I was above average, but not brilliant. While still at school I developed an interest in philosophy as well, and went to Oxford sometimes to hunt for books to do with metaphysics.

After leaving school in 1959, I pursued my main interest as much as I could in my spare time, despite the pressures of practicality and the need to earn a living. Most of my employed life I worked without distinction in various clerical and teaching jobs, the longest being latterly with and export financier.

My main interest was more like a sense of mission, so much so that I could never go very far with social activities without feeling that I was deserting my post. The intelligible truth was for me the key to a more substantial reality than that of our common experience, not wholly alien to it, but fundamental to it. What attracted me was not just what some metaphysicians had said, but the experience that their words conveyed. My aim was to recreate that experience and to improve my understanding of the big ideas, like the Theory of Forms, without assistance. From quite early on, Platonism became the means whereby I understood everything else, as the Forms became for me a reality and not just another theory.

Quite early in this pursuit I happened on René Guénon’s Reign of Quantity, and I was one of those who have been permanently changed by it. There followed some years of uncritical following of Guénon’s and Schuon’s works, but not so as to take over entirely. This passion for the traditionalists caused me to have doubts about my Church of England faith, which I sought to resolve by becoming a Catholic, which I still am, but in a different way.  Eventually I experienced a strong but involuntary reaction against the monistic metaphysics of Guénon and Schuon. Their mystical influence was reacting explosively with a more rational idea of truth I already held. For a few years I had to distance myself from the traditionalists, rather like someone having to get over a drug addiction. Eventually, I renewed my interest in them from a different point of view, which was explained in my article Dualism and the Philosophy of the Soul.

Over the years I wrote quite a lot about the insights that came to me, sometimes at book length, and tried to have some of them published, but invariably failed. This was despite the help and encouragement I often received from Stratford Caldecott, who wrote to me to offer help for publication in 1978. We corresponded for five years on intellectual and spiritual issues, and I was able to explain things that Stratford found significant.

By 1985 it seemed to me that my lack of success with publication was owing to my lack of training, so I took samples of my work to the head of the philosophy department at Exeter University, on the basis of which he decided I should be able to do an Masters of Philosophy degree, even though I did not have a first degree. My subject for that was Free Will, and when it was completed, I went straight on for a PhD, with the philosophy of Personal Identity as the subject. My supervisor was a skeptical empiricist, but we got on well, and I was duly taught to think a lot harder. About this time there began my friendship with Ruth Yendell (named in the Acknowledgement of The Order of the Ages). However, we both have to respect each other’s need for solitude as well as company, since we both live a very similar kind of life.

After six years at the University, my renewed efforts as a writer went a lot better, just as hoped for, but the publication of two books turned out to be a dead-end. No reviews and the sales were insignificant. Five years ago I became finally free from the need for paid employment, while also resuming correspondence with Stratford Caldecott, who put me in touch with James Wetmore after I had finished The Order of the Ages which I was working on at that time. I have lived in Exeter since 1977.


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The Order of the Ages

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News and Articles

Dualism and the Philosophy of the Soul

Life, Death, and Resurrection

Reflections on the Stone

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Discussion Set 1

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