Linnean "description"

Albertine C. Ellis - Adam a433alb at HORUS.SARA.NL
Fri Oct 27 10:50:35 CDT 1995

Dear Paul,

>Take one of Linnaeus' descriptions

It is a widespread misunderstanding that Linnaeus and his contemporaries
gave "descriptions". They may be called thus nowadays, but for them they
were definitions drawn up according to the rules of Aristotelian logic.
Which amongst others means that a name (the definition) has to consist of
two parts: one word denoting the genus (standing for what this particular
group of species has in common; defined one level higer) and a phrase
expressing what makes the particular species unique WITHIN THE GENUS, in
other words in what does it differ from it genus mates; this phrase is
called the differentia specifica, meaning "the species-making difference".
(That this phrase has been replaced by one word, resulting in our binary
nomenclature, does not make any difference for the reasoning)
So, when consulting old literature, you have to take the genus as a whole
into account.

Cheers, Albertine

 *  Albertine C. Ellis - Adam                            *
 o  University of Amsterdam                              o
 *  Hugo de Vries Laboratorium                           *
 o  Kruislaan 318 / 1098 SM Amsterdam                    o
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