eliminate taxonomic categories??; reply to Schueler

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 5 17:33:58 CST 1999


     Linnaean categories have served us well for over
two centuries, and  I think we tend to take it for
granted (familiarity breeds contempt).  I have tried to
imagine what would happen if we tried to switch to a
system without categories, but categorization is such
important element in how we think and process
information, I think we would quickly revert to the
system that has stood the test of time (even with the
added burdens the Darwinian revolution placed upon it).
      I don't think "nostalgia" has much to do with it,
and my intuition tells me that cladistic
"systematization" would increase the likelihood of
authoritarianism and/or chaotic confusion (even with the
help of computers), depending on the group of organisms
involved.  And I can think of no better way to alienate
non-systematists (be they scientists or not),  and the
town-gown phenomenon would probably become much worse
with respect to biological issues.
    I know I am doing a lousy job of addressing this question, so I
encourage others to jump in.  I concluded many, many years ago that
phasing out Linnean categories would never work, and
therefore I don't have any cogent arguments prepared
at the present time that would convince a diehard
cladist anyway.  I'm sure a number of Ernst Mayr's books and papers on
classification would cover this subject far better than I can.
Categories are just one of those philosophical issues that I've
developed an intuitive feeling for, but which I have little practice in
expressing verbally.  That sounds like a copout, but until I give it
more thought, I'd better leave it to others that have given it more
attention than I.  Besides I don't want to break my New Year's
Resolution concerning late postings when I am getting tired.  Time for
something more relaxing, and less taxing to the brain.           A good
night to all, Ken Kinman


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