2000 years of stasis

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Fri Feb 4 07:35:02 CST 2000

At 03:33 PM 2/4/00 +1100, Don Colless wrote:

>         I thought I might be the last TAXACOM-er left who
>remembered David Hull's 1965 paper on "The effect of essentialism
>on taxonomy: 2000 years of stasis". How nice to find that there
>are at least 2 more of us. May we hope that as cladistics becomes
>even more obviously essentialistic, alarm bells will ring again.

I have often thought that the introduction of molecular data did much to
increase Aristotelian essentialism in systematics.  After all, the
underlying principal is that the mortal corpus (phenotype) is an imperfect
and corrupt reflection of the underlying eidos (genotype), that we can
never achieve perfect understanding via the physical world we see, which is
a lie, but only by comprehending the underlying unvarying essence, which is

Small wonder then that cladistics and molecular biology make such cozy

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:                     lammers at uwosh.edu
phone (office):         920-424-7085
phone (herbarium):  920-424-1002
fax:                         920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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