"arcane" rules/was gender of -opsis

Ron at Ron at
Wed Aug 21 00:48:11 CDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Panza, Robin" <PanzaR at CARNEGIEMUSEUMS.ORG>
Subject: Re: "arcane" rules/was gender of -opsis

> >>>From: Steve Shattuck [mailto:Steve.Shattuck at CSIRO.AU] No, the basic
> of the trade is specimens, they are the only things that let us discover
> "truth".  <<<
> That's like saying the basic tool of a cabinetmaker is wood.  That's the
> medium, not the one-and-only basic tool.  The tools he needs to work the
> wood into a piece of furniture are hammer and saw.  Similarly, we need
> old publications to work our specimens into "The Truth".

This analogy is fine in its construction (logic) but not in its application
to the matter at hand.  Two flaws.  One is that our "The Truth" is not = to
a cabinet or chair;  it is rather the defining of the wood  - our goal is
to _make_ a decision as to what kind of wood this is: pine, oak, cedar,
mahogany, cherry or any of 1,000 other "woods".  Thus the second flaw is
that "specimens" are a tool because we _employ_ them in conjunction with
the tool of original publication (a nail / hammer; screw / screwdriver;
specimen / OD) to build a definition (systematic nomenclature)  The product
of systematics as expressed via nomenclature is an idea or concept.  In
fact the type specimen (or other types inc. topotypes) can be called a tool
box as they contain the tools of genitalia, dna, morphology, etc.  Tools we
_use_ in conjunction with the tool of literature to build  _both_ a
taxonomic structure and proper nomenclature (synonymy, valid names).

If the lit does not fit     (biological reality)
The nomenclature must submit    (change)

Now, could it be said that without the nail there is no use for the hammer?
Without the screw no use for the screw driver?   Without specimens no use
for the OD?   Analogies be philosophical and thus flawed, as they all are,
could I not argue with myself and say that without ODs there is no use for
specimens. :-)  Yes, I could.  I thus deduce that what we have is an
argument based on a false either-or,  when in reality both are needed and
it thus doesn't matter which is the "most" or "first" or whatever .  While
some argue, others build.  The builders just know that they can't make
_cabinets_ without wood and saws and hammers.  Likewise, we can't make
systematics, taxonomy, or nomenclature without both specimens (material
evidence) and literature (record of what we hear them saying).

Ron Gatrelle

PS   An the cataloguer wishes we would just settle on one simple stable
blueprint and stick with it.

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