"polarized" terminology

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Jan 7 10:00:26 CST 2002

>      What term would one apply to polarizing (dividing) a character into
> just two character states?

If "polar" implied division into only two, then the term "bipolar" would be
redundant, wouldn't it?

My Webster's pocket edition defines Polar as: "1 having opposite magnetic
poles  2 opposite in character, nature, etc."  The active term here is
"opposite".  Although this may indeed imply "only two" (two seems inherent
to the notion of "opposite"), I think the more fundamental meaning is some
sense of directionality.  In the context of cladistics, I have to side with
Curtis on this one, in that "polar" refers to an assigning of
"directionality" to character states, rather than simply reduction into only
two alternatives.


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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