Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU
Sun Apr 13 16:47:35 CDT 2003

This thread exemplifies nicely the problems that arise from alternative
uses of the word "character" (may I recommend my paper in
Sys.Zool.,34:229-233).  Under a pretty widespread usage (a set of
mutually exclusive attributes - or, if you wish, a Hennigian
transformation series), synapomorphies, plesiomorphies, etc are
character STATES, which stand in the relationship of serial
transformation, the more primitive to the more advanced. However, at
least one discussant uses the "character = part" usage - and from this
flows the nation that something can be composed of characters, and thus
the notion that a character can be paraphyletic (which, I must say, I
find pretty nonsensical!).
Bertrand Russell (I think) played with the idea of an object being just
the sum of its attributes, but found it an ontological quagmire and
retreated rapidly!.  
      Don Colless       

      CSIRO Div of Entomology,

      GPO Box 2600, Canberra, ACT, 2601,

      Tel: 02-62464270,

      Email: don.colless at csiro.au

      Tuz li munz est miens envirun


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