Real species

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Apr 16 21:34:32 CDT 2004

> Very nice way to color in the instantaneous cross-section of a
> flow! And it
> avoids entirely the 'species question'. It's therefore a great
> way to think about
> Life and its history, but not a useful way to think if you're
> keen on classifying
> things.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "classify"...but I think I get your

> Getting back to your original question about the reality
> of 'species', are
> you happy to think about Life in a dynamic, non-'species' way for some
> purposes, and in a static, 'species' way for others?

I would put it this way:  I'm happy to think about Life in a dynamic,
non-'species' way; and I'm equally happy following a quarter-millenium-old
convention of applying nomenclature to various artificially defined groups
when we find it convenient to do so for purposes of practical communication.
I don't think I  see anything about "Life" in a static way; but that's not
to say we can't have a reasonably stable nomenclature -- provded we have a
general consensus on what the function of that nomenclature is.

And, I'm not overly freightened of multiple (alternative) schemes of
nomenclature, if different folks have specific needs for which they would
find a nomenclatural system convenient to help them communicate their ideas.
But my courage (or naivete) in this regard seems somewhat anomalous.


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

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