Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Wed Jun 16 09:27:59 CDT 2004

John Grehan has mentioned Derrida in the past, and his (below) recent
message is rather postmodernist. Postmodernists recognize e.g. the primacy
and value of cultural differences and extremists go to the length of saying
that aboriginal science is every bit as valid as modernist science. Thus,
science is dead. Every cultural group has different definitions and
practical applications of "science." The only thing one can do, across
cultural boundaries, is negotiate as all thought processes and philosophies
and sciences are perfectly valid.

Oh, oh. Most of us cherish BOTH the Enlightenment belief that knowledge and
science apply to everyone and can further easily definable human progress,
AND cultural beliefs and activities need respect and preservation. Somewhere
along the line, though, definitions must be decided on and respected OR the
exchange is merely a negotiation. If a negotiation, then exactly what is
being negotiated, John?

Those avid for more on postmodernism and cladistics may visit my Jeremiad

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
richard.zander at <mailto:richard.zander at>
Voice: 314-577-5180
Fax: 314-577-9595
Bryophyte Volumes of Flora of North America:
Res Botanica:
Shipping address for UPS, etc.:
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110

-----Original Message-----
From: John Grehan [mailto:jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG]
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Characters.

If one wants to be ruled by definitions of one's choice then one is
always going to have trouble - but that trouble is not mine. Definitions
of terms always vary and always will. Witness various discussions on
this list arguing over differences of opinion about definitions of
various terms (and not just cladistics). And 'newer' terminology is not
necessarily any less confused than older and, in the example cited by
Don, does not change anything (it was clear that Don understood what I
was talking about). Even in panbiogeography there is more than one
definition of, for example, a node. In the end definitions don't matter.

It's also ironic to see some berate my supposed lack of cladistic
understanding only to see others disagree with their supposedly
authoritative position.

John Grehan

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
Behalf Of Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU

Oh dear. Here we go again, on an unacknowledged distinction between
"character" and "character state"! In the latter terminology only a
CHARACTER STATE can be primitive, etc. If John wishes to adhere to an
older, confused terminology, it's his privilege to do so - but he's
going to find trouble in discussions in TAXACOM.

Don Colless,
Div of Entomology, CSIRO,
GPO Box 1700,
Canberra. 2601.
Email: don.colless at
Tuz li munz est miens envirun

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