Re: Taxonomy and speciation

From: Philip A.E. Jonkers (
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 02:37:34 GMT

  • Next message: Philip A.E. Jonkers: "Re: Taxonomy and speciation"

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    From: "Philip A.E. Jonkers" <>
    Organization: UC Berkeley
    Subject: Re: Taxonomy and speciation
    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 18:37:34 -0800
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    On Tuesday 20 November 2001 08:29 am, you wrote:
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Philip A.E. Jonkers <>
    > To: <>
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2001 2:06 AM
    > Hi Philip,
    > You wrote,
    > > Thus our tradition of taxonomy, though being well-designed for labeling
    > > fixed entities, falls somewhat short when trying to label dynamically
    > > evolving entities.
    > << Do you think so !? Don 't you think we evolved memetically along with
    > the notion of labeling. That in a way the meaning of " dog " is extented
    > some-
    > what !? That, if we speak about a dog that we still automatically imagine
    > what a dog is, but with the notion, in the back of our head, that there are
    > more than one species !
    > Only than during conversation we can specify the kind of dog we are
    > talking about.
    > You mean in a way, that we can 't talk in specific terms about the dog
    > we own !? That we speak in general terms and not about " well, my pit-
    > bull; my pekinese; my sheepdog;..." , or not about " my Ford, my VW;
    > my BMW;... but about ' my car ' !?
    > But would it be a problem if species would only exist in our heads !?
    > After all, talking would specify the things we were dicussin '.

    Of course you can specify that your dog is a terrier or a pekinees or what
    have you. It's part of the specifying power of a name. All I am trying to get
    through is that speciation as a continuous process does not occur except
    perhaps in the head of whoever thinks of it. Names of species, having all the
    ergonomical benefits, were invented by humans.

    > You are probably right, but I don 't see the problem if we now force
    > the notion of specification upon nature or not. It all comes, in the end,
    > down, to the ways we speak and interpretate.
    > If you call that an artifact, no problem.
    > But it is like you said, only in the realm of language if would make a
    > difference.

    Nature evolves regardless whether we name its organisms or not. Speciation
    is no intrinsic part of nature, it's part of our taxonomous heritage our
    eagerness to tag names (initiated against a religious setting).


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