Cain on linnaeus: The scientist-historian as unanalysed entity

Zoologist A. J. Cain began historical research on Linnaeus in 1956 in connection with his dissatisfaction over the standard taxonomic hierarchy and the rules of binomial nomenclature. His famous 1958 paper 'Logic and Memory in Linnaeus's System of Taxonomy' argues that Linnaeus was following Aristotle's method of logical division without appreciating that it properly applies only to 'analysed entities' such as geometric figures whose essential nature is already fully known. The essence of living things being unanalysed, there is no basis on which to choose the right characters to define a genus nor on which to differentiate species. Yet Cain 's understanding of Aristotle, which depended on a 1916 text by H. W. B. Joseph, was fatally flawed. In the 1990s Cain devoted himself to further historical study and softened his verdict on Linnaeus, praising his empiricism. The idea that Linnaeus was applying an ancient and inappropriate method cries out for fresh study and revision
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