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THE NAME OF THE ROSE



Ah, one of my favorite books of all time is a nice long complicated diddy about murder, a library that is a labyrinth, monks, the Apocalypse, the Antichrist, and a secret book. Yes, to those who have seen the (very inferior) Sean Connery movie adaptation, it is _The Name of the Rose_ by Umberto Eco.

All these talks about taxonomy and nice images such as "a rose by any other name", made me think about one the themes of the book; meaning and the quest for truth. Eco said that he chose the name _The Name of the Rose_ because it was a term so rich in meaning that it hardly seemed to have any meaning anymore. Now, if you read the book (hopefully somebody will), you will understand why this makes so much sense. But I'm digressing...

All this talk about Linnean vs. cladistic classifications is something that cuts right into the heart of evolutionary biology. How can we classify life in a way that accurately depicts the way that life has twisted and turned through Deep Time (another book that should be read)? In my mind, there is only one way: cladistic classifications. They have less of a non-evolutionary history (none, really); they, when accurately read, reveal evolutionary relationships *scientifically*; they are able to be changed according to the FACTS, not to the whim of a faux-Linneaus.

I think that Linnean classifications are so sodden with pre-Darwinian themes of (then) great philosophical import (typology, archetypalism, essenses, types, ideals, Plato), that they have lost all their meaning. Let me repeat: THEY HAVE LOST ALL THEIR MEANING. We no longer have to appeal to outdated essenses and Pythagorean, Platonic ideals and numbers and measures in nature thanks to the evolutionary structure of nature found by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

One of the other themes in _The Name of the Rose_ is how truth can be found in a completely fallacious premise, argument, attitude, etc. Linnean classifications have helped us find out certain things about nature, however wrong their base philosophies are, but the day is here to do away with them.

A positively final appeal,

Matt Troutman
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