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RE: Dinosaur a tecnical term; fish is not (was RE: Fish with milk (Sheesh spinoff))


>And it is also the case that the "essentially defined" members of the
periodic table diverge from their defining >criteria in isotopes, and
that they can be converted from one essential state to another.

Elements are defined by their number of protons, and regardless of other
variations, a given number of protons is _always_ the same for any
example of that element, and anything having that number of protons is
an example of that element regardless of its state.  So, in the sense
that Webster and Goodwin mean it, the element has a universal and
invariant essence at least as far as how we understand it.  This is true
regardless of the time, space, historical background, or physical state
of any particular example.  

No particular isotope is any more or less a true example of an element
than an equilateral triangle is a more real form of triangle.  The
number of neutrons, stability, etc. are irrelevant as regards what makes
it the element it is.   The fact that it can be transformed into another
element is irrelevant in this context.  A particular, historical formal
system simply changes the defining essence of that form while
maintaining certain members. 

What Goodwin and Webster are proposing is radical in that, in the above
sense, they are looking for a truly essentialist view of biological
form.  I should say that they do not in any way pretend to have it all
worked out, nor do they claim to know that as a certainty it _can_ be
worked out.