Sunday, September 12, 2004

the act of naming

Carolus Linnaeus, challenged by PhyloCode

From a New Scientist article, Linnean naming system faces challengers:
A band of renegade biologists is taking on a mammoth task that threatens to upset a status quo that has been unchallenged for almost 250 years. Put simply, they want to change the way scientists name every living organism on the planet. These rebels say that our system of naming plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, famously introduced by Linnaeus in 1758, is frustrating efforts to understand the living world. ....[the existing system] discourages people from naming groups as they are discovered, and thus limits the progress we can make in our understanding of how different groups of animals or plants are related to each other.

Gravity's Rainbow, p. 322:
There may be no gods, but there is a pattern: names by themselves may have no magic, but the act of naming, the physical utterance, obeys the pattern.