, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 383-386
Date: 09 Mar 2012

Getting over systematics

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access
This is an excerpt from the content

In 1909, John Dewey noted in an essay ‘The influence of Darwinism on philosophy’ (published in 1910 in a book by that title, 19) that

intellectual progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment of questions together with both alternatives they assume—an abandonment that results from their decreasing vitality and a change of urgent interest. We do not solve them: we get over them. Old questions are solved by disappearing, evaporating, while new questions corresponding to the changed attitude of endeavor and preference take their place.

Nowhere in science has this been more evident than in systematics. The question is whether or not the old questions should be abandoned. Dewey, a progressivist of the highest water, had no qualms: we should be a little more cautious. This book is based on the presumption that we have not been sufficiently careful.

This book is, as it says, “an amalgamation of the works of several eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century comparative biologists, notab ...