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Darwin-L Message Log 5:233 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:233>From jacobsk@ERE.UMontreal.CA  Mon Jan 31 20:52:17 1994

From: jacobsk@ERE.UMontreal.CA (Jacobs Kenneth)
Subject: Changing taxonomies of gems, minerals, etc.
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 21:58:14 -0500 (EST)

A student of mine, in pursuing changing attitudes (from the Greeks
to the 19th century) towards fossils has noted that the broader
classifications of rocks, gems, minerals, etc. into which fossils
were placed seem to vary without any discernible pattern.  That is,
whether between classifiers within a given time period, or across time
periods, sorting criteria can often appear to be wholly arbitrary
and capricious in one system (e.g., lapidaries in which the stones are
all sorted alphabetically according to their Latin name), while in another
there is some semblance of internal logic (e.g., stones are classified by
degree of resemblance to one of the twelve stones of the Pectoral of
the High Priest in Jerusalem).

Does anyone have any references for works which have dealt with the
changes in the logic behind such classifications?

Thanks in advance

Ken Jacobs                           Voice: (514) 343-6490 [Office]
Assoc. Prof.                                (514) 685-2349 [Home]
Departement d'anthropologie          FAX:   (514) 343-2494
Universite de Montreal               e-mail:  jacobsk@ere.umontreal.ca
CP 6128 / Succ. 'A'
Montreal PQ
H3C 3J7  Canada

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