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Darwin-L Message Log 6:88 (February 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.


<6:88>From RJOHARA@iris.uncg.edu  Sun Feb 20 22:57:16 1994

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 1994 00:00:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: RJOHARA@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: "Natural history" and "botany"
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Peter Stevens and others were discussing the possible connotations of
the terms natural history and botany (and whether the second is usually
included in the first, historically speaking).  I note in passing that
the sketch of Linnaeus in the _Dictionary of Scientific Biography_ by
Sten Lindroth begins: "During his lifetime, Linnaeus exerted an influence
in his fields -- botany and natural history -- that has had few parallels
in the history of science."

I also note in the context of out discussion of vitalism, alchemy, and
related doctrines, another passage in the sketch: "Linnaeus applied his
botanical knowledge in the three-volume _Materia medica_ (1749-1763) and
sought medical profundity in the peculiar _Clavis medicinae_ (1766).  Filled
with number mysticism and based upon speculations about 'marrow' and 'bark,'
_Clavis medicinae_ is almost incomprehensible in its classification of
diseases according to complaints deriving from maternal marrow or paternal
bark substance."  Peter's own work on Linnaeus is quite fascinating, and I
cite a recent example of it here for those who haven't seen it:

  Stevens, P. F., & S. P. Cullen.  1990.  Linnaeus, the cortex-medulla
  theory, and the key to his understanding of plant form and natural
  relationships.  _Journal of the Arnold Arboretum_, 71:179-220.

I wonder if "Clavis" (key) has any special or hidden connotation in L's work?

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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