Linnaeus And Mr. Ha-Ha

The first step of science is to know one thing from another. This knowledge consists in their specific distinctions; but in order that it may be fixed and permanent distinct names must be given to different things and those names must be recorded and remembered.

—Carolus Linnaeus

By naming and by knowing the names of things he proposed to see into the secret cabinet of God. Travelers from Madeira, Virginia, from all over the world, risked dangers in vast forests, on high cliffs, in the deepest chasms to send him packets of seeds. He catalogued American falcons, parrots, pheasants, guinea fowl, American capercaillie, Indian hens, swans, duck, geese, gulls, snipe, American crossbills, sparrows and turtledoves. He classified creation according to sexual organs; he gave each creature two names, a general and a specific name.

He wrote that riches vanish and stately mansions fall into decay, that even the most prolific families die out sooner or later and that the mightiest of states are overthrown, but that all of nature must be obliterated before the genera of plants and “he be forgotten who held the torch aloft in botany.” But as he grew older, he suffered a stroke, and after this he began to lose more and more of his memory.

Gradually he no longer knew Systema Naturae, and after all this, in his last years, he forgot even his own name.

—Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature

About these ads

0 Responses to “Linnaeus And Mr. Ha-Ha”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




When I Worked

February 2010
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728

%d bloggers like this: