Nomosystematics: A Closer Look at the Theoretical Foundation of Biological Classification
by Boris P. Zakharov
Siri Scientific Press (2013) 978-0-9574530-0-5 RRP £21.00
176 pp, 234 x 156 mm, soft cover, 26 black and white illustrations
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Listed in the top 10 Biology Teaching Academic Philosophy books in the following blog: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/2013-shopping-academic-philosophy-books/
Anybody who describes new species or who wishes to understand what a species really is should read this book!
From the back cover
It was a warm sunny day. The sunlight, sifted through the tree canopies, painted the path with bright and dark spots that moved … dancing, fusing and splitting. I became immersed in the kaleidoscope of images, sounds and odours that filled the air. It was so pleasant that I stopped to think and simply enjoy this bombardment of my senses. Walking on, the pathway formed a sharp turn. I saw a river with trees set back from the riverbank. Like many mountain rivers, it was fast and evocative, but in this part it was shallow and slow. The water barely covered my calves when I crossed. In the middle of the fiord I saw a female deer with a fawn crossing the river downstream. On the other side they stopped to eat the green tender grass along the riverbank. At that moment, the sun sprinkled the water with its bright beams, and the surface began to dance with patches of colour. It was as if I saw something that had always been there, but that I had not previously been able to see! Suddenly my eyes were open. Wow! What beauty that I had never seen before! It suddenly occurred to me: Yes, this is what Paul Cézanne wanted to show us. He saw these patches of colour when others saw a monotonous surface. The impressionists opened up a new world of colours and shadows. From this very moment my vision of the world changed for good. Now I was able to see the world as they showed it.
Both art and science open up new ways to see the world in which we live. I would be delighted if readers of this philosophical work come to view some old and significant questions of biological inquiry in a new light. The basic constructs of biology were, and are, those of organism and species. However, up until today, biology has not found a way to define them precisely, and thus it has failed to form a solid theoretical foundation for a confluent system of defining natural laws. How we view systematics as a fundamental biological discipline and how we will address its basic questions depend on the further development of biology as a scientific discipline. Such questions as: What is a species? Do current taxonomic categories represent real entities or are they just conventional constructs of our mind? Is our world lawfully organized and if so, how do we determine the natural law of its organization? … are eternal scientific questions and scientists will return to them again and again to give science a new vision and a new spin. Once you see a new vision of the world it will stay with you forever.
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