Linné’s views on the hierarchy of the taxonomic groups
Mededelingen van het Botanisch Museum en Herbarium van de Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht , Volume 117 - Issue 1 p. 242- 253
It is the fate of most historic personalities that in the course of time their work sinks almost completely into oblivion, and that the few lingering reminiscences of their achievements are transmitted to later generations in the form of second- or third-hand quotations, usually mixed with more or less anecdotic episodes from their life. It must be admitted that LINNÉ occupies in this respect a comparatively favourable position, for most educated people will remember that they heard in their school days of at least three things which are credited to him, in the first place that he produced a classification of the plant kingdom which is based on the number of stamens and carpels, the so-called sexual system, in the second place that he was the first who consistently applied the binomial nomenclature, i.e. the custom to designate an organism by a combination of two names, viz. a generic and a specific one, and thirdly that he was the originator of the pronouncement “Species to numeramus quot diversae formae in principio sunt creatae” (We count so many species as in the beginning different forms were created). Other achievements of LINNÉ may have been of greater importance, but it are these three things for which he is most generally remembered. The pronouncement quoted above, which means that the groups of individuals which form the species are descended from ancestors that owed their origin to an act of creation, derives its historic importance from the part it played in the debates on the theory of evolution. As it implies that the species are constant, it became the watchword of the antagonists. It is, however, rather strange that this pronouncement has so often been quoted, for it is found in LINNÉ’s earlier works only, and was in the later ones replaced by another statement that flatly denies the constancy of the species.
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Bremekamp, C. E. B. (1953). Linné’s views on the hierarchy of the taxonomic groups. Mededelingen van het Botanisch Museum en Herbarium van de Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht, 117(1), 242–253.