Nested Hierarchies, Revisited- MS Pearce and Andreas Schueler are Losers!
The goals of scientists like Linnaeus and Cuvier- to organize the chaos of life’s diversity- are much easier to achieve if each species has a Platonic essence that distinguishes it from all others, in the same way that the absence of legs and eyelids is essential to snakes and distinguishes it from other reptiles. In this Platonic worldview, the task of naturalists is to find the essence of each species. Actually, that understates the case: In an essentialist world, the essence really [I]is[/I] the species. Contrast this with an ever-changing evolving world, where species incessantly spew forth new species that can blend with each other. The snake [I]Eupodophis[/I] from the late Cretaceous period, which had rudimentary legs, and the glass lizard, which is alive today and lacks legs, are just two of many witnesses to the blurry boundaries of species. Evolution’s messy world is anathema to the clear, pristine order essentialism craves. It is thus no accident that Plato and his essentialism became the “great antihero of evolutionism,” as the twentieth century zoologist Ernst Mayr called it.- Andreas Wagner, “Arrival of the Fittest”, pages 9-10
Jonathon MS Pearce owes me an apology and Andreas Schueler owes me $10,000 USD