The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names by John Wright

By John Wright

Latin names – often unpronounceable, all too frequently mistaken and constantly a tiny puzzle to solve – were stressful the layman seeing that they first turned formalised as medical phrases within the eighteenth century.

Why on the earth has the totally land-loving jap Mole been named Scalopus aquaticus, or the Oxford Ragwort been known as Senecio squalidus – 'dirty outdated man'? What have been naturalists considering after they referred to as a beetle Agra katewinsletae, a genus of fish Batman, and a Trilobite Han solo? Why is zoology replete with names equivalent to Chloris chloris chloris (the greenfinch), and Gorilla gorilla gorilla (a species of, good gorilla)?

The Naming of the Shrew will unveil those mysteries, exploring the historical past, celebrating their poetic nature and revealing how naturalists occasionally get issues so extraordinarily improper. With splendidly witty kind and appealing narrative, this e-book will make you spot Latin names in a complete new light.

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While this claim at first appears extravagant and counter-intuitive, it is hardly original: it was one of the insights into nature offered by the new biology, providing a novel solution to one of the most fundamental problems in the philosophy of biology: that of individuality. Leibniz had placed the discrete, indivisible, unchangeable monad at the centre of his system and, in his wake, the older Idealist biology conceived individuality in qualitative terms; the parts of each individual were assumed to be woven together into a uniform, harmonious whole.

122. , p. 160. 42 Evolution suggest that Nietzsche was familiar with any of these theories, nor need he have been; for, as the biologist E. S. 31 To be sure, Nietzsche, like Goethe before him, is at times wary of committing himself entirely to a ‘vitalistic’ explanation of natural processes; such an account has for him only heuristic or symbolic value: Neither of the two explanations of organic life has been hitherto successful, neither the one from the perspective of mechanics, nor the one from the perspective of the mind.

156. Haeckel even speaks of ‘will-cells’ (p. 117). , p. 166. , p. 122. , p. 160. 42 Evolution suggest that Nietzsche was familiar with any of these theories, nor need he have been; for, as the biologist E. S. 31 To be sure, Nietzsche, like Goethe before him, is at times wary of committing himself entirely to a ‘vitalistic’ explanation of natural processes; such an account has for him only heuristic or symbolic value: Neither of the two explanations of organic life has been hitherto successful, neither the one from the perspective of mechanics, nor the one from the perspective of the mind.

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