HomeDLSU Dialogue: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Cultural Studiesvol. 20 no. 2 (1985)

Jean-Henri Fabre and Biological Systematics

Christopher K. Starr

Discipline: Cultural Studies




Systematics is the scientific study of the diversity of life. Like any large and durable discipline, the exact nature of its subject matter has shifted from one period to another, sometimes rather abruptly. Classifications, or the ordering of organisms into a system, has been among its main concerns since the time of Aristotle, which we may mark as its beginning. The nature and significance of variation within species is a problem of comparable age, though largely neglected until about 50 years ago. The problem of phylogeny, or change across the generations, has of course only occupied our minds since evolution became a generally recognized fact. We may date this recognition between 1860 and 1880 for most industrialized countries.