Evolving Thoughts

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Welcome u n d e r v e r s e

This is to note that u n d e r v e r s e, the blog that uses nineteenth century German emphatic spacing, has been added to my blogroll (I hope – I’m not good that these customisation things), wherein you can read deep, intelligent and Chamberlainist musings by Chris Schoen. Highly recommended.

Benson Mates dies

Leiter reports that Benson Mates has died, and links to the UC Berkeley short obit: The Department announces with great sadness the death, on May 13, 2009, of Prof. Emeritus Benson Mates. Born in 1919, Prof. Mates studied at the University of Oregon, completing the B.A. degree there in 1940 (in Philosophy and Mathematics). He…

Teeth and a marsupial lion

Chris Nedin has another post of great interest (even if it is for a late period, the Pleistocene) which goes into my file of “the older naturalists were great observers”, as he shows how modern chemistry supports Richard Owens’ diagnosis of Thylacoleo as a carnivore, even though it is in a clade of herbivores.

What is “secular”?

In keeping with the last post on humanities, I thought I’d ruminate with no effort or knowledge to back it up on what the term “secular” means. If the fundamentalists are to be believed, it is a synonym of “humanist” and also “Satanist”, “infidel” and “homosexual”. But somewhat more seriously, I have seen it used…

It is often the case that when non-academics, or even non-humanities academics, talk about my generic field, they refer to it as “arts”, and mean by this the creative arts, like performing arts, crafts, and corporate accounting. So they justify the funding for the “arts” (or “the yartz”, as a Barry Humpries character calls them)…

There is no missing link

Again, the press are talking about “the missing link“. Let’s get one thing clear. There is no missing link. Rather, there are an indefinite number of missing branches. To have a missing link, you need to visualise evolution as a chain. If there’s a gap in the chain, then you have a missing link. But…

Before this text in 1686, the term species just meant some sort or kind of organism. It was a Latin word in ordinary use without much meaning in natural history, but then arguments began whether or not there were one or more species for this or that group, and so it became important to know…

Typical. Bloody typical