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The Organisation of Knowledge in Victorian Britain$
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Martin Daunton

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263266

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263266.001.0001

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Classifying Sciences: Systematics and Status in mid-Victorian Natural History

Classifying Sciences: Systematics and Status in mid-Victorian Natural History

(p.61) Chapter Three: Classifying Sciences: Systematics and Status in mid-Victorian Natural History
The Organisation of Knowledge in Victorian Britain

Jim Endersby

British Academy

This chapter discusses mid-Victorian natural history sciences, focusing on the disputes over the classification within both the zoological and botanical communities. Zoologists argued over the merits of William Macleay’s quinary system, claiming that all organisms could be classified in groups of five. Botanists attacking the Linnaean or sexual system were divided over what should replace it; the most widely used of its rivals was known as the natural system. Several metropolitan naturalists felt the need to bring stability by settling these arguments. Hugh Strickland was the most prominent zoological stabiliser, an opponent of quinarianism and other forms of classificatory radicalism. Strickland established the world’s first formal rules of zoological nomenclature and attempted to use the authority of the British Association to impose them on naturalists.

Keywords:   natural history, William Macleay, quinary system, Linnaean system, sexual system, natural system, Hugh Strickland, British Association

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