Biological systematics offers a simple illustration of the fundamental problem for humanity

The fundamental problem for (the talking) humanity is the question whether kinds are real or our invention, that is, if we can find out whether an elk is an elk or not. This problem has given rise to a split in biological systematics between those that think kinds are real, called “cladists”, and those that don’t, the rest of the biological systematicians.

These two groups do thus not only take the opposite stand points, but moreover do not understand each other at all, since they do not even share the basic assumption, ie, whether kinds are real or our invention. Instead, an assumption for one of them is a deduction for the other and vice versa. If a systematician says that an animal is an elk (ie, defines it as an elk), cladists wonder how he knows that it is an elk.

These two groups have set up two (orthogonally opposite) systems of classifications, one that assumes that kinds aren’t real, ie, Linnean systematics, and one that assumes kinds are real, ie, the PhyloCode. So, which of these shall we choose? Well, both have their pros and cons. A pro for Linnean systematics is that there are many possible consistent classifications, whereas there for the PhyloCode isn’t any possible consistent classification. Choosing the Linnean classification thus means that we will never agree about any single of the consistent classifications, whereas choosing the PhyloCode means that we will never agree because there isn’t any consistent solution.

The common  outcome of the two (orthogonally opposite) aspects is thus that they will never agree, neither between the aspects and nor within them. This fundamental problem does thus mean that there is no way to agreement for something, but just to agreement against something. Speech thus sets the stage for an eternal fight between opinions.


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