Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Founder of the binomial system of nomenclature and the hierarchical system of classification and a (perhaps the) leading botanist of his time. A Swede, Carl von Linné was known as "Linnaeus" because he (like other 17th century scientists) wrote all of his major publications in Latin. Although a Creationist like all other naturalists of his time, he accepted a possible role for transmutation - not by adaptation, but by hybridization among species within genera, a process that would keep species within the major outlines of God's plan. He was involved in a major debate on plant sexuality, taking the intermediate position that although plants were indeed sexual, they were entirely self-fertilizing and therefore fell safely below animals on the "scala naturae" both in structural and functional terms. However, Linnaeus himself abandoned the strictly linear view of biological relationships that was then so popular in favor of his own more diffuse, hierarchical arrangement. Linnaeus advocated an admittedly "artifical system" of plant classification that emphasized the number of reproductive organs to the near-exclusion of all other characters; this was opposed by contemporary botanists like A. P. de Candolle and Jussieu and fell out of favor by the early 18th century.


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