The Two Cultures (Continued)
One of the most remarkable non-events in recent intellectual history took place in the 1980′s, when a particular debate failed to occur. That failure tells us much about the life of the mind today.
To set the stage we need to glance back 200 years. In the 1750′s, the Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus, in the interest of clarifying God’s cosmic design, devised the system of nomenclature under which the human race was assigned to a genus of its own, Homo sapiens. For two centuries this stood unchallenged, notwithstanding the revolution in the scientific understanding of man produced by Charles Darwin. Then, in 1984, two scientists then at Yale’s Peabody Museum, John Alquist and Charles Sibley, basing themselves on highly sophisticated biochemical techniques, proposed that man should no longer be assigned to a genus of his own but should rather be grouped together with the gorilla and the two species of chimpanzees. The genus Homo, in other words, would now include four species: Homo gorilla; Homo paniscus and Homo troglodytes (chimpanzees); and Homo sapiens.
About the Author