LS Specimen collecting

Jonathan B. Marder (
Mon, 17 Aug 1998 10:39:24 +0100

(Reposted - originally posted 12th August)

Hi Squad (and Maggie, who might want to extract a list from this

A couple of days back, in the sci.philosophy.meta newsgroup, someone
posted a joke about an anthropologists quest to see the "Butcher dance"
complete his international collection of ethnic dances. . . . and no,
I'm not going to repeat the joke. However, I *am* going to talk a bit
about specimen collecting.

Physical scientists often collect INORGANIC specimens, whether these be
astronomical observations, rocks or subatomic particles.

Life scientists collect BIOLOGICAL specimens. Although dead specimens
have some value, today we increasingly value the conservation of living
specimens to preserve genetic diversity. This is the rationale of
biological culture
collections, zoos and nature reserves.

Anthropologists collect SOCIAL "specimens" - works of art, ceremonies,
dances. Also here, there is increasing awareness of the value of
conservation - the preservation of certain cultures and lifestyles.
Also, many "hobby" collectors seem to collect social artefacts (e.g.
coins, stamps, baseball cards).

Now who collects INTELLECTUAL specimens - examples of thought patterns?
It strikes me that the people who do this are historians of various
types (science, politics etc.) and also the philosophOLOGISTS.

Of course, several disciplines span more than one level.


Jonathan B. Marder <>
Department of Agricultural Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Faculty of Agriculture, P.O.Box 12, Rehovot 76100, ISRAEL
Phone: +972 8 9481918 Fax: +972 8 9467763
Web page:

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