Talk:History of biology

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 Definition The study of the development of knowledge and methodology in the study of life. [d] [e]
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Anthony, I think you would be more than justified to restore the large amounts of text that Richard Jensen has cut from the article.


  • A large section (see here) was deleted without explanation. This is highly inappropriate. Anthony, you can restore that deleted text by simply copying the red text from the left column, and pasting it in where appropriate.
  • Will Durant's history of philosophy is an acceptable (if not the best) source for this introductory article, where it mentions the presocratics; history of philosophy (which here overlaps the history of science) is very relevant there, and Durant's history is an OK introduction.
  • Richard, much more explanation than "drop the poetry--not part of development of biology" is needed for deleting an entire section. I thought the section about Lucretius was apt. Obviously, Dr. Sebastian thought it was relevant to the development of biology, or he would not have put it in the article.

--Larry Sanger 18:33, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

Durant is a poor source; he taught the history of metaphysics and made no pretense of knowing any biology; he read very little history of science. A college student that used him would be marked down. We have many histories of biology --several very good books are listed in the bibliog and are online at Questia; they have much more sophisticated treatments of Aristotle's biology and that is where CZ whould be based. Look at Singer for example (it's pretty old); my favorite is Mayr. The long poetry section is not part of the main history of biology. It is important not to look for "similarities" in the past, but to use modern history of science scholarship to see what linked to what. All sorts of imaginary reconstructions of what might have happened--that's a no-go for historians as well. Likewise imagining what Aristotle would say about today's biology. Using science/experiment to descibe hyothetical prehistory is likewise unhistorical. Richard Jensen 19:52, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

Again, I have to express concern here: significant deletions must be accompanied by more than just brief remarks in the edit summary. Until these are provided, the person whose text is deleted--particularly if a fellow editor--may replace it, and the deleter has no right to remove it again. I hope this is clear. --Larry Sanger 23:17, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

The deleted material did not deal with the history of biology. This is a well established discipline and we have to follow it. The article fragment is still highly idiosyncratic --is it based on a standard history of biology or what?? The author seems to be more interested in philosophy and evolution, perhaps.Richard Jensen 00:58, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Baffling deletion

I'm not a subject expert, but this deletion is just baffling:

Beginning approximately 10,000 years ago, the biological expertise of our prehistoric ancestors played a major role in developing agriculture and the domestication of wild animals, apparently independently in the Old and New Worlds. Agriculture and animal husbandry encouraged experimental work to further develop crop yields and animal productivity, something present day biologists still pursue vigorously.

I can't imagine human beings not experimenting, as this is a fundamental part of our nature. I'm not sure what evidence one would expect to find, other than the obvious: human beings have experimented and continue to experiment in every field of human endeavor. I suppose the opposing hypothesis would be that domesticated plants by sheer luck produced greater yields than wild varieties of the same crop. I suppose that is possible, but unlikely beyond reasonable doubt. I could be missing some material fact, but I don't know what it might be. I've restored the original text. Will Nesbitt 10:49, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Why did humans have to experiment and be scientists in order to survive??--millions of other species survived without any experiments. Richard Jensen 14:39, 13 July 2007 (CDT)
Is this a question? I'm not sure I understand you.
If by "have to" you mean, "required", I don't think humans weren't required to experiment to survive, just sharks aren't required to kill to survive. But experimentation is one of the things that makes humans humans. There are species of non-carnivorous sharks, but it's silly to assume that millions of years ago sharks had not yet learned to kill.
In other words, homo sapiens are humans. Humans experiment.
I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I sincerely don't understand what you are trying to communicate. Are you trying to argue that there were greater yields from domesticated crops than wild crops simply by chance? Humans didn't experiment, they just lucked out? Will Nesbitt 18:05, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Methodology of history

Historians and anthropologists are very careful on the assumptions they make, and likewise CZ should be avoiding assuming prehistory used "science" or "experiment". Those terms are loaded with 2500 years of history. As one anthropologist argued:

The use of assumed similarities with modern behavior in the explanation of the behavior of extinct groups is not only fallacious, it is also deleterious to research since it prevents the discovery that the postulated similarities do not exist.

see L. G. Freeman Jr. "Theoretical Framework for Interpreting Archeological Materials," in Lee, ed. Man the Hunter 1968. Page 265 Richard Jensen 15:34, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

The key to this argument is the word "extinct". Homo sapiens are not an extinct group. Homo sapiens are alive and well and we know much about human nature. Of course, this argument above could well apply to extinct species such as homo erectus or australopithecus africanus or even the tyranosaurus rex. But this argument would not apply when considering a 100,000 year old crocodile, shark , turtle or homo sapien. Will Nesbitt 18:08, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Most anthropologist also accept that all human descended from a single homo sapien couple.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 18:17, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Early civilizations

Should one include parts of [1], especially the portion on "Vedic times" which precedes Aristotle? However, I am not an expert in this area and I do not have any handy references. Supten 02:23, 18 July 2007 (CDT)

Perhaps Aristotle would be more appropriately titled "the founding father of Western biology"? Will Nesbitt 06:57, 18 July 2007 (CDT)