Introduction

The structure of the book is determined by its main task—to represent the historical roots, philosophical foundations, and theoretical content of biological systematics, considered in its full capacity.

Chapter 1 is of an introductory kind: the structure of systematics is characterized, its main sections (theoretical, practical, and applied) and tasks are briefly outlined. The general notion of the Natural System is characterized as a fundamentum for the entire systematics, defining the latter’s theoretical content and its historical development. The theoretical branch of systematics (taxonomy) deals basically with the developing cognitive situation and the theoretical foundations of this discipline; one of its principal tasks is to connect taxonomic theory with the philosophical scientific context of natural science. Practical systematics deals with the elaboration of particular taxonomic systems based on the respective taxonomic theories; among its important tasks is the development of systematic collections and herbaria. Applied systematics provides various users with reliable working instruments for solving their particular research and applied tasks related to the diversity of organisms.

Chapter 2 considers prehistory and the conceptual history of systematics from the point of view of evolutionary epistemology. Folk systematics is characterized as an initial stage of the cognitive activity dealing with the elaboration of primordial classifications based on primarily pragmatic motivation. The proto-systematic stage (Antique to Renaissance) includes the initial development of the rational cognitive program and analytical methods, including the basic logical categories and the genus-species classification scheme. The scientific systematics emerged in the 16th century when these categories and scheme were mastered. Subsequent scientific revolutions and principal stages are recognized in the conceptual history of systematics: post-scholastic, evolutionary, positivist, and post-positivist. The main research programs are briefly characterized as a result of these revolutions, viz. scholastic systematics, natural systematics, early typology, taxonomic “esotericism,” the beginning of evolutionary interpreted systematics; development of phenetic, numerical, and biosystematics as responses to the positivist challenge; and the rebirth of phylogenetic systematics.

Chapter 3 briefly considers key issues of the philosophical background of systematics. The three-partitioned structure of the cognitive situation is characterized, including its interrelated ontic, epistemic, and subject components, with the metaphor of cognitive triangle being its adequate representation. Any cognitive activity is selective by addressing the particular conceptually construed manifestations (Umwelts) of Nature (Umgebung). Particular Umwelts constitute an ontic component of the respective cognitive situations in which research programs develop and function. The principal cognitive regulators of the taxonomic research are briefly considered.

Chapter 4 outlines the author’s idea concerning a possible approach to elaborating taxonomic theory (TT), in its most general sense, as a specific quasi-axiomatic. It is represented as a hierarchically arranged conceptual pyramid, with general TT at its top and particular TTs at its lower levels. General TT provides a conceptual framework for the entire cognitive situation of systematics, while particular TTs specify its statements for particular Umwelts. The following principal categories of particular TTs are recognized: aspect-based, relational, object-based, and episteme-based. Most fundamental aspect-based and episteme-based partial TTs shape respective research programs (typological, phylogenetic, numerical, etc.), while object-based TTs deal with the most fundamental notions (hierarchy, taxon, character, homology, species, etc.). The key quasi-axioms/presumptions and inference rules (principles) of systematics are briefly outlined. The fundamental concepts of the taxonomic reality and the classification system are represented in an original manner.

Chapter 5 considers the contemporary research programs in systematics that develop particular TTs. These programs are characterized based on a standard scheme, including its historical roots, basic ontic and epistemic principles, key concepts and notions, pros and cons. The following research programs are considered: classification phenetics, rational systematics (with its onto-rational and episto-rational versions), numerical program (with numerical phenetics and numerical phyletics as its principal versions), classification typology (its principal contemporary developments are characterized), biomorphics (elaborating classification of life forms), biosystematics (considering taxonomic diversity at lower levels), phylogenetics (with evolutionary taxonomy and cladistics as its basic contemporary versions), and an evolutionary ontogenetic program (based on the evo-devo concept).

Chapter 6 deals with the most fundamental problematic issues in systematics considered as specific “taxonomic puzzles.” It is emphasized that distinguishing between natural and artificial classifications (taxonomic systems) depends on the contents of the particular TTs and thus cannot be universal. The elaboration of particular taxonomic systems is based on an iterative procedure including altering precedences between judgments about taxa and their characters. The general arrangement of taxonomic systems can be either hierarchical or parametric, and their hierarchies can be either rankless or ranked. A complex interrelation between similarity and kinship is considered, emphasizing the non-objective status of the former. The concept of (arche)type is characterized as supported by contemporary essen-tialism. The diversity of the contemporary ideas about homology reflects the impossibility of a unified system of partonomic structure of organisms and presumes the need for the elaboration of a hierarchically arranged generalized concept of multifaceted correspondences. The contemporary species problem is caused by a controversy between its monistic v.v. pluralistic treatments; it can be resolved based on acknowledging the “specieshood” as an integral part of the natural history of organisms, with its particular manifestations corresponding to the latter’s specifics.

 
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