The Typological Program

The typological way of perceiving Nature is one of the basics, and it underlies many aspects of cognitive activity. It begins with thinking of Nature in gestalts, i.e., discrete integral mental images expressing the essential features of its manifestations. The result of such an intuitive “qualitative” perception is transferred to Nature itself, which is becoming thought of as consisting of certain (quasi)discrete blocks. This worldview was supplemented with an idea of prototype (archetype), which arose in early Antiquity as an ideal form (“matrix”) giving rise to real forms; it had been a predecessor of Plato’s eide. The general idea of prototype was then built into the natural-philosophical concept of the Ladder of Nature, which had a significant impact on the formation of the worldview of many naturalists and taxonomists of the 18th— 19th centuries. Such a vision of Nature is a very characteristic feature of typological thinking [Lewens 2009a; Witteveen 2018].

It is customary to derive typological views in systematics from essentialist ones, but this is hardly true. As was noted in Section 2.4.3, the Aristotelian understanding of essence (ousia), which formed the basis of essentialism, is functional; it appeared just in this capacity in the works of many scholastic systematists (Cesalpino and others), as well as of some early post-scholastics (Jussieu, Strickland, and others). In contrast, the basis of typology was formed by anatomist zoologists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries based on the concept of proto- or archetype in its structural understanding.

Starting from the second half of the 19th century and especially in the 20th century, typological ideas in systematics appeared in a “shadow” of evolutionary ones and were almost completely rejected by positivist ideas. To a certain extent, this situation was aggravated in the most recent taxonomic research as it used the features (biochemical, molecular genetic, etc.) not amenable to a trivial typological interpretation [Shatalkin 2002]. At the same time, the typological views that emerged at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries were in demand in the second half of the 20th century and supplemented by others combining classical typology with other concepts, primarily evolutionary.

Major Features

The classical typology was initially developed in three basic versions, viz. stationary, dynamic, and epigenetic (see Section 2.4.3). In the stationary typology, the organism is characterized through its general structural plan (Bauplari), determined by the ratio of its constituent parts; organismal diversity is formed through the details of this general plan (Vic d’Azir, Cuvier, Saint-Hilaire). Accordingly, the typological unity of taxa is thought of as the unity of the general plans of the organisms belonging to them. The dynamic typology considers the general structure of organisms as a result of mutual transformations (metamorphoses) of the constituent parts of an imaginary archetype (Goethe). These transformations are not “physical,” but rather imaginary, i.e., “logical” in a sense. In this case, taxonomic unity is defined as the unity of transformations of the parts of organisms allocated to the respective taxa. Mutual interpretability of stationary and dynamic concepts is provided by the possibility of representing the Goethean archetype as a whole of mutually transforming parts of generalized body plans [Naef 1931; Meyer-Abich 1949; Levit and Meister 2006; Riegner 2013]. In the epigenetic typology (Baer), the structural plan is regarded as a specific type (trajectory) of development in ontogenesis and eventually in phylogenesis [Kaspar 1977; Lenoir 1988; Amundson 2005]. The reference to the structural plan connects epigenetic typology with stationary typology, whereas treating the type as a process connects it with dynamic typology.

Within the framework of the cognitive situation of systematics, all three interrelated versions (as well as modern ones; see Section 5.4.2) can be combined into a single research program of classification typology. It is based on the idea of the diversity of organisms as a hierarchically ordered diversity of (arche)types, from most general to most particular. Based on this understanding of the System of Nature, a general idea of natural classification is developed as the one that most fully expresses the (arche)typal hierarchical structure of the living matter (see Section 6.5 for details). Respectively, the taxa are distinguished following the principle of unity! of type: each taxon is defined through an (arche)type of the respective level of generality that is most fully implemented in the organisms allocated to this taxon. For this, the characters used to distinguish taxa are selected (“weighted”) in a special way: the most significant are those that most fully characterize the respective (arche)types. With this, the characters are ranked according to the levels of generality of the (arche) types described by them: dominant characters define taxa of higher ranks, whereas subordinate ones do so with taxa of lower ranks.

Thus, in the elaboration of typological classifications, an analysis of (arche)typal diversity is primary relative to the analysis of taxa; this is formalized as a version of taxon-character correspondence, in which a character “precedes” a taxon (see Section 6.2). This means that, in taxonomic research, a hierarchy of (arche)types is first revealed, then the characters specific to them are recognized, and finally, on the basis of characters that are properly selected and subordinated, typological taxa are distinguished. According to the principle of rank coordination and rule of unified levels, the characters describing the (arche)types of the same level of generality diagnose taxa of the same rank [Starobogatov 1989; Vasilieva 1989, 1992; Lyubarsky 1996]. The last author considers such an operation as a specific objectification of taxonomic ranks [Lyubarsky 2018], but this conclusion is hardly true: according to him, the hierarchical structure of the general archetype is revealed relativistically, that is, depending on the point of view from which a researcher considers respective anatomical structures [Lyubarsky 1996].

Analysis of (arche)types and their characters, including their ranking, is carried out based on comparative anatomical studies of particular organisms and the identification of general and special features in their structural or dynamic plans. Such studies require a special “biological way of thought” [Beckner 1959]; first of all, a deep comprehension of organisms as structured anatomical w'holes and therefore the capability of perceiving each structured whole as “coomon in particulars” and “constant in transient” [Lennox 1980; Lyubarsky 1996]. This means a significant influence of the subject component on the route and results of typological research: this is because typology deals mainly with macromorphological (anatomical) structures, and distinguishing and ordering them cannot be rigorously formalized [Lyubarsky 1996, 2018]. How'ever, at present, there is an attempt to extend the general provisions of classical typology to molecular structures, biochemical and physiological processes, and behavioral stereotypes: this is due to the need to elaborate standard homology criteria for such “non-classical” attributes, which requires their typological comprehension (see Section 6.6).

The typological program most fully implements its general ideas at macrosystematic levels, w'here (arche)typical differences are most evident. At the generic and more so at species levels, its capabilities are much less since the differences between organisms at these levels usually do not affect their structural plans. And yet, typological consideration occurs indirectly in analyses of the taxonomic reality at its low'er levels. This is because all comparisons of organisms are based on analyses of their characters, and the latter are individualized based on the homology of organismal features, which presumes the typological reconstructions of relations between these features [Shatalkin 2002, 2012].

Throughout almost the entire 20th century, the typological program in systematics was sharply criticized by adherents of those programs that are based, in one form or another, on the positivist philosophy of science (phenetics, biosystematics, “new phylogenetics”). This attitude was provoked by those typologists who explicitly designated their approach as “idealistic” [Naef 1919] and, in an extreme form, associated it with Platonism [Troll 1951]. Positivists criticized typology also for an unobservability of the (arche)types, judgments of which were based on background metaphysical knowledge; with this, they also addressed the same criticism to the evolutionary interpreted systematics. As was emphasized above, the latter objection is considered largely untenable within the framework of post-positivist philosophy of science (see Section 3.1): scientific empirical knowledge is impossible without certain theoretical considerations, and the criterion of observability does not have an absolute regulatory power. On the part of evolutionists, the main criticism is addressed to the “stationary” nature of the typological world picture; however, some recent typological versions combined with the evolutionary idea (see the next section) largely refute this criticism.

The main argument in favor of the consistency of the classification typological program of systematics is provided by reference to a causal model of biological diversity, according to which the latter is structured by different categories of causes [Pavlinov 2018]. The initial causes are responsible for the evolutionary aspect of biodiversity, which is manifested in genealogical relationships among organisms studied by phylogenetics. Material causes are responsible for the structural aspect of biodiversity, which is manifested in the qualitative structural relations of organisms studied by typology. To the extent that both these categories of causes and, due to this, their effects do not coincide, the phylogenetically and typologically defined groups of organisms are different. But this hardly means that some of them are “natural” while others are not: after all, such an assessment depends on a particular concept of naturalness. As a matter of fact, a denial of scientific consistency and biological significance of studying structural disparity of organisms yields a significant simplification of the metaphysical model of biota by excluding the structural pattern of organismal diversity. Accordingly, this means a similar simplification of the entire cognitive situation developed by biological systematics.

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