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Systematics: The Role of Revision and Translation in Interpreting the Natural World
CHUM 305
Fall 2007
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: BIOL 304, E&ES 304

Systematics is a science and philosophy with three principal aims: discovery and description of biological diversity, elucidation of relationships among organisms, classification of biological diversity. The goal of the class will be to understand the role of human inventions (paradigms, philosophies, methodologies, etc.) in the interpretation of the natural world. We will examine such inventions over time (through history) and across cultures, including some indigenous cultures. Revision is the central mechanism by which knowledge of the natural world is updated or re-interpreted. Revisions are undertaken because of the discovery of new organisms, new data or paradigm shifts. Are revisions and interpretation of the natural world biased by cultural or even regional perspectives and thinking? How do we structure classification systems to convey information about the natural world? Must revisions result in new classifications? In the class we will learn some modern methodologies for inference about relationships of organisms as a basis for comparative study. Translation will be considered from three perspectives: transference, linguistic translation, and transformation. Linguistic translation at face value may be considered the simplest, but few have considered the inequality of information content on opposite sides of the translation. For example, two small characoid fishes bear the names demoshi huilva and demoshi noori in Ahsuara language of the Ecuadoran Amazon. Yet in Equadoran Spanish, these two species are referred to as sardine. The loss of information in translation has a direct impact on both the conveyance of information about the nature world and transformation of paradigm in the observance of the natural world.

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: NSM BIOL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on FEB-22-2024
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