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Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanica

Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanica [Kindle Edition]

Carl Linnaeus , Stephen Freer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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". . . . . Linnaeus's text of 1751, rendered into a flowing and eminently readable English" and "This book is beautifully produced and well-illustrated. Stephen Freer is to be congratulated on his translation which easily brings 18th century Latin to a modern readership." Dr Mark Newman, Edinburgh Journal of Botany, Dec/Jan. 2006

"The translator's meticulous attention to detail and the publisher's lavish production cannot be praised too highly." The Naturalist, July 2006

".. . . reading this excellent translation . . . Reviewers of the hardcopy edition have already heaped praise on Stephen Freer's skilful and meticulous translation. I can only add gratitude for providing easy access to one of Linnaeus's most important texts." (Prof. Pieter Baas, The Linnean, October 2006).

Linnaeus's (The Times Literary Supplement)

The translator's meticulous attention to detail and the publisher's lavish production cannot be praised too highly. A valuable resource for taxonomists and of great interest to botanists in general and historians of science. (The Naturalist)

"As translator, Freer is in a sense invisible in this work, and yet his hand is on every page, presenting Linnaeus' ideas and teachings to a new and wider audience . . . straightforward and very readable. This translation is an important contribution to science and its history . . ." Charlotte Tancin, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, June 2006.

"Reading this excellent translation of the Philosophia Botanica, . . . historians, botanists and gardeners are among those who will find it fascinating" Jim Endersby, The Times Literary Supplement, March, 2006

"We must be grateful to Stephen Freer and Oxford University Press for bringing us this excellent translation. I urge you not only to buy it but also to read it, because you will enjoy it." Alex S. George, Systematic Biology, Vol. 55, 2006

Readers of a review commonly wish to know whether the work is worth buying. For this translation the answer is a resounding 'Yes!'. Systematic Biology, Vol. 55 (3):534-536, 2006

All in all this is a delightful and informative translation of a botanical classic...Anyone interested in the history of botany and in teaching botany will enjoy and benefit from reading this book. Plant Science Bulletin, Fall 2005, Vol.51, No.3

Product Description

Philosophia Botanica (The Science of Botany), by Carl Linnaeus, was originally published in Latin in Stockholm and Amsterdam in 1751. It is a greatly expanded revision of his Fundamenta Botanica (Foundations of Botany) of 1736, summarizing his work on the classification and taxonomy of plants while adding substantial new material. The book represents a critical stage in the evolution of binomial nomenclature, with a single word to describe the genus and another for the species. Special importance is attached to accurate description of the parts of plants, and to the correct use of technical terms. There are also explanations of the effects of soil and climatic conditions on plant growth. The book includes 9 original engravings, with 167 figures showing the shapes of leaves and other parts of the plant, and 6 short memoranda describing Linnaeus' botanical excursions, detailing his ideas for garden and herbarium construction, and outlining what is required of a botanist and his pupils. There are also indexes of technical terms, genera and subjects. The first full English translation of this classic work since 1775, this beautiful book will be highly attractive to botanists and all those interested in the history of science.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4973 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st English ed edition (19 Jun 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001D4K5RK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,203,123 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I am the proud wife of the translator of this book,Stephen Freer, written by Carl Linnaeus in 1751. The translation from Latin took my husband seven years. He is now 85.
The book has been described by Prof. Paul Alan Cox, Director of the Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, in the Introduction,which is dedicated to the great botanist, William Stearn, as "Philosophia Botanica in an English translation is such a gift to the world."
Other reviewers have said :
"...For his skilful translation, Stephen Freer deserves our unstinted admiration and gratitude." Philip Oswald, Archives of Natural History.
"What a treat to have the whole of this work available in English for the first time. It is hard to over-emphasise its importance..." Prof. Crinan Alexander, The Garden, July 2005
"Philosophia Botanica is certainly a must on the shelves of anyone interested in the history and philosophy of the life sciences." Dr. Staffan Mueller-Wille, Journal of the History of Biology.
"Stephen Freer is to be heartily congratulated for providing such a stylish and, for the first time, complete English translation of this most important volume". Prof. Gren Lucas, Plant Talk.
The book was short-listed for the John Thackray Medal, 2004
PHILOSOPHIA BOTANICA, published in paperback, July 2005, OUP £35
Frederica Freer
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carl Linnaeus' Summarizing Work on Botanical Taxonomy 7 Jan 2013
By F. Ramos - Published on
Carl Linnaeus (1707 - 1778) is best known for his work on taxonomy of Animals, but he is also did massive work in the taxonomy of Botany and Minerals too. He used to say to himself "God creates, but Linnaeus names." and he saw himself as a person on a mission to establish the order of all creation from animals to plants to minerals. He was searching for a "Natural Method" whereby all things could be systematically named and classified. As he notes in this book, "If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost also." His views of taxonomy (or arrangements) have impacted how we classify species of animals, plants, (and minerals?) to this day. He had to sort out through much of the systems of classifications in his day which were quite cluttered and not as simple or systematic as what he was able to establish. His work impacted many fields such as the biological sciences by providing a system where many could adequately research the diversity of life (even though he was a creationist), paleontology, anthropology, and other fields that use taxonomy.

The book at hand, "Philosophia Botanica", is a summarizing work on Botany and classification of plants. The introduction is very enthusiastic and informative on all his botanical works and refers to "Philosophia Botanica" as being like a set of lectures. One can think of it that way. The introduction also sheds light on his cultural heritage. He is one of the most beloved scientists in his native Sweden and was a very good lecturer. Actually, he is best known there for his work as a teacher, not as a botanist or taxonomist of animals. For sure there is much to learn from this book such as the history of botany and the history of taxonomy in general since he does discuss issues that overlap with issues in animal taxonomy. This book would be good for those who are interested in the history of botany or the history of science in general.

Here are the chapters and some of the contents discussed therein (not exhaustive):

I. The Library

Discusses essentially the history of botany, notes ancient to contemporary botanists, notes famous gardens (in Universities, public, private), notes cultures that have contributed to botanical research, botanical commentators by countries/regions, illustrators of botanicals, notes different contributors to botany (Travelers, Physiologists, Systematists [Orthodox, Heterodox, Universal], Gardeners, etc), discusses many ways people have tried to classify botanicals (by roots, by chemical effects, by language, etc)

II. Systems

Shows the different classification systems used by many botanists, ends with his own classification system "Natural Method" (which is meant to be all that is needed in botany); notes that his system will be made more perfect as more knowledge accumulates and says "for nature does not make leaps" (49)

III. Plants

Discusses the Vegetables which are 7 families (funguses, algae, mosses, ferns, grasses, palms, and plants); the three parts of vegetables are the root, the herb, and the fruit-body; describes many leaf types and textures

IV. The Fruit-Body

7 parts of the fruit-body which are dedicated to reproduction (Calyx, Corolla, Stamen, Pistil, Pericarp, Seed, Receptacle) are discussed; fruit-bodies are classified as flowers and fruits and Linnaeus provides definitions of flowers by other authorities; the essences of flowers, fruit, fruit-bodies, vegetables discussed; extensively discusses how a fruit-body's structure needs to be described as 1 of 3 kinds (most natural, differing, peculiar) with 4 measurements (number, shape, proportion, position);

V. Sex

" the beginning of things, a single sexual pair of every species of living being was created."(99); how plants have spread across the globe; points about how vegetables are also living creatures as they have functional similarities to animals; offspring of plants come from both an "egg" and "sperm" since hybrid species exist; flowering comes before fruits emerge; the Anthers are the male genitals of plants and Pollen is the sperm; Stigmas are the female genitals; sexual systems in plants described; different sexual configurations: Male, Female, Hermaphrodites, Androgynous, Polygamous;

VI. Characters

The Foundation of Botany is: "Arrangement" (divisions and connection of the vegetables i.e. Class, Order, Genera, etc) and "Nomenclature"; discusses "System" (Classes, Orders, Genera, Species, Varieties); "We reckon the number of species as the number of different forms that were created in the beginning." and "The number of species is the number of different forms produced by the Infinite Being from the beginning; and these forms have produced more forms, according to the laws laid down, but always ones that are similar to themselves. Therefore the number of species is the number of different forms or structures that occur today." and "That new species can come to exist in vegetables is disproved by continued generation, propagation, daily observations, and the cotyledons." (113); "A variety is a plant that is changed by an accidental cause: climate, soil, heat, winds, etc, and likewise it is restored by change in soil." and "Kinds of variety are size, fullness, curling, color, savor, and smell." (114); "Species and genera are always the work of Nature; variety is quite often the work of Cultivation; class and order are the work of Nature and Art." (115); extensive review of "Habits" (conformities of vegetables); *fruit-bodies should always be used to infer primary arrangements of classifications; rules for preventing misclassifications because of ambiguity, confusion, disagreement; "Character" exists in 3 forms (the Factitious, the Essential, the Natural); the Natural character is the most important for botanists as it is an ideal for classification of existing or undiscovered genera; emphasis on using well defined technical terminology to preserve the general classifications of botanicals just like other sciences have (mathematics, anatomy, chemistry); Classes and Orders that are too long or numerous cause great difficulties; reviews many contemporary classification by other botanists and his too

VII. Names

"Nomenclature" is the 2nd foundation of botany and must be done on names after the "Arrangements" have been done; "If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost also." (169); only genuine botanists should name apply names to plants - he lists absurd names for plants that have been made before; names of a Class or Order should never be included in the name of a plant; general rules and linguistical protocols for generating names of plants; rules for avoiding lack of clarity and redundancy with other in use classifications (animals, minerals) or classifications from other fields (anatomists, pathologists, etc); extensively lists acceptable Latin and Greek names and unacceptable names; tempering or replacing agreed upon names after they are established can do much damage to Botany so it is better to invest time on getting correct generic names early on; shorter names are better since long names make things more confusing

VIII. Definitions

"A plant is completely named, if it is provided with a generic name and a specific name." (219); generally provides rules on making specific names; "Definitions that pass off varieties as species are erroneous." (221); "Size does not separate species." (223); features that draw comparisons between the species of a different genus are deceptive and the same applies to comparisons of species of the same genus (224-225); name of discoverer should not be applied to a definition; native location does not indicate separate species (264); rules on what belongs and what does not belong in definitions; other things that do not establish different species; leaves show most natural definitions; parts of the fruit-bodies often provide the best definitions; every definition must be taken from number, shape, relative size, and various parts of a plant; a specific name is either "synoptic" or "essential"; specific names must be in Latin (for precision) and generic names can be foreign (more broad); specific names should make use of positive terms (what it is), not negative terms (what it is not);

IX. Varieties

Varietal names may be added to the generic and specific names; names of genera (capital letters), species (ordinary letters), and varieties (italics) must be written in letters of different sizes respectively; other rules on naming

X. Synonyms

Like chapter title says

XI. Sketches

Rules on what information to include on sketches

XII. Potencies

Chemical and sensory considerations

Plates (Drawings)

Leaves, Compound Leaves, Leaves in their Circumstances, Stems, Supports, Roots, Parts of the Flower, Parts of the Fruit-Body, Peduncle, Foliage

For those who are more interested in his most notable work "Systema Naturae" (which has animal, plant, and mineral taxonomies) you can look up one of the few English translations available "A general system of nature, through the three grand kingdoms of animals, vegetables, and minerals, systematically divided into their several classes, orders, genera, species, and varieties, with their habitations, manners, economy, structure and peculiarities" (1806) in 7 Volumes under the name Sir Charles Linne with contributions from William Turton. It was quite hard for me to find it, so I am giving out the information needed to find this book. Hopefully its easier for others to procure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy for history & science 31 May 2013
By Manoel Motta - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rare book, excellent edition. Precious and beautiful. The best english book on Linnaeus i ever read. Very useful. Very good price.
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