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Essay on Classification

Essay on Classification - Recitation Tues 3:00-3:50 Sytsma...

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February 8, 2006 Recitation- Tues. 3:00-3:50, Sytsma HPS0430 Writing Assignment, Essay #2 Classification systems are used to group objects of varying numbers and diversity into appropriate categories. We have classification systems for everything from books to food to periodic elements. Once we have a classification method instilled in our mind, we use it almost subconsciously to ascertain the world around us. Classification can be done in one of two ways—either subjectively or objectively. Up until the sixteenth century, the classification of living things had been done subjectively. Subjective classification divided species by their relationship to man. Species were grouped based on whether they were useful or not to humans, whether they were edible or inedible. Species were also grouped based on human qualities people identified in animals, such as the brave lion or the sneaky fox, or by their symbolic significance to man. Subjective classification was driven by the idea that everything was put on Earth to serve some purpose for man. However, the number of species identified was rapidly increasing in the sixteenth century. The human-centered approach to classification was gradually rejected by naturalists. But the growing number of species made simply listing species alphabetically and describing them both cumbersome and ineffective. They came to try to categorize organisms by their structural features rather than their value or connotation to man. This type of classification is objective. Objective classification is based on structural features of the species. It uses comparative anatomy to group species according to shared physical characteristics. It allows for similar forms to be grouped together with the individual species still being 1
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distinguished within the group. It also changes the way we view the world around us.
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