mercredi 24 mai 2017

Pause Post

I am catching up with my reading of CMI articles. They are mostly good, some less interesting to me since far from my own concerns, but usually nearly never bad. When they are, I usually write an answer (I am behind two answers).

This article of theirs is from a nearly double countryman of mine, Carolus Linnaeus, ennobled Carl von Linné.

Carl Linnaeus: the scientist who saw evidence for God in everything in nature
by Russell Grigg

We are both Swedes. I just thought he could have been Scanian, and then he would have been doubly my canoutryman, since I am Scanian (that means Danish subjects up to 1658) on my maternal grandfather's side.

No, while he was a Lundensian student like me (sic, no, he was Uppsalensian! re-sic, no he was both in turns!), he was from Råshult, in Småland. The letter Å is pronounced like English "aw" or when short "o", and is used as alternative for "o" when etymology is an older A. That is a result of a vowel shift not quite identical to the English one.

So, his dad was a Lutheran "Komminister" while Catholic predecessors to him would have been termed Chaplains and usually have been celibate and not thus dads to anyone. He was a "priest" in the Lutheran sense, which is not recognised by the Catholic Church as valid.

Now, the Lutheran clergy (a term less tied to sacramental validity than "priest" so I will use it) usually had studied at university at a time when studies were conducted in Latin. They therefore took the Latin or Latinised version of certain names. The Wittenberg students culpable of our Reformation were in Swedish probably called Persson or Pettersson or Pedersson - which they latinised as Petri. The dad of our most famous botanist was slightly latinising sth as Linnaeus, I think his father had no clerical name. By the way, his mother's mother was Scanian, and even from the part of Scania where my family is originally from, the North-East.

When he was ennobled, Linnaeus was changed to von Linné - spelling of surname frenchified and adding a "von" like German nobility. Of course, his brother remained Linnaeus.

Clerical and nobility's surnames are usually older ones than the bourgeois or military names like Lundahl. The names in -son were back in these days not hereditary surnames but patronymics : his mother was born Anna Christina Samuelsdotter (patronymic still in feminine) Brodersonia (feminine version of her father's clerical name, Samuel Brodersonius, where everything in the Latin name is perfect Swedish except the ending).

Even Linnaeus itself is - except ending - perfect Swedish, since a more correct latinisation of same Swedish word came out as Tiliander. So, the spelling "lind" must have given Linnaeus rather than **Lindaeus because it was pronounced "linn" at the time (there are plenny of American dialects which have a simblar phenomenon).

Where was I going? Ah, yes. Lutherans tended during the "century of Orthodoxy" (1593 - 1718, a century plus some) to brag about being the "via media" between Catholicism and Calvinism. Linnaeus came in a time when Lutherans started to think less of theology and therefore loosen up certain things a bit.

While he is still a perfect example of Natural Theology, as in Creation reflects God, his generation in general (I cannot say quite certainly for himself) is one in which Revealed Theology is no longer requiring Orthodoxy, there is a certain latitude. One indeed in which it was at the end becoming more fashionable to be a Platonist sympathising with Catholicism than a perfectly Lutheran Lutheran. I am going a bit in advance, since Linnaeus died in 1778 and the fashion I speak of is that of P. D.A. Atterbom : sympathetic to Catholicism, but even more clearly a Platonist or Neoplatonist philosopher to whom thoughts mattered more than what was written in either Bible or let alone Konkordieformeln (the formula of Concord, a piece of Lutheran theology as derived after a quarrel between Martin Luther's disciples).

I think that the or one of the best chances to reconvert the Western world is to get back a bit to the language and thought modes of this period and to meet it with the thoughts of the 13th C. Scholastics, like St Albert or St Thomas Aquinas. To them also thoughts mattered - but not more than the Bible and Church Fathers.

Now, this means I consider this period as the time of birth of our own culture - of what is coherent in it. In English, no Englishman, Aussie or Kiwi would be the least ashamed of spelling words like Doctor Johnson did. But for some reason some Swedes are stuck in a few spelling reforms and have an American attitude about spelling : as if the fact that Webster recommended or a President endorsed a new spelling obliged people to change their ways. Such Swedes may tell you I am in Swedish showing signs of dyslexia (sth I can take with humour on a forum, not knowing how to spell is a charge Cohanim made against the Apostles!), or is put on or is a role play showing signs of mental breakdown, or means I imagine I am not really living now or things like that. In fact, my Swedish is probably more readable (at least since less dialectal) than that of Linné, when he wrote Swedish. And it reflects the spelling of my favourite authors, like Atterbom.

Can Carolus Linnaeus have contributed to the mess the world is in now? Well, he did use the word "species" and "genus" which in Latin Bibles is where you translate to "kind" in English in ways smaller than the probable created kinds. So, no problem for a botanist to see speciation occur, you just need a ccase of cross breeding or other polyploidy, and there you have it. But while cherries and plum trees may or may formerly have been able to cross breed, this is, if true, because they were the same kind of tree back in Eden. And as I read on in the article of Russell Grigg, I see he came to the same conclusion, or that Jonathan Sarfati did:

Also in the Latin (Vulgate) translation of the Bible, the Hebrew word for ‘kind’ (mîn) in Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24 & 25 was translated variously with the two Latin words species and genus (plural genera). The meanings of the Linnaean species and the biblical species diverged over time, which led to ambiguity. Jonathan Sarfati comments: “The Bible talks of fixity of kinds, which in the Latin translation became fixity of species, but then an unwarranted switch took place to fixity of Linnaean species.”

However, I am a little nonplussed at the beginning of same paragraph:

The idea of ‘fixity of species’ came from ancient writers like the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

I have elsewhere seen Aristotle blamed for being an Evolutionist, so I wonder at the sentence ... I'd like to know where it comes from!

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Joan the wife of Chusa*

* Item beatae Joannae, uxoris Chusae, procuratoris Herodis, quam Lucas Evangelista commemorat.

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