Cladistics: A Mixed Bag of a Book

BIOLOGICAL METAPHOR AND CLADISTIC CLASSIFICATION An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Henry M. Hoenigswald and Linda F. Wiener, eds. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1987. 286 pp. $25. It isn’t often that an analytical technique developed recently by scientists is found to have been in common use for decades or even centuries within the humanities. This symposium volume deals with one such case, which strikes parallels between current methods of phylogenetic analysis in bio

Norman Platnick
Sep 20, 1987

BIOLOGICAL METAPHOR AND CLADISTIC CLASSIFICATION

An Interdisciplinary Perspective.
Henry M. Hoenigswald and Linda F.
Wiener, eds. University of
Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia,
1987. 286 pp. $25.

It isn’t often that an analytical technique developed recently by scientists is found to have been in common use for decades or even centuries within the humanities. This symposium volume deals with one such case, which strikes parallels between current methods of phylogenetic analysis in biology (cladistics) and traditional methods of unraveling text corruptions in manuscripts (stemmatics) and investigating the historical interrelationships among human languages (linguistics). In this book, practitioners in all three fields relate those taxa that have modifications in common, be they evolutionary novelties, copying errors made by scribes or new phonological features.

Half of this mixed bag of a book is devoted to history (often of the most tedious academic sort), but the remainder deals with substantive methodological questions. Peter Crane and...

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