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Our Divided Nature and Divided Thinking

Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? This standard question is made the standard by Carl Von Linné. He is a Swedish botanist, zoologist and the father of the taxonomy... the science of classifying organisms based on their similarities and differences. He separates nature into three kingdoms: animals, vegetables and minerals. Then he subdivides the kingdoms into classes, and then orders, and families and so forth. This is a slightly different system from the one used by evolutionists in the modern day, but Carl has pointed the way. He will jolt the scientific world into a new way of thinking... a new way of dividing up the world. In the years to come, Charles Darwin will propose a theory of evolution that he would have difficulty expressing without the work done in 1735 because in this same year a French scientist will suggest that it took 2 billion years for the world to be created instead of the previously believed 6,000 years. It is actually more like 4.5 billion years but this is a start. [1] [2] [3] [4][5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Western Thinking or Enlightenment Thinking is so new and radical that when I read the debates of ancient scholars, it is as if I have been transported to an alien world. The ancients were just as intelligent as we are today, but we divide the world differently now. Is it plant, or animal? Big or small? Hot or cold? Square or round? What color is it? We categorize objects and ideas into smaller and smaller groups until we can make assumptions based on similarities. This new process allows us to ask important questions such as: if birds have feathers and birds fly, why does a bat fly but an ostrich does not? If a Nazi and a Communist are both socialists, why is one called a right-wing fascist but the other is called a left-wing collectivist? Whatever the answer to these questions, the miracle of modern thinking is that it occurs to us to ask these questions in the first place! Enlightenment thinking has spread like a virus, but I assure you that when you get this virus, you are cured... mostly. [8]

Paul Revere is Here!

Paul Revere is born in the North End of Boston on New Years Day of 1735 according to the modern calendar, but they are not using the modern calendar so it is December 21, 1734. His father is a goldsmith so Paul will grow up being apprenticed to his father as a gold and silversmith. As he grows up under British rule he will become involved in a secret conspiracy to rebel against the British government (called the Sons of Liberty) and he will find ways to cause havoc and destruction, but let's leave that discussion for another time. The bottom line is that Paul Revere will do critical work for the American Revolution, especially when it comes to delivering messages fast and he will be able to explain the reasoning behind the messages because he will be closely involved with the leadership of the Revolution. After the Revolution he will remain a local hero and an accomplished silversmith until a famous poet turns him into a national celebrity. [6] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course, the famous poet was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere which is an exciting poem, but he takes some "liberties" with the actual story. At this late date, I'm not sure the details matter any more. Who cares that he borrowed the horse? Who cares what time he left? Paul's task was to get a message to John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming by sea. Along the way, he made a lot of noise. Someone shouted that he should keep the noise down. He replied, "Noise! You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!" He delivered his message and afterward was caught by a British patrol. They held him for a while and then let him go. He had to find his way back without the horse.
  • The following is the beginning of the Wadsworth poem, but it is the part that most people remember...
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, 'If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.' [12]

Damning with Faint Praise

A new phrase is introduced to the English language by Alexander Pope in his poem entitled, "The Prologue to the Satires." This is a satirical poem in praise of Alexander Pope's physician and an attack on his physician's foes. It reads in part...

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,
A timorous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieged,
And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause; [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1735, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Moore, Peter (2014). Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780865478091. “The catalytic moment came in 1735 when Carl Linnaeus' Systema Naturae was published. The book provided 'observing gentlemen', as Gilbert White would later call them, with a simple method for dividing all the variety of nature into neat groups.” 
  2. Carl Linnaeus - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 January 2016. “Carl Linnaeus (23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who founded the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature. He is known by the epithet 'father of modern taxonomy'.”
  3. Taxonomy - definition of taxonomy (2016). Retrieved on 19 February 2016. “The scientific classification of organisms into specially named groups based on shared characteristics and natural relationships.”
  4. Linnaean taxonomy - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 February 2016. “In the taxonomy of Linnaeus there are three kingdoms, divided into classes, and they, in turn, into orders, families, genera (singular: genus), and species (singular: species), with an additional rank lower than species.”
  5. Benoit de Maillet - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 February 2016. “De Maillet's geological observations convinced him that the earth could not have been created in an instant because the features of the crust indicate a slow development by natural processes. He also believed that creatures on the land were ultimately derived from creatures living in the seas. He believed in the natural origin of man. He estimated that the development of the earth took two billion years.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 338-339. 
  7. How Old Is The Earth?. Universe Today (May 30, 2013). Retrieved on 19 February 2016. “How old is the Earth? Scientists think that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Coincidentally, this is the same age as the rest of the planets in the Solar System, as well as the Sun. Of course, it’s not a coincidence; the Sun and the planets all formed together from a diffuse cloud of hydrogen billions of years ago.”
  8. Alex Shrugged notes: 1. Thank you, Rush Limbaugh! I paraphrased that last line. 2. For Jewish reference: the Enlightenment movement is called the Haskalah. In an original draft of this segment I delved into the idea but I decided it was too specialized a subject for a general audience. My son once asked me, "Dad. What is the Haskalah?" I replied, "You are living in it. How's it going?" He looked around, shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's going OK, I guess." Yes, it is going OK... I guess.
  9. Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution. Viking. 
  10. "Paul Revere Silver". The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 13 (7): 161. July 1918. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3253473. Retrieved 19 February 2016. "Revere had a real talent which enabled him to impart an unwonted elegance to his work, and he was famous as an en- graver of the beautiful crests, armorial designs, and floral wreaths which adorn much of his work. Thus it is that anything made by him is eagerly sought for, highly prized, and daily becoming more difficult to obtain.". 
  11. The Paul Revere House. paulreverehouse.org (2013). Retrieved on 19 February 2016. “Paul was educated at the North Writing School and learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father. When Paul was nineteen (and nearly finished with his apprenticeship) his father died, leaving Paul as the family's main source of income. Two years later, in 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, New York, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery.”
  12. Paul Revere's Ride. nationalcenter.org (1861). Retrieved on 19 February 2016.
  13. The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Volume 1. Gutenberg.org (2016). Retrieved on 18 February 2016.

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