Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/30

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which makes the character;' but the very man, who first distinctly recognised this difficulty in the natural system, helped to increase it by his doctrine of the constancy of species. This doctrine appears in Linnaeus in an unobtrusive form, rather as resulting from daily experience and liable to be modified by further investigation; but it became with his successors an article of faith, a dogma, which no botanist could even doubt without losing his scientific reputation; and thus during more than a hundred years the belief, that every organic form owes its existence to a separate act of creation and is therefore absolutely distinct from all other forms, subsisted side by side with the fact of experience, that there is an intimate tie of relationship between these forms, which can only be imperfectly indicated by definite marks. Every systematist knew that this relationship was something more than mere resemblance perceivable by the senses, while thinking men saw the contradiction between the assumption of an absolute difference of origin in species (for that is what is meant by their constancy) and the fact of their affinity. Linnaeus in his later years made some strange attempts to explain away this contradiction; his successors adopted a way of their own; various scholastic notions from the 16th century still survived among the systematists, especially after Linnaeus had assumed the lead among them, and it was thought that the dogma of the constancy of species might find especially in Plato's misinterpreted doctrine of ideas a philosophical justification, which was the more acceptable because it harmonised well with the tenets of the Church. If, as Elias Fries said in 1835, there is 'quoddam supranaturale' in the natural system, namely the affinity of organisms, so much the better for the system; in the opinion of the same writer each division of the system expresses an idea ('singula sphaera (sectio) ideam quandam exponit'), and all these ideas might easily be explained in their ideal connection as representing the plan of creation. If observation and theoretical considerations occasionally