Carolus Linnaeus (May 23, 1707-Jan 10, 1778)
from Today in Science History:
“Swedish botanist and explorer who was the first to frame principles for defining genera and species of organisms and to create a uniform system for naming them.”
Currently I am reading Paul Farber‘s introduction to to the history of natural history as a discipline, Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E.O. Wilson. The writing is done very well. The first chapter discusses Linnaeus’ and Buffon‘s contributions to natural history, and their differing perspectives on ordering life. In reference to Linnaeus encouraging his students to travel in order to collect more plants, and that only European naturalists could rightly name and classify species (for local inhabitants are lacking in knowledge), Farber writes, “Just as missionaries attempted to save the souls of indigenous peoples, Linnaeus’s apostles sought to save the species of the world for a second naming.” (p. 12)
Farber refers to this as a type of cultural imperialism, as well as naturalists aiding in the imperial expansion of European powers.