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Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Matthew Daniel Eddy

Eddy, M. (2010). Tools for reordering:Commonplacing and the Space of Words in Linnaeus' Philosophia Botanica. Intellectual History Review 20(2): 227-252.

Author(s) from Durham


While much has been written on the cultural and intellectual antecedents that gave rise to Carolus Linnaeus’s herbarium and his Systema Naturae, the tools that he used to transform his raw observations into nomenclatural terms and categories have been neglected. Focusing on the Philosophia Botanica, the popular classification handbook that he published in 1751, it can be shown that Linnaeus cleverly ordered and reordered the work by employing commonplacing techniques that had been part of print culture since the Renaissance. Indeed, the functional adaptability of commonplace heads allowed him to split and combine the book’s chapters and tables and played a notable conceptual role in the way in which he spatialized words and, to a certain extent, specimens.