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r.mabe's picture

Our first lab required that

Our first lab required that we look at things that are familiar to us as if they were foreign in order to describe and separate the vegetation we examined into categories. This got me thinking about classification not only in science but in our daily lives. It seems to me that while classification makes things easier, grouping things together, on the basis of like characteristics, into boxes allows humans to more easily study and explore the complex world around them. Yet, simplification is not always a good thing. In class we attempted to find a single or set of characteristics that distinguish living from non-living organisms, yet we found this to be impossible. When humans try to fit everything into an established and understandable box we always seem to run into problems. Yet, humans also seem to need to categorize things in order for our brains to process, think about and understand them. If we try to find clear cut lines we may be over-simplifying but if we don’t' draw any lines at all how can we possibly look at/compare/understand anything? How do we reconcile our tendency to categorize with the inaccuracy of doing so?

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