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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

natural philosophy

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Ray, John (1627-1705)
Historia plantarum, species hactenus editas aliasque insuper multas noviter inventas & descriptas complectens.
Londini : typis Mariae Clark: prostant apud Henricum Faithorne, 1686-1704.

Image from Ray's Historia plantarum

The History of Plants is the naturalist John Ray's greatest work. In three magnificent folio volumes Ray classified plants in the first place using the differences amongst seeds. He distinguished flowering plants by their flowers, seeds, fruit and leaves and had separate categories for fungi and lichens, mosses and herbs. Ray managed to classify according to many of the natural families that are recognised today even though his taxonomical principles were primitive. The word 'historia' in the title of this work reminds us of Bacon's influence on the Royal Society of which Ray was a member. Natural philosophy was conceived as assembling natural histories and Ray understood his work as a contribution to this task.

Another image from Ray's Historia plantarum
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