Diacronia 11, June 10, 2020, A155 (1–15)https://doi.org/10.17684/i11A155en

The library of nature: reality and metaphor in the botanical classification

Ioan Milică


  • Faculty of Letters, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Bd. Carol I 11, 700506 Iași, Romania
  • “Mihai Eminescu” Central University Library, Str. Păcurari 4, 700511 Iași, Romania


Received April 29, 2020
Accepted May 15, 2020
Published June 10, 2020

Key words

botanical taxonomy
binomial nomenclature
text linguistics


“Nomina si nescit perit et cognitio rerum”
(Carolus Linnæus, Philosophia botanica, 1751)


The metaphorical network that permeates the scientific knowledge and discourse currently attracts the interest of many researchers. In the light of the growing body of references which reveal that the use of metaphor is both beneficial and detrimental to science, the aim of the present paper is to explore the relevance of some metaphors generated by writing and boosted by the prestige of this communicative technology. The close reading of the foundational texts in science would undoubtedly reveal their metaphorical architecture. If one considers them as nodes in a network, the major works of science act as inflection points that drive changes in the trajectory of scientific inquiry and (re)shape the way we understand reality. It clearly falls beyond the scope of this paper to chart the metaphorical map of the reference works in science. Instead, I choose to focus on the writings of Carolus Linnæus, the founder of modern classification in botany, in order to highlight his use of metaphors rooted in the tradition of writing. More precisely, I approach the library metaphor in order to show that the Linnæan conceptualization of nature as a library acted as the testing ground for his theories, accelerated the internationalization of many scientific plant names and consolidated the stability of the vernacular botanical terminologies.


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    Text:Milică, I. (2020). The library of nature: reality and metaphor in the botanical classification, Diacronia 11 (June 10), A155 (1–15), https://doi.org/10.17684/i11A155en
     author = {Ioan Milică},
     title = {The library of nature: reality and metaphor in the botanical classification},
     journal = {Diacronia},
     ISSN = {2393-1140},
     year = {2020},
     month = {June},
     number = {11},
     eid = {A155},
     doi = {https://doi.org/10.17684/i11A155en},
     pages = "(1–15)",
     url = {http://www.diacronia.ro/journal/issue/11/A155/en}


© 2020 The Authors. Publishing rights belong to the Journal. The article is freely accessible under the terms and conditions of the CC-BY Open Access licence.

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