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The Tyranny of Phylogeny: An Exhortation

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There are days when I wish that the Woesian Three Domain scheme were wrong. Not that I would be happier if there were four or five or whatever number of domains. What would please me would be an escape from what I feel is an unnecessarily oppressive way of thinking, the seating of phylogeny (and its acolyte, genomics) alone at the head of the table. Why do I say this? Because as essential as phylogeny is to our understanding of the evolution of living organisms, equally vital is ecology to comprehend present day life. While it’s good to know where you come from, it’s equally important to know where you are and what you’re doing there. The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset said it well: Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia (I am I and my circumstance).

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