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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Interesting material on threefold divisions' having been taken curiously far in past anthropology was recently deleted by some editors from Wikipedia's "3 (number)" article. It lacks references but is, I thought, worth preserving, but I didn't know where, but then I thought, why not here? (The reason for the deletion was not the lack of references but the editors' desire to strip the article down).

One really would little expect the evolution of kinds of primates or any living thing to exhibit a pattern of threefold division. But maybe it really did seem that way for a while with primates, as the material's original writer suggests (I myself, before its recent deletion, did some mostly stylistic and link-embedding later edits of it at Wikipedia). As a four-ist myself, I would not expect a pattern of fourfold division in biological evolution either! Peirce, of course, had a few things to say about triadomany - in "Triadomany" - wherein he argues that trichotomies are not to be expected to abound in natural history, and that logical division is to be distinguished from, among other things, genealogical division; the text as rendered by the Collected Papers' editors ends with his noting, with a kind of twinkle in his eye, Huxley's division of vertebrates into Ichthyopsida, Sauropsida, and Mammalia.

So here it is, discarded from Wikipedia:


Attempts to recognize tripartite patterns in human evolution were somewhat popular in the early-mid 20th century. Today, with new knowledge about the fossil record and phylogeny, they are all but refuted. However, one must wonder why there ever was a recurring predilection for a tripartite organization instead of some other pattern, whether or not a specific enumerative identity (such as the "three") presented itself.

With the realization that the Bonobo represents another and very distinct chimpanzee, humans are instead being referred to as "third chimpanzee", as among living creatures they are most similar to the Bonobo and Common Chimp.

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