To question the past is human; to do so is even imperative
in the domain of science. Classifications have a certain “life
span”: they come and go as their utility is surpassed by increasing
scientific insight and experience. New classifications replace
the old ones, just declared outmoded. At best, they can be retained in
a modified form.
The science of classification was invented by Linnaeus, the
Swedish naturalist-physician. His taxonomy has been at the heart of all
attempts to bring some order to science in general, and the biological
realm in particular, by emphasizing similarities in members of a class,
while ignoring their individual attributes. Classification is a
prerequisite for language and abstract thought. Scholars maintain that
classifying in “pairs of opposites” is inherent to our brain’s
basic function. However, implicit to classification is its
artificiality and arbitrariness. There is nothing inherent to a body of
information that calls for a single and unique way of classification.
An infinite number of classifications can be imposed onto a set of
data. Thus, it is a corollary of the above that results of various“
outcomes” from the analysis of a given database will be different,
depending on the classification system implemented.