Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It Came From ...

... University of California Press. I am now a proud owner of a Wilkins First Edition and I'm counting on all the rest of you to make him a famous author in hopes that someday my copy, carefully guarded, will be worth a bundle.

But even if that does not eventuate, there is much to gain:

This is an essay in the history of ideas (although I prefer the term conceptual history), and in particular of the ideas that came before and might be demonstrated or fairly thought to have contributed to the ideas in play in biological thought about species and classification. "History of Ideas" has become uncommon and somewhat disparaged by professional historians, and this is understandable given the whiggish, presentist bias much of it has exhibited. I am well aware of the problems faced by the historian of ideas, as described by John Greene ... "Of all histories the history of ideas is the most difficult and elusive. Unlike things, ideas cannot be handled, weighed, and measured, They exert a powerful force in human history, but a force difficult to estimate."
Based on a decade of Wilkins watching, if there is someone who can take the measure of ideas and their weight upon history, it's John ... and what more inestimable wealth could anyone hope for?


P.S. Wilkins, for no discernible reason, referred me to this quote re his book:

Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining.
And thought of convincing while they thought of dining;
Though equal to all things, for all things unfit;
Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit.

Oliver Goldsmith, "Retaliation"

My local bookstore - and Amazon, too - says that the book is not available until September. How did you get a copy?

Tom S.
Direct from UC Press at the link I gave. If you try that route, be sure to sign up for their eNewsletter first and you can get a 20% discount.
That's our John. Too proud for wit!
That's our John. Too proud for wit!

Yeah, I pointed out to him that pride was sin he never need worry explaining to St. Peter.
That's our John. Too proud for wit!

Yeah, I pointed out to him that pride was sin he never need worry explaining to St. Peter.

Unless St Pete asks to him to autograph a copy of the book, of course...
Or, as John emailed me, because of his pride in never being proud.
I'm also amazingly humble.
John S. Wilkins said...

I'm also amazingly humble.

SCENE: The Pearly Gates

St Peter carefully scrutinizes the masses trudging through the gates. Suddenly he spots a shifty-character.

ST PETER: I say! You there!

The "You there" looks up in apparently innocent surprise

ST PETER: Yes, you sir! In the ill-fitting moustache and gorilla suit!

JSW: 'Oo, me sir?

ST PETER: Just where d'you think you're going?

JSW: Me, Sir? Why, sir, I'm just an ever so 'umble working man as is come to claim 'is just rewards in the 'ereafter, an't please your worship.

ST PETER: Stop grovelling, man! You're leaving a grease-stain on the white carpet. Now, come on, out with it! You're really that John Wilkins fella, aren't you?

JSW: Wilkins, sir? You mean 'im as wrote that book about species, sir? Oh noes, sir, your grace is mistaken if I may be so bold. My name is 'Eep, sir. Sorites 'Eep and I'm amazingly 'umble.
You needn't order direct from UC Press to get a copy before September. My copy just arrived through my local bookstore.

Tom S.
My copy just arrived through my local bookstore.

Excellent. I hope you have more time to devote to reading it than I do at the moment.
Heep. Sorites Heep. 001.5, licensed to write...
Just let me know when you get that grey 1933 Bentley convertible.
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