Carl Linnaeus

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The Earth's Creation is the glory of God, as seen from the works of Nature by Man alone

Carl Linnaeus (23 May, 170710 January, 1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology.


  • Human beings, having, above all creatures, received the power of reason... need to be aware where nature is unaware. Nature reaches its culmination in humans, but human consciousness has not its essence in itself or nature.
    • As quoted in Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm (2009), "Linnaeus and homo religiosus," Universitet, p. 83.
  • I thank Providence who has guided my destinies, that I now live ; nay, that I live happier than a king of Persia. You know, fathers and fellow-citizens, that I am wholly occupied with this academical garden; that it is my Rhodus, or rather my Elysium. There I possess all the spoils of the east and the west which I wished for ; and which, in my belief, are far more precious than the silken garments of the Babylonians, and the porcelain vases of the Chinese. There I receive and convey instruction. There I admire the wisdom of the Creator, which manifests itself in so many various modes, and demonstrate it to others.
    • From his address to the University of Uppsala, on the anniversary of the king's birth-day (1752), After the creation of his botanical garden. In The Life of Sir Charles Linnaeus, Knight of the Swedish Order of the Polar Star (1794), Dietrich Heinrich Stoever, E. Hobson, p. 207. Also found in A sketch of the life of Linnæus : in a series of letters designed for young persons (1827), Harvey and Darton, London, p. 120
      • As quoted in A life of Linnaeus (1858), by J. Van Voorst & Cecilia Lucy Brightwell, London. p. 123.: I render thanks to the Almighty, who has ordered my lot so that I live at this day; and live, too, happier than the King of Persia. I think myself thus blessed because in this academic garden I am principal. This is my Rhodus, or, rather, my Elysium; here I enjoy the spoils of the East and the West, and, if I mistake not, that which far excels in beauty the garments of the Babylonians and the porcelain of China. Here I behold myself the might and wisdom of the Great Creator, in the works by which He reveals Himself, and show them unto others."
  • Nature does not make any leaps. All plants show an affinity with those around them, according to their geographical location.
  • If the names are unknown knowledge of the things also perishes.
    • Philosophia Botanica (1751), aphorism 210. Trans. Frans A. Stafleu, Linnaeus and the Linnaeans: The Spreading of their Ideas in Systematic Botany, 1735-1789 (1971), 80.
  • We say there are as many genera as there are similarly constituted fructifications of different natural species.
    • Fundamenta Botanica (1736).
      • Original in Latin: Genera tot dicimus, quot similes constructae fructifications proserunt diversae Species naturales
  • The principle being accepted that all Species of one Genus have arisen from one mother through different fathers, it must be assumed
  1. That in the beginning the Creator created of each natural Order only one plant with reproductive power.
  2. That by their various mixings different plants have arisen which belong to the mother's natural order as they are similar to the mother with regard to their fructifications, and are, as it were, species of the order, i.e., genera.
  3. We may assume that plants have arisen within the orders, i.e. by genera of one order, may mix with each other. In this was there will arise species that should be referred to the mother's genus as her daughters.
  • Praelectiones (Lectures, 1744) quoted in Larson (1967:317)
  • We imagine that the Creator at the actual time of creation made only one single species for each natural order of plants, this species being different in habit and fructification from all the rest. That he made these mutually fertile, whence out of their progeny, fructification having been somewhat changed, Genera of natural classes have arisen as many in number as the different parents, and since this is not carried further, we regard this also as having been done by His Omnipotent hand directly in the beginning; thus all Genera were primeval and constituted a single Species. That as many Genera having arisen as there were individuals in the beginning, these plants in course of time became fertilised by others of different sort and thus arose Species until so many were produced as now exist... these Species were sometimes fertilised out of congeners, that is other Species of the same Genus, whence have arisen Varieties.
    • Fundamenta fructificationis (1742). As quoted in John S. Wilkins (2009), "Species: A History of the Idea," University of California Press. p. 72
  • No one has any right to be angry with me, if I think fit to enumerate man among the quadrapeds. Man is neither a stone nor a plant, but an animal, for such is his way of living and moving; nor is he a worm, for then he would have only one foot; nor an insect, for then he would have antennae; nor a fish, for he has no fins; nor a bird, for he has no wings. Therefore, he is a quadraped, had a mouth like that of other quadrapeds, and finally four feet, on two of which he goes, and uses the other two for prehensive purposes.
    • Fauna Suecica (1746) as quoted by Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (1999)
  • As a natural historian according to the principles of science, up to the present time I have been not been able to discover any character by which man can be distinguished from the ape; for there are somewhere apes which are less hairy than man, erect in position, going just like him on two feet, and recalling the human species by the use they make of their hands and feet, to such an extent, that the less educated travellers have given them out as a kind of man.
    • Fauna Suecica (1746) as quoted by Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (1999)
  • I demand of you, and of the whole world, that you show me a generic character—one that is according to generally accepted principles of classification, by which to distinguish between Man and Ape. I myself most assuredly know of none. ...But, if I had called man an ape, or vice versa, I should have fallen under the ban of all the ecclesiastics. It may be that as a naturalist I ought to have done so.
    • Letter to J. G. Gmelin (1747) as quoted by Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (1999)

Systema Naturae[edit]

  • The Earth's Creation is the glory of God, as seen from the works of Nature by Man alone.
    • In the Introitus (Preface) from his late editions.
    • Original in Latin: "Finis Creationis telluris est gloria Dei ex opere Naturae per Hominem solum"
      • Variant translation: "The purpose of Creation is the glory of God, as can be seen from the works in nature by man alone."
  • Great is our God, and great is His power, and his strength is immeasurable
    • In the dedication from his 12th edition.
      • Original in Latin: "Magnus est DEUS noster, & magna est potentia Ejus, & potentia Ejus non est numerus."
  • From my youth you have taught me, O God, and now I would like to proclaim Your Wonders
    • Praise at the end of the index. In Systema Naturae (1758), from Psalm 71.
      • Original in Latin: "Docuisti me Deus a juventute mea, & usque nunc pronunciabo Mirabilia Tua"
  • Your works are wonderful, O Lord! In the multitude of Thy virtues you measure those who despise you.
    • Praise at the end of the introduction. In Systema Naturae (1758).
      • Original in Latin: "Terribilia sunt opera Tua, o Domine! In multitude virtutis Tuae, Te metientur contemptores Tui."
  • God infinite, omniscient and omnipotent, woke me up and I was amazed! I have read some clues through His created things, in all of which, is His will; even in the smallest things, and the most minute! How much wisdom! What an inscrutable perfection!
    • Imperium Naturæ, 12th edition.
      • Deum sempiternum, immensum, omniscium, omnipotentem expergefactus a tergo transeuntem vidi et obstupui! legi aliquot Ejus vestigia per creata rerum, in quibus omnibus, etiam in minimis, ut fere nullis, quæ Vis! quanta Sapientia! quam inextricabilis Perfectio!
  • Variant translation: "I saw the infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful God from behind as he went away, and I grew dizzy. I followed his footsteps over nature's fields and saw everywhere an eternal wisdom and power, an inscrutable perfection." (As quoted in History of Science, by Peter Whitfield (2003), Scholastic Library Pub, p. 23.)
  • Every genus is natural, created as such in the beginning, hence not to be rashly split up or stuck together by whim or according to anyone's theory.
    • Systema naturae (1735) (quoted in Ramsbottom 1938:197)
      • Original in Latin: Genus omne est naturale, in primordio tale creatum, hinc pro libitu & secundem cujuscimque theoriam non proterve discindendum aut conglutinandum.

Conservation biology : foundations, concepts, applications and a bit more to grow in this XML.

Nemesis Divina (1734)[edit]

Available at (in Swedish)
  • Everything persecutes him; all things go against the guilty. No calamity by itself. Everything went badly with me, when I harboured revenge, but [I] changed, and left everything in God's hands: since then all happily.
  • Theologically, man is to be understood as the final purpose of the creation; placed on the globe as the masterpiece of the works of Omnipotence, contemplating the world by virtue of sapient reason, forming conclusions by means of his senses, it is in His works that man recognizes the almighty Creator, the all-knowing, immeasurable and eternal God, learning to live morally under His rule, convinced of the complete justice of His Nemesis.
    • As translated in ‎Michael John Petry (2001), in Nemesis Divina: (Edited and Translated with Explanatory Notes by M.J. Petry); Springer. p. 21
    • The excerpt was republished in Latin by Linnaues himself, in Systema Naturae ed. (1788): ""Theologice: Te ultimum finem creationis; In Telluris globum, Omnipotentis magisterium, introductum; ratione sapiente, secundum senfus concludente, mundi contemplatorem: ut ex opere agnosceres Creatorem omnipotentem, omniscium, immensum & sempiternum DEum, cujus sub imperio quod moraliter vivas, a justissima ejus Nemesi convicaris."
  • Everything the Almighty Creator has instituted on our globe occurs in such a wonderful order, that no thing subsists without the support of something else: The Globe itself, with all its Stones, Ore, and Gravel, is nourished and sustained by the Elements: Plants, Trees, Herbs, Grasses, and Mosses grow out of the Globe, and Animals eventually grow out of the plants. All of these are finally transformed back into their primary substances, the Earth feeding the Plant, the Plant the Worm, the Worm the Bird, and often the Bird the Beast of Prey; Then finally the Beast of Prey is consumed the Bird of Prey, the Bird of Prey by the Worm, the Worm by the Herb, the Herb by the Earth: Man indeed, who turns everything to his needs, is often consumed by the Beast, the Bird, or the Fish which preys on him, by the Worm or the Earth. It is thus that everything circulates.
    • Carl Linnaeus, Nemesis Divina (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996), ed. M. J. Petry.

Linnaeus Diary[edit]

Autobiographical work written in third person.
Translated to English by his friend, Pro-Canciller & Archbishop Menander. Available Online in Life Of Carl Linnaeus
  • Over the door of his room he caused this sentence to be inscribed: "lnnocuex vivito--- Numen Adest!" He always entertained veneration and admiration for his Creator, and endeavoured to trace his science to its Author. "Tu decus omne tuis, postquam te fata tulere." (Virgilio)
  • The Lord himself hath led him with his own Almighty hand.
    He hath caused him to spring from a trunk without root, and planted him again in a distant and more delightful spot, and caused him to rise up to a considerable tree.
    Inspired him with an inclination for science so passionate as to become the most gratifying of all others.
    Given him all the means he could either wish for, or enjoy, of attaining the objects he had in view.
    Favoured him in such a manner that even the not obtaining of what he wished for, ultimately turned out to his great advantage.
    Caused him to be received into favour by the "Mœcenates Scientiarum"; by the greatest men in the kingdom; and by the Royal Family.
    Given him an advantageous and honourable post, the very one that, above all others in the world, he had wished for.
    Given him the wife for whom he most wished, and who managed his household affairs whilst he was engaged in laborious studies.
    Given him children who have turned out good and virtuous.
    Given him a son for his successor in office.
    Given him the largest collection of plants that ever existed in the world, and his greatest delight.
    Given him lands and other property, so that though there has been nothing superfluous, nothing has he wanted.
    Honoured him with the titles of Archiater, Knight, Nobleman, and with Distinction in the learned world.
    Protected him from fire.
    Preserved his life above 60 years.
    Permitted him to visit his secret council-chambers.
    Permitted him to see more of the creation than any mortal before him. Given him greater knowledge of natural history than any one had hitherto acquired.
    The Lord hath been with him whithersoever he hath walked, and hath cut off all his enemies from before him, and hath made him a name, like the name of the great men that are in the earth. 1 Chron. xvn. 8.

Quotes about Carl Linnaeus[edit]

  • He was truly [a natural] philosopher: he loved God with utmost reverence and he had in his museum the following inscription: Innocui alive, Numen adest. [Live guiltless, God observes you]
    • Antonio Paláu y Verdéra (1787), Parte práctica de botánica del caballero Cárlos Linneo, p. CLXXIII.
  • I have lived out my time, and done what I could. May God preserve thee, from whom the world expects much more! Farewell! my dear Linnaeus!
  • Never was my late father an atheist; no, the reverse; he could never endure to hear people talking in this way; ; his collection of Nemesis surely testifies to his conception of God, and so do other of his works, and particularly the preface to the System. He believed, no doubt, that species animalium et plantarum and that genera were the works of time: but that ordines naturales were the works of the Creator; if the latter had not existed the former could not have arisen.
    • Linnaeus' son Carl Linnaeus the Younger (1741-1783), as quoted by Knut Hagberg (1952), in Carl Linnæus. Cape. p. 200
  • Today I have been reading Linné again and am quite unnerved by this extraordinary man. I have learned an infinite amount from him, not just in botany. Outside of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know of no one who has had such a wrenching effect on me. [Original in German: Dieser Tage habe ich wieder Linné gelesen und bin über diesen außerordentlichen Mann erschrocken. Ich habe unendlich viel von ihm gelernt, nur nicht Botanik. Außer Shakespeare und Spinoza wüßte ich nicht, daß irgend ein Abgeschiedener eine solche Wirkung auf mich getan.]
  • Carl Linnaeus... was not at all troubled by the idea that there were half-human/half-ape creatures... (he called them Homo troglodytes). He was no evolutionist. He simply believed that God's work was not complete unless God filled in all the gaps.
    • Stanley A. Rice, Life of Earth: Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-aged Stressed-out World (2011)

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