Talk:John Ray

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I've cut this verbose text out. It comes verbatim from Encyc Brit 11th ed, and is superseded by the biography of Raven, and the bibliography by Keynes. Macdonald-ross (talk) 12:39, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

"Ray's first book, the Catalogus plantarum circa Cantabrigiam nascentium (1660, followed by appendices in 1663 and 1685), was written in conjunction with his amicissimus et individuus comes, John Nid. The 626 plants are listed alphabetically, but a system of classification differing little from Caspar Bauhin's is sketched at the end of the book; and the notes contain many references to other parts of natural history. The locations of the plants are minutely described; and Cambridge students still gather some of their rarer plants in the copses or chalk-pits where he found them. The book shows signs of his indebtedness to Joachim Jung of Hamburg, who had died in 1657, leaving his writings unpublished; but a manuscript copy of some of them was sent to Ray by Samuel Hartlib in 1660. Jung invented or gave precision to many technical terms which Ray and others at once made use of in their descriptions, and which are now classical; and his notions of what constitutes a specific distinction and what characters are valueless as such seem to have been adopted with little change by Ray. The first two editions of the Catalogus plantarum Angliae (1670, 1677) were likewise it must be remembered that the difference between the monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous embryo was detected by Nehemiah Grew. A serious fault was his persistent separation of trees from herbs, a distinction whose falsity had been exposed by Jung and others, but to which Ray tried to give scientific foundation by denying the existence of buds in the latter. At this time he based his classification, like Caesalpinus, chiefly upon the fruit, and he distinguished several natural groups, such as the grasses, Labiatae, Umbelliferae and Papilionaceae.
"The classification of the Methodus was extended and improved in the Historia plantarum, but was disfigured by a large class of Anomalae, to include forms that the other orders did not easily admit, and by the separation of the cereals from other grasses. This vast book enumerates and describes all the plants known to the author or described by his predecessors, to the number, according to Adanson, of 18,625 species. In the first volume a chapter De plantis in genere contains an account of all the anatomical and physiological knowledge of the time regarding plants, with the recent speculations and discoveries of Caesalpinus, Grew, Malpighi and Jung. Cuvier and Dupetit Thouars, declaring that it was this chapter which gave acceptance and authority to these authors works, say that the best monument that could be erected to the memory of Ray would be the republication of this part of his work separately. The Stirpium Europaearum extra Britannias nascentium Sylloge (1694) is a much amplified edition of the catalogue of plants collected on his own European tour. In the preface to this book he first clearly admitted the doctrine of the sexuality of plants, which, however, he had no share in establishing. Here also begins his long controversy with August Bachmann (Augustus Quirinus Rivinus) which chiefly turned upon Ray's indefensible separation of ligneous, from herbaceous plants, and also upon what he conceived to be the misleading reliance that Rivinus placed on the characters of the corolla. But in the second edition of his Methodus (1704) he followed Rivinus and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in taking the flower instead of the fruit as his basis of classification: he was no longer a fructicist but a corollist. He also proved that a tree (living) conducts water.
"Besides editing his friend Francis Willughby's books, Ray wrote several zoological works of his own, including Synopsis methodica Animalium Quadrupedum et Serpentini Generis (1693), that is to say, both mammals and reptiles, and Synopsis methodica Avium et Piscium (1713); the latter was published posthumously, as was also the more important Historia Insectorum, which embodied a great mass of Willughbys notes.
"Most of Ray's minor works were the outcome of his faculty for carefully amassing facts; for instance, his Collection of English Proverbs (1670), his Collection of Out-of-the-way English Words (1674), his Collection of Curious Travels and Voyages (1693), and his Dictionariolum trilingue (1675, 5th edition as Nomenclator classicus, 1706). The last was written for the use of Willughby's sons, his pupils; it passed through many editions, and is still useful for its careful identifications of plants and animals mentioned by Greek and Latin writers. But Ray's influence and reputation have depended largely upon his two books entitled The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691), and Miscellaneous Discourses concerning the Dissolution and Changes of the World (1692). The latter includes three essays on The Primitive Chaos and Creation of the World, The General Deluge, its Causes and Effects, and The Dissolution of the World and Future Conflagrations. The germ of these works was contained in sermons preached long before in Cambridge. Both books obtained immediate popularity, and the former, at least, was translated into several languages. In The Wisdom of God Ray recites innumerable examples of the perfection of organic mechanism, the multitude and variety of living creatures, the minuteness and usefulness of their parts, and many, if not most, of the familiar examples of purposive adaptation and design in nature were suggested by him, such as the structure of the eye, the hollowness of the bones, the camel's stomach and the hedgehog's armour."


This addition lacks a source, which is very much needed:

Ray is also considered responsible for discovering the Tree-Ring dating system (Dendrochronology); a method whereby a tree can be aged by the number of rings found in a cross-section of its trunk.

Not supported by the Dendrochronology article, so I've removed it from this article. . dave souza, talk 19:29, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

He did, though. Armstrong 2000, p 47. I'll put something back about it. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:57, 18 May 2013 (UTC)


Shouldn't it be mentioned that he was a Creationist? -- (talk) 16:43, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

Well, firstly the term would not have made any sense in the 17th century. Secondly, one could argue that Ray was a proto-Darwinian, with statements like "Nature ... makes no jumps and passes from extreme to extreme only through a mean. She always produces species intermediate between higher and lower types, species of doubtful classification linking one type with another and having something in common with both". Raven, C.E. English Naturalists from Neckham to Ray, Cambridge, 1947. p. 193. So one might actually call him an anti-creationist, but that would be stretching a point. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:54, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Correct. One needs to be very, very careful in attributing intellectual concepts in their modern context to historical people. It can be very misleading. About as misleading as translating a foreign language word for word instead of in its colloquial sense.JonRichfield (talk) 15:21, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
There is quite some modern terms that are used for people in former times, so that one isn't applicable. And then I think there is a misconception about what "creationist" means. -- (talk) 13:01, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
He was also a sexist. Quote from him: "A spaniel, woman and walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be." Sadly, the fact that this sexism is not mentioned in the wikipedia article doesn't alarm me. Unfortunately, there are sexists, racists, and other bigots that seem to work earnestly to remove any of the truths regarding the high level of sexism, racism, that is promoted in certain wikipedia articles as truth, academic integrity, etc. I have, in fact, been blocked, and articles (that I researched for hours prior to sharing my subsequent findings) have been removed. Are we in the age of "digital bigoted bullying" -- (talk) 10:40, 19 February 2016 (UTC)
Borrowing a phrase from Chiswick Chap above, "sexist" wouldn't have made sense in the 17th century. The roles of gender, class and race were different from now, and discrimination on those aspects was the norm not exception. What would be notable is if a high profile pastor or author of the time was actively anti-sexist. It's an entertaining quote about the walnut tree: perhaps you could use it in an article specifically about history of sexism or about violence against animals. Pelagic (talk) 17:56, 25 January 2017 (UTC)

John Ray's age[edit]

John Ray (29 November 1627 – 17 January 1705)... so how could he "... and lived, in spite of his infirmities, to the age of seventy-six, dying at Black Notley."? --Mirrordor 23:24, 26 May 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mirrordor (talkcontribs)

At least one date must be wrong. I've left the calendar dates as they are... Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:51, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

A Few Suggestions for Improvements[edit]

I am participating in a college Environmental Studies class where we are learning to edit and create articles on Wikipedia, and one of our tasks was to find and critique a Wikipedia article that is relevant to our coursework. In this light, I wanted to add a few suggestions that I had for the overall improvement of this article. While the introduction to this article on John Ray does mention his work in taxonomy and classification, I was somewhat disappointed by the coverage that this received in the rest of the article. Ray was a very influential man of his time whose classifications were instrumental in laying the foundation for Linnaeus' life work as well, but this was only given a single sentence near the end of the article. Additionally, this entire little section: "In 1671, John Ray became the first person to present the research of John formic acid by distilling a large number of red ants.[9] [This is incorrect. Formic acid was first distilled by Francis Jessop, John Fischer, and Samuel Fischer. See:]" is very unorganized and takes away from the overall article quality. It also seems as if an extra word has been added into the sentence to begin with (John formic acid). I also thought that the Career section could be split up into several different subcategories if more information would be added to it. In other Wikipedia articles, more attention has been given to the specific journeys that men like John Ray took, as this oftentimes was where they would be collecting and developing the ideas that they would later write about. So I would suggest that if possible, more information could be found about Ray's travels and the impacts that they had on his work. Then, that Career section could be subdivided and better organized as a whole. Finally, I felt as if the section on his works was good, but only a few of the works had descriptions about what they were and how they were important. So I thought that more depth could be spent detailing those other works. Hopefully this is helpful to someone! Srk017 (talk) 22:45, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Some Potential Edits[edit]

I would first like to commend you on the job well done for this article on John Ray! I was looking it over and I would just like to suggest some possible edits to make it even better. First I'd like to say that in general, the lead section is good as it is clear and understandable and I feel it does a good job of outlining different subjects that he published work in and mentioning the significance of his career. However, I feel there are some pieces of information about his life in general that could be added to the introduction. For example, the introduction does not specify where John Ray was born or include information about his life in general. Although the introduction is not supposed to go into detail about his life, I feel it is lacking any background information of John Ray. Also, I personally do not see the last sentence of the first paragraph as a relevant detail to the introduction. It is an interesting fact that I believe should be mentioned later in the article when more of the detailed facts are being mentioned. The structure overall is good as it includes several heading with subtopics. However, it only includes two images and I believe the inclusion of more images could benefit the article overall. I also think this article could benefit from a “See Also” section that would include links to other relevant articles that the reader may be interested in. The “Notes” section is also rather short and perhaps it could be expanded to further add to the content of the page and give the reader a more thorough understanding of this topic. Although I think this article covers some sections very well, there are others that seem to be rather brief and could be elaborated on. The section that talks about John Ray’s career is extremely long in comparison to the other parts of the article. While I think this is a sub topic that has a lot of information, I still feel other sections should be elaborated on as the coverage seems to be a bit unbalanced. For example, the sections on John Ray’s later life and family as well as his definition of species are very short sections. The section that discusses Ray’s definition of species doesn’t really elaborate on it at all. It includes a quote saying what the definition is but doesn’t say anything else. I think this section could be elaborated on and include some writing and paraphrasing of what the definition is as opposed to just a quote. This article includes neutral coverage as it mostly covers facts about what happened in his life and what he accomplished. Perhaps the article could be improved if there was a section added that talked about the way different people viewed his ideas and perhaps some criticism as the facts included can make it look like John Ray didn’t run into any skeptics along the way. This article has a good amount of references relative to its length and appears to have many reliable sources. The only thing is that the “Other Sources” section is a little short and could benefit from including some more secondary sources to get an array of viewpoints. Sarakpal (talk) 01:03, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Critical Evaluation of John Ray Article[edit]

In reviewing this article, I have noticed some possible improvements that could be made to strengthen this article on John Ray. I feel as though the primary improvement can be made in regards to his writings. Not enough attention is given to Ray's works. In particular, his influential work "The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691)" is only mentioned once towards the end of the Career section of the article. This essay needs to elaborated on because it affirmed that nature was a worthy subject of study and cautioned against blind acceptance of authority at the time it was written. It is important in the history of ecology as well because it was very popular and influential in the world of ecology. Perhaps a section could be devoted to this volume. Furthermore, the entire section on his works could be updated to explain why each are important and what purpose his work serves. Lastly, one other correction I noticed was that there are several citations throughout the article that need to be added. Hopefully this review is useful!Emm031 (talk) 03:08, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Evaluation and Suggestions[edit]

This article appears to be very well written, but I noticed that some potential edits may be helpful. For one, the lead section is simply and effective, but I would suggest that the fact that he referred to himself as "John Wray" until 1970 should be omitted from the lead section and moved to the "Later life and family" section. It is too specific to be worth mentioning in the lead. Also, the article only includes two pictures. Perhaps this is because of a lack of pictures relevant to ohn Ray and his work in general, but if there are some more out there, I believe that this article would benefit by including a few more. Also, the career section is significantly longer than the other sections in the article. This might be more effective if it was broken into two subsections chronologically. The information discussed in the career section also seems a bit unbalanced. It discusses the social aspect of his career, such as what scientific research journeys he went on and with who, but it does not say much about the actual contributions of these journeys themselves. The contributions, therefore, are equally as important as the means of how he made them, and they should be discussed to a larger extent to improve the balance of the article. I would also suggest that, in the section discussing his definition of "species", his definition could be explained in simpler terms to make his meaning clearer for readers who may have trouble understanding it. Finally, I would just like to comment that the article is cited very well with plenty of useful sources, but some of the facts in the article still have no footnotes to a specific source. For example, there is no footnote in the article when it mentions that Francis Willughby was one of Ray's companions. While I am guessing that this is true, a footnote would be helpful to make the source more readily available to those interested. I hope this review was helpful! Jjt022 (talk) 05:35, 11 February 2014 (UTC)Jjt022