John Ray  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

John Ray (November 29, 1627January 17, 1705) was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray although no one knows why.

He published important works on plants, animals, and natural theology. His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy. Ray rejected the system of dichotomous division by which species were classified according to a pre-conceived, either/or type system, and instead classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation. Thus he advanced scientific empiricism against the deductive rationalism of the scholastics.



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