Phil Nicholls (
2 Feb 1995 12:41:54 GMT

In article <>,
John McCarthy <jmc@cs.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
>Philip Nicolls includes
> The problem with racial typology is that it IS a typology
> and we know that typology is an outdated concept.
>What is the concept of typology and who has declared it outdated and

Typology is the reflection of Neo-Platonism into biology. Let's say
you want to designate a new species of robin. You go out and shoot
a robin and designate it the "type specimen" for robins. Of course
you might have shot a creepy-looking robin as robins go.

Typology reduces all members of a group to a "type" on the basis of
a set of characteristics. Racial typologies reduce all of humanity
to five, ten, twenty or more types. Typology was replaced with the
rise of population biology when it was discovered that most of the
traits used to designate types are not discretely distributed but
are distributed as a cline.

>Does or did typology have its partisans, or is "typology" a word like
>"racist" used by some people to assign types to others?

Typology is a methodology. Anyone who practices that methodology is
a typologist.

Philip "Chris" Nicholls Department of Anthropology
Institute for Hydrohominoid Studies SUNY Albany
University of Ediacara
"Semper Alouatta"