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So far, I’ve discussed approaching the Voynich manuscript from a distance.

I suggest that the Voynich is largely a compendium of treatises, such as Herbal, Cosmological, etc., with a different section called “Recipes.”  One would expect that the treatises would be at least partially independent, and stand alone.

Aristotelian logic was well-established and well-studied across the Continent, and would be second-nature to anyone in a learned profession.  Grammar and rhetoric were the other elements of the Trivium, which would be studied at a basic level.  In addition, Aristotelian taxonomy set the basis for later and more sophisticated classifications.

Aristotelian logic and description speaks of the classification of things by their essences.  The brilliant Linneus expounded on the their of classification and taxonomy.

Linneus set about the classification of the species of living organisms in the 1700’s.  His work is simply amazing.  Consider – one should expect that the biologicals, at least, in the Voynich were classified, or classifiable, using Linnaean rules.

Linneus’ assumption is that all living organisms can be uniquely identified within a hierarchy of elements, down to a level unique to an interbreeding class.  Creatures cannot interbreed outside their class – no sunflowers and poppies, chimpanzees and orangutans.

Of course, Linnaean rules are not included in Voynich; there’s always the possibility that the author did not even study Aristotle.  Much of the work of both is a result of logic.  Perhaps one could think that the Voynich, or some of its chapters, arose in a faraway land which had developed taxonomy and classification beyond that of Aristotle, and the text was merely an attempt to record this novel approach.

Even cosmology and astronomy involves taxonomy and classification.  Probably before the written languages came about, mankind knew of the wandering stars, the stable stars, the Moon, the Sun, and pondered them and their classes.  Astronomy began merely with the attempt to order these things into a coherent structure with rules.

Linnaean Rules

(Again, tip of the hat to the i’net)  The goldfish, Carassius auratus, are members of the class  Cyprinidae – Psilorhynchidae, which are the mountain carps, common carp and minnows; which belong to the class of Cyprinoidea, a family of freshwater fishes with fused vertebrae; which belong to the class of Cypriniformes having only a dorsal fin on their back and no teeth; which belong to the class of Ostariophysi, which have primitive ears (a set of bones known as Weberian ossicles, a chain of small bones that connect the auditory system to the gas bladder of fishes) ; which belong to the class of Teleostei, having a movable maxilla and premaxilla and corresponding modifications in the jaw musculature which make it possible for them to protrude their jaws outwards from the mouth; which belong to the class of Neopterygii, fishes with evolved fins; which belong to the class of Actinopteri, or a superclass containing the Neopterygii and others; which belong to the class of Actinopterygii, or the ray-finned fishes; which belong to the class of Osteichthyes, or the class of bony fishes; which belong to the class of Gnathostomata, or fishes with jaws; which belong to the class of Vertebrata, or animals with backbones; which belong to the class of Chordata Craniata, or all animals with braincases (skulls); which belong to the class of Chordata, or animals with backbones; which belong to the class of Animalia, or living motile animals; which belong to the class of Eukaryota, the creatures composed of nucleated cells.

One notices a hierarchy of classification, reaching from the interbreeding class Carassius auratus, and expanding out through other physical classification methods to encompass larger groups, and so on.

It is worth stopping to ponder that this classification system, based on observation and logic, was nearly perfect in relating the species together in evolutionary clusters, which was borne out by DNA analysis.  All living things are members of a hierarchy of sets.

To excite the LISP programmers, {Carassius auratus}∈{Cyprinidae – Psilorhynchidae} ∈{Cyprinoidea} ∈{Cypriniformes} ∈{Ostariophysi} ∈{Teleostei} ∈{Neopterygii} ∈{Actinopteri} ∈{Actinopterygii} ∈{Osteichthyes} ∈{Gnathostomata} ∈{Vertebrata} ∈{Chordata Craniata} ∈{Chordata} ∈{Animalia} ∈{Eukaryota}

Remember, it’s not just about goldfish.  Not at all.

(To be continued)