i've been reading these posts regarding defintions of parasitism, and
suddenly it reminded me of readings of sir karl popper that i did some
years back. he put forth that definitions seem for the most part to be
the province of SCHOLASTICISM. in popper selections (ed. david miller)
he leads off chapter 6 with a quote from f.p. ramsey's the foundation of
mathmatics, "the chief danger to our philosophy, apart from laziness and
wooliness, is scholasticism, ... which is treating what is vague as if it
were precise." popper posits that much of scholasticism is only so much
empty verbiage and is in fact an impediment to the growth of thought.
that said, let's look at what we do. we study parasitic animals. when
i talk to the folks in my place of employment, they seem to generally
grasp what a parasitic oranism. sure, one can engage in semantic
discussions (arguments?) about THE definition of parasitism, as if there
might be one. no, a ship's hull is not a host, neither is a petri dish.
insofar as they might FUNCTION in some way as a host in order for us to
learn something about our animal of study is simply the use of available
the whole issue reminds me of some of the discussions i've seen in the
systematic/evolution literature. someone advances a rather interesting
idea about an issue/concept. others then argue points about definitions,
as if that might vitiate the idea raised. of course, most of the
interesting arguments i've heard (and participated in!!) along this line
have been in bar rooms, not class rooms. so i guess we know there proper
have a great day!!