Document (#25130)

Author
Olson, H.O.
Title
Reading "Primitive Classification" and misreading cultures : the metaphysics of social and logical classification
Source
Dynamism and stability in knowledge organization: Proceedings of the 6th International ISKO-Conference, 10-13 July 2000, Toronto, Canada. Ed.: C. Beghtol et al
Imprint
Würzburg : Ergon
Year
2000
Pages
S.3-9
Series
Advances in knowledge organization; vol.7
Abstract
The notion of classification as a universal function is explored through the three underlying presumption of our mainstream practice of classification: the need for mutually exclusive categories, the teleological nature of classification, and the hierarchical nature of classification. This paper briefly reviews these concepts derived from classical Greek thought and then examines their presence in the extended essay, Primitive Classification, by Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss. Primitive Classification's argument is that logical classification is derived from social classification as evidenced in the kinship and other structures of Australian Aboriginal, North American Aboriginal and Taoist Chinese societies. The flaws in Durkheim and Mauss's position call attention to the culturally specific nature of exclusivity, teleology and hierarchy in relation to the ordering of things. The paper concludes with an example of how ordering structures other than conventional classification can be used creatively to cross cultural understandings and provide enhanced organization of knowledge

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