Organizations of Knowledge
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CitationBlair, Ann. 2007. "Organizations of Knowledge." In Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy, edited by James Hankins, 287-303. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
AbstractThe "organization of knowledge" is a large and diffuse topic which can be studied at many different levels, ranging from the way an individual orders his or her understanding of the world privately or in publications, to the ways in which communities or institutions order knowledge, notably in pedagogical curricula and textbooks, professional structures, libraries and library catalogs and other collective projects. Although a few modern philosophers have addressed the problem of classifying knowledge, current practices of classification are mostly studied by anthropologists and sociologists. Modern cultures and subcultures engage in both explicit and tacit classifications of knowledge, but today any particular organization of knowledge is generally acknowledged to involve a number of arbitrary choices and its success is often measured by pragmatic criteria of effectiveness, such as ease of use and economic efficiency. But this skeptical attitude toward the possibility of any organization matching the reality of knowledge or of the world is a fairly modern development, articulated for example in Jean Le Rond d'Alembert's "preliminary discourse" to the Encyclopédie of 1751.
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