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Subject:
From:
Jeff Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Jeff Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Mon, 17 Jan 2005 22:32:12 -0800
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Luca Rosati wrote:

>  I'm interesting on the rapport between classification systens and mind,
>  with particular reference to the binomial faceted classification (or
>  analytic-synthetic classification) vs. hierarchical-enumerative
>  classification.

A relevant excerpt from my Web Bloopers book:

===

Mermaids, Suckling Pigs, Stray Dogs, and Others

The novelist and essayist Jorge Luis Borges wrote of an ancient
Chinese encyclopedia containing a system for classifying animals
(Borges, 1966).  The encyclopedia, probably fictional, was supposedly
entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.  According to
Borges, it divided all animals into the following categories:

- belong to the Emperor
- embalmed
- trained
- suckling pigs
- mermaids
- fabulous
- stray dogs
- included in this classification
- tremble as if they were mad
- innumerable
- drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush
- others
- have just broken a flower vase
- from a great distance, resemble flies

It is not a classification scheme that we today would consider very
logical.  The categories are arbitrary, overlapping, non-exhaustive,
and subjective - skewed by the perceptions of the scheme's supposed
author.  It is these characteristics that make the scheme seem
humorous to us.

===

Borges, J.L., "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins,"  Selected
Non-Fiction, ed. Eliot Weinberger.  New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999.

===

See also: http://www.multicians.org/thvv/borges-animals.html?1

Jeff Johnson, Ph.D.
UI Wizards, Inc.
Product Usability Consulting
www.uiwizards.com

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