think: Linnaeus, naming, mapping, modelling, taxonomy, creating categories, concept systems, concept mapping, typology, order, negentropy, distinctions
related: collecting   patterns
anchors: notes | references | urls


Principia Cybernetica definition:

CATEGORY: Either (a) the name given to a class of things, processes or relationships which appear to be sufficiently similar and frequent so as to render a uniform predication of its members useful or (b) the class itself.

Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge

Borges attributes in his essay The Analytical Language of John Wilkins (from 'Other Inquisitions: 1937-1952') the following taxonomy to an ancient Chinese encyclopedia, the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge:

"On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into:

a. those that belong to the Emporer
b. embalmed ones
c. those that are trained
d. suckling pigs
e. mermaids
f. fabulous ones
g. stray dogs
h. those that are included in this classification
i. those that tremble as if they were mad
j. innumerable ones
k. those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush
l. others
m. those that have just broken a flower vase
n. those that resemble flies from a distance"

Dyirbal Classification

Dyirbal classifcation of objects in the universe, as described by R.M.W. Dixon (1982) and discussed in Lakoff (women, fire and dangerous things belong to class 2, 'balan'):

Bayi: men, kangaroos, possums, bats, most snakes, most fishes, some birds, most insects, the moon, storms, rainbows, boomerangs, some spears, etc.

Balan:women, anything connected with water or fire, bandicoots, dogs, platypus, echidna, some snakes, some fishes, most birds, fireflies, scorpions, crickets, the stars, shields, some spears, some trees, etc.

Balam: all edible fruit and the plants that bear them, tubers, ferns, honey, cigarettes, wine, cake.

Bala: parts of the body, meat, bees, wind, yamsticks, some spears, most trees, grass, mud, stones, noises, language, etc.

Hierarchical Order of the Biological Taxa


Michel de Certeau

'The trace left behind is substituted for the practice. It exhibits the (voracious) property that the geographical system has of being able to transform action into legibility, but in doing so it causes a way of being in the world to be forgotten.'

Alfred Korzybski

'The map is not the territory.'


Hunter, Eric. J.

Classification Made Simple. 1988.

Margulis, Lynn and Schwartz, Karlene

Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth.

Lakoff, George

Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. What Categories Reveal About the Mind. 1987.

Poundstone, William

Labyrinths of Reason. 1988.

Chapter 3 of 'Labyrinths' discusses the paradoxical nature of categories.



ALAMUT.COM is the property of PAUL PERRY
Feedback (+ error reports) to -->
This page was first created on --> 4/7/99; 16:05:50 CET
This page was last modified on --> 31/8/99; 12:47:41 CET