Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

RachelBrady's picture

The Functions and Limitations

The Functions and Limitations of Classification

I mentioned in class that I had found a relivant article to our discussion that I would post. I'm really not expecting everyone to read the whole thing (it's a bit lengthy), but I wanted to point out the argument in the essay which we didn't spend much time discussing in class.

He explains the origin and significance of classification as a "the invention by man of ways in which events and things can be grouped, for the sole purpose of increasing his ability to deal with the events and things." This is important because, using these groups, man then has "disciminative capacities far beyond his ability to remember the details."

He does not ignore the issues/implications and limitations of classification that we discussed. Instead, he redefines the problem as a miss-use of the system in applications outside of which it was designed.

"It is hardly a failure of a radio set to be unable to produce visual images - it was designed to produce only auditory reactions."

It was very thought provoking, especially because it is not a common stance taken (at least in my experience). Actually, in my experience, people are usually angered at the idea of being classified in anyway, stating that the associated are limiting, and simplify the human experience. At the same time there are people who use classification to there advantage, like using one's race as an edge to get into college.

Now I realize I've diverged quite a bit from my original point, but I am interested in hearing what the rest of you thought of this essay.


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
3 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.