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Ranganathan's Universe of Knowledge and Categorical Thinking


  • CNR-Institute for Complex Systems, Via Salaria Km 29,300 - C.P. 1000015 Monterotondo St. (RM), Italy


This paper examines Ranganathan's idea of the universe of knowledge and highlights how his search for a new approach to classification (beyond the enumerative model) was influenced by this idea. It then scrutinizes Ranganathan approach in the light of the cultural background in which it developed. In particular, his PMEST is looked at against the background of the Indian philosophical tradition, comparing it with the Vaisesika categorial systems. Fìnally, the role of categorial systems as a cognitive means is analyzed. Certain basic categories have surfaced within the Indo-European linguistic and cultural frame in different ages and latitudes. The fact that they are somehow, culturally constructed does not undermine their role of establishing the meaningful domain of discourse of a cultural tradition.


Ranganathan, S.R., Fundamental Categories, Facet Analysis, Indian Philosophy, Vaisesika Hilosophy.

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