Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Intellectual Activism in Knowledge Organization: A Hermeneutic Study of the Seven Epitomes (七略)

Lee Hur-Li

Publication Year:
July 2016

Taipei: National Taiwan University Press


Chinese bibliography has a long history and tradition of its own, going back two millennia. It resembles critical bibliography, incorporates key features of today’s library cataloging and classification (a branch of enumerative bibliography), and shares significant common ground with intellectual history. This rich bibliographic tradition has not intersected with other traditions and is known only to scholars of Chinese bibliography, intellectual history, and classical studies. In the field of knowledge organization, it is a virtual unknown and, thus, presents excellent opportunities for research.

Intellectual Activism in Knowledge Organization is an interdisciplinary analysis of the Chinese bibliographic tradition written for a wide audience. In particular, the study investigates the classification applied in the Seven Epitomes《七略》, the first library catalog on record in Chinese history, completed a few years before the Common Era. It is important to study this classification, which is said to have established the model for the entire Chinese bibliographic tradition, where classification has always been an integral part and the sole mechanism for organization. While influential, neither the classificatory principles nor the structure of the classification are well understood. In the book, Lee Hur-Li conducts a hermeneutic study of three main aspects of the classification: the classification’s epistemology, its overall classificatory mechanics, and its concept of author as an organizing element. Taking a socio-epistemological approach, the study applies an analytical framework to the examination of the classification in its proper social, cultural, historical, and technological contexts. Lee concludes by summarizing the major achievements of the classification and articulating implications of the findings for various disciplines.

Table of Contents:

Periodization of Chinese Dynasties
Emperors of the Qin, Former Han, and Xin Dynasties
Conventions in Romanization and Chinese Characters
Foreword/Richard P. Smiraglia

1. Introduction
 A brief literary history
 The history of Chinese bibliography
 Knowledge, knowledge organization, and social influences
 A hermeneutic study

2. Background
 The monumental collation project
 Separate Résumés, Seven Epitomes, and “Han Bibliographic Treatise”
 Polymaths Liu Xiang 劉向 and Liu Xin 劉歆
 Framing the study

3. The Composition
 The Collective Epitome
 The main classes and their divisions
 Individual entries
 Bibliographic purposes and objectives

4. The Epistemic Foundation
 Knowledge and knowing according to Ru 儒 Classicism
 Knowledge and knowing in the Seven Epitomes
 Debating the debatable

5. The Mechanics
 Dichotomies and categories
 Ranked dichotomies and hierarchies
 Principles and irregularities

6. Authorship
 What is an author or a work?
 Author information in the Seven Epitomes
 Personal names versus cultural icons
 Author and the knowledge structure

7. Conclusions: Achievements and Influences
 A groundbreaking tool for organizing a library
 A decisive force in scholarship
 An authoritative but controversial intellectual history
 Intellectual activism in knowledge organization
 Influence in Chinese bibliography
 The future: Implications across disciplines

Appendix A: The Collective Epitome of the Seven Epitomes
Appendix B: Chinese Names in Chinese Characters and pinyin

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