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Hegel’s Epistemograph , Classification, and Spivak’s Postcolonial Reason

Hegel’s Epistemograph , Classification, and Spivak’s Postcolonial Reason

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Hegel’s Epistemograph , Classification, and Spivak’s Postcolonial Reason

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  1. Hegel’s Epistemograph, Classification, and Spivak’s Postcolonial Reason Hope A Olson School of information studies University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  2. Concepts • Teleology – linear progression toward a goal • Epistemograph, “a graduated diagram of the coming-into-being of knowledge, …” • GayatriChakravortySpivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (1999, p.41) • Classification as a structure of human knowledge • Apparent in everyday life in: • Academic disciplines • DDC, UDC, or LCC

  3. Why Hegel? • Hegel “a world-historical metonym” • Spivak (1999, p.47) • Indirect, but clear, influence on Dewey • Hegelian faculty at Amherst College • William Torrey Harris • St Louis Hegelian, leader in US Hegelian movement • St Louis Public School Library Classification applied Hegel • Wiegand (1998)

  4. Main Classes - Epistemographs Progression toward a goal of higher knowledge

  5. Baconian Links to Hegel’s Epistemograph Bacon Hegel • Memory/History • Self-experienced knowledge • Imagination/Poetry • Imagination processes memory into poetry • Reason/Philosophy • Reason analyzes & classifies memory to produce philosophy • Being (Sein) • “what is there before us” • “simple immediacy” • Essence (Wesen) • From reflection on Being • Mediated knowing • Notion/Idea (Begriff) • Notion synthesizes Being and Essence • Idea is unattainable truth

  6. Hegel’s Dialectic as Progression

  7. Foundation of Hegel’s Epistemograph • Hegel gives two definitions for “to sublate” which “means to preserve, maintain, and equally it also means to cause to cease, to put an end to.” (v.1, bk.1, s.185) • Being is preserved, but set aside as knowing progresses to Essence and Essence is preserved, but set aside as knowing progresses to Notion • “Each thing arises in the course of divine self-knowledge and is a step in the revelation of God.” • William Torrey Harris on Hegel (1895, p.145)

  8. Hegel’s Teleology • “The progress of culture generally, and of the sciences in particular, gradually brings to light higher relations of thought, or at any rate, raises these relations to greater generality, and thereby attracts to them more attentive consideration.” • Hegel’s Science of Logic • Logic leads Thought to the Absolute Truth

  9. Time as Law • Progression implies a time factor • Developmental model • Progression over time through a series of predefined stages to reach some advanced state of knowledge • “Time graphed as Law manipulates history seen as timing [actual lived sequence of events] in the interest of cultural political explanations, both in Hegel and the high Hindu contexts.” (Spivak 1999, p. 43)

  10. Postcolonial critical approach “Postcolonial criticism bears witness to the unequal and uneven forces of cultural representation involved in the contest for political andsocial authority within the modern world order. Postcolonial perspectives ... intervene in those ideological discourses of modernity that attempt to give a hegemonic ‘normality’ to the uneven development and the differential, often disadvantaged, histories of nations, races, communities, peoples.” – Homi K. Bhabha

  11. Spivak on timing, Time, and history • “timing” is “[o]ne common way of grasping life and ground-level history as events happening to and around many lives …” • “timing” fleshes out the events making time a “sequential process.” • “Time” starts with the structure while “timing” starts with the events. • “Time graphed as Law” reshapes the events of history to fit into a predetermined structure – an epistemograph.” • Spivak (1999, p.44)

  12. Hegel and the Srimadbhagavadgitā • Hegel found the Gitā “extremely monotonous, and on the whole empty and wearisome.” • His Lectures on the Aesthetic in Spivak 1999, p.44 • Hegel is measuring with a culturally specific standard • The Gitā does not fit Hegel’s epistemograph • Historical • Does not follow a progression

  13. Spivak Deconstructs Hegel and the Gitā • “… the often unexamined opposition between colonizer and colonized …” • Spivak 1999, p. 46 • Both Hegel and the writer of the Gitā “dramatize most successfully [her] thesis that Time graphed as Law manipulates history seen as timing in the interest of cultural political explanations …” but each in his own way • Spivak 1999, p.43 • Difference between Hegel and the writer of the Gitā is constructed; similarities are ignored

  14. Hegel as Epistemic Bully • Hegel’s Science of Logic is made up of dialectics nested in dialectical strings that force a certain conclusion • Like Plato’s dialectical triumph over the Sophist in Theatetus • “… because Hegel places all of history and reality upon a diagram, everything fits.” • Spivak, 1999, p. 39 • Hegel is operating within a western philosophical discourse

  15. What Does This Mean to Us? • “The mainstream has never run clean, perhaps never can. Part of mainstream education involves learning to ignore this absolutely, with a sanctioned ignorance.” • Spivak, 1999, p. 2 • If we do, we will never be able to understand more than the mainstream with the result being ignorance and injustice

  16. Legacy of Hegel’s Epistemograph • Continuation under DDC and UDC in particular • Other classifications in the same mode • Facets a potential tool if we subvert consistent citation order such as UDC allows • So far we have not subverted main classes • Globalization spreads the western discourse • Standards for sharing risk homogenization • From Hegel to Harris to Dewey to the world • Efforts to ameliorate DDC and UDC are laudable, but cannot address the fundamental mainstream nature of the schemes • Perpetual expansion of OCLC & ubiquity of WorldCat make dissemination saturating and instant – watch the ticker http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/newgrow.htm

  17. Within Western culture:Hegel’s Gender Views • Women associated with Being • Particularity • Immediacy • Naturalness • Substantiality • Men associated with Essence, Notion • Mediacy • Universality • Freedom • Subjectivity • SeylaBenhabib (1996, p.29)

  18. A Quick Example: • The Blackwell guide to feminist philosophy (2007) LC classified in 305.4201 social groups. role and status of women and the women’s movement. philosophy • Feminist philosophy is in the social sciences – the Notion • Not quite philosophy • Philosophy is in the ultimate category – the Idea

  19. How to deconstruct our classificatory practice • Harris started by reversing the teleological sequence • Harris and Dewey place 500 Science and 600 Technology contiguously • Pragmatic in linking the two across the Being/Essence boundary or • Enacting the unity of Being/Essence into Becoming • Hegel & Bacon had a rationale for the main classes • 000 General works is certainly not the Absolute Truth of the Idea • Is it now just a convention that we can ignore?

  20. Should classification reinforce the mainstream? Classifications are founded on a particular concept of knowledge May not fit a global context any better than Hegel’s epistemograph fit Indian art Vital to understand our epistemic underpinnings if we will understand our current standards and practices

  21. Thank you Hope A Olson holson@uwm.edu