An Enlightened Taxonomy

The figurative system of human knowledge is the taxonomy that was used to organize Diderot’s Encyclopédie. It, like so many other aspects of the European enlightenment, has its roots in the work of Francis Bacon, and was very influential to the folks that molded the world we live in (e.g. Thomas Jefferson).

The FSHK is a fascinating structure to contemplate; it has many anachronisms (e.g. “Monstrous Animals”, “Arquebus Manufacture”, “Knowledge of God”), controversy (it dared to place religion under the remit of philosophy), and a curiously uneven granularity that reflects 18th century values (“Painting” has no subcategories, while “Working and Uses of Gold and Silver” has seven).

As weird as some of it looks, I still like very much the top level categories: Reason, Memory, and Imagination; much of what I know of the world can still be grouped within these three areas. (I’d possibly add a fourth: Society, to capture the transient relations between human beings.)

What would an FHSK updated for our time look like? How would our biases affect its structure?