Abstract

The construction of concepts achieved by the apparently incompatible ideas of essence and context is examined through genre. Essence is defined by essential characteristics: innate, immutable, independent of context. Unlike essences, contexts are fluid, changing with time and location. Genre has the stability of the essential characteristics that define essence and the fluidity of differing circumstances that define context, thus making it effective for the exploration of essence and context. Controlled vocabularies reveal diachronically and synchronically the stable/fluid ambivalence of genre classes. The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC1, DDC13, DDC23) exhibits stability (and modest fluidity) in the Divisions, the primary reflection of academic disciplines one hierarchical step below the main classes and the development of the standard subdivisions as a slow multi-edition evolution. Genre serves as a lens for us to better understand essences, contexts, and concepts and their manifestations, classes. Rather than being incompatible opposites, essences and contexts complement each other in the definition of concepts. How these abstractions relate to classification is a question both theoretical and practical to our efforts to further knowledge organization.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0682
Print ISSN
0024-2594
Pages
pp. 540-554
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-17
Open Access
No
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