Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Tatiana de Almeida, Gustavo Silva Saldanha

Last modified: 2018-06-19


1 Introduction: from loci to epistemic loci

How is it possible to recognize the role of culture for the epistemological-historical foundation of the Knowledge Organization (KO)? Can we understand the historical presence of cultural elements in remote KO building sources? These concerns arise in the face of questions central to an epistemology of KO, summarized below:

a) The contemporary emergence of social and political debate in KO practices demonstrates the need for approaches, methods and concepts to understand the cultural dynamics of society;

b) The construction of social and critical approaches to social problems, such as the case of the approach of disqualification Antonio García Gutiérrez (2011, 2003).

c) The revision of historical epistemological approaches that contributed to this foundation, as in the case of the review of Ranganathan's work (Saldanha, 2014).

The research finds the approach of culture as marked by the epistemological and historical construction of representational practices of language. We find a remote metametodological experience of the KO. Specifically we recognize in Emanuele Tesauro (1670) a metametodological orientation plan, which demonstrates the relevance of the production in KO.

With Tesauro (1670) we find the dynamic of crossing the approaches between the line of analytical and discursive comprehension (a reading of Aristotle's Organon, and Aristotle's Rhetoric / Poetic), including the loci, rhetorical method linked to the themes of common objects of ethics, epistemology and other branches of knowledge from Aristotle.

The loci approach, in this way, is not new in Information Science and in KO. It can be found, for example, in the classification of knowledge in Conrad Gesner (Araújo, 2017), in baroque thinking in the organization of knowledge (Almeida, Crippa, 2009) and in the contemporary reflection of the KO itself, as seen in García Gutiérrez (2011).

Under the scope of the presented perspectives, we propose to systematize some of the existing methodologies in the CB with the objective of demonstrating the places occupied by KO currently. In this sense, the purpose of the text is anchored in the relationship between KO methodology and the construction of thought in KO, responding by a reflexive metametodological movement.

2 Epistemic loci as a metamethodological approach to KO

The approach here understood as epistemic loci seeks to reposition the concept in a given discursive dynamics, which reveals its actions as a result of a collective social data, in a given space, in a given time. It is, in a general way, to understand the environments of formation, sedimentation, dispersion and appropriation of the concepts.

The epistemic places depart, in the rhetorical sense, from the demarcation of the tropes, forms of fixation of the language and its configuration in verbal signs. In the Foucaultian definition, it is the primordial function of the language, in dialogue with the grammar:

[...] Rhetoric, which deals with figures and tropes, that is, how language is spatialized in verbal signs; […]. Rhetoric defines the spatiality of representation, as it is born with language […] (Foucault, 2002, p. 116).


The notion of "space (s)" or "place (s)" has a constraint on the structure of language: it is a question of identifying the modes of fixation, in space-time, of a given speech, concept, approach, method - or simply, according to the Foucaultian lexicon, the "spatiality of language". This is what we seek from the constitution of the present object of study: the tropes that demarcate the KO today (an approach already pointed out by Tesauro (1670).

In this way, the processes of contextualization that mark the discursive approaches are not based only on and for the language itself. Discourses are positioned, that is, situated in a space-time historicized by a set of social determinations.


3 From methodological practices to metamethodological study in KO


Based on the previous propositions, we will appropriate the concept of metametodology in order to analyze the KO through its own processes and theories.

The epistemic loci ask themselves about discursive questions such as who speaks, where they speak, when they speak, to whom they speak (all of them are treated here as "places" where "common places" are consolidated in language, or discursive spaces).

These conceptual demands and their approaches receive a deep tradition of methodological demarcation from the so-called "discourse analyzes". The aim of the study, before embarking on the debate on the effects of discursiveness from recent theorizations on discourses, as in Michel Pêcheux, seeks to retake presuppositions of rhetoric itself in another meta-methodological plane, as Tesauro (1670) had already observed.

4 Final remarks: an linguistic and critical epistemic metamethodology

The premises for the construction of the epistemic loci are structured in a philosophy of language, central to the development of a critical and discursive approach of the KO, from Tesauro (1670) to García Gutiérrez (2011).

In the discursive way, we recognize the existence of a contemporary work front, involved with the approximation between discourse analysis and KO theories. In general, the notion of social indexation tends to embrace such approaches. In our case, it is about recovering the rhetorical thinking of the tropes and rethinking the appropriation of the notion of commonplaces in a broad critical-discursive plane.

We are, however, attentive to the epistemological-historical point of view of Emanuele Tesauro, already influenced by the Aristotelian view, as well as in current epistemological approaches, as anticipations in Rafael Capurro and García Gutiérrez. Two paths have been trodden here and they follow their course. The convergence of the two metametodological dimensions will be responsible for a critical-historical understanding.

We can see how the discursive approaches of the KO have an epistemological and historical root linked to the study of the loci. In the same way, we can say that political and social questions, as well as the critical approach to sciences and their classification (an epistemological critique), find in the theory of common places a clear power of argumentation and historical revision. In other words, from the notion of loci, we construct here another metametodological category for the reflection of science, and of the epistemology of the KO itself, namely epistemic loci.