Sameness and Difference

Hope A. Olson


The idea of sameness is used to gather material in classifications. However, it is also used to separate what is different. Sameness and difference as guiding principles of classification seem obvious but are actually fundamental characteristics specifically related to Western culture. Sameness is not a singular factor, but has the potential to represent multiple characteristics or facets. This article explores the ramifications of which characteristics are used to define classifications and in what order. It explains the primacy of division by discipline, its origins in Western philosophy, and the cultural specificity that results. The Dewey Decimal Classification is used as an example throughout.

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