Virginia Adams and I plan to recreate Diderot’s “Map of the System of Human Knowledge” specifically based off the scholarship from the Humanities 103/104 course. During Sapere Aude, we discussed how Diderot aimed to categorize all knowledge, but specifically what rose to value during the Enlightenment period, such as scientific discoveries and new methods of reason. Because Diderot created this map using his Western ideals, its bias emphasizes the intellectual activity of the upper class, which he labels reason and imagination. He emphasizes more “humanist” pursuits, such as poetry and religion, while placing menial and lower-class labor at the bottom of the map. Throughout the Humanities course, we have examined the nature of the humanities, and how both the academic field and the notion of humanity evolve throughout time and space. Diderot, as a product of the time period, viewed humanity as white, male, property owners. Through our studies this fall, we have seen historical implications of different definitions of who gets to be human, and the consequences for those excluded from the race. In our recreation of this map, we plan to map the knowledge from our Humanities course, which will serve as a map of the knowledge of humanity. We will likely break down the broad concept of “humanity” into the categories of identity, body, and reason. Using readings, plenary lectures, and thoughtful comments from our peers during sections, we will continue to elaborate on the specific features of these classifications to create a full picture of Humanity. However, part of our justification in only proposing this project now comes from our incomplete study thus far. Because we have four more units of the course, this expansion of scholarship and ideas could drastically alter the classifications that we have set forth. We have chosen to do this as our collaborative piece because, since Diderot’s time, a myriad of new perspectives have risen into view, expanding notions of who is human. Some specific ideas we plan to include in the final version may be found below.

  • Singular Identity vs. Multifaceted identity
  • Personal identity vs. identity assigned
  • Fascination with the “other”/Tokenization
  • Lockean equality derived from reason
  • Property based on the body(Locke)/Whiteness as property
  • Pragmatism(multiple perceptions) vs Realism(one truth)