Philosophy Shelved: Philosophy’s Displacement in the Library Restricted; Files Only

Tanaka, Kyle (Spring 2023)

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This dissertation examines the theoretical framework undergirding the application of the term “Philosophy” to materials in academic libraries. It does so to consider in what ways the use of the term “Philosophy” norms the discipline and practice of philosophy. Predominantly operating under Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and Subject Headings (LCSH), indexing works as philosophy is supposed to enable library patrons to identify materials of interest or relevance, whether that be for edification, research, or whatever else. In this dissertation, I argue that LCC/LCSH incline library users towards understanding “Philosophy” within a Eurocentric historiographical paradigm. That is, scholarship in philosophy is understood as contributing to a repository of Eurocentric discoveries in the history of ideas. Further, I argue that by presenting philosophy in this way other approaches to philosophy are fragmented, disjointed, and marginalized. By so doing, there is a systemic disincentive to approach philosophy outside of the institutionalized mode. After beginning with a survey of how philosophers read texts in the history of philosophy (Chapter 1), the first part of the dissertation (Chapters 2, 3, and 4) consider the basis for the historiographical approach in both library and philosophical contexts. The second part (Chapters 5 and 6) gives examples of reading and doing philosophy otherwise, emphasizing the ways in which non-historiographical approaches cannot productively draw from existing classification. The final chapter (Chapter 7) reflects on the norming effects of the library in the context of contemporary U.S. academic philosophy.

Table of Contents


Chapter I - Cogito, Ergo…?: Models of Reading

Chapter II - To “B” or Not to “B”: Classifying Philosophy

Chapter III - Understanding Understanding Philosophy

Chapter IV - Philosophy Accrued

Chapter V - Philosophy in the Margins

Chapter VI - Philosophy Between the Lines

Chapter VII - Inclination, Acculturation, and Dissonance: The Library as a Site of Norming


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