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Chapter 5. Consistency > The order of things

The order of things
We are not entirely done with Jorge Luis Borges and our friend John Wilkins yet: that Chinese encyclopedia unexpectedly inspired a most important philosophy books, Michael Foucault'sThe Order of Things, which has consequences for us. Foucault himself recounts in the preface that
this book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought—our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography—breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. This passage quotes a “certain Chinese encyclopedia.” … In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated as the exotic charm of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own....

  

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