Western Human Classification and the Closed Society

Simon Hayhoe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This presentation examines one of the fundamental principles of Western social science, the artificial construction and analysis of classes of human groups and activities, using a Popperian approach. In doing so, this paper examines how the process of Western social research can damage our understanding of society and human capacity and examines how these classifications effect the lives of individuals and communities. This presentation has three aims: the first aim is to inform a debate on the ontology and cultural influences of taxonomies; the second aim is to begin a debate on the principles of investigation in Western social research and encourage the audience to consider their influence on the ideological and biased synthesis of knowledge, and its effects on the real lives of others; the third aim is to inform the development of more sophisticated methodologies and ethical strategies of human classification. In the process of developing its analysis, the paper is framed by the following three questions: 1) Has contemporary Western social scientific methodology created a useful understanding of humans, their societies, and their cultures? 2) How has Western social science addressed issues such as the development of social consciousness, politics, power, exclusion, and inclusion? 3) Has the synthesis of knowledge by Western social research led to dangerous precedents being set by institutions, societies, and cultures?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022
EventKnowledge practices and the university as an open society - Central European University, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 18 Nov 202218 Nov 2022


WorkshopKnowledge practices and the university as an open society
Internet address


  • Open Society
  • Closed Society
  • Classification
  • University
  • Universities
  • epistemology
  • Ontology
  • taxonomy


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