Thoughts on libraries and the Enlightenment

Sense & Reference

"The Hall of Enlightenment" by virtusincertus on Flickr CC-BY “The Hall of Enlightenment” by virtusincertus on Flickr CC-BY

Recently, nina de jesus argued that libraries perpetuate systematic, institutionalized oppression by virtue of adhering to the democratic principles and values espoused during the Age of Enlightenment.[1] Her argument can be summarized as follows:

Premise 1:   Libraries embody and perpetuate the values of the Enlightenment.

Premise 2:   The values of the Enlightenment are oppressive.

Conclusion: Libraries embody and perpetuate oppressive values.

On its face, this is a valid argument, which is just to say that if the premises are true then the conclusion must be true as well.[2] Yet, validity is no substitute for soundness and we can rightly ask whether de jesus’ argument is, in fact, a sound one. Are her premises true?

This post will attempt to argue that de jesus’ argument is flawed in its second premise: hidden within the claim that the values of…

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bibliotecario flâneur | embedded librarian | in libraries + architecture + travel + history
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