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Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

DOI 10.1007/s10516-007-9026-8


The Information Coding Classification (ICC):

A Modern, Theory-Based Fully-Faceted,
Universal System of Knowledge Fields

Ingetraut Dahlberg

Received: 21 November 2007 / Accepted: 27 November 2007 / Published online: 13 March 2008
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Abstract Introduction into the structure, contents and specifications (especially

the Systematifier) of the Information Coding Classification, developed in the sev-
enties and used in many ways by the author and a few others following its
publication in 1982. Its theoretical basis is explained consisting in (1) the Integrative
Level Theory, following an evolutionary approach of ontical areas, and integrating
also on each level the aspects contained in the sequence of the levels, (2) the
distinction between categories of form and categories of being, (3) the application of
a feature of Systems Theory (namely the element position plan) and (4) the
inclusion of a concept theory, distinguishing four kinds of relationships, originated
by the kinds of characteristics (which are the elements of concepts to be derived
from the statements on the properties of referents of concepts). Its special Subject
Groups on each of its nine levels are outlined and the combinatory facilities at
certain positions of the Systematifier are shown. Further elaboration and use have
been suggested, be it only as a switching language between the six existing
universal classification systems at present in use internationally.

Keywords Categories of being  Categories of form  Concept theory 

Information Coding Classification  Integrative levels  Systems theory 

1 Learning from History

In his huge History of Library and Bibliographical Classification E. Shamurin

(1967) evidenced the development of the great many philosophical and practical
approaches of mankind from the outset until 1959 on how to represent knowledge

I. Dahlberg (&)
Am Hirtenberg 13, 64732 Bad Konig, Germany
e-mail: ingetraut.dahlberg@t-online.de

162 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

by classification systems. It is a pity that this fascinating work has never been
translated into English from its Russian origin. It has helped me to realize the long
way between Amenope’s Encyclopedia in 1250 B.C. and the present time.1 It also
showed that very often philosophers have developed classification systems, which
were, however, disregarded by librarians. These started at the end of the 18th
Century to develop more elaborate systems. At present we might state that all of the
six existing universal classification systems now in use as well as their most recent
updates: namely the Dewey Decimal Classification, DDC, of 1876, the Universal
Decimal Classification, UDC, of 1895, the Library of Congress Classification, LCC,
of 1903, the Colon Classification of Ranganathan, RCC, of 1933 and even the latest
attempts—say of the past 50 years,—visible e.g. in the Russian Library–
Bibliographical Classification, LBC, of 1959 and the 2nd edition of the Bliss
Bibliographic Classification, BBC of 1977—all suffer from the major handicap that
their main classes on which all the rest depends are either disciplines or groupings of
disciplines. This frame of thought is deeply marked by the history of university
teaching, reaching back to the middle ages with their Trivium and Quadrivium.
However, the problem of the growing number of disciplines and with it the
consideration of what to consider in the first place and what to put together in order
to keep the number of main classes as low as possible,2 should have led for some
time already to a reconsideration of the whole setup and looking for another
This is why in 1963 the British Classification Research Group (CRG) tried to find
a new approach and started to construct a new universal system on general
categories (Gnoli in this issue), somehow guided by the recommendations of the
famous Dorking Conference of 1957 (at which the Indian S.R. Ranganathan had
been present) that ‘‘faceted classification was the most helpful form of classification
scheme’’ (Dorking 1957). However, the final report on this attempt (Foskett 1970)
had to admit that a useful result could not be achieved.

2 Learning from Philosophy

There is, however, a way of organizing knowledge which has already been proposed
by Aristotle in his distinction of four levels of being, namely
Dead Being
Living Being
Spiritual Being and
Divine Being
In the 20th Century this idea of levels was taken up by two philosophers,
Feibleman in England and Nicolai Hartmann in Germany. Both defined such levels

For further details see Dahlberg (1974a).
In the UDC with its 10 main classes this lead to subsume e.g. psychology under philosophy—as
philosophy had found its position in the system already in 1876 whereas psychology came up by Dilthey
only in the nineties of that century.

Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176 163

and even developed ‘‘Laws of the Levels’’ (Feibleman 1954;3 Hartmann 1964) as
e.g. the law, that one level presupposes the next one and that they integrate each
other. These laws helped me to propose in 1971 (Dahlberg 1974a, b) and a new
universal order of levels based on objects of being and to distinguish thus the
following nine levels:
1. General forms and structures
2. Matter and energy
3. Aggregated matter (cosmos and earth)
4. Biological objects (micro-organisms, plants, animals)
5. Human Beings
6. Societal Beings
7. Material products of mankind (products of economy and technology)
8. Intellectual products (scientific, information and communication products)
9. Spiritual products (language, literature, music, arts, etc.)
As can be seen, the first three levels are concerned with Aristotle’s so-called dead
beings, the second three with his living beings and the third three with the
emanations of the foregoing, the products of their activities including, in the last
level, the spiritual and divine output.
At the same time another finding of philosophy was applied in this new universal
order, relating also to the proposals of the CRG at the Dorking conference
mentioned above, namely to establish this order on categories which are—according
to their Greek origin—the highest possible concepts where the determining factor
for establishing each level of the new universal system was an Object of Being. I
would make a distinction here, calling these latter highest concepts ‘‘Categories of
Being’’ as against the following ‘‘Categories of Form’’.
Aristotle had distinguished the following 1 + 9 form categories,
Substance = Objects
Quality, Quantity, Relation = Properties
Activity, Passivity = Operations
Having Space, Time, Position = Dimensions
Thus it seemed adequate to use for the subsumptions of the object-determining
levels the Form Categories which can be considered as the aspects which would
belong to each object area. I followed in this also a suggestion by Hartmann (1964)
that on top of the levels of being one ought to place the most general categories as
they might have an influence on the subdivisions of levels.
Another German philosopher, Alwin Diemer, Düsseldorf (1920–86) had
elaborated together with the members of the Thesaurus Research Group of the
German Documentation Society a sort of classification of socalled General Terms
(Diemer 1969). These helped me to develop a series of nine general form categories
for the subdivision of the object areas into aspects on the one hand and as a general
subdivider called ‘‘Systematifier’’ for the subdivision of each subject or knowledge
field on the other hand.

Translation into German in Dahlberg (1974a, p. 231).

164 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

1. Theories, principles and general questions

2. Specific objects of a field and their components, kinds and properties
3 Specific operations in a field and their kinds and properties
4–6. Specific aspects/properties of a field or persons (under 5), or institutions
(under 6)
7. Influences from other fields on the field in question, also its technology
8. Application of methods and operations of a field in other fields
9. Synthesis and distribution of the knowledge of a field
In those cases, where the Systematifier is applied to special subject fields it
generates the socalled facets of this field, which means that facets are the application
of general categories in a given field, grouping its concepts.

3 Learning from Classificationists

The Indian mathematician and later-on librarian, S.R. Ranganathan, had found his
idea of constructing the subdivisions of the 31 disciplines of his Colon
Classification when seeing the display of a toy-shop in London with the elements
which kids could put together to construct houses or machines etc. Thus he
developed a combinatory system based on the formula PMEST, Personality, Matter,
Energy, Space, and Time and used these categories not only for grouping the
concepts of a discipline but also for phrasing the statements as representatives of the
contents of books. For this latter purpose he determined Personality to stand for a
specific object or subject, Matter as a kind of a property, Energy as the activity
category and Space and Time as the location or the date which could be derived as
the case may be. As he used the colon as a symbol for the separation of P and M
from E, he named his System Colon Classification. Actually he was aware that with
his PMEST formula he was dealing with sentences but still he was searching for an
‘‘Absolute Syntax’’, meaning a rule for the possibility of describing the contents of
books in a single phrase. But indeed he had done so already by separating facets of
objects (as logical subjects) and facets of activities (as logical predicates), which are
the main components of each sentence (Ranganathan 1933, 1967).
Earlier classificationists had invented another feature for the possibility of
combining special aspects with subdivisions of their classes, as for instance within
the DDC and the UDC socalled general and special auxiliaries are used. In Dahlberg
(1974a, p. 136) a survey of such special auxiliaries of six different classes in the
UDC is given, showing however, that the sequence of the concepts of such special
auxiliaries is different in each case. Would it not have been possible to develop a
consistent sequence for all cases just as for the Systematifier shown above.4 Indeed,
this insight had helped me to consider studying the different categories and concepts
in hundreds of subject fields with the result that I realized that all of them were
characterized by those sentences, true statements, which the representatives of these
It seems that these differences may be understood by the slow process of revising and developing the
system to its full size throughout the years since it was taken over from the DDC by Otlet and LaFontaine
in 1895.

Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176 165

fields would make about their findings and activities in such fields—which has been
called the ‘‘propositional approach’’ of characterizing a knowledge-field/discipline
(Diemer 1970). Therefore the first three facets of our Systematifier had to be
fundamental ones, as they establish
1. the frame of reference of a statement (theory or general aspects);
2. the object of concern of a field and its object hierarchies;
3. the activity exerted upon an object or the process undergoing it.
At position one also an interdisciplinary aspect is to be considered, its
explanation follows below. The second three facets (4–6) would apply the first
three to special characteristics or applications of a field and the last three (7–9)
would deal with transdisciplinary aspects of a field since all of our knowledge is in
some way interconnected with each other and it must be possible to include this
necessity as a combinatory function within a universal classification system. The
applicability of this latter possibility has been demonstrated in Dahlberg (1994a,
pp. 60–71).

4 The Information Coding Classification

Putting now the knowledge fields pertaining to the levels into a matrix in the
sequence of the Systematifier, we get to Table 1. Some explanation concerning the
selection and arrangement will follow. The reader is invited to accompany me box
by box.
First of all I need to add that the General Form Concepts of the first line on top do
not in all cases apply to the vertical knowledge fields of the levels. This will be
explained later at the positions in question. Also it will be realized that the
integration feature has not only been applied to the vertical levels but also within the
horizontal lines.
Starting with Level 1: Form and Structure Area: It is the area the concepts of
which can be applied in all the fields of the following levels. But why 11 Logic
before 12 Mathematics? Already Descartes and later on Hegel had done so in their
classification systems, but my reasoning was different: it is simply because Logic,
now still a sub-field of philosophy, is absolutely the most formal and theoretical
field. There is no correct thinking without Logic, therefore also no Mathematics
without Logic. Mathematics with its object field of numbers is followed by 13
Statistics as activity subject group on this level. 14 Systemology at position 4 is a
special characteristic field of this area which is based on structures and of course
there is no system without a structure, something which also applies to 15
Organization Science and 16 Metrology. The technological aspects can be found in
17 Cybernetics, Control and Automation, the determinative aspect in 18 Standard-
ization and the synthesizing one in 19 Testing and Monitoring.
Level 2: Energy and Matter Area contains two triades of the facets 1–3 of the
Systematifier, namely regarding (1) Physics with 21 Mechanics, its theoretical
section; 22 Physics of Matter and 23 General and Technical Physics and (2)
Chemistry under 25 Physical Chemistry, 26 Pure Chemistry and 27 Chemical

Table 1 Information coding classification: survey of subject groups

0 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
General Theories, Object, Activity, Property Persons or Institution or Technology & Application & Distribution

Form Principles Component Process attribute continued continued Production Determination & Synthesis

1 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Form & Logic Mathematics Statistics Systemology Organization Metrology Cybernetics, Standardization Testing and
Structure Science control and monitoring
Area automation
2 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Energy & Mechanics Physics of General and Electronics Physical Pure Chemistry Chemical Energy Science Electrical
Matter Area Matter Technical Chemistry Technology and and Technology Engineering
Physics Engineering
3 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
Cosmo & Astronomy Astronautics Basic Atmospheric Hydrospheric & Geological Mining Materials Geography
Geo Area & and Space Geosciences Sciences and Ocean Science and Sciences Science and
Astrophysics Research Technology Technology Technology
4 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
Bio Area Basic Microbiology Plant Biology Animal Veterinary Agriculture and Forestry and Food Science Ecology and
Biological and and Biology and Sciences Horticulture Wood Science and Technology Environment
Sciences Cultivation Cultivation Breeding and Technology
5 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
Human Human Health and Pathology and Clinical Psychology Education Profession Sport Science Household
Area Biology Theoretical Practical Medicine and Science, Labor, and Technology and Home
Medicine Medicine Cure Leisure Life
6 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
Socio Area Sociology State and Public Money and Social Aid, Social Law Area Planning, Military Science History
Politics Administration Finances Politics Urbanism and Technology Science and
Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176
Table 1 continued

0 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
General Theories, Object, Activity, Property Persons or Institution or Technology & Application & Distribution
Form Principles Component Process attribute continued continued Production Determination & Synthesis

7 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
Economic & General and Business Technology in Mechanical Building Commodity Vehicle Science Transportation Utilities and
Technology National Economics general and Precision Science and and Technology and Technology Service
Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

Economics Engineering Technology Services Economics

8 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
Science & Science of Information Information in Information in Communication Mass Printing and Communication Semiotics
Information Science Sciences general general Science Communication Publishing Engineering
9 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
Culture Language Literature and Music and Fine Arts Performing Arts Cultural Philosophy Religion and Christian
Area and Philology Musicology Sciences, Secret Religion
Linguistics narrower sense Teachings

168 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

Technology and Engineering. The position 24 for Electronics in between is a special

characteristic of Energy which finds its form of application in 28 Energy Science
and Technology and its distribution and synthesizing subject group 29 Electrical
Engineering applicable in possibly all fields of knowledge.
Level 3: Cosmos and Geo Area: Here the necessary study of the cosmos in
31 Astronomy and Astrophysics got the first position as a theoretical field whereas
32 Astronautics and Space Research is concerned with the exploration of the
environment of our earth in our galaxy. It is followed by 33, the Basic Geosciences
with the fields concerning the structure and the dynamics of the earth, and specialty
fields like Geodesy, Geophysics, Geochemistry among others. The next three
subject groups deal with specialties of the earth, namely its spheres, 34 its gaseous
sphere: Atmospheric Sciences and Technology, 35 its hydrosphere (water):
Hydrospheric and Ocean Sciences and Technology and 36 its lithosphere:
Geological Sciences. Its technical subject group 37 deals with Mining, its
application group using the results of 37 and other previous fields in 38 Material
Sciences and Technology and finally 39 the synthesizing group here is 39
Level 4: Bio-Area: It starts with 41 General Biology where the fundamental laws
and their fields with influence and applicability in all biological subject groups are
contained, e.g. 412 Genetics, and its specialty groups: 414 Biometry, 415
Biophysics, 416 Biochemistry, 417 Bionics. The following three groups comprise
the object groups in the bio-area in their evolutionary levels, namely 42
Microbiology, 43 Plant Biology and Cultivation (Botany), 44 Animal Biology
and Breeding (Zoology). In each of these groups their activity-related fields are
included, however their more or less technology-supported and application-oriented
groups are excluded. They follow under 46 Agriculture and 47 Forestry. 45
Veterinary Science functions as an in-between-group concerned with sick animal on
the one side and the reproduction aspect of animals on the other. 48 Food Science
and Technology is again resource- and production-oriented and 49 Ecology and
Environment contains the synthesizing aspects relating to the entire bio-area and all
other areas.5,6
Level 5: The Human Area starts out with 51 Human Biology, comprising the
bio-sciences of a healthy person, e.g. 511 Physical Anthropology, 512 Anatomy,
513 Physiology, etc. Under 52 Health and Theoretical Medicine all those fields are
summarized which are necessary for the preservation of human health and the
avoidance of sickness, including 522 Pharmacy and 523 Pharmacology. The fields
of 53 Pathology and Medicine are arranged according to the fields under 51 and are
concerned with the different ailments of the human body. 54 Operative and
Therapeutic Medicine follows and summarizes all those fields necessary for the cure

For this see my contribution in Dahlberg (1994b).
In this contribution mentioned in Note 5, I distinguished also three other cases of domain interaction,
namely (1) Multidisciplinarity, (2) Pluridisciplinarity and (3) Syndisciplinarity. In each case it were not
fields which were combined but phenomena, like (1) water, or (2) security, or (3) a nanorobot. In case 1
‘‘water’’ was looked at from the differing points of view of subject fields, in case 2 ‘‘security’’ was
investigated for application in different environments and in case 3 a ‘‘nanorobot’’ was built with the help
of experts from differing fields of knowledge.

Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176 169

of a human disability or sickness. After these more or less biologically oriented

subject groups of the human sciences follow those which refer to the powers of the
human soul (which does not mean that the soul was excluded in the foregoing, as it
is of course not separated from the living body) namely 55 Psychology, as
presupposition for learning, 56 Education (formation and learning) and 57
Profession and Labor (application of what has been learned. In 58 Sport Science
and Sports we find again a potentiality of the human body and soul (preservation of
vigor) and in 59 Home Economics and Home Life, a synthesis of activities related to
the subsistence and recreation of human life in the protected environment of a home.
Level 6: Socio Area: The theoretical subject group is here 61 Sociology, followed
by 62 State and Politics as the group for subjects concerned with the conditions of
nations and other kinds of communities (regional, state, international). 63 Public
Administration may be considered as the consequence of 61 and 62, concluding the
triad with its activity orientation. The subject group of 64 Money and Finances reveals
a ‘‘specialty’’ of societal life, its ‘‘nervus rerum’’ and is the necessary precondition for
economy (on the following level) and for any help of those who are the needful, which
are the subject of 65 Social Aid/Social Politics, both highly dependent on the will of a
majority of persons to act for the benefit of individual persons, groups of persons, or
communities. The consolidation of social life—if not its ‘‘normalization’’—is made
possible by the subject dealt with in 66 Law. A further and more recent societal activity
is to be found in the subject group of 67 Regional Planning and Urbanism which deals
with the problem of an adequate use of land as the space for life and development of
society. Another problem of society also on a national level—now extending to the
international—is its defense against possible enemies (preservation of countries and
nations) in 68 Military Science and Technology. Finally, as a synthesizing and
actualizing subject group we find 69 History as theory and description of the
development of society in the past 6000 years, though excluding Palaeontology under
339 and Prehistory under 969 Archeology.
Level 7: Economics and Production Area. Here we find first of all 71 General
Economics and its relation to national and international economics as the theoretical
and general group. Thereafter follows 72 Business Economics as the subject group
concerned with the management of particular companies or similar establishments.
In 73 General Technology only those technical devices and processes are dealt with
which are applicable in a majority of technical fields. The technical specialty group
is in 74 Mechanical Engineering, comprising the engineering of all kinds of
machines, apparatus, instruments and plants. Next we find again three specification
groups of production, namely 75 Building, 76 Commodity Science and Technology
and 77 Vehicle Engineering and Production. The latter leads us to the distribution
group 78 Transportation with the subjects relating also to all kinds of transportation
on road and railway, on water and by air. The area is concluded by the synthesizing
group of 79 Utilities and Services where all the other economic consumer-orientated
activities are assembled.
Level 8: Science and Information Area. It begins with 81 Science of Science as
the theoretical foundation of all of knowledge handling. In 82 Information Sciences,
information is regarded mainly as of scientific interest and made accessible through
different kinds of establishments (archives, libraries, documentation and

170 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

information centers, museums). The subject group of 83 Informatics/Computer

Science supplies hardware and software to handle scientific information as well as
any other kind of information; the forms and activities are summarized under 84
General Information with fields such as 842 Office Management and Technology,
843 Text Processing, 844 Consulting, 845 Advertisement, 846 Exhibitions etc. This
group is followed by 85 Communication Science, dealing with information
exchange on a personal level and 86 Mass Communication as the science and
activity group—public media. In 87 Printing and Publishing all those procedures
and establishments are assembled which are concerned with the recording and
distribution of knowledge and information on documents, whereas the group 88
Communication Engineering/Telecommunication takes care of subjects concerning
activities and establishments for wired or wireless messages including also the
establishment of the postal services. Area 8 concludes with 89 Semiotics, the
science of signs and symbols which synthesizes all the fields of the representation
and handling of knowledge and information through the means of the ‘‘sign’’.
Level 9: Culture Area begins with 91 Language and Linguistics, the mental
faculty of mankind par excellence and one might ask, would it not logically belong
at the beginning of everything? But Language has also a spiritual side, as the
statements to be made with it can be true or false, and they can be even deliberately
false. In 92 Literature and Philology language is treated according to its aesthetical
qualities, here the old and new languages of the world are covered. In 93 Music and
Musicology language receives its most adequate mode of activation. In 94 Fine Arts
any aesthetic statement becomes manifest through pieces of art and in 95
Performing Arts such manifestations are vivified by interpretation and representa-
tion through living human beings. All subject groups listed thus far in area 9 are
generalized and summarized once more under 96 Culture Sciences in a narrower
sense and related—together with other human activities—to ethnic units. The last
triad of the scheme is formed by 97 Philosophy with its main concern of questioning
everything. It is followed by 98 Religion and Secret Teachings as the potentiality
factor of every human being in its inclination towards Good and its fight against
Evil, containing also all known religions of mankind, whereas in 99 Christian
Religion receives a subject group of its own since (1) it is worldwide present, (2)
comprises the largest amount of literature and (3) preaches Love, Forgiveness and
Humility, through its basis, the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mountain,
and by the example Jesus Christ gave himself. Thus the entire scheme reaches by its
diagonal line from left to right from the most formal subject group of 11 Logic to
the most ample subject group to the benefit of mankind under 99. If one would draw
the counter diagonal from 19 to 91 the two lines would meet at 55 Psychology,
which is the subject group concerning man’s mental faculties and consciousness, the
impulse giving and mover of all our efforts.

5 A Theory-Based, Fully-Faceted Universal System

The theory-basis of the ICC does not only refer to its ground on the integrative level
theory of the two philosophers mentioned, and to the categories of being and form

Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176 171

as found already in the writings of Aristotle, but also on a feature known from
systems theory, namely that by the Systematifier introduced all hierarchical levels
obey an element position plan. This gives the system also a certain reliability insofar
as one can be sure to find specific concepts always at certain positions, as provided
for by the facets of the Systematifier device. By application of this Systematifier, the
system can also be said to be ‘‘fully faceted’’.
A further feature, not yet mentioned but used in the system, is the introduction of
a concept theory distinguishing among others between four kinds of concept
relationships: the generic, the partitive, the complementary and the functional
relationship (Dahlberg 1978) based on the characteristics which are the elements of
concepts (gained by making statements on the referent of a concept: such statements
will yield the properties of the referents which then become the elements
(characteristics) of concepts). The kind of characteristics as well as their
relationships in and between different concepts generate the concept relationships
mentioned and create concept systems. The generic relationship is applied at all
positions where hierarchies of concepts follow the ‘‘is-a-kind of’’ rule, the partitive
one whenever a whole is to be subdivided into its parts—which occurs of course
also at each subject group and its subdivisions into subject fields. The
complementary relationship helps distinguish all kinds of oppositions which usually
occur when forming a sequence of generic hierarchies. The functional relationship
is also to be found in subject groups as it is the syntactic relation forming the
sequence of the Systematifier with the pertinent concepts in a given case.
The handling of any classification system is facilitated by the sense underlying its
structures. It has been pointed out that the main sequence of general objects in ICC
is a pattern of 3 9 3 areas in an evolutionary sequence and that its ‘‘level character’’
makes sure that every area becomes a necessary presupposition for the existence of
the following area. In the last area 9 all instances of the previous areas are
contained. By using the concept theory mentioned above, one could say that the
constituting characteristics of the concepts of objects of one level cumulate in the
objects from one level to the next levels 1–6. The levels 7–9 build up on them,
however, here, the characteristics ‘‘having life’’, ‘‘having a soul’’ of level 4 to 6 are
replaced by the characteristics ‘‘created by man’’, ‘‘having a purpose given by
man’’, etc. Also, into the products of levels 7–9 the values are entered which man
and society have implanted into them, since all products of mankind are dependent
on knowledge, mastership and willpower of man, or, more precisely, the values
which man and society put into their products determine their quality and durability.

6 Combinatory Functions in the ICC

When collecting terms denoting subject fields in the beginning of the seventies
under a research project of the German Documentation Society (Dahlberg 1973),
and later on when adding to them their definitions found in many special and
universal lexica and encyclopediae, I encountered among the almost 12,500
pertinent terms found, a great number of terms which were combinations of fields,
such as Educational Psychology, Sociology of Education, Political Geography, etc.

172 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

Apparently this is a trend in the sciences of today and it had to be considered in a

reasonable way. Therefore the system provides for an unlimited possibility of
combinations between concepts,7 however in an organized way. We distinguish four
kinds of combinations,
(1) external between different subject fields of an inter- and transdisciplinary type;
(2) internal within a subject field only;
(3) form-categorial, when combinations become necessary with the form catego-
ries of the zero level; and
(4) additional with concepts from extra schedules for the individualizing concepts
of space and time.
Ad 1, external combinations: first of all it is to be clarified whether the definitions
of such concepts reveals that the wording of a combination fits the intended meaning
of a concept. It must be clear that in each case of such a combination both a subject
and a predicate are involved. Very obviously therefore, Philosophy of History is not
the same as History of Philosophy. In the first case, Philosophy of History, History
is the subject and Philosophy the predicate, whereas in the second case, History of
Philosophy, Philosophy is the subject and History the predicate. The Systematifier
therefore envisaged system positions for these different cases. At position 1 each
field deals with the theoretical background of a field and its generalities. Here all
those combinations of a field will therefore be found with those other fields which
enrich it by further research; we called this combination ‘‘interdisciplinarity’’
(Dahlberg 1994a), e.g. History of Mathematics would receive the notation 121:698
or Sociology of education 561:618.
At position 8 of the Systematifier we deal with the fact that the methods and
activities of a field are applied to other fields, which means that the system position
at 8 becomes the predicate of its subject, e.g. Philosophy of Language 978:911 or
Psychology of Sports 558:581. Such combinations have been called ‘‘transdisci-
plinary’’. Alwin Diemer devoted the entire second volume of his ‘‘Grundriss der
Philosophie’’ (Diemer 1964) to all those knowledge fields which are such
transdisciplinary combinations of philosophy with other fields (he called them
‘‘Bindestrich-Philosophien’’, dash-philosophies), such as philosophy of social
anthropology, history, language, the arts, political science, culture, education and
training, technology, economics, nature, mathematics, physics, biology, religion and
theology. Similarly there exist all kinds of mathematics, statistics, systemologies,
etc., psychologies, sociologies or histories etc. in the form of application fields. The
activities of environmental sciences could be found to be applied to almost all
subject fields, see Dahlberg (1994b).
Ad 2, internal combinations which have been foreseen, however, have not as yet
been elaborated, since the ICC consists so far only of subject fields, not of the
subdivisions of them into theories, objects, activities, etc. except for the subject
groups 48 Food science and Technology, 58 Sport Science and Sports, 814
Knowledge Organization, and 822 Documents.

Editor’s note: These are functionally equivalent to what is called phase relationships in some faceted
classification systems.

Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176 173

However, for demonstration purposes I shall show what is meant by the

following example:


82 Information sciences
822 Documents with e.g. 82.27 Manuscripts
823 Information handling with e.g. 82.32 Information analysis
824 Archivistics


824.27 Archival manuscripts

824.27.32 Information analysis of archival manuscripts

Ad 3, form-categorial combinations are possible for the classing of all those cases
where concepts from the general categories of the first row of the ICC schedule
(Table 1) are to be combined with either subject fields or concepts of its hierarchies.
The subdivisions of these general categories have not as yet been elaborated either,
however, there exist many examples e.g. in the UDC as well as in the RCC and also
in the System of General Terms mentioned above (Diemer 1969). Examples of such
combinations would be:

12 Mathematics
058 Scientists (Persons in Sciences)
12.058 Scientists in Mathematics
22 Physics
068 Scientific Societies
22.068 Physical Societies

Ad 4, the combinability with concepts of Space and Time: for such concepts
there are extremely well elaborated schedules in the UDC. This immense work,
covering e.g. Space regard not only countries but also regions and cities, should be
recognized as a possible example when establishing these additional schedules of
classing of all given cases.

7 Outlook

After checking the collection of 12,500 terms of subject fields found in our research
project mentioned above, it became obvious that there were many synonyms among
them and also terms denoting fields that did not exist in reality or with nobody
working in or for them. The synonyms were then combined with their related

174 Axiomathes (2008) 18:161–176

concepts and the other terms were discarded so that a number of about 7000 terms
was left which were accommodated into the ICC system. The schedule of the three
first levels (729 classes) was published in English and German (Dahlberg 1982,
pp. 114–132), The huge card-file and the electronic version as well as the printouts
of all of the terms and their definitions (in German) and their synonyms and
translations into English—where possible—are still in my possession.
We applied the ICC in many of our works, such as to
Subject fields taught at German universities;
Subject fields and their sub-fields for a lexicon of subject fields (unpublished);
Descriptors of the German National Library;
Monolingual dictionaries;
Taxonomies, classification systems and thesauri;
Literature on classification systems and thesauri;
Terminology work in certain fields;
Classification and indexing done in certain subject fields;
Research reports;
A Who’s Who in Classification and Indexing.
At present it is still used to organize the current bibliography in the journal
‘‘Knowledge organization’’ in its version for this field of knowledge: an explanation
can be found in (Dahlberg 2006).
The scheme has been proposed to be used as a switching mechanism between
existing universal classification systems in several publications (Dahlberg 1996a, b,
1998), however, so far apparently nobody seems to have been able to recognize as
yet the value of such a device. The Systematifier has been used also by somebody
else and can be found in the research work of Giliola Negrini and published in a few
articles (Negrini et al 1992, 1993, 1996). A number of articles on the science-
theoretical basis of the ICC were published in German and English (Dahlberg
1974b, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2002). Its respective potentialities should be
known had people only realized them. Its easy use has at least been recognized by
someone in Berlin, who teaches children to understand how knowledge can be
organized. At its first presentation to Indians in 1977 it was regarded as a system
which convinces by its simplicity. Thus I can only hope that it might have a
promising future!


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