Condorcet's is not a name that figures prominently in histories of classification systems; even in Samurin's monumental and comprehensive work—apart from a reference to the influence of his ideas on the system developed by the ‘Institut National des Sciences et Arts’—he is only mentioned in footnotes. Samurin claims that Condorcet's ideas on classification were of a high standard for his period and that the system of the Institut National influenced many nineteenth and twentieth century schemes. However, no reference is made in his or, as far as I have been able to ascertain, in any other history of classification to the technique to which Condorcet made a passing reference in the final chapter of the Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progrès de l'Esprit Humain and which is described in a manuscript in the possession of the Bibliotheque Nationale. This essay entitled ‘Example des methodes techniques’ was published, together with an introductory article on ‘An Unpublished Essay of Condorcet on Technical Methods of Classification’, by K. M. Baker in Annals of Science. Baker is mainly concerned with Condorcet's ideas on the nature of scientific method and with the uses of the technique he described for the framing and testing of hypotheses. Condorcet insisted that his technique was more than a method which allows for the ordering and subsequent retrieval of scientific information. It had a more fundamental utility: that of arranging objects methodically in such a way that the characteristics of each could be related to those of all in whatever way the researcher wished.
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