Project Prometheus

"The alphabetical system of arrangement," observed the Editors of the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910-11), "with its obvious advantages, necessarily results in the separation from one another of articles dealing with any particular subject." Consequently, "the student who desires to make a complete study of a given topic must exercise his imagination if he seeks to exhaust the articles in which that topic is treated." This result is certainly a serious defect in the system for anyone who feels as did the Editors of the Eleventh Edition that an encyclopaedia should not be merely a "storehouse of facts," but should also be "a systematic survey of all departments of knowledge." 

the Outline of Knowledge is conceived as a circle of learning. To say that the contents of an en-cyclo-paedia form a circle of learning is more than a literal transliteration from Greek to English. In Greek or English, reference to the circle introduces a powerful metaphor, the understanding of which should help the reader to overcome whatever arbitrariness still resides in the Outline of Knowledge in spite of determined efforts on the part of all concerned to minimize this defect. A circle is a figure in which no point on the circumference is a beginning, none is a middle, none is an end. It is also a figure in which one can go from any point, in either direction, around the circumference; in addition, one can go across the circle from any point to any other; or, by any number of transecting lines, starting from a given point, one can go to any number of other points on the circumference, near or far.

The 10 parts into which the Outline of Knowledge is divided are disposed not along a finite straight line beginning at this point and ending at that; they are disposed rather as segments of the circle. While it is true that, in this arrangement, one part may lie next to another and at some distance from still another, it is also true that, since the circle can rotate around its axis, any one of the 10 parts may be regarded as standing at the top of the circle, or at the left or right side of it, or at the bottom. In other words, with the circular arrangement of the parts, and with the rotation of the circle, the reader can begin anywhere in the circle of learning and go to adjacent parts around the circle; or, moving along interior transecting lines, the reader can go from any part across the circle to parts that are not adjacent on the circumference. This view of the Outline of Knowledge can be represented in a number of diagrams.


Part One. Matter and Energy

INTRODUCTION: The Universe of the Physicist, the Chemist, and the Astronomer, by Nigel Calder


Division I.    Atoms: Atomic Nuclei and Elementary Particles

111.     The Structure and Properties of Atoms         

112.     The Atomic Nucleus and Elementary Particles         

Division II.  Energy, Radiation, and the States and Transformation of Matter   

121.     Chemical Elements: Periodic Variation in Their Properties   

122.     Chemical Compounds: Molecular Structure and Chemical Bonding

123.     Chemical Reactions   

124.     Heat, Thermodynamics, and the

Nonsolid States of Matter 

125.     The

Solid State of Matter      

126.     Mechanics of Particles, Rigid Bodies, and Deformable Bodies: Elasticity, Vibrations, and Flow   

127.     Electricity and Magnetism     

128.     Waves and Wave Motion      

Division III.           The Universe: Galaxies, Stars, the Solar System

131.     The Cosmos   

132.     Galaxies and Stars     

133.     The Solar System       

Part Two. The Earth 

INTRODUCTION: The Great Globe Itself, by Peter J. Wyllie        

Division I.   The Earth's Properties, Structure, and Composition   

211.     The Planet Earth        

212.     The Earth's Physical Properties          

213.     The Structure and Composition of the Earth's Interior         

214.     The Earth's Constituent Minerals and Rocks 

Division II.  The Earth's Envelope: Its Atmosphere and Hydrosphere      

221.     The Atmosphere         

222.     The Hydrosphere: the Oceans, Freshwater Bodies, and Ice Masses 

223.     Weather and Climate 

Division III. The Earth's Surface Features 

231.     Physical Features of the Earth's Surface         

232.     Features Produced by Geomorphic Processes Acting on the Earth's Surface           

Division IV. The Earth's History       

241.     Origin and Development of the Earth and Its Envelopes     

242.     The Interpretation of the Geologic Record   

243.     The Eras and Periods of Geologic Time        

Part Three. Life on Earth   

INTRODUCTION: The Mysteries of Life, by Rene Dubos 

Division I.   The Nature and Diversity of Living Things

311.     Characteristics of Living Things        

312.     The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things        

313.     The Classification of Living Things   

Division II.  The Molecular Basis of Vital Processes    

321.     Chemicals and the Vital Processes    

322.     Metabolism: Bioenergetics and Biosynthesis

323.     Vital Processes at the Molecular Level          

Division III. The Structures and Functions of Organisms      

331.     The Cellular Basis of Form and Function      

332.     The Relation of Form and Function in Organisms    

333.     Coordination of Vital Processes: Regulation and Integration           

334.     Covering and Support: Integumentary, Skeletal, and Musculatory Systems

335.     Nutrition: the Procurement and Processing of Nutrients       

336.     Gas Exchange, Internal Transport, and Elimination  

337.     Reproduction and Sex           

338.     Development: Growth, Differentiation, and Morphogenesis

339.     Heredity: the Transmission of Traits  

Division IV. Behavioral Responses of Organisms        

341.     Nature and Patterns of Behavioral Responses           

342.     Development and Range of Behavioral Capacities: Individual and Group Behaviour         

Division V.  The Biosphere: the World of Living Things        

351.     Basic Features of the Biosphere        

352.     Biological Populations and Communities      

353.     Hazards of Life in the Biosphere: Disease and Death

354.     Biogeographic Distribution of Organisms: Ecosystems

355.     The Place of Humans in the Biosphere

Part Four. Human Life

INTRODUCTION: The Cosmic Orphan, by Loren Eiseley


Division I.    Stages in the Development of Human Life on Earth     

411.     Human Evolution       

412.     Human Heredity: the Races of Mankind       

Division II.  The Human Organism: Health and Disease        

421.     The Structures and Functions of the Human Body   

422.     Human Health

423.     Human Diseases         

424.     The Practice of Medicine and the Care of Health     

Division III. Human Behaviour and Experience   

431.     Human Nature and Experience: General Considerations      

432.     Influence of the Current Environment on a Person's Behaviour and Conscious Experience: Attention, Sensation, and Perception      

433.     Current Internal States Affecting a Person's Behaviour and Conscious Experience

434.     Persisting Capacities and Inclinations That Influence Human Behaviour and Conscious Experience         

435.     Development of a Person's Potentials: Learning and Thinking         

436.     Personality and the Self: Integration and Disintegration of the Person as a Whole  

Part Five. Human Society 

INTRODUCTION: Man the Social Animal, by Harold D. Lasswell           

Division I.    Social Groups: Peoples and Cultures       

511.     Peoples and Cultures of the World    

512.     The Development of Human Culture

513.     Major Cultural Components and Institutions of Human Societies    

514.     Language and Communication          

Division II.  Social Organization and Social Change    

521.     Social Structure and Change 

522.     The Group Structure of Society         

523.     Social Status  

524.     Human Populations: Urban and Rural Communities 

Division III. The Production, Distribution, and Utilization of Wealth        

531.     Economic Concepts, Issues, and Systems     

532.     The Consumer and the Market: Pricing and the Mechanisms for Distributing Goods          

533.     The Organization of Production and Distribution     

534.     The Distribution of Income and Wealth        

535.     Macroeconomics    

536.     Economic Growth and Planning        

Division IV. Politics and Government        

541.     Political Theory          

542.     Political Institutions: the Structure, Branches, and Offices of Government 

543.     The Functioning of Government: the Dynamics of the Political Process      

544.     International Relations: Peace and War         

Division V.  Law

551.     Philosophies and Systems of Law; the Practice of Law

552.     Branches of Public Law, Substantive and Procedural

553.     Branches of Private Law, Substantive and Procedural

Division VI. Education

561.     The Aims and Organization of Education

562.     Education Around the World

Part Six. Art      

INTRODUCTION: The World of Art, by Mark Van Doren

Division I.    Art in General

611.     Theory and Classification of the Arts

612.     Experience and Criticism of Works of Art; the Nonaesthetic Context of Art          

613.     Characteristics of the Arts in Particular Cultures

Division II.  The Particular Arts

621.     Literature       

622.     Theatre

623.     Motion Pictures

624.     Music

625.     Dance

626.     Architecture, Garden and Landscape Design, and Urban Design

627.     Sculpture        

628.     Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Photography

629.     Arts of Decoration and Functional Design

Part Seven. Technology   

INTRODUCTION: Knowing How and Knowing Why, by Lord Ritchie-Calder

Division I.   The Nature and Development of Technology

711.     Technology: Its Scope and History

712.     The Organization of Human Work

Division II.  Elements of Technology

721.     Technology of Energy Conversion and Utilization

722.     Technology of Tools and Machines

723.     Technology of Measurement. Observation, and Control

724.     Extraction and Conversion of Industrial Raw Materials

725.     Technology of Industrial Production Processes

Division III. Major Fields of Technology

731.     Agriculture and Food Production

732.     Technology of the Major Industries

733.     Construction Technology

734.     Transportation Technology

735.     Technology of Information Processing and of Communications Systems    

736.     Military Technology

737.     Technology of the Urban Community

738.     Technology of Earth and Space Exploration

Part Eight. Religion  

INTRODUCTION: Religion as Symbolism, by Wilfred Cantwell Smith

Division I.    Religion in General       

811.     Knowledge and Understanding of Religion

812.     The Religious Life: Institutions and Practices

Division II.  The Particular Religions

821.     Prehistoric Religion and Primitive Religion

822.     Religions of Ancient Peoples

823.     Hinduism and Other Religions of


824.     Buddhism

825.     Indigenous Religions of East Asia: Religions of

China, Korea, and Japan   

826.     Judaism

827.     Christianity

828.     Islam

829.     Other Religions and Religious Movements in the Modern World

Part Nine. The History of Mankind     

INTRODUCTION: The Point and Pleasure of Reading History, by Jacques Barzun          

Division I.   Peoples and Civilizations of Ancient Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Europe

911.     Early Peoples and Civilizations of Southwest Asia and

Egypt, the Aegean, and North Africa       

912.     Peoples of Ancient

Europe and the Classical Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean World to AD


Division II.  Peoples and Civilizations of Medieval Europe, North Africa, and

Southwest Asia

921. Western Europe, the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, and

Eastern Europefrom AD 395 to c. 1050

922. The Formative Period in Islamic History, from AD 622 to c. 1055

923. Western Christendom in the High and Later Middle Ages (c. 1050undefinedc. 1500)

924. The Crusading Movement, the Islamic States of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Europe, and the States of Eastern Christendom from c. 1050 to c. 1480

Division III. Peoples and Traditional Civilizations of East, Central, South and

Southeast Asia


Chinato the Beginning of the Late T'ang (AD 755) 


Chinafrom the Late T'ang (AD 755) to the Late Ch'ing (e. 1839)

933.     Inner (Central and Northeast)

Asiato c. 1750


Japanto the Meiji Restoration (1868), and Koreato 1910

935.     The Indian Subcontinent and

Ceylonto c. AD 1200

936.     The Indian Subcontinent from c. 1200 to 1761, and

Ceylonfrom c. 1200 to 1505

937.     The Peoples and Civilizations of

Southeast Asiato e. 1600

Division IV. Peoples and Civilizations of Sub-Saharan

Africato 1885


West Africato c. 1885

942.     The Nilotic

Sudanand Ethiopiafrom c. AD 550 to 1885

943.     East Africa and

Madagascarto c. 1885

944.     Central

Africato c. 1885

945.     Southern

Africato c. 1885

Division V.  Peoples and Civilizations of Pre-Columbian


951.     Andean Civilization to c. AD 1540

952.     Meso-American Civilization to c. AD 1540

Division VI. The Modern World to 1920


Western Europefrom c. 1500 to c. 1789

962.     Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia, and

North Africafrom c. 1480 to c. 1800


Europefrom 1789 to c. 1920

964.     European Colonies in the

Americasfrom 1492 to c. 1790

965.     Development of the

United Statesand Canadafrom 1763 to 1920

966.     Development of the Latin-American and

CaribbeanNations to c. 1920


Australiaand Oceaniato c. 1920

968.     South

AsiaUnder the Influence of European Imperialism from c. 1500 to c. 1920


Southeast AsiaUnder the Influence of European Imperialism to c. 1920


Chinafrom 1839 Until the Onset of Revolution (to c. 1911), and Japanfrom the Meiji Restoration to c. 1910

96/11. Southwest Asia and North Africa (c. 1800-1920), and Sub-Saharan

Africa(1885–c. 1920) Under the Influence of European Imperialism: the Early Colonial Period

Division VII.          The World Since 1920

971.     International Movements, Diplomacy, and War Since 1920 


EuropeSince c. 1920 

973.     The

United Statesand CanadaSince 1920

974.     Latin-American and

CaribbeanNations Since c. 1920

975.     East Asia:

Chinain Revolution, the Era of Japanese Hegemony, and the Influence of the United Statesin the 20th Century  

976.     South and

Southeast Asia: the Late Colonial Period and the            Emergence of New Nations Since 1920


Australiaand OceaniaSince 1920

978.     Southwest Asia and

Africa: the Late Colonial Period and the Emergence of New Nations in the 20th Century          

Part Ten. The Branches of Knowledge      

INTRODUCTION: Knowledge Become Self-conscious, by Mortimer J. Adler

Division I.    Logic

10/11. History and Philosophy of Logic        

10/12. Formal Logic, Metalogic, and Applied Logic

Division II.  Mathematics

10/21. History and Foundations of Mathematics

10/22. Branches of Mathematics

10/23. Applications of Mathematics

Division III. Science      

10/31. History and Philosophy of Science     

10/32. The Physical Sciences 

10/33. The Earth Sciences

10/34. The Biological Sciences

10/35. Medicine and Affiliated Disciplines

10/36. The Social Sciences and Psychology and Linguistics 

10/37. The Technological Sciences

Division IV. History and the Humanities

10/41. Historiography and the Study of History

10/42. The Humanities and Humanistic Scholarship

Division V.  Philosophy

10/51. History of Philosophy

10/52. The Nature and the Divisions of Philosophy

10/53. Philosophical Schools and Doctrines

Division VI. Preservation of Knowledge

10/61. Institutions and Techniques for the Collection, Storage, Dissemination, and Preservation of Knowledge
© Project Prometheus
Powered by Wild Apricot. Try our all-in-one platform for easy membership management