Sapience Knowledge Base

Since the invention of the printing press, there has been an explosion in human knowledge. There are millions of books, papers, and other pieces of knowledge. Since it is impossible for one person to be an expert in everything, the growth of knowledge has favored the development of specialists; those who know a great deal about some tiny slice of knowledge. Much of this literature has been created by specialists writing to and for other specialists. This creates formidable barriers of understanding when nonspecialists attempt to read their works.

Neverthless, there may remain a place for generalists, those who know a little bit about a great many things. This Knowledge Base is being created for those who would like a guide or a road map before plunging into and getting lost in wildernesses of specialized knowledge.

The Sapience Knowledge Base is a topically organized outline of human knowledge, derived from several partial organizations, such as the Propaedia of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal library cataloging systems, and a number of university course catalogs.

I have divided human knowledge into major sections of history, sociology, institutions, culture, anthropology, personal studies, and science.

It is organized in a hierarchical fashion, with general topics at the top, and more specialized topics at lower levels. The main subdivisions are listed in approximately decreasing order of complexity following the introduction. Links back to higher levels are placed in the upper right hand corner of each page.

The principal unique feature of this knowledge base is the system of cross links. Below the main subdivisions are auxiliary or aids sections, which contain cross links so that any subject may be viewed from the perspective of any other if a reasonable connection exists. The same basic plan of organization is used throughout.

I note that this is an open-ended work in progress, subject to additions, corrections, and revisions at any time. This is the Sapience Home page, which is fairly stable and will be revised only infrequently. Most of the action takes place in the subdivisions, especially in the cross links.


Human history is here divided into five periods. Prehistory deals with developments in human society before the beginning of recorded history about 3000 BC. Antiquity deals with developments in the ancient world before about 500 BC. Significant developments in philosophy and religion make this a convenient dividing point. Classical and medieval history deals largely with the development of major civilizations until the beginning of modern history about 1500 CE. Modern history deals with the worldwide expansion of Western Civilization and its interaction with all the other peoples of the world for the past 500 years. The future is not entirely predictable, but can be considered.


Sociology as considered here is divided into three sections. Peoples of the world deals with nations, countries, ethnic groups, tribes, and the like. Communities deals with cities and towns. Social mechanics deals with social change, types of society, and the structure of societies.


Sociologists have recognized five major institutions of society, at least in Western civilization, and I have taken these to be fairly universal, even if other societies might use a different organization. Religion includes particular religions of the world, religious organization, religious practice, and religious belief. Government includes particular governments, government activity, government structure, and law. Economics includes economic systems, industries, and economic activities. Education includes school systems, educational organization, cultural institutions, teaching, and research. Family studies include particular families, kinship, parenting, and marriage.


Culture has three major areas. Behavioral culture includes cultural events, recreation and entertainment, occupations, and customs. Conceptual culture includes philosophy, appllied science, mathematics, literature, graphic arts, and language. Material culture includes miscellaneous artifacts, communication technology, transportation technology, foodstuffs, clothing and dress, building technology, and industrial technology.


As used on this site, anthropology includes particular groups. Human geography deals more with the physical regions of the world and is closely related to but distinct from the peoples of the world. Human ecology includes human effect on the natural environment, relations with other living things, and effects of the environment on people. Physical anthropology deals with human dispersion, racial variation, and human origins. Demography includes population change, population size and structure, migration, death, and birth. Social foundations deals with social group behavior, social group types, social control, social interaction, and social presentation, or how people present themselves and appear to others.

Personal Studies

Personal studies includes biography of individuals, psychology including social psychology, personality, mental disorders, developmental psychology, behavior patterns, mind, and behavioral elements; and the human body including form and appearance, disease, life cycle, body functions, and body systems.


Science includes the physical and natural sciences. Biology includes biohistory, ecology, systematics, organism biology, cell biology, and molecular biology. Earth science includes geohistory, physical geography, atmospheric science, hydrospheric science, and geology. Astronomy includes galactic astronomy, stellar astronomy, and local astronomy. Chemistry includes chemical systems, chemical change, and chemical substances. Physics includes the structure of matter, quantum physics, relativity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and mechanics.

Created 23 Feb 2013, last update 2 Nov 2017