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Reading Wittgenstein Between the Texts

This post is the fourth of a series of contributions to the DR2 Conference. Comments are welcome! (How to comment) Marco santoro1, massimo airoldi2 & Emanuela riviera3 1 University of Bologna; 2 University of EM, Lyon; 3 Independent Researcher    ABSTRACT: Sharing the “historicist challenge to analytic philosophy” (Glock 2006) we attempt a “distant reading” of the (mainly) philosophical literature on and about Ludwig Wittgenstein. We start with a descriptive profile of the temporal structure of LW’s work. Then we focus on the literature (i.e. scholarship) on LW as we have been able to represent it through an analysis of bibliographic data drawn from the Philosopher’s Index, an electronic bibliographic database especially devoted to philosophy as a discipline. This is the central section of our paper, and the longer one, in which we attempt to describe and to map with the help of more sophisticated statistical tools Wittgenstein scholarship in its properties and changing forms. We look at the social profile and relations of the authors who contributes to the establishment of LW as a central reference in the current intellectual landscape as well as the network and dynamics of topics to which LW has been associated.  We end by proposing a set of possible explanatory frameworks (not really explanations, but research directions for elaborating explanations) for our results. With our paper we would add a “social dimension” to the aforementioned historicist challenge, making a case for an historical-sociological approach to (analytic) philosophy, along the lines of Bourdieu (1988) on Heidegger, Lamont (1992) on Derrida, Gross (2006) on Rorty, and Collins (1999) on the whole philosophical tradition.   My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written (L. Wittgenstein)   In this paper we will attempt a “distant reading”[1] of the (mainly) philosophical literature on and about Ludwig Wittgenstein (LW).  We are not doing research on Wittgenstein’s work as such but on people doing research on him. This is one first sense according to which we understand the meaning of ‘distance’ in our ‘distant reading.’ The second sense is that we are not studying those people through a close reading of their texts, but through a reconstruction of the aggregate properties of their works and of themselves as authors. Indeed, it is a sociology of philosophical work addressed from the vantage point of its output, a bibliography, what we are attempting here[2]. The choice of LW as the main reference of our research has two reasons. First, he is  “considered by some to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century” (Stanford Philosophical Encyclopedia) or at least “one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy -IEP)[3]. At least two major traditions of philosophical research have elected him as a central reference point, i.e. logic positivism and later analytic philosophy (see e.g. Gellner 1958; Hacker 1996; Tripodi 2015), not to mention more specialized fields as the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of mind. A focus on him has therefore an intrinsic interest even if it would make a case less generalizable than other, less influential and more “typical” philosophers (if such a figure ever exists). Second, as social scientists we have a special interest in Wittgenstein as possibly the most “sociologically relevant” of contemporary philosophers, or at least the philosopher whose work has exerted the stronger impact on the social sciences – sociology as well as anthropology (Winch 1959; Saran 1965; Giddens 1976; Porpora 1983; Bloor 1997; Das 1998; Pleasants 2002; Rawls 2008) and to a lesser extent even political science (Pitkin 1972). Currently, LW is still a major influence over at least three influential research streams in social theory, namely the sociology of scientific knowledge, ethnomethodology, and practice theory (e.g. Bloor 1973, 1983; Phillips 1977; Coulter 1979; Lynch 1992, 1993; Schusterman 1998; Schatzki et al 2001; Stern 2002; Kusch 2004; Bernasconi-Kohn 2007; Sharrock, Hughes, and Anderson 2013). Indeed, LW’s influence in a growing number of fields outside philosophy is what observers (including historians of contemporary philosophy) suggest[4] and it is what our research aims to assess empirically. There is indeed a third reason for our choice of LW: the richness and complexity of his publishing and editing history (Kenny 2005; Erbacher 2015), which makes “Wittgenstein” a strategic case study for a research on cultural production and postmortem consecration – two major topics in the contemporary sociology of cultural life (see for instance Heinich 1990; Santoro 2010; Fine 2012). Indeed, this third reason crisscrosses profitably with the first, when considering that Wittgenstein’s stardom in the philosophical field has grown along with the posthumous publications of his (many) unpublished writings, and that LW’s place in contemporary analytic philosophy has considerably declined in the last decades – or at least this is what the now standard tale tells us (Hacker 1996; Tripodi 2009). We have organized our paper in three virtual sections. First, we describe the temporal structure of LW’s work: to have a literature on Wittgenstein you need to have Wittgenstein’s literature, so it seems necessary to have at least some knowledge of the latter. Second, we focus on the literature (i.e. scholarship) on LW as we have been able to represent it through an analysis of bibliographic data drawn from the Philosopher’s Index, an electronic bibliographic database especially devoted to philosophy as a discipline. This is the central section of our paper, and the longer one, in which we attempt to describe and to map with the help of a few sophisticated statistical tools Wittgensteinian scholarship in its properties and changing forms. Third, we set forth a series of provisional explanations for our results, also considering the research on Wittgenstein beyond and besides the philosophical field, looking for trends and patterns of circulation of his ideas across different research areas and disciplinary fields, mapping what we would call, following Bourdieu (2002), the ‘international field of Wittgensteinism’.[5]. In particular, we advance four hypothesis, mutually compatible and reinforcing, two referring to exogenous and two to endogenous explanations in the sociology of cultural life (Kaufman 2004), which we suggest could be used to make sense of the results of our distant reading.   1. The structure of LW’s work and the philosophical field. Far from being a strange one, the question “What is a work by Wittgenstein?“ (Schulte 2006)  is not only appropriate: it is almost inevitable in a research as ours. The literature on LW is chronologically intermeshed with Wittgenstein’s philosophical work as it was made available to readers and authors, in a relation that is circular: research on LW – secondary literature as it is called – has been part and parcel with the same work for which LW is acknowledged as author.  As Wittgenstein published barely 25,000 words of philosophical writing during his lifetime— including a book (i.e. the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus), a caustic book review, and a very short conference paper he never read—the texts or writings that he left unpublished have played an unusually large role in the reception of his work – comparable probably in 20th century to Husserl and Gramsci only. According to public estimates, the posthumous publications, almost all of them based on materials collected in his Nachlass, contain well over a million words. As the Nachlass as a whole contains approximately three million words (i.e. over 20,000 pages of manuscripts and typescripts), one might estimate that roughly a third of Wittgenstein’s writing is in print. However, as much of the material that was not edited for publication consists of early versions, rearrangements, and other source material for the previously published material, one could argue that considerably less than two thirds of his Nachlass has still to see the light of day in one form or another. Fig. 1 – The temporal structure of LW’s work Legenda: new edition/translation only in English Fig. 2. A cumulative work, in published books (1922-2015)   The publishing history of LW is however less linear than it may appear from these figures.  Consider the following. As Wittgenstein never copyedited any of these papers for publication, each of the posthumous books and papers called for substantial editorial decisions about their content, and how to present it; b) three persons (G.E.M. Ascombe, R. Rhees and G.H. von Wright) have been charged by the same LW of these publications after LW’s death, and they had to negotiate among themselves and other actors (e.g. publishing houses, other people owning materials etc.) exactly what to publish and in which order and form; c) very soon other people entered in the business, more or less accepted by the literary heirs, who made what was possible to them to keep control over the publication plans; d) new materials (manuscripts, letters, lessons’ transcriptions) have come to light, or to the market; e) manuscripts and typescripts had usually to be translated from their original German, and this asked for a preliminary interpretation and opened the door to “manipulation”, also in a positive sense; f) new collective actors entered the game time after time, as departments (e.g. Cornell’s Dept. of Philosophy who owned a copy of all the materials, Bergen’s Dept. who bought these copies in order to digitalize it, etc.); g) editing conventions as well as publishing technologies have been changing, asking for new editions and new solutions. Consequently, almost all of the twentieth-century publications from the Nachlass were extensively edited, often with little or no indication of the relationship between the source texts and the published material (at least till what Erbacher calls the “later rounds of editing Wittgenstein’s Nachlass”), opening the door to debate about not only the content of LW’s ideas but also their form, composition and structure. Briefly, the Work was far from being fixed, established, crystallized, and not only its contents but also its forms and its boundaries have been themselves a stake in the politico-intellectual game through which Wittgenstein as both an Author and a Person has been known (i.e. read, commented, criticised, contradicted, supported, refined, developed, interpreted, canonized etc.) in the almost seven decades after his death.[6] In a sense, LW’s work – once published – has fostered if not generated what LW has tried to fight if not solve all his life: “philosophical problems”. To be sure, this generation started in 1922 (the year of publication of the Tractatus) but has literally exploded only after 1953 (the year of the posthumous publication of the Untersuchungen/Investigations, that is the first of his post-mortem books and for many still his masterpiece). As we will show, LW work has spurred a whole “industry” inside the philosophical discipline, an industry made of people, articles, books, journals, conferences, associations, academic positions, fellowships, and so on. Our research focuses on this industry – that we would conceptualize, following Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory, as a field of cultural production (or better: as a subfield located at the intersection of other fields, including the field of philosophy as an academic discipline): The space of literary or artistic position-takings, i.e. the structured set of the manifestations of the social agents involved in the field — literary or artistic works, of course, but also political acts or pronouncements, manifestos or polemics, etc. — is inseparable from the space of literary or artistic positions defined by possession of a determinate quantity of specific capital (recognition) and, at the same time, by occupation of a determinate position in the structure of the distribution of this specific capital. The literary or artistic field is a field of forces, but it is also a field of struggles tending to transform or conserve this field of forces. It follows from this, for example, that a position-taking changes, even when the position remains identical, whenever there is change in the universe of options that are simultaneously offered for producers and consumers to choose from.  The meaning of a work (artistic, literary, philosophical, etc.) changes automatically with each change in the field within which it is situated for the spectator or reader (Bourdieu 1993, p. 30). Fundamental to Bourdieu’s view is that we cannot understand any work […]

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Posted in History of philosophy, Open Peer Review, Science Mapping, Wittgenstein | 31 Comments »

Two quantitative researches in the history of philosophy. Some uphazard methodological reflections

This post is the third of a series of  contributions to the DR2 Conference.  Comments are welcome! (How to comment)   guido bonino1, Paolo maffezioli2 & paolo tripodi1 1 University of Turin; 2 University of Barcelona   In this paper we are going to put forth some methodological reflections on two different investigations we have conducted in the context of the DR2 research group. Such investigations were our first serious attempts at applying distant reading techniques and more in general quantitative methods to the history of philosophy. A sketchy preliminary presentation of the two researches is in order as a basis for the methodological remarks. 1.two case studies in quantitative history of philosophy 1.1 Wittgenstein and academic success The first investigation concerns the place of Wittgenstein in contemporary analytic philosophy. Of course, this topic has already been amply investigated by means of the traditional methods of the history of philosophy. A rather convincing historical reconstruction is largely shared within the philosophical community. The story begins in the 1950s and 1960s, when Oxford, and to a lesser extent Cambridge, were the centre of analytic philosophy, and when Wittgenstein – the later Wittgenstein – was regarded as the champion of that philosophical tendency. In the 50s and 60s the Wittgensteinian paradigm was so dominant in Britain, that many people thought that that tradition was about to have a similar impact also on the US. However, things went on differently. That happened presumably for a number of philosophical, cultural, and even geopolitical reasons. Let us just say that the Wittgensteinian tradition has been largely forgotten or rejected by present-day analytic philosophers: it has lost its centrality in Britain, and it has never reached a comparable reputation in the US. That is roughly the story that many philosophers accept and that is told by historians of philosophy. The aim of our work was to check whether a quantitative approach to the history of philosophy can add some interesting details and new insights to the historical-philosophical understanding of the decline of the Wittgensteinian tradition in contemporary analytic philosophy. It is important to realize that, notwithstanding the supposed decline, Wittgenstein has always remained a very important philosopher, a “classic” – so to speak – throughout the whole period under consideration, and that he has always been a very popular subject matter of PhD philosophy dissertations in the US.   We thought that one aspect of the supposed decline of Wittgenstein in the history of analytic philosophy could be investigated by analyzing the academic careers (if any) of those who wrote their dissertation on Wittgenstein, and by comparing them with the careers of those who wrote their dissertation on a “typical” analytic philosopher. In particular, we chose four analytic philosophers, who hold very different views on virtually every subject, but who are almost unanimously regarded as important figures within the analytic community. They are David Lewis, Saul Kripke, Michael Dummett and Jerry Fodor. The first step of the work was that of selecting the philosophy dissertations defended from 1981 to 2010. Then we selected those dissertations in which the name ‘Wittgenstein’ occurs in the abstract. Thus we got 329 dissertations. The same was done with the “analytic” dissertations (we got 404 of them). Then we traced the academic careers (if any) of all the authors of dissertations that had been selected. We attributed a numerical value to the highest position each of them held (if any). We took into account both the academic rank (adjunct, assistant, associate, full professor) and the ranking of the philosophy department (we used a rather rough ranking, based on three levels, and drawn from existing rankings). Then we calculated the average value for each group: this is what we called the Academic Success Index. Figure 3 shows the comparison between Wittgensteinian and analytic dissertations.   As you can see, there is a significant difference between the two groups. The Wittgensteinian “decline” seems to be in some way confirmed. The relatively low Academic Success Index is a manifestation of such a decline. It must be remarked that the Academic Success Index, given the somewhat arbitrary way in which the different factors are weighed, should not be taken too seriously as an absolute value. However, we think that it represents a significant indicator, if it is considered in a comparative way. What makes us confident that the result is rather solid is that we considered other groups of dissertations and made other comparisons, and all of them converge toward its confirmation. More or less the same results can be obtained whether you consider the whole period 1981-2010 or rather the disaggregated data for five-year periods, whether you focus on strictly Wittgensteinian theses or you take into account also those in which Wittgenstein is a minor topic, whether you normalize the Academic Success Index for academic age or not, etc.; moreover the Academic Success Index of Wittgenstein is low not only with respect to typical analytic philosophers, but also with respect to some other groups of dissertations we chose as control groups: Gadamer, Spinoza and a random sample of the dissertations.   What does all that mean? Everybody knows that correlation is not causation. The fact that those who write a dissertation on Wittgenstein are less likely to enjoy academic success with respect to those who write their dissertation on a typical recent analytic philosopher (or on Spinoza, for that matter) does not by itself mean that the choice of the subject matter of their dissertation is in any way a cause of their not so brilliant career. We tried in our work to show, by means of different comparisons of data, that the choice of the subject matter is at least a genuine cause, among others, of the difference in academic success. But why, and how, does a philosophical topic make a difference for academic success? Using a visualization software, we found this.         These maps have been obtained by retrieving and counting the occurrences of terms in the abstracts of the theses. The size of an item’s label and the size of an item’s circle depend on the number of occurrences of the item. Looking at the analytic map, we found a pattern that we did not recognize in the Wittgensteinian one. The keywords on the map (that is, the biggest blue circles), suggest the idea that philosophy is a kind of theory – ‘theory’ is the main keyword – which provides arguments, gives accounts, defends claims, in order to solve problems. Theory, argument, problem, account, claim: these are all important keywords on the analytic map. It is a pattern that alludes to a science-oriented style and metaphilosophical view. To sum up the present results: it seemed to us that the difference of academic success may be (partly) explained by the presence (and the absence) of certain semantic patterns; such patterns, in turn, point to the presence (and the absence) of a science-oriented philosophical style and metaphilosophy. Therefore this is perhaps our main thesis: the index of academic success for PhD candidates in US philosophy departments in the last forty years is quite strictly connected to the choice of a more or less science-oriented philosophical style and metaphilosophy. Did our quantitative research add anything original to the picture of the decline of Wittgenstein provided by historians of philosophy by means of traditional methods? We think so. We have retrieved, measured, read and interpreted a relatively large amount of data, and by examining the data we have pointed out the metaphoric place where the decline of Wittgenstein began. It is up there, so to speak, in the very same place in which the process of academic recruitment takes place. Our results seem to suggest that the decline of Wittgenstein, which at least in part depends on the choice of a certain topic for the PhD dissertation (a topic more or less associated to science-oriented philosophical style and metaphilosophy), is not due, so to speak, to a widespread Zeitgeist. If a philosopher is simply out of the Zeitgeist, or against the tide of history, it is likely that people cease to speak of his work: for example, PhD students would probably write few dissertations on him. Here we have to do with a different phenomenon: the decline of Wittgenstein seems to be a consequence of a top-down process, or better: of a process driven from the top, a process guided by a relatively small number of people, i.e. those academics who hold the power of influencing the recruitment policies in the philosophy departments. Of course, this remark is nothing but a suggestion. More work should be done, and more data should be analysed, in order to make the suggestion a solidly confirmed hypothesis. However, it is not an airy-fairy suggestion either. 1.2 Logic in analytic philosophy The aim of our second work was that of substantiating with data the widely shared view according to which logic has become increasingly central in analytic philosophy. The corpus taken into consideration comprises all the articles published in five important philosophical journals (The Journal of Philosophy, Mind, The Philosophical Review, The Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research) in the time span 1941-2010. To give a concise anticipatory overview, we provided some results concerning the overall presence of logic in these articles, the relative technical sophistication of the logic used for philosophical purposes, the kind of use that is made of logic (i.e., subject matter vs. instrumental). Our guiding questions were: What are the relations between analytic philosophy and logic? What is the role of logic in analytic philosophy? Would you need logic to do analytic philosophy? The common opinion is that logic is very important in analytic philosophy. However, to understand better what the role of logic in (analytic) philosophy is, it seemed interesting to us to investigate how much logic and what kind of logic is present in philosophy, and how it is used. Distant reading and, more generally, quantitative methods allowed us to find more interesting and reliable answers to such questions.   By distantly or – as Moretti once said – serially reading all the articles in which logic is in some way present, for each paper we raised the following two questions. Q1: What does this paper use logic for? Q2: What level of logical competence does this paper require? In answering Q1, we distinguished an instrumental and a non-instrumental role of logic in philosophy. By non-instrumental uses we mean either doing logic properly understood (= giving proofs, demonstrating theorems, and so forth) or dealing with logic as a subject matter of philosophy (= investigating the philosophy of logic). Instrumental uses are those that can be found in articles in which the role of logic is that of providing an instrument for philosophy: logic as an instrument for doing moral philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and so forth. A third category (“Other”) includes history of logic and inductive logic.   Logic as an instrument increases over time, logic as a discipline does not: philosophy of logic decreases and logic proper remains constant (with negligible numbers). The common opinion seems to be confirmed by data, but it does not tell the whole story. Even with respect to Q2, we wanted to find an answer as precise and complete as possible. In order to get to such an answer, we proposed a method to measure the level of “logical sophistication”. We have represented in a map the most relevant topics in logic, from logical preliminaries to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, so to speak. The map is based on a comparative analysis of the table of contents of ten well-known logic textbooks and online courses. Technically, the map consists in a graph with nodes labelled by logical topics and arrows connecting the nodes. The nodes are the following: Preliminaries: prel Propositional logic: pl Propositional modal logic: pml Non-classical propositional logics: ncpl First-order logic: fol Peano arithmetic: pa Proof theory: pt Second-order logic: sol Model theory: mt Set theory: st First-order modal logic: foml   The numbers represent […]

Posted in History of philosophy, Logic, Open Peer Review, Wittgenstein | 2 Comments »

Exploring Knowledge Dynamics in the Humanities. A Science-Mapping Approach to the History of Contemporary Analytic Philosophy and Human Geography

This post is the second of a series of  contributions to the DR2 Conference.  Comments are welcome! (How to comment)   Eugenio Petrovich (University of Siena) & Emiliano Tolusso (University of milan) In this post, we discuss some of the results we presented at the conference “Distant Reading & Data-Driven Research in the History of Philosophy” (University of Turin, 16-18 January 2017). Our talk aimed to explore the dynamics of knowledge in the humanities with a quantitative approach drawn from scientometrics (the field studying the quantitative aspects of the scientific production). In particular, we wanted to assess the viability of citation network visualization techniques (known as “science mapping”) as a tool for reconstructing the recent history of two fields in the humanities: analytic philosophy and human geography. First, we will provide a short introduction to the idea, aims, and rationale of science mapping. Second, we will focus on our two case studies, describing for each one the dataset used and the main findings. Third, we will briefly discuss several limits of our methodology. Finally, we will sketch some directions for further research. We want to point out that the results presented in this paper are still provisional and our claims should be taken more as hypotheses than as assertions. Our work is still in progress, and we will greatly appreciate any suggestion or comment the readers of this post would like to share with us. Fig. 1. Example of a citation network. The circles represent publications and the arrows the citations.   At the core of science mapping lies the idea that a set of scientific publications (papers, monographs, collections, and the like) can be represented as a network, where publications are the nodes of the network and citations among publications are the links. The resulting network represents the citational structure of the set of publications. From this basic idea, more refined types of analysis can be derived. For example, it can be assigned to each couple of publications a co-citation score, i.e., the number of times the two publications are cited together in the set. The resulting matrix (co-citation matrix) can in turn be visualized spatially, arranging the nodes of the network proportionally to their relatedness (i.e., the number of co-citations they share), so that the closer two dots appear in the maps, the more frequently they are cited together. The resulting science map is called “co-citation map”. Other kinds of science maps can be produced using authors, journals or institution as nodes of the network. A special kind of maps are those derived from text analysis of titles and abstracts of papers (term maps). In this case, the nodes of the network are noun-phrases (i.e., sequences of nouns plus adjectives), and their reciprocal distance represents their co-occurrence (i.e., the number of times they appear in the same title or abstract). Any network analysis software can generate science maps, but recently several dedicated tools have been developed specifically for science mapping purposes. In our research, we used VOSviewer, the science mapping tool developed by Nees Jan Van Eck and Ludo Waltman at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) in Leiden University (Netherlands) (van Eck and Waltman 2010). Science maps are used for a variety of applications in different contexts. First, they can be used to determine the structure of a scientific field as it results from the citational relations of publications in journals (field delineation). Second, they find application in the science policy, where they can be used to assess strengths and weaknesses in the research performance of institutions such as universities or research centers (research assessment). Finally, they can be used to reconstruct the very recent history of science, individuating the emerging paradigms of a field (historical reconstruction). The last one is the purpose we pursue in our two case studies.   FIRST CASE STUDY: Analytic philosophy[1] DATASET In this study, we retrieved from Web of Science Core Collection all documents (articles and reviews) published in five journals publishing high-quality generalist[2] analytic philosophy (The Philosophical Review, Noûs, The Journal of Philosophy, Mind, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research). These five journals were ranked in the top 5 generalist analytic philosophy journals in two recent polls conducted at the blog Leiter Reports: in both polls each of them received over 500 votes. In order to track the evolution of the field, documents were retrieved for three different ten-year timespans: 1985-1994, 1995-2004 and 2005-2015. The total number of record was 11 167 (see table 1). Ranking (Leiter’s blog) Source Timespan Records 1 PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW 1985-1994 821 1 PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW 1995-2004 722 1 PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW 2005-2015 440 2 NOÛS 1985-1994 755 2 NOÛS 1995-2004 606 2 NOÛS 2005-2015 554 3 JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 1985-1994 593 3 JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 1995-2004 416 3 JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 2005-2015 387 4 MIND 1985-1994 750 4 MIND 1995-2004 1064 4 MIND 2005-2015 1268 5 PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH 1985-1994 752 5 PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH 1995-2004 1062 5 PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH 2005-2015 977 1-5 TOP FIVE 1985-2015 11 167 Table 1: the dataset.   OVERALL MAP (1985-2015) The aggregated data (1985-2015) were used to generate a first map (overall map). This map is based on co-citation analysis, where documents (comprehending both articles and books with more than 20 citations) are the nodes of the network, the links represent co-citation connections among items, and the links’ thickness represents the number of co-citations between two items. VOSviewer also provides clustering of the documents, picturing documents belonging to different clusters in different colors[3]. Documents appearing closer in the map have high co-citation values, i.e., they are frequently cited together in bibliographies. Fig. 2. Overall map (1985-2015). We believe that it is possible to recognize the sub-disciplinary structure of analytic philosophy in the clustered structure of the co-citation network. In particular, the red cluster in the northern part of the map includes many documents related to “philosophy of mind”; the yellow eastern cluster could be attributed to “moral and political philosophy”. The southern green cluster could be labeled “metaphysics”. The western light blue one “epistemology”. At the center of the map, several works in the “philosophy of language” can be recognized. Even if these labels should be used cautiously, the overall structure of the map seems patent. An interesting feature of the map is the center-periphery relation, which seems to be meaningful. In the center of the map, it seems that one can find the “paradigms” of analytical tradition (Levy 2003), whereas in the periphery we find the specialized sub-disciplines. It seems that the farther one document is located in the map, the more specialized its content is. However, we believe that a richer interpretation of the core and periphery of the map is still needed. In particular, we believe it is desirable to connect more properly these findings with substantial meta-philosophical conceptions and theories about the structure of contemporary philosophy. Considering the documents shown in the map (i.e., the cited references with more than 20 citations), it seems clear that no “continental” author is present (see Table 2). We can conclude that the so-called analytic-continental divide is still present, at least in the contributions to the journals considered. Ranking Author Year Title Cluster Label Links Co-citations Citations 1 lewis d. 1986  plurality worlds 2 Metaphysics 80 595 260 2 kripke saul 1980  naming necessity 5 Philosophy of language 89 552 223 3 evans g. 1982  varieties reference 1 Philosophy of mind 82 558 176 4 quine willard van orman 1960  word object 2 Metaphysics 84 472 172 5 williamson t 2000  knowledge its limits 3 Epistemology 82 467 163 6 lewis d. 1973  Counterfactuals 4 Political and moral philosophy 78 327 156 7 parfit derek 1984  reasons persons 4 Political and moral philosophy 64 293 151 8 nozick r. 1981  philos explanations 3 Epistemology 86 463 150 9 rawls j. 1971  theory justice 4 Political and moral philosophy 61 179 128 10 davidson donald 1980  essays actions event 4 Political and moral philosophy 82 308 110  Table 2: most cited documents (1985-2015).   HISTORICAL RECONSTRUCTION In this section, we present three science maps, each one based on documents published in the three subsequent timespans we considered. All the maps are co-citation network (see above). Fig. 3: Map 1985-1994   Fig. 4: Map 1995-2004.   Fig. 5: Map 2005-2015. These maps show the morphological evolution of the networks. There is a clear pattern of clusterization of the network over time, with the gradual definition of subclusters. We suggest that this pattern mirrors the increasing specialization of analytic philosophy in the last thirty years, a feature of the field that is perceived by many of its practitioners (Marconi 2014).   SECOND CASE STUDY: HUMAN GEOGRAPHY DATASET Once again, we based our analysis on Web of Science Core Collection. In order to reduce the sample to a manageable size, we selected five generalist[4] journals indicated by Scimago Journal & Country Rank as the highest-quality for the year 2015 (Progress in Human Geography, Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Journal of Economic Geography, Economic Geography). Documents were again divided in the same three different ten-year timespans (see table 3) Ranking Source Timespan Records 1 PROGRESS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 1985-1994 1136 1 PROGRESS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 1995-2004 1332 1 PROGRESS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY 2005-2015 1080 2 GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE – HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS 1985-1994 154 2 GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE – HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS 1995-2004 361 2 GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE – HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS 2005-2015 1028 3 TRANSACTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE OF BRITISH GEOGRAPHERS 1985-1994 667 3 TRANSACTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE OF BRITISH GEOGRAPHERS 1995-2004 538 3 TRANSACTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE OF BRITISH GEOGRAPHERS 2005-2015 480 4 JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 1985-1994 0 4 JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 1995-2004 99 4 JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 2005-2015 523 5 ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 1985-1994 518 5 E ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 1995-2004 443 5 ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 2005-2015 428            1-5 TOP FIVE 1985-2015 8787  Table 3: the dataset.   OVERALL MAP The whole dataset (1985-2015) was converted into the first map (overall map). In this second case study, we tested a slightly different approach, analyzing the recent evolution of the main research themes in the discipline of human geography via term maps. Terms (noun-phrases) serve as the node of the network, while the distance between the two terms represents the number of their co-occurrences. Terms appearing closer in the map have high co-occurrence values, meaning that they are frequently coupled in titles and abstracts of target documents.   Fig 6: overall map. The thematic structure of contemporary research in geography is easily readable in the map. Specifically, four main clusters are recognizable. The yellow cluster in the northern part of the map represents the sub-discipline of “economic geography”, the red cluster in the western part stands out as “social geography”, while the eastern cluster colored in green is representative of the “environmental geography” field. The last one, colored in blue, represents the field of the geography of climate change. A compelling feature of the map is the absence of a real center. The four clusters gravitate around autonomous centroids, with different levels of integration with each other: the resultant structure is donut-shaped, showing, therefore, the lack of a real thematic center in the broad discipline. item cluster Label Links Citations Avg. pub. Year change 2 145 1591 2005 climate change 3 143 1307 2008 space 1 143 1063 2005 impact 2 145 1032 2007 city 1 143 1009 2004 practice 1 145 975 2007 region 4 145 954 2006 economy 4 145 926 2004 model 2 145 922 2005 country 2 145 902 2006 Table 4: Most cited items.   HISTORICAL RECONSTRUCTION In this section, we turn again to the historical reconstruction, presenting three maps, each of them based on documents published in the three timespans we considered. All the maps are term-networks.   Fig 7: Map 1985-1994. Fig 8: Map 1995-2004. Fig 9: Map 2005-2015.   The main aim of these maps is – once again – […]

Posted in Geography, History of philosophy, Science Mapping | 28 Comments »

A semantic-network approach to the history of philosophy, Or, What does Nietzsche talk about when he talks about emotion?

This post is the first of a series of  contributions to the DR2 Conference, which you are invited to comment on.     Mark Alfano, Delft University of Technology & Australian Catholic University Have you ever read an article that makes claims like, “Plato often talks about W” or “Kant typically associates X and Y” or “In his early work, Nietzsche seldom engages with Z”? I have. When I read these claims, I want to ask simple-minded questions like, “How often?” and, “What do you mean, ‘typically’?” and, “How seldom is seldom?” If these sorts of claims have any evidential value, it should be possible to verify or falsify them. Or — to turn the conditional around — if it’s not possible to verify or falsify them, then these sorts of claims have no evidential value. As preparation for my in-progress book on Nietzsche’s moral psychology, I’m developing a methodology for quantifying, mapping, and analyzing the concepts used in philosophical corpora. My hope is that this methodology will make it possible to answer the simple-minded questions mentioned above, and that answering these questions systematically will lead to new insights. Furthermore, if my approach is on the right track, it should be fairly easy to retool it for the study of corpora by other philosophers, as well as corpus comparisons between (groups of) philosophers. The three questions I started with ask about prevalence, association, and change. If we cut up a philosopher’s corpus into chunks and label each chunk based on its semantic content (i.e., whether it contains an expression for concept W, X, Y, and/or Z) as well as bibliographic information (i.e., which book it’s from and when it was published), it becomes possible to answer these questions. A concept is prevalent to the extent that it shows up in a large proportion of passages. It’s associated with another concept to the extent that it’s more likely than chance to be present in a passage when the second concept is present. A concept becomes more prevalent over a philosopher’s career to the extent that it shows up in higher proportions of passages over time. How big or small a passage should be depends on the philosopher in question. It’s natural to make the chunks sentence-sized, since sentences express whole thoughts. It’s also natural to make the chunks paragraph-sized, since paragraphs express more complex thoughts and arguments. In the case of Nietzsche, a handy size is the numbered/titled section. At least after the Untimely Meditations (1873-76), his sections tend to be roughly the same length (half a page to a couple of pages), and they’re the standard unit of reference in the literature. For Plato and Aristotle, Stephanus pagination and Bekker furnish natural units of analysis. It’s a bit arbitrary, but the basic idea is clear. In labeling sections, it helps enormously to have a searchable digital version of the text. Otherwise, one simply has to read everything by the philosopher under study from cover to cover, keeping a weather eye out for every concept of interest. That’s difficult, stressful, and time-consuming. Fortunately, for many prominent philosophers, searchable digitizations exist. In the case of Nietzsche, I was able to consult the Nietzsche Source (http://www.nietzschesource.org/), which I used to find every passage in which each of the concepts in Table 1 occurs. Table 1: core constructs and operationalizations for querying the Nietzsche Source concept operationalization admiration bewunder* affect affekt* affect* anger zorn* base niedrig* niederträch* schnöd* chastity keusch* comedy komisch* contempt verach* hohn* courage muth* curiosity neugier* wissbegier* disgust ekel* widerlich* doubt zweifel* drive trieb* emotion emotion* gefühl* rührung* exemplar exemplar* fear furcht* forgetting verges* guilt schuld* herd heerd* honesty erlich* redlich* humor humor* instinct instinkt* instikt* instinct* integrity rechtschaffen* joy freude* wonne* laughter lachen* lacht* lustig* gelächter* nobility vornehm* obligation pflicht* verpflicht* imperative* pathos of distance ‘pathos der distanz’ resentment ressentiment* sadness traurig* shame schand* solitude einsam* surprise überrasch* wundern* tragedy tragöd* tragik* trust vertraue* type typ* value wert* virtue tugend* vice laster* will to power will* & ‘zur macht’ Of course, Nietzsche wrote in German, so I couldn’t just search for the concepts directly. Instead, I had to operationalize each concept with a (disjunction of) word stem(s). Appending an asterisk to a search query returns every passage in which at least one word that begins with the word stem occurs. This is likely to return a few extraneous passages (false positives) and miss a few passages (false negatives), but it’s still highly reliable and reproducible. I entered identifying information about each of the 3327 passages in Nietzsche’s published and authorized manuscripts into a spreadsheet, then dummy-coded each passage for the presence or absence of each of the concepts of interest. A representative piece of this spreadsheet is displayed in Figure 1. Figure 1: data structure for cleaning query results from the Nietzsche source   The section of data pictured in Figure 1 is the preface and first 23 sections of The Anti-Christ, which was published in 1888 and has 64 total sections. Sections 1 and 2 refer to both virtue and value, but not to type or drive. Section 7 refers to instinct, virtue, value, and nobility. Prevalence within a book or within the whole corpus can be calculated by summing a column. For example, there are 152 passages that refer to drive and 303 passages that refer to virtue. Overall, there are 4439 total references. Co-occurrence of a pair of constructs within a passage is a bit more complicated: a pair of constructs co-occur when the columns associated with both constructs have a ‘1’ in the same row. Since there are 39 constructs in this dataset, there are 741 potential co-occurrence pairs or edges (38+37+…+1). For the book, I’ll use this data structure to construct timelines, treemaps, section-by-section guides of each book, and semantic network visualizations, as well as to calculate inferential statistics such as Fisher’s exact test. In this post, I’m just going to show some of the network visualizations. I built these visualizations by converting the data to an adjacency list, then uploading the list to Gephi, an open-source network visualization application. In previous work, I’ve collaborated with Andrew Higgins and Jacob Levernier to map psycho-semantic networks of values, virtues, and constituents of wellbeing extracted from obituary texts. The current project is similar, but, instead of working from obituaries to map laypeople’s normative structures, I’m working from Nietzsche’s writings to map his moral psychology. I made one overall map based on all of the data (Figure 2), as well as maps associated with each book. Nietzsche had a habit of republishing his books with new prefaces and new sections (e.g., Human, All-too-human and Gay Science); in those cases, I made a map of both the original book and the revised book. This resulted in 23 maps, starting with The Birth of Tragedy in 1872 and ending with Ecce Homo in 1889. Figure 2: semantic map of Nietzsche’s overall moral psychology   Here is how to read such a map: the size of a node indicates its “weighted degree.” This is the sum of all of the co-occurrences of the concept in question. For example, suppose X occurs in three separate passages of a book. In the first passage, it co-occurs with Y but no other concept under study. In the second passage, it co-occurs with Y and Z but no other concept under study. And in the third passage it again occurs with Y but no other concept under study. X would then have a weighted degree of 4 (3 from Y plus 1 from Z). Size is thus a rough indicator of connectedness and therefore of prevalence in a moral psychological context. Edge width directly indicates weight: the wider an edge between a pair of nodes, the more frequently the concepts associated with those nodes co-occur. To clean up the “hairball” effect that emerges from having too many overlapping edges, I also dropped edges with low weight (sometimes just weight 1, sometimes 2 or 3 — it’s a bit arbitrary, but the idea is to cut enough noise to make the graph legible to the eye). The color of a node indicates its membership in a “community” or modularity group. The math here is a bit hairy, but the basic idea is that nodes are classed into the same community with other nodes that they tend to co-occur with, and into a different community from nodes that they tend not to co-occur with. Edge color is determined by the nodes the edges connect. If both nodes are blue, the edge will also be blue; if one is blue and the other orange, the edge will fade from blue to orange. Finally, the position of a node is determined holistically based on three forces: 1) all nodes are attracted to the center of the graph, 2) all nodes repel each other, and 3) a node attracts other nodes based on the weight of the edge connecting them. There are three modules in Figure 2: 1) a group of (mostly) emotions in blue, 2) a smaller group of normative statuses in green, and 3) a group of psycho-social constructs in orange. Among the most prominent emotions are doubt, contempt, disgust, trust, sadness, joy, guilt, and curiosity. You might find this map a bit surprising. When we teach Nietzsche to our students, we tend to focus on resentment, leaving out most of the other emotions that he actually talks about. My hunch is that this is because most translations of Nietzsche into English leave ‘ressentiment’ in the French and always italicize it, despite the fact that Nietzsche only italicizes it twice and only refers to it in a couple dozen passages. This distracts readers and leads them to fetishize resentment and ignore the other emotions. You might also strain your eyes looking for ‘will to power’ — another Nietzschean construct that gets a lot of airtime despite playing only a modest role in his moral psychology. In Figure 2 it’s the little node between ‘value’ and ‘guilt’ (abbreviated ‘wtp’). Again, my guess is that because Nietzsche sometimes puts this striking phrase in italics, it’s received an undue amount of attention in the secondary literature. What Nietzsche actually talks about when he engages with moral psychology, though, is concepts like virtue, value, instinct, fear, doubt, emotion, contempt, courage, nobility, disgust, laughter, solitude, drive, and forgetting. Some of these concepts receive adequate attention in the secondary literature, but many don’t. Just to single out a few, check www.philpapers.org for contempt, courage, and solitude. To see how Nietzsche’s views change over time, we can look at all of the maps, but it may be even more helpful to compare maps of his significantly revised books. Figures 3-6 show Human, All-too-human as it existed in 1878, 1879 (with the addition of “Assorted Opinions and Maxims,” 1880 (with the addition of “The Wanderer and His Shadow”), and 1886 (with the addition of prefaces for both the original book and Assorted Opinions and Maxims). Figures 7-8 show The Gay Science in 1882 and 1887 (with the addition of book 5 and a new preface). Figure 3: semantic map of the moral psychology of Human, All-too-human in 1878 Figure 4: semantic map of the moral psychology of Human, All-too-human in 1879 Figure 5: semantic map of the moral psychology of Human, All-too-human in 1880 Figure 6: semantic map of the moral psychology of Human, All-too-human in 1886 Figure 7: semantic map of the moral psychology of The Gay Science in 1882 Figure 8: semantic map of the moral psychology of The Gay Science in 1887 These progressions suggest a few observations about Nietzsche’s changing positions. Start with Human, All-too-human. First, virtue and value move from the periphery to the center, and their node sizes increase, indicating that Nietzsche becomes more interested in these concepts over time. Second, obligation shrinks and moves to the periphery, indicating that Nietzsche is moving from an ethic of rights and duties to an ethics of virtue. Third, drive and instinct start […]

Posted in Emotion, History of philosophy, Nietzsche | 24 Comments »

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