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Fr. 814

October 9, 2018

Can philosophy be digitalized as one part of the digital humanities? Certainly, some projects have already sketched out what this might look like: the creation of a philosophy influence map, tracing the direction of influence between different thinkers; the collation of survey results to moral dilemmas and thought experiments with geography. Moreover, it is not impossible to imagine further digital paths forward for philosophy: conceptual analysis on the basis of composite images; an algorithm to detect formal and informal fallacies or other kinds of bad argument; a text miner which identifies and collects different concepts and norms deployed in political argument; an algorithm which determines whether a given argument is Aristotle’s or Aquinas’. Yet it is unclear whether this is still recognizably a form of philosophy and, by extension, the humanities. What interest is there in a philosophy influence map or the geographical distribution of survey results? Insofar as philosophy is interested in truth and good argument, such digitization is only of interest if it proves truth-conducive in some way. Put differently, if collecting survey results of the public’s common sense is to be more than mere philosophical anthropology and the mapping out of intuitions, those survey results must be truth-tracking or a stepping stone for getting at the truth of the matter. As a different perspective on the matter, digital philosophy can only be of so much use in getting at the truth.

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