Distant Reading and Data-Driven Research in the History of Philosophy

DR2 Conference, University of Turin, 16-18 January 2017

The organization of the first DR2 Conference arises from the conviction that it is now time to apply Distant Reading and Data-Driven Research (DR2) to the history of philosophy (very broadly conceived, so as to include, for example, the history of scientific thought). This kind of methodological innovation will be of interest for scholars working on different historical periods (ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary) and from the perspective of different fields (history of philosophy, history of science, history of ideas and intellectual history, sociology of knowledge, and so forth). The aim of the DR2 Conference is to bring together scholars from different areas willing to apply DR2, and distant reading in particular, to the history of philosophy, and to offer them the opportunity for discussing and sharing their ideas.

Distant Reading and Data-Driven Research in the History of Philosophy

DR2 Conference, University of Turin, 16-18 January 2017

Conference Venue: iQOS EMBASSY TORINO, Casa del Pingone - via Porta Palatina 23/b, Torino

Monday 16 January

15:00 Enrico Pasini (University of Turin): Introduction

15:30 Franco Moretti (Stanford University): Patterns and interpretation

16:30 Gino Roncaglia (University of Viterbo): Two lessons from big data: what we have, and how to use it

17:30 Coffee break

18:00 Peter de Bolla, John Regan (University of Cambridge): What distributional concept analysis tells us about the philosophical concept of “negative liberty”: a case study in the shadow of Quentin Skinner

20:00 Conference dinner

Tuesday 17 January

9:00 Martin Kusch (University of Vienna): Simmel and Mannheim on the sociology of philosophy, historicism and relativism

10:00 Parallel sessions

First parallel session: Workshop on late analytic philosophy

10:00 Guido Bonino, Paolo Tripodi (University of Turin): Academic success in America: Wittgenstein and analytic philosophy

10:30 Marco Santoro (University of Bologna), Emanuela Riviera, Massimo Airoldi, (University of Milan): Reading Wittgenstein between the texts

11:00 Discussion

11:30 Coffee Break

12:00 Guido Bonino, Paolo Maffezioli, Paolo Tripodi (University of Turin): Logic as instrument and logic as universal medium: a distant reading approach

12:30 Discussion

Second parallel session: Technical Workshop of the Leibniz’s Correspondents and Acquaintances Project

10:00 Prosopographic Networks and Conceptual Exchanges

Coordinated by Roberto Palaia (Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo, Rome), Enrico Pasini (University of Turin), Anne-Lise Rey (Université Lille 1 – Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)

Participants: Matteo Favaretti, Margherita Palumbo, Miguel Palomo, Federico Silvestri, Federico Morando.

Tuesday 17 January

15:00 Justin Smith (Paris Diderot University): Distant reading and the geography of early modern philosophy

16:00 Arianna Betti (Free University of Amsterdam): Creating a computational history of ideas

17:00 Coffee break

17:30 Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology): A schooling in contempt: emotions and the pathos of distance

18:00 Stefan Hessbrüggen-Walter, Frank Fischer (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow): Grepping Aquinas: reading from the middle distance

Wednesday 18 January

9:00 Eugenio Petrovich, Emiliano Tolusso (University of Milan): Exploring knowledge dynamics in the humanities. A science-mapping approach to the history of contemporary analytic philosophy and human geography

9:30 Christoph Schmidt-Petri, Klemens Böhm, Michael Schefczyk, Martin Schäler, Jens Willkomm (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology): Catching concepts with Koselleck: how Google can help

10:00 Mikko Tolonen, Leo Lahti, Eetu Mäkelä (University of Helsinki) Eighteenth-century British philosophy: a text- and data-mining workflow

10:30 Coffee break

11:00 Barbara Grüning (University of Bologna): The uncertain canonization of a consecrated thinker: Hannah Arendt in Germany and in Italy

11:30 Marek Debnár (Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra): Philosophical and ethical terms in the Slovak National Corpus

12:00 Conclusions

There is no registration fee. However, for organisational purposes, please register by sending an email to dr2@unito.it

For information: guido.bonino@unito.it; enrico.pasini@unito.it; paolo.tripodi@unito.it

Conference Program.pdf

Work with us. A 7-months collaboration open

A three+four months collaboration position for a support person with digital humanities background will be open, with a public selection for the first three months, that are expected to be extended by four (possibly five) months on already extant supplementary funds. A link to the competition notice will appear on the University of Turin website and here at the beginning of September.

DR2 – A project of the fMOD Research Group in Turin.

Distant Reading and Data-Driven Research in the History of Philosophy

Our aim is to get together and coordinate a series of research activities and projects in which Distant Reading and Data-Driven Research (DR2) are applied to the history of philosophy, and more in general to the history of ideas.

Distant Reading

Franco Moretti is the founder of the Stanford Literary Lab. In the last twenty years, Moretti’s distant reading approach has provided a fresh understanding of literature and its historical development not by studying in detail a few particular texts (as in the so-called “close reading”), but rather by aggregating and analyzing large amounts of information.

Data-Driven Research

The central role of data in this approach is not determined only by their quantity. It is also important to look for different kinds of data, not investigated before, drawn from a variety of sources. In this sense this approach may be regarded as a form of Data-Driven Research in the humanities.

Ongoing Projects

Late analytic philosophy

The aim of this project is to provide a historical understanding of the nature of analytic philosophy in the last forty years. The presence of a large amount of data makes it difficult to apply the traditional methods of the history of philosophy, which therefore we propose to combine with an approach inspired by Moretti’s distant reading. The attention to quantitative data fosters a novel focus on sociological and institutional aspects of the history of recent philosophy.


The LCA-LeiCA Project: G.W. Leibniz’s Correspondents and Acquaintances. Intellectual networks, themes, individuals. At the DR2 Conference, we shall organize a workshop on “Representing the Intersection of Prosopographic Networks and Conceptual Exchanges”.

Forgotten Logics

The textual-analysis component of a wider project about “other” 19th century logics, and 19th century foundational theories, that do not belong to the algebric current that eventually won.

Emotions and Thick Corpora

EMPATHIC / Anatomy of European Emotions and Passions by Use of Early Modern Thick Corpora. A project of analysis and classification by use of vast and “thick” corpora of the language of early-modern and modern theories of emotions and passions, as they originated during the late 16th, and the 17th and 18th centuries, considered as the greatest effort of self-representation ever produced by the European mind.