Senior Thesis | Connecting Dots from Vanishing Voices to Hidden Meanings: A Computational Approach for Philosophical Inquiry
This is a team-based signature work (senior thesis) project, with Karen Nielsen, a philosophy major at Duke Kunshan University.
Awarded with Graduation with Distinction for outstanding academic performance and the excellence of Signature Work (Senior Thesis). May 26th, 2023. By Duke Kunshan University. Presentation
This project is under ongoing development…
My signature work project explores an integrated approach that combines data science and humanistic inquiries to discover patterns beyond close reading and ground this analysis in social and historical contexts. Using network science and natural language processing methods, I have conducted several case studies to investigate the connections between philosophers and ideas at scale, focusing on the representation of women philosophers in online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
This study reveals that women philosophers are simultaneously overrepresented, as demonstrated by the increasing prominence of feminist philosophy, and underrepresented, as women thinkers are often overlooked in discussions of the topics they have contributed to. This finding offers an opportunity to reshape the discourse surrounding marginalization and exclusion in philosophy and the narrative of intellectual history.
Although some may argue that the recognition of philosophers on the SEP ultimately depends on their influence and the difficulty of rediscovering their sources, we maintain that it is crucial for influential platforms like the SEP to strive for increased representation of historically marginalized groups. Given its influence among both non-academic and professional audiences, the SEP can significantly contribute to promoting diversity in the field.
The findings highlight the potential to reshape the narrative surrounding marginalization and exclusion in philosophy and showcase connections at scale in philosophical discussions. The two case studies also demonstrate the potential of digital humanities methods in facilitating historical studies of philosophy and contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge landscape of the field.
Some of the visualizations and findings of the SEP:
A presentation at Superdeep, a philosophy seminar at Duke Kunshan University: https://sites.duke.edu/dkuhumanities/superdeep-18-nielsen-tao/