Kant’s views on animals have received much attention in recent years. According to some, Kant attributed the capacity for objective perceptual awareness to non-human animals, even though he denied that they have concepts. This position is difficult to square with a conceptualist reading of Kant, according to which objective perceptual awareness requires concepts. Others take Kant’s views on animals to imply that the mental life of animals is a blooming, buzzing confusion. In this article I provide a historical reconstruction of (...) Kant’s views on animals, relating them to eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. I reconstruct the views of Buffon and Reimarus and show that (i) both Buffon and Reimarus adopted a conceptualist position, according to which concepts structure the cognitive experience of adult humans, and (ii) that both described the mental life of animals as a blooming, buzzing confusion. Kant’s position, I argue, is virtually identical to that of Reimarus. Hence Kant’s views on animals support a conceptualist reading of Kant. The article further articulates the historical antecedents of the Kantian idea that concepts structure human cognitive experience and provides a novel account of how the ideas of similarity and difference were conceptualized in eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr argued that the emergence of biology as a special science in the early nineteenth century was possible due to the demise of the mathematical model of science and its insistence on demonstrative knowledge. More recently, John Zammito has claimed that the rise of biology as a special science was due to a distinctive experimental, anti-metaphysical, anti-mathematical, and anti-rationalist strand of thought coming from outside of Germany. In this paper we argue that this narrative neglects the important role played (...) by the mathematical and axiomatic model of science in the emergence of biology as a special science. We show that several major actors involved in the emergence of biology as a science in Germany were working with an axiomatic conception of science that goes back at least to Aristotle and was popular in mid-eighteenth-century German academic circles due to its endorsement by Christian Wolff. More specifically, we show that at least two major contributors to the emergence of biology in Germany—Caspar Friedrich Wolff and Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus—sought to provide a conception of the new science of life that satisfies the criteria of a traditional axiomatic ideal of science. Both C.F. Wolff and Treviranus took over strong commitments to the axiomatic model of science from major philosophers of their time, Christian Wolff and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, respectively. The ideal of biology as an axiomatic science with specific biological fundamental concepts and principles thus played a role in the emergence of biology as a special science. (shrink)
In the present paper I investigate the role that analogy plays in eighteenth-century biology and in Kant’s philosophy of biology. I will argue that according to Kant, biology, as it was practiced in the eighteenth century, is fundamentally based on analogical reflection. However, precisely because biology is based on analogical reflection, biology cannot be a proper science. I provide two arguments for this interpretation. First, I argue that although analogical reflection is, according to Kant, necessary to comprehend the nature of (...) organisms, it is also necessarily insufficient to fully comprehend the nature of organisms. The upshot of this argument is that for Kant our understanding of organisms is necessarily limited. Second, I argue that Kant did not take biology to be a proper science because biology was based on analogical arguments. I show that Kant stemmed from a philosophical tradition that did not assign analogical arguments an important justificatory role in natural science. Analogy, according to this conception, does not provide us with apodictically certain cognition. Hence, sciences based on analogical arguments cannot constitute proper sciences. (shrink)
The History of Ideas is presently enjoying a certain renaissance after a long period of disrepute. Increasing quantities of digitally available historical texts and the availability of computational tools for the exploration of such masses of sources, it is suggested, can be of invaluable help to historians of ideas. The question is: how exactly? In this paper, we argue that a computational history of ideas is possible if the following two conditions are satisfied: (i) Sound Method . A computational history (...) of ideas must be built upon a sound theoretical foundation for its methodology, and the only such foundation is given by the use of models , i.e., fully explicit and revisable interpretive frameworks or networks of concepts developed by the historians of ideas themselves. (ii) Data Organisation. Interpretive models in our sense must be seen as topic-specific knowledge organisation systems (KOS) implementable (i.e. formalisable) as e.g. computer science ontologies. We thus require historians of ideas to provide explicitly structured semantic framing of domain knowledge before investigating texts computationally, and to constantly re-input findings from the interpretive point of view. In this way, a computational history of ideas maximally profits from computer methods while also keeping humanities experts in the loop. We elucidate our proposal with reference to a model of the notion of axiomatic science in 18th -19th century Europe. (shrink)
Biology in the Critical Philosophy and the Opus postumum Hein van den Berg. Parts of Chap. 2 have been previously published in Hein van den Berg (2011), “ Kant's Conception of Proper Science.” Synthese 183 (1): 7–26. Parts of Chap.
Kant is well known for his restrictive conception of proper science. In the present paper I will try to explain why Kant adopted this conception. I will identify three core conditions which Kant thinks a proper science must satisfy: systematicity, objective grounding, and apodictic certainty. These conditions conform to conditions codified in the Classical Model of Science. Kant’s infamous claim that any proper natural science must be mathematical should be understood on the basis of these conditions. In order to substantiate (...) this reading, I will show that only in this way it can be explained why Kant thought (1) that mathematics has a particular foundational function with respect to the natural sciences and (2) as such secures their scientific status. (shrink)
We propose a new method for the history of ideas that has none of the shortcomings so often ascribed to this approach. We call this method the model approach to the history of ideas. We argue that any adequately developed and implementable method to trace continuities in the history of human thought, or concept drift, will require that historians use explicit interpretive conceptual frameworks. We call these frameworks models. We argue that models enhance the comprehensibility of historical texts, and provide (...) historians of ideas with a method that, unlike existing approaches, is susceptible neither to common holistic criticisms nor to Skinner's objections that the history of ideas yields arbitrary and biased reconstructions. To illustrate our proposal, we discuss the so-called Classical Model of Science and draw upon work in computer science and cognitive psychology. (shrink)
Within eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition we can distinguish at least three main theoretical positions: (i) Buffon’s mechanism, (ii) Reimarus’ theory of instincts, and (iii) the sensationalism of Condillac and Leroy. In this paper, I adopt a philosophical perspective on this debate and argue that in order to fully understand the justification Buffon, Reimarus, Condillac, and Leroy gave for their respective theories, we must pay special attention to the theoretical virtues these naturalists alluded to while justifying their position. These theoretical (...) virtues have received little to no attention in the literature on eighteenth-century animal cognition, but figure prominently in the justification of the mechanist, instinctive, and sensationalist theories of animal behavior. Through my philosophical study of the role of theoretical virtues in eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition, we obtain a deeper understanding of how theoretical virtues were conceptualized in eighteenth-century science and how they influenced the justification of theories of animal cognition. (shrink)
The step to e-research in philosophy depends on the availability of high quality, easily and freely accessible corpora in a sustainable format composed from multi-language, multi-script books from different historical periods. Corpora matching these needs are at the moment virtually non-existing. Within @PhilosTei, we have addressed this corpus building problem by developing an open source, web-based, user-friendly workflow from textual images to TEI, based on state-of-the-art open source OCR software, to wit Tesseract, and a multi-language version of TICCL, a powerful (...) OCR post-correction tool. We have demonstrated the utility of the tool by applying it to a multilingual, multi-script corpus of important eighteenth to twentieth-century European philosophical texts. (shrink)
Kant’s teleology as presented in the Critique of Judgment is commonly interpreted in relation to the late eighteenth-century biological research of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. In the present paper, I show that this interpretative perspective is incomplete. Understanding Kant’s views on teleology and biology requires a consideration of the teleological and biological views of Christian Wolff and his rationalist successors. By reconstructing the Wolffian roots of Kant’s teleology, I identify several little known sources of Kant’s views on biology. I argue that (...) one of Kant’s main contributions to eighteenth-century debates on biology consisted in demarcating biology from metaphysics. Kant rejected Wolffian views on the hierarchy of sciences, according to which propositions specifying the functions of organisms are derived from theological truths. In addition, Kant argued that organic self-organization necessitates a teleological description in order to show that self-organization does not support materialism. By demarcating biology and metaphysics, Kant made a small yet important contribution to establishing biology as a science. (shrink)
This paper analyzes Immanuel Kant’s views on mechanical explanation on the basis of Christian Wolff’s idea of scientific demonstration. Kant takes mechanical explanations to explain properties of wholes in terms of their parts. I reconstruct the nature of such explanations by showing how part-whole conceptualizations in Wolff’s logic and metaphysics shape the ideal of a proper and explanatory scientific demonstration. This logico-philosophical background elucidates why Kant construes mechanical explanations as ideal explanations of nature.
This paper presents the current state of development of GlamMap, a visualisation tool that displays library metadata on an interactive, computer-generated geographic map. The focus in the paper is on the most crucial improvement achieved in the development of the tool: GlamMapping Trove. The visualisation of Trove’s sixtymillion book records is possible thanks to an improved database structure, more efficient data retrieval, and more scalable visualisation algorithms. The paper analyses problems encountered in visualising massive datasets, describes remaining challenges for the (...) tool, and presents a use case demonstrating GlamMap’s ability to serve researchers in the history of ideas. (shrink)
Libraries provide access to large amounts of library metadata. Unfortunately, many libraries only offer textual interfaces for searching and browsing their holdings. Visualizations provide simpler, faster, and more efficient ways to navigate, search and study large quantities of metadata. This paper presents GlamMap, a visualization tool that displays library metadata on an interactive, computer-generated geographic map. We provide detailed discussion of how GlamMap benefits the work of librarians and researchers. We show how geographic representations help librarians to perform tasks such (...) as collection assessment and how geographic information helps researchers to identify important scientific resources. (shrink)
How can we best reconstruct the origin of a notion, its development, and possible spread to multiple fields? We present a pilot study on the spread of the notion of conceptual scheme. Though the notion is philosophically important, its origin, development, and spread are unclear. Several purely qualitative and competing historical hypotheses have been offered, which rely on disconnected disciplinary traditions, and have never been tested all at once in a single comprehensive investigation fitting the scope of its subject matter. (...) As a step toward such an investigation, we trace the use of the bigram “conceptual scheme” in about 42,000 US journal articles in social sciences from 1888-1959 by using a novel method combining a quantitative procedure aided by basic computational techniques with qualitative elements informed by Betti and van den Berg (2014)’s ‘model approach to the history of ideas’. (shrink)
This paper presents GlamMap, a visualization tool for large, multi-variate georeferenced humanities data sets. Our approach visualizes the data as glyphs on a zoomable geographic map, and performs clustering and data aggregation at each zoom level to avoid clutter and to prevent overlap of symbols. GlamMap was developed for the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) domain in cooperation with researchers in philosophy. We demonstrate the usefulness of our approach by a case study on history of logic, which involves navigation (...) and exploration of 7100 bibliographic records, and scalability on a data set of sixty million book records. (shrink)
We propose a novel type of low distortion radial embedding which focuses on one specific entity and its closest neighbors. Our embedding preserves near-exact distances to the focus entity and aims to minimize distortion between the other entities. We present an interactive exploration tool SolarView which places the focus entity at the center of a "solar system" and embeds its neighbors guided by concentric circles. SolarView provides an implementation of our novel embedding and several state-of-the-art dimensionality reduction and embedding techniques, (...) which we adapted to our setting in various ways. We experimentally evaluated our embedding and compared it to these state-of-the-art techniques. The results show that our embedding competes with these techniques and achieves low distortion in practice. Our method performs particularly well when the visualization, and hence the embedding, adheres to the solar system design principle of our application. Nonetheless - as with all dimensionality reduction techniques - the distortion may be high. We leverage interaction techniques to give clear visual cues that allow users to accurately judge distortion. We illustrate the use of SolarView by exploring the high-dimensional metric space of bibliographic entity similarities. (shrink)
In this position paper, we describe a number of methodological and philosophical challenges that arose within our interdisciplinary Digital Humanities project CatVis, which is a collaboration between applied geometric algorithms and visualization researchers, data scientists working at OCLC, and philosophers who have a strong interest in the methodological foundations of visualization research. The challenges we describe concern aspects of one single epistemic need: that of methodologically securing (an increase in) trust in visualizations. We discuss the lack of ground truths in (...) the (digital) humanities and argue that trust in visualizations requires that we evaluate visualizations on the basis of ground truths that humanities scholars themselves create. We further argue that trust in visualizations requires that a visualization provides provable guarantees on the faithfulness of the visual representation and that we must clearly communicate to the users which part of the visualization can be trusted and how much. Finally, we discuss transparency and accessibility in visualization research and provide measures for securing transparency and accessibility. (shrink)
In this paper I provide some critical comments on Schulting’s Kant’s Radical Subjectivism (2017). I will focus on two aspects of Schulting’s reading of Kant: his reading of Kant as a coherentist and his reading of Kant as a conceptualist. I will argue that it is not clear whether Kant accepts a form of coherentism and I will discuss reflections of Kant on animals that may be difficult to square with a conceptualist reading of Kant.
This article explains Kant’s claim that sciences must take, at least as their ideal, the form of a ‘system’. I argue that Kant’s notion of systematicity can be understood against the background of de Jong & Betti’s Classical Model of Science (2010) and the writings of Georg Friedrich Meier and Johann Heinrich Lambert. According to my interpretation, Meier, Lambert, and Kant accepted an axiomatic idea of science, articulated by the Classical Model, which elucidates their conceptions of systematicity. I show that (...) Kant’s critique of the mathematical method is compatible with his adherence to this axiomatic conception of science. I further show that systematicity furthers traditionally accepted logical ideals of scientific knowledge, which explains why Meier and Kant think that sciences must be ‘systematic’. (shrink)
The use of computational tools in the humanities for science 2.0 practices is steadily increasing. This paper examines current research practices of a group of philosophers studying the history of philosophical concepts. We explain the methodology and workflow of these philosophers and provide an overview of tools they currently use in their research. The case study highlights a number of fundamental challenges facing these researchers, including: (i) accessing known relevant research content or resources; (ii) discovering new research content or data; (...) (iii) working collaboratively rather than individually. We propose a mash-up of search, visualization, and awareness tools addressing these challenges and discuss the design of the mash-up, its implementation, and evaluation with the target users. Through our case study, we demonstrate the benefits of a user-centered design approach, as well as the benefits of the concrete mash-up for historians of philosophy, and, importantly, the limitations of these tools for conducting historical and philosophical research. (shrink)