Philosophy and DH

Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter
DH Minor 14. 4. 2018

Created: 2018-04-12 Do 22:27

1 Defining DH?

  • Philosophy defines humanities.
  • We add 'digital' to 'humanities' and define DH.
  • But how should we define 'humanities'?

2 Methodology?

  • The value of digital methods differs between disciplines.
  • Philosophy cannot tell scholars how to do their work.
  • Digital methodologies must be developed in the disciplines.

3 Epistemology?

  • What is 'knowledge' in the humanities anyway?
  • What is 'knowledge' anyway?
  • And is it knowledge we are after in the humanities?

4 Philosophy No Part Of the Humanities

  • Some parts of philosophy are closer to the natural sciences.
  • DH in one perspective: fusion of humanities and sciences
  • Philosophy can help to build bridges.

5 Case Study: Computer-based Proofs In Mathematics

  • 1976: Computer-based proof of the 4-colour-problem
  • Is this a mathematical proof?
  • Two Camps: Optimists and Pessimists

5.1 Case Study (II): Optimists

  • Burge 1998: Computer programs are themselves mathematical.
  • Computer may have physical defects.
  • But humans make mistakes, too.
  • Computers are designed to be correct.
  • In discussing human proofs, we don't discuss human hardware.

5.2 Case Study (III): What can go wrong?

  • Arkoudas 2007: Operating system (algorithms and implementation)
  • Semantics of programming language (does it keep its promises?)
  • Compiler implementation of programming language
  • Hardware integrity
  • The sun

5.3 What does this mean for DH?

  • One way out: special purpose machines, built to solve one problem
  • For the forseeable future, we continue to use general purpose computers
  • Computers are black boxes; trade-off between transparency and pragmatic purposes

6 References

  • Konstantine Arkoudas, Selmer Bringsjord, "Computers, Justification, and Mathematical Knowledge", in: Minds & Machines (17) 2007, 185–202
  • Tyler Burge, "Computer Proof, Apriori Knowledge, and Other Minds: The Sixth Philosophical Perspectives Lecture", in: Noûs (32) 1998, supplement, 1-37