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Symposium on computational approaches to intellectual history and the history of philosophy


  • Date & time: 31 May 2017, 14:00-18:00.
  • Location: Topelia (Unioninkatu 38, Helsinki), A205.
  • Registration: The symposium is free of charge but we ask that you register here by 23 May.

This symposium is dedicated to the exploratory work necessary for an understanding of how methods of data and textual mining can be useful in the study of intellectual history and the history of philosophy.

It is not yet entirely clear in what ways methods from data science will contribute to increasing our understanding of the history of human thought. It is, however, imperative to seriously consider and study the possibilities of these methods as applied to historical data across different periods and geographical locations.

This symposium brings together three presentations from scholars across Europe. They each highlight a different approach to applying computational methods to the study of intellectual history and the history of philosophy.

The symposium will be of great interest to students and researchers excited about innovative and groundbreaking methodologies in historical scholarship of philosophy and ideas.

Coffee and refreshments will be provided.


14:00 Introductory remarks by Mikko Tolonen & Jani Marjanen (Helsinki)

14:15 John Regan (Cambridge): "What distributional concept analysis tells us about the philosophical  concept of 'negative liberty': A case study in the shadow of Quentin Skinner"

15:00 Coffee

15:30 COMHIS Collective (Helsinki): "Exploring ECCO: Key moments in 18th-century philosophical literature"

16:15 Hein van den Berg (Amsterdam): "Creating a Computational History of Ideas" (joint work with Arianna Betti)

17:00 Debate: "So should we mine the mind?"

17:30 Refreshments


The symposium is supported by Helsinki Centre for Intellectual History, Heldig - Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities & History, Nature and Empire in Eighteenth-Century Europe project.