Skip to Content

Center forDigital Humanities


Banner Image

Video Archive

Re: Enlightenment and the Future of Knowledge

Part One: The Tectonics of Disciplinarity (Clifford Siskin)

 This paper uses a new computational tool to explain the shape of modern knowledge. Our narrow-but-deep disciplines, I argue, emerged at the late 18th-century intersection of two of the dominant genres of Enlightenment: "system" and "history." I call the tool, designed by Mark Algee-Hewitt, "Tectonics," for the maps it produces resemble the plates that float on the surface of the earth. By visualizing the genres named on 18th-century title pages as tectonic plates, we can chart their interrelations at different historical moments and study what happens when they collide. As a Re:Enlightenment project, the paper will bring that knowledge from the past to bear upon the present. Tectonics allows us to map the relationship of our own period to disciplinarity—and asks us to anticipate a near future in which that ground will shift from under our feet.

 

Part Two: Preliminary data runs from the Concept Lab: Future Knowledge and the Architecture of Concepts (Peter de Bolla) 

Peter de Bolla will present some preliminary data that is currently being generated by the Concept Lab, a three year funded project that is uncovering the architecture of conceptual forms through digital enquiry. He will begin by setting out the key hypotheses of the lab and its initiating questions which have evolved from the account of concepts given in his book The Architecture of Concepts: The Historical Formation of Human Rights (Fordham University Press, 2014). Having established the hypotheses and methodology of the project he will then invite the audience to contribute to a discussion of some of the preliminary data that has been generated by the code used in the Concept Lab. These data runs are hot off the press (or hot out of the code) so the intention is to use the resources gathered together at the event to speculate about the reasons for some of the curious features of conceptual forms the Lab is discovering. In the spirit of the Re:Enlightenment project, then, one should expect an experiment rather than a lecture which aims to include participation from the audience in forms other than Q&A.