Although text analysis is common in other humanities disciplines, it is rarely done in philosophy. To judge by the cirrus (or word cloud) I made of Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo with the user-friendly Voyant Tools, it’s not difficult to see why. We learn that common themes are Zarathustra, the Germans, and Wagner—something that a skim of the book would reveal. I am teaching myself the programming language Python as well as how to use some textual analysis tools to see whether there might be something of interest for philosophers.
Plants have long been mentioned in philosophical works, but as often as not, they were used metaphorically. An interesting question that plants raise is the importance of time for ethics. We tend to identify moral worth with movement that we can observe. Plants of course move too slowly for us to see. Our intuitions about the moral status of plants probably changes when we see a time lapse of them moving. I wonder whether that is philosophically relevant.
That is the Château de Differdange, the home of Miami University’s Dolibois European Center. I had the good fortune to be there for over three years. During that time, I developed and taught a class on the philosophy of food. I am currently working on a book that grew out of those classes.
Another reason I am learning Python is to be able to do things with Canvas that I really could not do manually. For example, I would like to send an email to every student who has not looked at the readings 72 hours before a paper is due. Since I typically have 100-120 students, this would take me several hours for just one assignment. Eventually, though, I hope to automate this and other aspects of online teaching.