Brian WeathersonOct 14, 2020
A History of Philosophy Journals
Evidence from Topic Modeling, 1876-2013
Anglophone philosophy in the twentieth century was centered, to an unprecedented extent, around journals: periodical publications that aimed to present (one vision of) the best philosophical work of the moment. By looking at the trends across these journals, we can see important trends in philosophy itself.
But looking at the journals is easier said than done. Most major journals have published thousands of articles. If we want to get a guide to philosophy as a whole, and not just to one particular vision of it, we need to look at several different journals. And that means we need to look at tens of thousands of articles. This is impossible for any human to do.
A History of Philosophy Journals. Evidence from Topic Modeling, 1876-2013 (2020) examines the entirety of research articles published in twelve major English-language philosophy journals between 1876 and 2013, identifying 90 topics across the journals to retrace their fortunes over time.
Accessible yet rigorous, cogent yet cautious, A History of Philosophy Journals is also a timely reflection on the strengths and limitations of topic modelling and the consequential choices involved in analysing and visualising data in the humanities.
Brian Weatherson is the Marshall M. Weinberg Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.