4.0715 E-Hegel Report (1/219)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 13 Nov 90 17:12:29 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0715. Tuesday, 13 Nov 1990.

Date: Fri, 9 Nov 90 11:48:00 EST
From: Michael Neuman <NEUMAN@GUVAX.BITNET>
Subject: The Works of Hegel in Electronic Form: A Progress Report

For nearly two years, the Georgetown Center for Text and Technology
has been working with an Advisory Committee of scholars from the Hegel
Society to produce electronic versions of Hegel's works. Recently,
Prof. Stepelevich invited me to prepare a progress report for inclusion
in an upcoming issue of The Owl of Minerva. What follows is that report.

Of special importance is the final section, in which I explain the need
to obtain the publisher's permission to create an electronic version of
the German editions. This electronic bulletin board is an ideal forum
for a discussion of the issues raised by the project, and I hope the
pioneering members -- now nearly twenty -- will offer their advice.

Michael Neuman, Ph.D.
Georgetown Center for Text and Technology
Academic Computer Center
238 Reiss Science Building
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-6096

The Georgetown/Hegel Society Project in Electronic Text
A Progress Report

Background. Collaboration between the Georgetown Center for Text
and Technology and the Hegel Society of America began early in 1989
when Wilfried Ver Eecke of Georgetown's Philosophy Department
offered his assistance in creating an electronic version of Hegel's
works to provide a valuable tool for research and teaching. He
also suggested that Prof. Lawrence Stepelevich, editor of the Owl
and Treasurer of the Hegel Society, was ideally situated to obtain
the advice of scholars about the works and editions to select for
the project.

Prof. Stepelevich fostered the project from the outset, and by the
end of the winter of 1989, Prof. John Burbidge, President of the
Hegel Society, had welcomed the initiative, and Prof. Peter Hodgson
had offered "an enthusiastically affirmative" response to the
suggestion that his edition of The Lectures on the Philosophy of
Religion be among the first works converted to electronic form.

Midway through 1989 the five members of the project's current
Advisory Committee had agreed to serve:
Prof. Lawrence Stepelevich, Chair
Prof. Robert Brown
Prof. John Burbidge
Prof. Peter Hodgson
Prof. Wilfried Ver Eecke
Besides recommending works and editions, the Committee continues to
advise the Center on matters of format and scholarly apparatus, and
it facilitates contacts with publishers and professional

Thus far, the collaboration between the Georgetown Center for Text
and Technology and the Hegel Society of America has resulted in the
production of electronic versions of four volumes: the Baillie
translation of The Phenomenology of Mind and the three volumes of
The Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion in the edition of Peter
C. Hodgson for the University of California Press. The
Phenomenology, demonstrated in December 1989 at the conference of
the American Philosophical Association in Atlanta, is encoded for
use with WordCruncher text-analysis software and contains a
conversion program that enables it to be used with Micro-OCP text-
analysis software. The Lectures, demonstrated in October 1990 at
the conference of the Hegel Society in Montreal and released in
November, comes already packaged with the text-analysis portion of
WordCruncher. The electronic works are combined with a booklet
consisting of a user's manual and essays on Hegel by members of the
Advisory Committee. Both electronic editions are available from
Georgetown University Press (202-687-6063).

Software for Indexing and Retrieval. The primary purpose of
converting Hegel's works to electronic form is neither to read them
on the computer nor to preserve them for a longer period than the
shelf life of printed books (although both of these uses are
possible). Rather, the primary purpose is to enable the works to
be searched quickly with new text-analysis software. One such
program is called WordCruncher. Developed at Brigham Young
University and now sold by the Electronic Text Corporation,
WordCruncher has been licensed to the Georgetown Center for Text
and Technology for use with its electronic texts.

To humanists, the name "WordCruncher" is decidedly infelicitous.
Rather than "crunching" words, humanists, in John Ciardi's view,
"like to hang around words and listen to the way they whisper to
one another." But the name does evoke the computer's capability
for number-crunching, and it does remind us that the computer can
manipulate words as well as numbers.

So how does the software manipulate text? Essentially,
WordCruncher indexes (or "tags") every word in a file of text so
that any word, in all its occurrences, can be "searched" (and
retrieved) by itself or in combination with other words. For
example, at the recent conference of the Hegel Society on the
Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Stephen Dunning read a
paper on "particularity" in Hegel; WordCruncher could have helped
Prof. Dunning gather his textual evidence. He could have retrieved
instantaneously all 119 instances of the word in the three volumes
of Peter Hodgson's edition of the Lectures (as well as 577
instances of "particular" and 116 instances of ten other cognates
including the German "partikularitt" and "partikulre").

At first glance, the same capability of finding a single word is
afforded by a printed index and a concordance. In fact, however,
the indexes to the three volumes of the Lectures cite only seven
pages (approximately a dozen instances) for "particularity" and
"particularization." And no printed concordance for the recently
published work has yet been prepared.

Furthermore, the functionality of the computer program surpasses
that of a printed concordance in two key ways: by improving our
grasp of a single key word in its context and by permitting
searches of items larger than a single word. Let's explore these
advantages in turn.

In a printed concordance the reader moves alphabetically through
the word list to find the desired word and then is given a limited
context (usually a single line) and a reference to the work,
section, and page of the word's occurrences. The reader then turns
to the relevant volume of the printed work, finds the cited page,
and skims it to find the occurrence in its larger context. By
contrast, with WordCruncher the reader types the desired word and
instantaneously receives a frequency count of the word in the
three-volume text file. With one key stroke the reader receives
several screens with its occurrences, each of which contains the
highlighted word in a context of three lines and preceded by a
citation of its volume, section, page, and paragraph. Upon moving
the cursor to a citation of special interest and entering another
keystroke, the reader is given the highlighted word in its context
of an entire page of text that can then be scrolled forward or
backward without limit through the textfile. In this larger
context, a portion of the text can be "blocked," copied, and sent
either to a printer or to a separate textfile for subsequent
inclusion in a word-processor document.

But the program's second advantage over a concordance is even more
striking. Besides searching for single words, the scholar can
search for blocks of words (for example, all the cognates of
"recognize" and "acknowledge" that constitute the possible
translation of "anerkennen"); or exact phrases (such as "the
substantial unity of Spirit with itself"); or words in collocation
with one another (such as the word "kingdom" in collocation with
either "father" or "son" or "spirit") in contexts that can vary
from an entire chapter to a mere several characters of separation.

Thus the electronic tool, like all tools, can be thought of as
enhancing human capabilities in several ways. For example, we can
think of the computer as strengthening the scholar's memory; having
read the three volumes of the Lectures, the scholar can search as
if with photographic memory for the all pages on which key words or
phrases occurred.

To use a different metaphor, the scholar is given the equivalent of
microscopic vision to find the minuscule textual detail (for
example, the single instance of Magdalene in the Hegelian text of
the three volumes). Furthermore, the tool provides the scholar
with macroscopic vision, an overview of the text and the locations
where the key word of phrase is clustered. For any given word or
phrase, the program will display the number of actual occurrences
or percentages of total occurrences to be found on pages, in
sections/chapters, and in ranges of sections (such as, the Lectures
of 1824 by contrast to the Lectures of 1827).

By means of these microscopic and macroscopic views of a large file
of text, the scholar can trace keywords in context throughout the
work to determine, for example, where a concept is introduced and
how it is developed.

Next Steps. Clearly, such a searching tool would become
increasingly valuable for the study of Hegel to the extent that the
textfile is supplemented by additional translations; the German
originals; the works of Hegel's predecessors, contemporaries, and
successors; commentaries on the philosophers represented; and such
forms of scholarly apparatus as dictionaries of the period and
parsing programs for searching, say, all forms of German verbs with
separable prefixes.

Of all these expansions and enhancements, the most important is the
inclusion of Hegel's works in the original German. Access to the
Werke would not only increase the value of the searching capability
but also clarify the procedures used by the various teams of
translators. Knowing the English equivalents used, for example, by
Baillie in The Phenomenology and the Hodgson team in The Lectures
would help to make the various English-language versions more
compatible with one another and therefore more useful to students.

For these reasons, the choice of a German edition is at least as
important as the choice of an English-language edition. And
because scholars would naturally prefer to work with the same
edition in electronic form that they use in printed form, access to
the standard critical edition is devoutly to be wished.

Unfortunately, publishers are often reluctant to grant permission
for an electronic edition. Some fear copyright infringement, some
fear that electronic texts will undercut their revenues, while
others may even fear that electronic text will make the printed
book obsolete.

Nevertheless, several publishers have become receptive to
electronic text. Oxford University Press, for example, has
established an Electronic Publishing Division to create and market
machine-readable versions of its own editions, such as the Complete
Works of Shakespeare and the works of Jane Austen. Other
publishers, more wary, have given permissions to developers but
under circumscribed conditions (such as those by which the
Electronic Text Corporation converts the Library of America
editions of classic prose fiction).

Thus the major challenge facing the Georgetown/Hegel Society
project is convincing the publishers of the standard German
editions that a broad knowledge-base of Hegelian texts would
benefit scholars and students of philosophy and that it would also
enhance sales of those works that serve as the basis for the
standard electronic edition.

In its effort to reach a royalty-based subsidiary-rights agreement
with the German publishers (like the one reached with the
University of California Press), the project welcomes the
assistance of all interested members of the Hegel Society.