12.0023 humanities computing

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 14 May 1998 15:35:13 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 23.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 10:07:16 +0100 (BST)
From: Jan Christoph Meister <fs6a029@uni-hamburg.de>
Subject: Survey

[The following comments on "What is humanities computing?" announced in
Humanist 12.0010, at
were included within a longer message on another topic. This time,
possibly never again, I managed to restrain modesty from halting the flow
of knowledge. :-) --WM]

.....Apart from the very succinct and concise way in which you
manage to describe the endeavour of humanities computing in general your
article rightly stresses the methodological issue - what I like to call the
"reconciliation of the numerical and the hermeneutical paradigm". This ought
to be underlined time and again. The chief contribution humanities computing
can make - over and above its pragmatic functions in the various realms of
humanities research - is an attempt at reformulating qualitatively
(hermeneutically) oriented questions genuine to the humanist paradigm of
scholarship in terms of quantitative procedures of data analysis normally
alien to our field of research. And perhaps this calculated transgression
will eventually start working the other way round and help us to understand
how the potentiality of "meaning" is structurally embedded in empirical data
(in fact, it has done so for quite a while: in the "Gestalt"-concept, among
other). Against this background the question of whether or not humanities
computing is a discipline is indeed secondary, if not misleading - because
humanities computing essentially puts the methodological homogeneity of
disciplines per se into question.

Jan Christoph Meister

Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>