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Humanist Archives: May 11, 2019, 7:30 a.m. Humanist 33.14 - categories of reasoning?

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 14.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2019-05-11 06:20:54+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: categories of reasoning?

A number of years ago I came across philosopher Ian Hacking's "styles
project", as he has most recently called it (2012), or as it was when I
encountered it, "styles of scientific reasoning" (2002). He explains
in both places and elsewhere that he took the idea from A. C. Crombie's
historical division of work in the natural sciences into six ways of
working and thinking: in G. E. R. Lloyd's summary (2009: 167):

> (1) the postulational style established in the mathematical sciences,
> (2) the experimental exploration and measurement of more complex
> observable relations, (3) the hypothetical construction of analogical
> models, (4) the ordering of variety by comparison and taxonomy, (5)
> the statistical analysis of regularities of populations and the
> calculus of probabilities, and (6) the historical derivation of
> genetic development.

It occurred to me that in the application of a technoscientific
instrument to data in the humanities there might be a good and useful
fit between Hacking's project and work going on in digital humanities.
This is how (with some revision) I described the latter in terms of the
former in 2008:

(1) postulation, in the crafting of what we may call, generically,
“editions,” viewed as metatheoretical statements, postulating the edited
work as having the scholarly qualities attributed to it;
(2) modelling (which is now sufficiently discussed it requires no
further comment here);
(3) experiment, in the wide-spread empirical exploration of source
materials on an unprecedented scale, for example in corpus linguistics
(4) taxonomy, in the rampant ontologizing of knowledge engineers and the
design of textual encoding and metadata schemes;
(5) probability, in literary stylistics, distant reading and
applications of computational linguistics in the language industries;
(6) historical derivation, in studies of manuscript stemmata, for example.

Classification for the sake of it may provide some satisfactions, but
that's not the attraction here. The attraction is twofold, first in
bringing work in digital humanities into alignment with centuries of
serious work and its tendency to form stylistic groupings, second in
what Hacking goes on to say about the self-affirming nature of these
groups. I don't want to get into that here but will later if there's

For now, I simply want to ask if the above alignment looks worth the
candle. There's nothing to say that any given project cannot satisfy
more than one of the above categories. To begin with, I want to know if
there are other stylistic tendencies or if any of the above simply don't
make any sense at all.

Finally, note the contrast with John Unsworth's differently focused
scheme of 7 "scholarly primitives" (2000).



Hacking, Ian. 2002. "'Style' for Historians and Philosophers". In
Historical Ontology: 178-99. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

---. 2012. "'Language, Truth and Reason' 30 years later". Studies in
History and Philosophy of Science 43: 599-609.

Lloyd, G. E. R. 2009. Disciplines in the Making: Cross-Cultural
Perspectives on Elites, Learning and Innovation. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

McCarty, Willard. 2008. "Being Recorn: The Humanities, Computing and
Styles of Scientific Reasoning". In New Technologies and Renaissance
Studies. Ed. William R. Bowen and Raymond G. Siemens. 1-22. Tempe AZ:
Iter and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Unsworth, John. 2000. "Scholarly Primitives: what methods do humanities
researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?"

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London;
Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney University; Editor, Interdisciplinary
Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist

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