2.4 Other History

Category: History of Philosophy

Keywords: nietzsche, published, students, james, school, book, books, philosopher, century, papers, years, author, letter, written, education

Number of Articles: 566
Percentage of Total: 1.8%
Rank: 7th

Weighted Number of Articles: 577.3
Percentage of Total: 1.8%
Rank: 7th

Mean Publication Year: 1941.4
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1948.6
Median Publication Year: 1945
Modal Publication Year: 1954

Topic with Most Overlap: Life and Value (0.0462)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: History and Culture (0.0504)
Topic with Least Overlap: Quantum Physics (0.00069)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Functions (0.00189)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the other historytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1877 when 13.8% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 2008 when 0.5% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.4 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.10: Other history.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Other Historytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 2.8%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.3%. Ethics - 2.0%. Philosophical Review - 3.3%. Analysis - 0.4%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.6%. Journal of Philosophy - 2.1%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 2.1%. Philosophy of Science - 1.0%. Noûs - 0.5%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 2.0%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.2%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1877 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 13.8% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 2008 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.5% of the articles.

Figure 2.11: Other history articles in each journal.

Table 2.12: Characteristic articles of the other history topic.
Table 2.13: Highly cited articles in the other history topic.


The faceted graph here is thrown off by a single data point from Philosophical Quarterly; it’s the dot just above the s in Philosophical. This is a downside of trying to graph all the data!

This is the only topic of the ninety that I think best gets a negative characterization; it’s history articles on figures who don’t fit into the other history categories. So it’s what’s left after you take out pragmatists, ancient Greeks, early moderns, Heidegger and Husserl, social contract theorists, Kant and Hume. That leaves a lot, and it’s a bit of a grab bag of figures who are left.

But yet, as can be seen from the graphs above, they collectively make almost no impact on the journals from about 1970–2013. History of philosophy, at least as represented in these journals, got really narrow for several decades. I’ll return much later in the book to some evidence that things have changed since 2013, but it’s a little shocking how small this category gets for the last forty-odd years I’m studying.

This is especially striking when considering that as well as some of the more surprising figures to turn up here, like Arnold Geulincx and James Marsh, we also see Nietzsche, James, Mill, and at least some historical articles on Wittgenstein. I’d have thought those three alone would have made more impact than the under 1 percent numbers we see for many recent decades. (And they are very much part of the resurgence I alluded to just above.)

So who does fit into this mixture of a category? The following table gives us some clues. I’ve generated it by looking at the words that appeared more than fifty times in a single article somewhere in the topic. I then split out the names from that list, as well as the word revolution which seemed interesting. And in each row I listed four things.

  • First, how often within the topic the word appears fifty or more times in an article.
  • Second, how often within the topic the word appears ten or more times in an article.
  • Third, how often within the topic the word appears at all in an article.
  • And fourth, how often within the whole study the word appears fifty or more times in an article.

The first three give us some sense of the spread of the term around a topic. A word that appears fifty or more times in an article is going to be more or less the subject of the article. A word that appears ten or more times is a focus of some sustained discussion in the article. And a word that appears at all is, at least, mentioned. And the last column is to give you a sense of how often this figure (or at least their name) shows up in the broader data set, so there’s a better sense of what’s distinctive about this topic.

Table 2.14: Prominent names in the topic other history.
Name 50 Usages (in Topic) 10 Usages 1 Usage 50 Usages (Anywhere)
alan 1 3 18 3
arbuckle 1 1 2 1
aristotle 2 28 225 180
bacon 8 14 90 10
bentham 1 8 30 5
bergson 1 7 99 17
berkeley 10 17 128 58
bertrand 1 2 58 3
bradley 1 3 57 24
brentano 2 4 24 12
broad 1 3 143 12
browne 1 1 9 1
buckle 1 1 5 1
cohen 1 3 51 23
coleridge 1 4 24 1
comte 1 3 88 4
cournot 1 3 14 1
coleridge 1 4 24 1
dewey 1 18 112 44
diderot 1 1 10 1
diocles 1 2 2 1
edwards 3 5 25 5
einstein 1 3 27 33
firth 1 1 2 1
foucault 3 6 11 3
fraser 1 4 32 1
geulincx 1 1 4 1
gioberti 1 1 5 1
harriet 1 1 5 1
hegel 2 28 177 59
helmer 1 1 2 1
hempel 1 1 10 7
herbert 2 3 88 2
hobbes 2 8 78 32
hume 4 18 158 187
husserl 1 5 41 76
hutcheson 1 7 24 3
ingarden 1 1 2 2
james 8 32 240 29
jefferson 1 3 12 5
john 1 23 237 36
kant 6 49 258 289
keith 1 1 8 1
kierkegaard 1 1 32 14
lewis 1 3 39 100
locke 6 28 150 74
lotze 1 1 30 9
mach 1 1 32 7
mandeville 1 1 4 3
marsh 1 1 15 1
mill 9 16 132 62
nagel 2 4 20 20
nietzsche 17 23 94 32
oppenheim 1 1 1 2
pascal 2 3 49 4
peirce 1 9 59 39
plato 4 39 253 158
popper 1 3 17 42
quine 1 3 20 84
randall 1 2 17 2
reid 1 4 40 32
revolution 1 6 132 7
robertson 2 3 30 2
roger 1 4 27 1
rosmini 1 1 7 1
royce 1 13 55 10
russell 4 13 107 92
ryan 1 1 2 2
scheler 1 3 31 10
shaftesbury 1 3 19 4
sidgwick 1 3 40 6
smith 1 4 85 59
stout 1 3 27 10
taylor 1 5 55 14
vasconcelos 1 2 5 1
williams 1 3 31 26
wilson 1 2 26 11
wittgenstein 4 8 47 104

Nietzsche is the big standout here, being a focus of seventeen of the articles. (And that’s not because he is widely discussed elsewhere.) I really would have expected there to have been more Nietzsche in the journals, but he still makes up a big part of this topic.

As can be seen from this table, and from the characteristic articles above, Mill gets a lot of attention here, even though he also gets discussed a lot elsewhere. But note how little attention Harriet Taylor gets. The uses of Taylor cover a fairly wide range of people, so Harriet is the more useful clue. And the only time she is mentioned more than in passing, at least in this topic, is in L. W. Sumner’s “More Light on the Later Mill(1974). It does say that the word ‘Harriet’ turns up in five other articles, but it turns up a total of six times across those five. Until Sumner, she is bascially erased from the historical discussion.

Otherwise there is a pleasingly eclectic grab-bag of philosophers here.

  • James Marsh was an early nineteenth-century transcendentalist who tried to popularize Coleridge among the New England transcendentalists. (Nicolson 1925)
  • Marsh’s attempts didn’t really succeed, but there remained some philosophical interest in Coleridge. He is the focus of two Philosophical Review papers, one in 1919 and the other in 1936. (Mossner 1936; Wilde 1919)
  • Henry Thomas Buckle was an early exponent of the view that history has laws, and that differences in either the character of great men, or of nations, make less difference to historical development than facts about geography. This has all sorts of echoes in work since, from Marx to Walter Schiedel (2019), but Buckle’s own work has fallen well out of fashion. (Benn 1881)
  • Antoine Augustin Cournot anticipated many of the key ideas in twentieth-century economics, including the notion of equilibrium, and the idea of supply and demand graphs, but it’s tricky to say just how causally significant he ended up being. His work on duopoly and oligopoly is still the foundation for how we think about those matters today. And, perhaps more relevant to philosophy, he made a number of contributions to the study of probability. (Moore 1934)
  • Denis Diderot could hardly be summarzsed in the little capsules I’m doing here. It is a great mystery to me how he hasn’t had more direct influence on the philosophy journals. (Becker 1915)
  • Jonathan Edwards is one of the most important US theologians in history. (And grandfather of Aaron Burr.) But most of the philosophical attention to him comes during the idealist period, and is interested in how his work relates to idealism. (Woodbridge 1904)
  • Antonio Rosmini and Vincenzo Gioberti are two of the most important Italian philosophers and theologians of the nineteenth-century. They both played significant roles in the revolutions of 1848. (Barzellotti 1878)
  • José Vasconcelos was the most important philosophical figure in the Mexican Revolution and an important figure in the Revolution itself. Given everything that was happening around him, it is mildly surprising that he survived until 1920. But he did, and became Rector of UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and Secretary of Education in Obregón’s government. (Romanell 1960)

There is one last article in this topic that needs some comment. It is the one and only article of the 566 to get onto the highly cited list. And it is cited not so much because of its content, but because of its author: Charles Darwin.

The article itself is like nothing else I’ve seen in these twelve journals (Darwin 1877). Darwin was, as is well known, an incredibly astute biological observer. So when his first son was born, he had a new subject to observe. And he dispassionately observed his development, and took meticulous notes. Then, some years later, he published the notebooks—in Mind. There is very little attempt at developing much of a theory here. Indeed, the text doesn’t have anything like the form of what we’d think of as an article. It really is just a lightly edited version of the notes Darwin took while observing his child’s development. I’ve seen it claimed that this is a significant document in the history of developmental psychology. And while I’m no expert on the history of developmental psychology, I find this very hard to believe. Again, it is really just a single case study, and it’s not clear what could be learned in principle about developmental psychology from one case. But it’s a fascinating insight into what kind of parent Darwin was.