Philosophy and the Digital Humanities

Philosophy and the Digital Humanities

The above image is a detail from the famous “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch. “Enormously sized, lavishly detailed, and compellingly grotesque,” the work is now available to explore in an “online interactive adventure.” Viewers can take a “15 step” tour of the image, or go their own route, clicking on the flags placed on the image to listen to or read more information and stories, as well as music and noise. It’s an impressive use of online multimedia technology to bring some art history to the public, for free.

So here’s an idea: take relatively short and provocative passages from some well-known works in philosophy and do something similar. Have an attractive scan of the passage—a page or two, maybe from an early edition (or translation)—with certain words or phrases flagged. At the click of the flag, the viewer can listen to one or a few brief commentaries about it and its significance in the larger work or set of ideas. Perhaps there is some relevant cultural context which can be conveyed with music or art. Perhaps there are issues of contemporary everyday concern relevant to the passage which another commenter can draw out. A collection of such pages could form a small online museum of excerpts of philosophy texts.

If you think this is a good idea, go for it. In the meanwhile, I’d be interested in hearing about similar projects in philosophy that may be underway, or other ideas for bringing philosophy into the digital humanities, be they practical or fanciful or, like Bosch’s painting, weird.

garden-of-earthly-delights large detail 3

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