A Searchable Digital Map of Principia Mathematica

Principia Mathematica, by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, is known for its significant influence on work in philosophy, logic, and early computer science. It was originally published in three volumes (totaling 1,992 pages) between 1910 and 1913. Now, it’s available in a new form: a digital searchable map.

The aim of the map, say creators Landon D.C. Elkind (Western Kentucky), Gregory Landini (Iowa), and Matthew Butler (Iowa), is to “make clear structural connections between different parts of Principia and to make analyzable data about the theorems, definitions, and primitive postulates in its text.”

They urge people to try out the map and report back using the feedback form here. They say: “Particularly helpful would be any and all (a) feature requests, (b) apparent bugs or issues, and (c) evaluative feedback (whether positive or not).”

One’s first view of the map, upon opening the site, is this:

You can scroll horizontally to the right through the map or jump to a specific section using the search feature.

You can also click on each node for an unpacking of it, including a brief description and a visualization of which other parts of the book the proof in that section cites, and which other parts of the book cite it, as well as a link to the original text. Here’s what you see when you click on section 2.15, for example:

There’s also a table which presents this intra-citational data in a filterable form.

A user guide is here.

The project was funded by a $281,104 Scholarly Editions and Translations grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded last year.

You can watch an introductory video about the Principia map below:

Related: The Tractatus As Subway Map.

Other posts about visualizations of philosophy are here.

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