09 November 2006

The Latest Trends in Endoxa

Google has a new service that allows one to test the popularity of search strings. Trent Dougherty over at This Is the Name of This Blog, who put me onto this, remarks that "I was hardly able to find any philosopher [sic] who had a high enough search volume. Unsurprisingly, there was one exception." viz. Peter Singer.

He means, of course, he was hardly able to find any name of a philosopher which had a high enough search volume.

But that difficulty aside, I wonder if Dougherty's lament isn't another expression of the prejudice of the present that afflicts contemporary philosophy. You'll find no lack of volume in searches for "John Rawls" or "Quine". Or try "Habermas" for a living philosopher.

The Google feature allows also comparative searches. Simply separate search strings with commas. The Google site then produces a graph which shows fluctuation in search volume over time. Here's a fun one: "Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche". Can you guess who is first, second, third, and fourth on average?

Another nifty feature is that it tells you the top cities of origin of searches (normalized for population). It turns out that more searches for "Aquinas" originate in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, proportionately, than anywhere else. Melbourne, Australia, is the most interested in "Third Man", followed by Austin, Texas, followed by .... Vienna, Austria. (Oops. Look out for equivocations.)

And I'm sure you're all interested in "sex". So, especially, are the residents of Cairo, Egypt.


Trent_Dougherty said...

Dougherty was pretty clearly interested only in living philosophers because a high volume for famous dead philosophers, especially ancient Greek ones, would come as no surprise.

He was interested if any of the dwarves standing on those giants shoulders had impacted enough lives de dicto to show up on this particular radar screen. Most (perhaps thankfully) had not.

Dougherty's years of slaving away teaching Greek, Latin, Ancient History, Classical Civ., Classical Lit, and Medieval and Renaissance Lit. in High Schools made him a life-long lover of the Classics, but his especial appreciation for Aristotle and the Scholastics led him to do graduate studies in logic.

It turns out many of Aristotle's insights are being re-discovered and receiving renewed interest and appreciation in the Academy. Perhaps there's hope.

Posted by Trent Dougherty

Michael Pakaluk said...

Thanks, Trent, for that clarification.