[Humanist] 26.302 social networking in Beowulf, the Iliad & the Ulster Cycle

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Sep 14 07:31:38 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 302.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2012 08:30:21 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: physics hypothetical?

What puzzles me about the discussion of Mac Carron and Kenna's work 
described in "Universal Properties of mythological networks" is the 
overwhelming tendency to treat it simply as true or false. It's 
understandable that physicists should want to believe that physics tells 
the truth about things, and that scholars of those things fallen into the 
hands of physicists should react. But, it seems to me, how much better 
if the results from such analysis were taken as hypothetical: let us 
pretend that thus-and-such is true of Beowulf et al., that we can treat 
these works *as if* thus-and-such were true of them, then see what 
happens by applying method X to them, and then compare what we get to 
what literary scholars, historians, archaeologists and others have said. 
Isn't this one of the central things that computing allows us in the 
humanities to do -- treat cultural artefacts as if they were only and wholly
objects of the natural world (as we conceive that world to be)?


Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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