[Humanist] 30.719 first and second-order questions

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 7 07:33:16 CET 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 719.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2017 11:17:07 +0100
        From: Dino Buzzetti <dino.buzzetti at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  30.716 first and second-order questions
        In-Reply-To: <20170206063316.D961088E0 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

You are right in reminding us that "second-order questions",
or "questions about the discipline qua discipline" (Corry) are
"part of the ongoing growth and development of digital humanities".
A discipline that doesn't question its methods and purposes is
doomed to loose soon its vitality. Nor should it demand this kind of
questioning to "ancillary" disciplines. I do not think that philosophy,
for one, can be conceived of as ancillary to mathematics, or to
other disciplines that, on the contrary, as history shows, have stemmed
from its domain. And that cannot be the case with digital humanities
either, although they be just now in great need of epistemological
and methodological questioning—if you would object that my line
of argument implies conceiving the digital humanities as a discipline,
I would acknowledge, "yes I do".

Second-order questioning, if I may add, seems to me in the present
situation the outcome of an incoming paradigm shift that tends to
comprise in many a discipline the point of view of the observer itself.

Yours,                 -dino buzzetti

On 6 February 2017 at 07:33, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 716.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2017 08:34:05 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: first and second-order questions
>
>
> In his article "Linearity and Reflexivity in the Growth of Mathematical
> Knowledge" (1989), Leo Corry writes as follows:
>
> > We may distinguish, broadly speaking, two sorts of questions
> > concerning every scientific discipline. The first sort are questions
> > about the subject matter of the discipline. The second sort are
> > questions about the discipline qua discipline, or second-order
> > questions. It is the aim of the discipline to answer the questions of
> > the first sort, but usually not to answer questions of the second
> > sort. These second-order questions concern the methodology,
> > philosophy, history, or sociology of the discipline and are usually
> > addressed by an ancillary discipline.
>
> (Corry's aim in drawing that distinction, I take it, is to rescue
> mathematical knowledge from the effects of overstating the case for the
> sociohistorical dimensions of mathematics that have received much
> attention in recent decades.) Obviously in the case of mathematics,
> the prominence of these second-order questions is part of a much
> larger socio-intellectual shift. But in computer science and in
> digital humanities these questions would seem to have much more to
> do with the early stage in which practitioners and others are trying
> to figure out what the discipline is, to justify it to university
> administrators, hold funding applicants up to the proper standards
> and so on. Certain essentially unanswerable questions (e.g. "is it a
> discipline?") cannot disappear soon enough, but questioning "the
> methodology, philosophy, history, or sociology of the discipline" is,
> it seems to me, part of the ongoing growth and development of
> digital humanities. There is the question of competence to do that,
> which is a fundamental difficulty of interdisciplinary research unless
> it be allowed simply to poach where it will.
>
>
> Comments?
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)

-- 
Dino Buzzetti  
formerly
Department of Philosophy     
University of Bologna                             ​
currently
Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII
via san Vitale, 114 
I-40125 Bologna BO
e-mail:  dino.buzzetti (at) gmail.com
             buzzetti (at) fscire.it
web: http://web.dfc.unibo.it/buzzetti/
http://www.fscire.it/it/home/chi-siamo/ricercatori/buzzetti/





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