Taxonomy of the Human Condition03 Feb 2015
A Quick Note
I took a bit of a break since my last post a month ago as my wife and I get ready for a new addition to our family (any day now). But while we play the waiting game I wanted to do the write up for this visualization that I played with a couple weeks ago. I have played around with a few other Wikipedia taxonomies, so I'll likely do similar analysis in the coming weeks.
The Human Condition
[The human condition] includes concerns such as the meaning of life, the search for gratification, the sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, and the awareness of the inescapability of death. In essence, the human condition is the self-aware, and reflective nature of Homo sapiens that allows for analysis of existential themes.
Source: Wikipedia article on the Human Condition
The breadth and scope of the human condition is far too big to cover exhaustively in a blog on graph visualizations. But modest, perhaps intuitive, insight can be found by applying graph analysis and visualization techniques.
This graph was created using a web crawler I wrote that takes a configuration of URL starting points, CSS selectors for page attributes and links to follow, and what depth to go to. For this, I started at the Wikipedia page for the human condition.
The size of the graph was prohibitively large (as is usually the case for Wikipedia link topology graphs of depth 3). So, after running a degree analysis, I filtered the graph down to only pages that were referenced 3 or more times. This brought the graph down to a relatively small size: 1507 nodes/pages and 5768 links. I then did a community analysis to see how major taxonomy groups emerged.
This community is made up mostly of psychology topics and psychologists with some overlap with neighboring communities. The topics with the most in-bound links (in-degree) are:
- Philosophy of psychology
- Philosophy of social sciences
- Cognitive science
- Meaning (existential)
- Political ecology
Top three most linked to people in this community are:
- Sigmund Freud - who is considered the father of psychoanalysis.
- William James - considered the "Father of American Psychology", he was a prolific writer on topics including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism.
- Karl Popper - regarded as one of the greatest philosophers in the 20th century, much of his work focused on critical rationalism, and falsificationism.
Philosophy and Science
Next to the psychology community, this community moves from psycho-analysis to topics to a more diverse set of science and philosophy topics. Top topics here include:
- Philosophy of science
- Philosophy of mind
- Philosophy of history
- Critical theory
And top three most linked to people in this community:
- Immanuel Kant - who heavily influenced the modern fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
- Bertrand Russell - logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, and political activist.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein - who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
Emotion and Consciousness
The small and somewhat sparse pink network in the top center is made up of topics related mostly to consciousness and emotion. I admit that I could better tune the community detection so the boundary between this community and others were cleaner. Regardless, here are some topics that are linked to the most:
Top people in this community are:
- John Locke - heavily influencing Enlightenment thinkers, he is known as the "Father of Classical Liberalism".
- John Bowlby - a psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, noted for his interest in child development and for his work in attachment theory.
- Walter Mischel - a psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology.
Religion and Spirituality
The green community on the left is made up mostly of religious and theistic (or atheistic) topics. Top ones include:
Three highly connected individuals are:
- Martin Buber - A Jewish philosopher who developed the philosophy of dialogue in his book I and Thou.
- Blaise Pascal - A famous mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Christian philosopher.
- William Whewell - a polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science.
While many of these other communities have some overlap with philosophy, this community is strongly focused on philosophy itself. Key topics include:
- Analytic philosophy
- Artificial intelligence
Three top linked to individuals are:
- Aristotle - called "The First Genuine scientist in history", he wrote on physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, and government.
- Soren Kierkegaard - widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
- Michel Foucault - his theories focused on the relationship between power, knowledge, and how they relate to social control.
Cutting through the philosophy community is another tightly connected community. This community has many philosophers. Wikipedia often describes philosophers in terms of who they influenced and were influenced by. Thus the tightly connected nature of this community. The distinction, however, isn't binary between this community and the broader philosophy community. Many philosophy topics appear in this community and many philosophers appear in the other. A more course community detection setting would likely combine these two communities. But it's interesting to see sub-communities in the taxonomy emerge this way.
Here are the top topics in this community:
- Human condition
- Meaning of life
- Political philosophy
- Action theory
- American philosophy
- Philosophy of space and time
- Metaphysical naturalism
Three top referenced people in this community are:
- Martin Heidegger - seen as a key thinker on continental philosophy (with a controversial relationship with Nazism).
- Friedrich Nietzsche - a philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and composer who was critical of religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science.
- Hans-Georg Gadmer - another philosopher of the continental tradition who heavily influenced hermeneutics.
Taxonomy graphs are always interesting. Every time I do one (see below for other Wikipedia taxonomy graph analysis I've done) I learn interesting things that aren't readily noticeable if I were to simply look at the nodes in isolation. Understanding the topology of a taxonomy is an essential part of understanding the taxonomy itself.