20.163 the presence of Busa?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 06:35:25 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 163.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 06:27:37 +0100
         From: sramsay_at_unlserve.unl.edu
         Subject: The Presence of Busa

In *Computers and Humanities* 14 (1980), Roberta Busa describes his
quest to create a complete digital concordance to the work of Thomas
Aquinas as having begun with research into the notion of "presence" in
Thomas -- in particular, his emerging sense that elucidating the
notion of presence required that one pay attention not to the obvious
cognates, but to the preposition "in:"

"My next step was to write out by hand 10,000 3x5 cards, each
containing a sentence with the word 'in' or a word connected with
'in.' Grand games of solitaire followed" (83).

Fr. Busa came to a famous realization shortly afterward:

"It was clear to me that to process texts containing more than ten
million words, I had to look for some type of machinery" (83)

My question for the group is this: Did Busa ever return to his
investigation of the notion of "presence?" Was he able to write the
paper on presence in Thomas that had prompted the founding work of our


Stephen Ramsay
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Nebraska at Lincoln
PGP Public Key ID: 0xA38D7B11
Received on Wed Aug 23 2006 - 01:59:13 EDT

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