Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 28, 2022, 5:59 a.m. Humanist 36.36 - in the dark

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 36.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

    [1]    From: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.33: in the dark (33)

    [2]    From: James Rovira <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.33: in the dark (19)

        Date: 2022-05-28 04:54:02+00:00
        From: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.33: in the dark

Dear Manfred:

I would call out two passages in particular from that excellent posting:

“[scholars] who do not strive to achieve as much objectivity as possible,
are intellectual cowards”

                  That needs no comment, just a salute.

“how much control DO you want to have? For me computation provides a
much higher potential degree of control than any non-formalized research

                  “How much?” I would gloss that with your words: “as
much  . .as possible”.  But I’d also want to add that this idea/ideal of
“control” ought to be understood and pursued entirely within the horizon
of the myth of Faust.   One wants control in the first place to set a
procedural monitor on what you’re doing, but in the end – perhaps more
crucially given the larger framework of scholarly/scientific work -- to
bring clarity to the unforeseeable limits of what you are doing.

                  And then I’d want to add: I don’t think computation
provides more potential (etc) than any other artful (call it
“engineering”) process.  It all comes down to the commitment of the
individual and his/her institutional setting (the other persons
involved).  In fallible faustian hands, the idea/ideal of control will
breed nightmares.  Goethe wrote Part II because he wanted to counter the
mordant warning issued in Byron’s explicit critical reflection on Part I,
/Manfred/ .  And in what did that defense consist?  A /deus ex machina/.



        Date: 2022-05-27 14:42:43+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.33: in the dark

I'm unsure about some of these comments. If we're essentially sorting data
in a spreadsheet, do we need code for that? How many programs are
essentially doing that kind of work?

BUT, I think a description of the rules by which the data is sorted, the
way in which it is read -- in other words, full disclosure of the
methodology -- and our entire results, our setbacks, etc. would be very
welcome and better serve the field.

People will start writing it when journals start requiring it.

Machines don't use us. They aren't thinking agents. I think we obscure
what's going on when we talk that way. We program how they work so, by
extension, we program how we interact with them. Are we aware that we're
doing so when we write the program? Or when we use a program others have
written for us. Do machines use us, or do programmers use us through the

Jim R

Unsubscribe at:
List posts to:
List info and archives at at:
Listmember interface at:
Subscribe at: