Cambridge, UK, 19th March 2019: Following the 30th anniversary of the invention of the World Wide Web, a Cambridge organisation is launching a radical new way to access the world’s philosophy. Dubbed “philosophies.space”, the system allows anyone with a web browser to take a visual overview of philosophical research and zoom into specific areas of interest in a similar way to Google Maps.
Stefan Haselwimmer, founder of philosophies.space, said, “If you are starting out in philosophy, there’s a bewildering array of different subject areas and it’s very easy to get lost. philosophies.space is our attempt to provide a simple map to all the complexity. Users can start with an overview and zoom in closer and closer, right down to the level of individual concepts and abstracts.”
The idea for philosophies.space came to Stefan while studying philosophy at Cambridge in the early 90s. He had the vision of creating a computer system that would transform the way people conduct philosophical enquiry and open the subject to a wider audience.
Stefan continued, “As a kid growing up in the 80s, I was exposed to a wide variety of popular philosophy on television. It’s thanks to Bryan Magee’s ‘The Great Philosophers’ TV series that I bought my first ever philosophy book. In an era of fake news, heated online debate and the ethical dilemmas of AI, it’s now more important than ever for everyone to engage with fundamental philosophical ideas.”
Stefan hopes the system will be useful to professional philosophers too. “The different areas of philosophy can sometimes feel like a complicated jigsaw,” he said. “As with any jigsaw, sometimes you need to look at the image on the box to see how the pieces fit together. philosophies.space is our attempt to provide such an overview.”
The philosophies.space system, currently in beta, gives access to a range of open access philosophy content from Wikipedia and PhilPapers.org. But Stefan has plans to create “PubPhil”, a philosophy version of PubMed, the comprehensive index of biomedical literature, in order to provide a comprehensive database of all the latest philosophical abstracts. “In order to apply AI, machine learning and data mining techniques to philosophy it’s crucial we have the highest quality and largest text corpus possible,” Stefan said.
A self-professed Karl Popper fan, Stefan was profoundly inspired by Popper’s concept of a “World Three”. “I was always intrigued by Popper’s notion of an objective world of ideas. I wondered whether it was possible to create a map for such a world and what it would be like to travel around it.” Stefan has therefore started work on a “philosophy space game” that will allow people to explore the universe of philosophical ideas as a “truthonaut”.
“Sometimes philosophical concepts can seem strange and inhospitable,” he said, “like travelling through an alien universe. But every so often ideas can also feel sublime and moving, like gazing up at the stars. I realized a ‘Universe of Philosophy’ could make a powerful game experience where people learn about philosophy without even realizing it”. An early demo of the game can be seen at http://philosophies.space/game
Stefan is keen to collaborate with philosophers and technology developers to develop the system further. If you would like to get more involved, please contact Stefan through the website at philosophies.space
For more information about philosophies.space, go to:
To use the system, go to:
About Stefan Haselwimmer
A former philosophy student, Stefan completed his undergraduate philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, his Diploma in Philosophy at Warwick (studying under Popper’s research assistant David Miller), and his Masters in History and Philosophy of Science at King’s College, London. As an internet innovator, he launched The Independent and Mirror newspapers on the internet in 1997, ran New Statesman Online for five years and went on to create PhoneAnything, the UK’s first telephone portal to provide phone access to internet content.
He has recently been conducting research into machine learning and text mining and is co-author on a 2018 paper on “Literature-Based Knowledge Discovery”.