Chart Of The Day

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 8 2012 @ 8:37pm

A detail from the history of philosophical connections according to Wikipedia:

Screen shot 2012-06-28 at 4.31.52 PM

The full chart is here. Simon Raper explains how he made it:

Each philosopher is a node in the network and the lines between them (or edges in the terminology of graph theory) represents lines of influence. The node and text are sized according to the number of connections. The algorithm that visualises the graph also tends to put the better connected nodes in the centre of the diagram so we get the most influential philosophers, in large text, clustered in the centre. It all seems about right with the major figures in the western philosophical tradition taking the centre stage. … A shortcoming however is that this evaluation only takes into account direct lines of influence. Indirect influence via another person in the network does not enter into it. This probably explains why Descartes is smaller than you’d think.

Or as MetaFilter put it:

Statistician Simon Raper has used Wikipedia and the open source graph visualization software Gephi to do what took sociologist Randall Collins 25 years to do in his book The Sociology of Philosophies, that is, map the relations of influence in the history of philosophy.