Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Philosophy in Wikipedia

There is an entertaining plug for philosophy in the Wikipedia signpost today. Sadly, it entirely conceals the ‘problems of philosophy’ in Wikipedia which I discussed last year in this post. As I noted then, there are serious problems with the ‘most important philosophy articles’ in Wikipedia.  Nine of these articles are of ‘C’ class. The article on Metaphysics is a mess, containing gems like “Nihilism represents and [sic] extremely negative view of being”. The article ‘History of Philosophy’, which is not even ‘C’ class, is just plain weird (“an historical perspective … emphasizes the existence of a long period of transition between the teologically [sic] driven centuries (running up the XIII or XIV Centuries) and the rationalists-empiricists debates”; “early and late Renaissance philosophers were a more heterogeneous population, including rhetors, magicians and astrologues, early empirical scientist, poets, philologists”).

The Signpost article mentions none of this. It begins by advertising the 44 featured articles in philosophy. Featured articles are those deemed good enough to be mentioned on Wikipedia’s main page. These 44 articles may be good, but most of them are nothing to do with philosophy, including Archimedes (not a philosopher), Emma Goldman (activist), History of evolutionary thought (science), Rabindranath Tagore (poet and mystic), The_Illuminatus! Trilogy (science fiction), Learned Hand (judge), Transhumanism (movement), and then continues with a sort of interview.

The two 'philosophy editors' interviewed are not actually philosophers in the proper sense.  One of them is a mathematician, the other a student of the Frankfurt School of critical theory (i.e. a sociologist).  

What is it about Wikipedia that makes dealing with philosophy so difficult?

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