BolVis: visualization for text-based research in philosophy

Pauline van Wierst, Steven Hofstede, Yvette Oortwijn, T.H.A. Castermans, Rob Koopman, Shenghui Wang, Michel A. Westenberg, Arianna Betti

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Traditional research in philosophy consists for a large part in conceptual analysis and close reading of texts. This is a precise but time-consuming approach, in which the researcher focuses on one particular text passage or one philosophical concept from one or more works of an author. In this paper, we present BolVis, a visualization tool for text-based research in philosophy. BolVis allows researchers to determine quickly which parts of a text corpus are most relevant for their research by performing a semantic similarity search on words, sentences, and passages. It supports activities such as filtering, exploring the semantic context, comparing, performing close reading on selected passages, et cetera. Our approach enables in-depth analysis of texts at a significantly greater scale than is possible by traditional means, thereby allowing researchers to gain in speed without compromising on precision. We demonstrate the usefulness of BolVis by applying it to a corpus consisting of about 11,000 pages of the writings of the Bohemian polymath Bernard Bolzano (1781--1848). Our use case addresses an open question about Bolzano's ideas concerning size equality for sets of natural numbers, and we show that the use of BolVis enabled us to find (at least a significant part of) the reason why he came to accept one-to-one correspondence as a sufficient criterion for size equality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. 3rd Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities (VIS4DH)
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event3rd Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities(VIS4DH2018) - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 21 Oct 2018 → …


Workshop3rd Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities(VIS4DH2018)
Abbreviated titleVIS4DH2018
Period21/10/18 → …
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