Roland Dürre
Tuesday November 2nd, 2010

Wikipedia #14 – Wikipedia and Philosophy

During our philosophy seminar under Klaus-Jürgen Grün this last weekend, we also consulted Wikipedia on our way towards trying to find a consensus. We were discussing unanswered questions about Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist and his short story about theErdbeben in Chili (Earthquake in Chili).

I took advantage of the opportunity and asked the many philosophers present (students, doctoral candidates and one professor) about their opinions on the quality of philosophical articles in the German Wikipedia version.

They were surprisingly agreed in their answers:

As a general rule, the articles are excellent, highly competent and very balanced. Consequently, most of the faculties of Philosophy now accept Wikipedia as a reference source!

Regardless of my personal enthusiasm about Wikipedia, it came as a bit of a surprise. After all, there are quite a few articles on scientific and historical themes in the field of informatics in Wikipedia which, although not wrong in principle, are far from perfect. And I still keep finding more than just trifles that would benefit from improvement!

This seems to be in stark contrast to the aforementioned comments by philosophers. Naturally, I find it easy to come up with an explanation:

Computer scientists have less time to spare than philosophers. They have too much work and their main concern is earning money. Those computer scientists who are retired are so fed up with informatics that all they want is to “put away the pen”. So they never concern themselves with informatics when they are pensioned.

Philosophers, however, remain philosophers all through their lives. They will never stop philosophizing!

There is another advantage for philosophers as opposed to computer scientists: they have learned to express things with high precision. We computer scientists, on the other hand, are world champions when it comes to solving problems with the artificial programming languages. Yet we are not capable of explaining complicated correlations in simple natural language.
So here is what I recommend:

My dear computer scientists! How about being less concerned with earning a lot of money and instead taking better care of your professional discipline – also in Wikipedia? What you should do is continue to do so when you are retired. And why not also practice and learn a little philosophy?

(Translated by EG)

4 Kommentare zu “Wikipedia #14 – Wikipedia and Philosophy”

  1. Chris Wood (Tuesday November 2nd, 2010)

    As a retired IT specialist with little further interest in computers, I agree largely with Roland’s diagnosis. But there are other possible explanations.
    IT moves too fast; I find nothing wrong with the Wikipedia piece on Cobol.
    It is difficult to keep pace with IT above retirement age.
    One should read Wikipedia in English for IT material. Germany does not occupy as prominent a place in IT as in philosophy.

  2. kuhn hans-peter (Tuesday November 2nd, 2010)

    Lieber Roland,

    Bin sicherlich kein Philosoph und vermute zudem immer das schlimmste, das erspart schlechte und bringt oft gute Überraschungen.

    In diesem Sinne: Vielleicht sind die von Dir befragten Philosophen gerade die Autoren der Wikipedia Artikel, die so über den grünen Klee gelobt werden. Erscheint mir eigentlich auch logisch denn Intellektuelle halten meist nicht viel von den Gedanken, die andere zu Papier bringen.

    Aber das rückt natürlich die IT-Artikel keinesfalls in ein besseres Licht.

  3. kuhn hans-peter (Tuesday November 2nd, 2010)

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum 900. post!!!

    Meine 101, Grünsixs 77 und Edwins 34 sehen recht bescheiden dagegen aus.

  4. rd (Wednesday November 3rd, 2010)

    Danke! Ist mir aber gar nicht aufgefallen. Ist ja irgendwie beängstigend. Jenseits der 60 und schon bald 1000 Posts. Sieht so das Ende aus 😉 ?

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