Because of poets and thinkers
Stand: 8:45 p.m. | Reading time: 4 minutes
Only one German philosopher made it into the ranking of the most influential contemporary philosophers published by Academic Influence. First place is just as surprising. Have our thinkers become irrelevant?
Dhe contemporary German-language philosophy has been under attack for several years. It cannot get out of its ivory tower, is entangled in strict publication procedures and is no longer able to establish contact with a broad public, neither in the communication of knowledge nor in the productive disturbance and shaking up of traditional thought patterns, these are widespread patterns complain.
At the same time a Reply enforce, which accuses the German-speaking philosophy of the 21st century for its aesthetic popularization and ingratiation to the talk show mainstream. Both sides, and this is remarkable, certify that the country that once imagined it was the home of poets and thinkers has long since ceased to make a name for itself through greatness of mind.
Whether the German-speaking philosophy is too popular today or no longer popular enough can be found a few days ago on the page “Academic Influence“Published ranking of the most influential philosophers of the present does not decide. Because it’s definitely not about popularity, not about quality or fame. Only the quantitative criterion of influence is measured.
This is done with the help of artificial intelligence. If, on the other hand, people with sensitivities had had their fingers in the game when counting, the result might be different. For the sake of fairness and to pay tribute to the shoulders on which many of the currently influential theories stand, the decision-makers might have considered adding more than one German to the top 48. But it wasn’t like that, the machine did its thing without further considerations, simply counting quotes from Wikipedia and Crossref blindly.
The result is astounding in more than one respect: with the exception of Jürgen Habermas, the German language seems to have gone too far, at least as far as philosophical publications are concerned. The biggest surprise, however, is not the long-observed disappearance of the Germans, but the hitherto rather unknown first place: Sally Haslanger, who heads the ranking, is unlikely to be a household name to most, even philosophically interested, connoisseurs of the US university bubble.
Sally Haslanger teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and does research on feminist theory and critical race theory, to which she applies metaphysical principles. Among the better-known names, however, are Martha Nussbaum, Charles Taylor, Alain Badiou, Thomas Nagel, Peter Singer and Judith Butler.
The Germans weren’t always that far behind. If you take a look at the ranking of the most influential personalities of all, fourth, sixth and eighth place are occupied by German speakers: Einstein, Marx and Freud. If you turn the philosophical wheel back 60 years, Karl Popper and Martin Heidegger appear in the list of the best alongside Habermas. From 1800 onwards, one moves again in completely familiar areas: the first four places are German. From 1500 even the first five. Only when you are in the search function until 4000 BC BC goes back, of course the Greeks are ahead.
What is it Is it solely to blame for the increasing assertiveness of the English language, namely the fact that English essays are more widely used and can therefore be cited faster and more frequently? The problem is not a specifically philosophical one; even when measuring literary influence, no German names can be found anywhere. You have to click back in time for a few years before you suddenly meet a fellow countryman in Kafka. The good news: at least eight women have made it into the top 25 of the philosophical present, which is a not inconsiderable progress for a strongly male-dominated subject.
Because the program does not take into account whether philosophical theories are cited negatively or affirmatively, and thus Osama bin Laden is already one of the most influential personalities in world history showed up, alternative suggestions for the next count were made online: the amount of Twitter followers, television appearances, written book pages or clubhouse visitors in their own room. It can be doubted whether the German language scores better in these categories.