CTI Textual Studies

Guide to Digital Resources 1996-98

Table of Contents





Resources available for the computer-assisted study of Philosophy and Logic, range from full-text collections of philosophical works, to interactive learning tutorials which concentrate on specific aspects of philosophy or a philosopher's work, to software which allows the user to design and test proofs of logical theory.

Full-text databases vary in the breadth of information which they provide, and the functionality which accompanies the text. A single substantial (and consequently expensive) commercially available database is the Corpus des Oeuvres de Philosophie en Langue Française, published by Chadwyck-Healey, which when completed will contain works of all philosophers writing in the French language from the Renaissance to 1914. This entire corpus is available on a number of CD-ROMs and the use of specialist software and tagging schemes means that the whole collection of texts can be searched with a range of parameters. The Past Masters series consists of a range of both collections of texts and texts which centre on a single philosopher or branch of philosophy; the collection ranges from British Philosophy 1600-1900 to The Collected Dialogues of Plato to Nietzsches Werke: Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, and comes complete with searching and viewing software. The Descartes CD-ROM provides full text versions of Descartes key works, but additionally provides carefully selected contextual information pertaining to the philosopher's life and times, with an interesting combination of multimedia information - contextual images, audio, and animations; it exemplifies a more teaching oriented resource, perhaps suitable for undergraduate level of study.

Philosophy has inspired some exciting and innovative interactive learning packages, which use the digital medium as a platform to challenge and explore arguments and concepts in philosophy and ethics. The Right to Die? Dax Cowart case CD-ROM provides an interesting forum for the discussion of ethical issues, providing a complete case-history supported by archival and contextual information, relevant legal cases, and substantial 'live' video footage of interviews with the main protagonists in the case, which drive the user to make their own ethical decisions about the points raised by the case.The resource has been designed for use in undergraduate programmes of study and exemplifies a teaching-oriented computer-based package; it would be interesting to note the degree to which it can be successfully applied to the classroom situation.

More advanced level packages centre on philosophical texts; the Archelogos Project draws upon primary texts to create a resource of philosophical arguments and alternative readings for the texts of the Ancient Greek philosophers, with a number of different teaching-oriented facets to the resource. Socrates in the Labyrinth, designed by Professor David Kolb of Bates College, uses the hypertext metaphor to explore the conflicting value of linearity and non-linearity in philosophical argument, illustrating the argument with contexts taken from works ranging from Socrates to Hegel.

Logic is particularly well served by interactive resources which use the potential of the technology to give the user the opportunity to explore logical rules and reasoning; on a basic level, MacLogic and Jape both provide a platform for the development and automatic checking of logical proofs, whilst LogicWorks and the suite of programs which include HyperProof, Tarski's World and the logic text Language of First-order Logic include a tutorial-based path through concepts of logic, which allows a tutor some control over elements such as content of the package, and automatic evaluation and feedback. In LogicWorks, for example, students are able to carry out exercises in logic, working with commonly used logic texts, and there is also a facility for automatic assessment and feedback which is controlled by the tutor.

In general, digital resources for Philosophy and Logic span a wide range of requirements, from collections and single works in digital form, to tools which allow the investigation of philosophical or logical concepts, and a substantial number of tutorial-style packages, many of which have been produced by educators. Employing computers in some aspect of studies in Philosophy and Logic may therefore be a practical possibility.


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HTML Author: Sarah Porter
Document created: 2 April 1997
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