The Philosophy of Data

February 8, 2013


What is modern philosophy? If you ask David Brooks, journalist at The New York Times, the raising tendency in modern philosophy is data-ism. He even predicts that this tendency has the potential to develop into a data revolution in the coming years.


Data-ism is the result of an ability we now have to gather huge amounts of data. This ability seems to carry with it certain cultural assumptions — that everything that can be measured should be measured.


But what can this measuring of everything help us humans to see? There are assumptions that it will help us do remarkable thing – even help us to foretell the future.


David Brooks keeps a certain skepticism about the abilities of the data and the way it reduces everything to the quantifiable, but acknowledges the potential of data-ism in eliminating human errors that frequently occurs today. E.g. errors caused by our wrong intuitive views of reality, like when we let our belives and actions be controlled by superstition. Secondly, data can illuminate patterns of behavior we haven’t yet noticed, like how our use of words can reveal our confidence level.


In sum, the data revolution is giving us wonderful ways to understand the present and the past. But will it transform our ability to predict and make decisions about the future as well? We’ll see.


Read the whole article here.