Cartesianism as a Social Epidemic A Network Analysis Approach

1. Abstract

The aim of this paper is to give a concrete example of how network analysis can be applied to study the dissemination of new ideas throughout history. The father of modern philosophy, René Descartes (1596--1650), is taken as a case study. To trace the rapid spread of Descartes' ideas across early modern Europe, I will rely on ePistolarium, a web archive of more than 20,000 digitized letters. Using the metadata and transcriptions of ePistolarium, I will model a network in which the edges will represent the letters mentioning Descartes and the nodes will represent the people connected by those letters. Studying the topology of the network, I will be able to determine which actors were more involved in spreading Descartes' ideas and the routes along which information about Descartes travelled.

Paolo Rossini (, University of Leiden, Netherlands, The

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