What are patterns in the humanities?

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThis paper is concerned with patterns in past human behaviour, what they are, and how this relates to the detection of patterns in data by means of computation. Theorists have not given patterns the attention they deserve. Therefore it is far from clear what patterns are and to what purpose scholars may use them. This paper presents eight propositions on patterns which hold true for patterns found ‘by hand’ and patterns found ‘by computation’. One such is that a pattern is discernible in behaviour when we subject it to the intentional stance, as the philosopher Daniel Dennett argues. Here behaviour is part of an intentional system. This paper’s argument is that the patterns found ‘by computation’ too are part of an intentional system. To substantiate this claim this paper discusses two important examples of detecting computational patterns in the domain of the humanities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Patterns
  • big data
  • culturomics
  • digital humanities
  • distant reading
  • intentional stance


Dive into the research topics of 'What are patterns in the humanities?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this