In the age of infographics, there’s an image for everything ––and some are an art form in and of themselves. The most ambitious try to capture, in one image, something as colossal as the history of the universe, or the history of human thought. Brendan Griffen has tried to do just that: a planet of multicolored dots that depicts the biggest hubs of thought throughout Western history. Needless to say, such an undertaking can be easily annoying or, of course, omitting. But in any account, the encyclopedic exercise is remarkable.

In this ideographic planet—which, for starters, is barely representative of the Eastern thought—each node represents a historical figure, and each color is a discipline and/or a point in time (for example, red is used for philosophers of the 19th and 20th century; orange for fiction writers; purple for comedians, etc.). People who were part of the same school of thought or who greatly influenced each other are set in the same constellation of dots ––The more influential, the greater their cosmos. According to Griffen’s info-graphic, the most influential writers in history are Shakespeare, Kafka, Borges, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Lovecraft and Stephen King.

Each thinker is the collective sum of all the other thinkers. We tend to think that great thinkers, scientists and writers were isolated, waiting in solitude until they got their moment of eureka, as if waiting to be hit by lightning. But the truth is that the process of discovering, forces us to consciously or unconsciously conjure all of our predecessors in order to develop new solutions to current problems.

Griffen’s method, however, can and should be questioned. His data comes directly from Wikipedia. But precisely because of this, instead of reading it as an exhaustive summary of the “who is who” in the history of human thought, we should read it as a brilliant representation of the current collective intelligence and popular cannon.

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In the age of infographics, there’s an image for everything ––and some are an art form in and of themselves. The most ambitious try to capture, in one image, something as colossal as the history of the universe, or the history of human thought. Brendan Griffen has tried to do just that: a planet of multicolored dots that depicts the biggest hubs of thought throughout Western history. Needless to say, such an undertaking can be easily annoying or, of course, omitting. But in any account, the encyclopedic exercise is remarkable.

In this ideographic planet—which, for starters, is barely representative of the Eastern thought—each node represents a historical figure, and each color is a discipline and/or a point in time (for example, red is used for philosophers of the 19th and 20th century; orange for fiction writers; purple for comedians, etc.). People who were part of the same school of thought or who greatly influenced each other are set in the same constellation of dots ––The more influential, the greater their cosmos. According to Griffen’s info-graphic, the most influential writers in history are Shakespeare, Kafka, Borges, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Lovecraft and Stephen King.

Each thinker is the collective sum of all the other thinkers. We tend to think that great thinkers, scientists and writers were isolated, waiting in solitude until they got their moment of eureka, as if waiting to be hit by lightning. But the truth is that the process of discovering, forces us to consciously or unconsciously conjure all of our predecessors in order to develop new solutions to current problems.

Griffen’s method, however, can and should be questioned. His data comes directly from Wikipedia. But precisely because of this, instead of reading it as an exhaustive summary of the “who is who” in the history of human thought, we should read it as a brilliant representation of the current collective intelligence and popular cannon.

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