We believe in god as long as we believe in grammar.


After an specific post dedicated to a NLP computational analysis, I would want to share more plots developing that issue. In this post, let’s perform a computational analysis on Hegel vs. Nietzsche use of verbs.

Language, grammar and metaphysics

Effectively, differences between Hegel and Nietzsche can be expressed in term of their use of the verbs. We can point out that the relation between the subject and the predicate has a metaphysical and ontological interpretation. Since Aristotle, the linguistic and grammatical subject is, at the same time, a metaphysical one. The relations contained in a sentence are relations of the reality, in a deep and onotological way.

Hegel gives continuty to this perception, stating that the subject evolutes, from his point of view, under the form as spirit. In that evolution, the subject is what remains, through the changes that happens along the history, as substance and even inmaterial force which animates people and historical events.

Conversely, Nietzsche suspects about the linguistic and grammatical form. He wants to shows up how language is not enough to express reality. Even more, grammar, specially the importance given to subject, stratifies reality, entifies the processes which happen under the appearance.

The NLP verbs analysis

First of all, we can observe which verbs are more used. This analysis will give us an initial and general look about the prioritized issuesby each philosopher. To do that, I selected their more relevant works: Phenomenology of the spirit (Hegel, 1807) and Thus spoke Zarathustra (Nietzsche, 1883). We can see that Hegel uses more abstract verbs, against Nietzsche, who uses more practical ones. Also we can conclude that Hegel has a more concentrated use of verbs.

15 more frequent verbs by each author on their more representative work

The main verbs used in Hegel are to be and to have, strongly related to names such as consciousness, essence, mode or reality. Nietzsche’s graph is articulated through want and say, relating terms such as human, will or eternity; moreover, Hegel charges his speech much more on a few verbs. Other terms that Nietzsche uses in abundance are thing, truth, time, or heart. It can also be seen that the adpositions in Hegel are more limiting.

Graphs with the relations between verbs and noums, expressing the ontological architecture of each text

Verbs features

Regarding the type of verbs, in Hegel the use of the singular indicative in the third person of the present stands out prominently; while in Nietzsche it is more compensated with the gerund, the past and the plural.

Verbs features corresponding with each text

Tools and methods

I performed these analyzes through R programming code, using the udpipe package wich allows you to lemmatize documents. To obtain more information about the labels resulted from the analysis, check here the universal dependencies used by udpipe.