The other day I was playing around with Google's Ngram, which uses the books in Google Books to track the change in the use or popularity of different words or terms over time (basically how often a word or phrase appears in published works). Just out of curiosity I put in 'Plato' and 'Aristotle' to see how popular they have been over the years. The resulting graph was surprisingly interesting (you may have to click on the graph to see it).
I also noticed that there was a striking drop in the popularity of both philosophers starting in about 1965 (with a strong revival 20 years later). I wondered if this effect could be seen in other philosophers. Behold the result:
I noticed that the decline of the 1960's was present in all philosophers except Nietzsche who had his second big bump (Wittgenstein did not drop but his upward progress was slowed). So now the big question, is this just an effect of how Google gets and processes the data, or did people really stop talking about all those philosophers in the 1960's? And what drove the revival in the late 80's and throughout the 90's, and now why have they all dropped off, including Nietzsche? Also, it seems that the period between 1860 and 1920 was more Platonic but since 1960 we have been more focused on Aristotle (Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, which is almost exactly when Aristotle and Plato diverge. Coincidence? Probably not. And that is not a joke.). What effect has that had on us? A whole host of interesting questions.