“There is a prevalent notion that philosophy is a pursuit to be followed only by expert thinkers on abstract subjects, that it deals with the pale ghosts of conceptions whose domain is abstract thought, but which have no application to real life. This is a mistake. Man sees the various phenomena of life and nature, forms conceptions and ideas, and then tries to reason and to find out the relation existing between these various facts and phenomena... When man acts in this way we say he philosophises.”
(A.S. Rappaport, from the first edition of The Philosopher, 1923)
One of our editors Anthony Morgan has recently taken over as editor of The Philosopher, the oldest public philosophy journal in the UK (founded in 1923). And we are delighted to have established a new relationship with the Philosophical Society of England (PSE), a charitable organization founded ten years earlier than the journal in 1913 (see www.philsoceng.uk) The Philosopher is the official journal of the PSE, and we have taken over publication. The first edition under our stewardship will be published this Autumn, and in 2019 the journal will be published quarterly.
The Philosopher is a journal built around the belief that anything can be made clear to the interested reader. Articles are considered without discrimination as to subject matter or author; the only criterion is that it must be philosophical in method. Contributors over the years have ranged from John Dewey and G.K. Chesterton to contemporary thinkers like Timothy Williamson, Catherine Wilson, Daniel Hutto, Mary Midgley, Jason Stanley, Clare Chambers, and Stephen Mumford.
The Philosopher can be contacted through emailing Anthony: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions are welcome from professional and amateur philosophers of all kinds, with the proviso that articles maintain a high standard of readability and transparency, more in line with classical discussions than with the quite different aims and rationales of many contemporary journals catering for the academic market.
We do accept submissions but encourage would-be contributors to get to know the journal first in order to become familiar with the kind of articles we publish. For this reason, we have generally found that our subscribers submit more suitable pieces! Please note that we run themed issues so please get in touch and find out which themes are going to be featured in future issues. This will significantly increase likelihood of your article being accepted.
Articles should not exceed 2,000 words. We also encourage new reviewers for the Journal. Review articles can be up to 1500 words long, but short reviews of less than 700 words are preferred. We try to make a preliminary assessment of publication potential within three months of receipt. However, in a typical year we receive many enquiries, and being a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers, we sometimes struggle to keep up!
In terms of style, if you are writing on a specialist subject please write as if you were addressing a reader with only a passing familiarity with your topic. We certainly encourage articles dealing with complex ideas and arguments but please try to express your thoughts in clear and understandable language. Even though it may not be applicable in all cases, we largely agree with Richard Feynman’s famous dictum: "If you can't explain something in simple terms, you don't understand it."
We currently do not pay writers for submissions as our budget is too limited; in fact no one working for The Philosopher is currently paid. As soon as this situation changes we will be sure to pay for submissions.
The Philosopher holds exclusive publication rights to any submission until the print issue after the one in which it is published comes out. At this point, we will gradually upload submissions onto the website for free distribution, and authors may use it for whatever purposes they wish. All submissions can be sent to: email@example.com
Please keep these to an absolute minimum, and preferably have none at all. If you do wish to include notes, please gather them into a Notes section at the end of the article. Further unreferenced works which might be helpful to the reader should be indicated in the main text.
The Reviews Editor encourages new reviewers for the Journal. Review articles can be up to 1500 words long, but short reviews of less than 700 words are preferred. If you would be interested in joining the Reviews team, please contact the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social metaphysics may sound like an oxymoron but perhaps this is only because we are used to thinking of metaphysical questions as somehow divorced from the messiness of the social world – philosophy’s impulse towards the God’s eye view. The objects of social metaphysical enquiry may not be quite real enough for the nostalgic metaphysician but neither are they devoid of any philosophically interesting sense of reality; quite the opposite in fact.
In the opening articles of this issue Linda Martín Alcoff and Katherine Ritchie offer overviews of some fundamental philosophical questions related to race, gender, and the nature of social groups. Central to these essays, as to the others in the section, is the role of social construction. If, as many argue, race and gender are social constructions, what kind of existence and reality do they have? Jemima Repo uses Michel Foucault’s geneaological approach to explore the social context within which the concept of gender arose, showing that, far from arising as a tool of feminist politics and emancipation, it in fact emerged within the context of psychiatry and post-war social control. Social construction raises another crucial question: if a social identity is merely held together by convention rather than being rooted in biological necessity, are we not free as individuals to defy these conventions? The question of whether we can change our gender and our race are taken up by Kathleen Stock and Nicole Souter respectively.
The second section looks at the question of identity through the lens of work. The three contributions are built around three questions, with Nicholas N. Smith asking what it is to think progressively about work, Katie Kadue asking how we are to distinguish the meaningful from the menial in both intellectual and domestic labour, and Josh Cohen asking whether an ethics of non-work is possible. Elsewhere, Michael Lewis imagines a response to a university manager asking continental philosophy to identify itself, Justin E.H. Smith reminds us not to overlook our free subjectivity, and Brian O’Connor wonders why philosophers have such a problem with idleness. We round things off with our regular columns, ‘Anthropo(s)cene’ and ‘The Art of Questioning’, focusing on animals and the Middle Ages respectively.
If there is one seemingly constant feature of human nature, it is a difficulty in tolerating contingency and respecting ambiguity. Any firm ground, however oppressive, seduces and is preferable to the nausea of groundlessness. What appears as simple objectivity tends to hide behind it human resentment against the uncertain and paradoxical nature of our existence, a resentment that is always lurking, waiting to emerge. Moral degeneration in the face of that which we cannot face or confront is the norm.
Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them is a timely and deeply insightful exploration of our current moral degeneration. Faced with the pressures of a world in which traditional structures and certainties are rapidly changing and disappearing, Stanley analyzes the many interlocking strategies by which fascist ideologues seek to naturalize group differences, appealing to ethic, religious, gendered or racial distinctions in order to create and solidify the division between “us” and “them”. We are delighted that he agreed to offer the lead article for this issue in which he seeks to rescue the concept of fascism from the discipline of history and make a case for its centrality in political and social philosophy.
Although many of the articles in the first section (“Us and Them”) do not deal directly with fascism, they all seek to uncover and try to make sense of some of the manifold ways through which we carve the world up according to a binary us-them dichotomy. Taken together, these (often interlocking) articles offer rich and varied perspectives on one of the central challenges of our time.
Why do philosophy? What is it that philosophers are trying to achieve? And what, if anything, is distinctive about philosophical ways of thinking? These are the kinds of questions that are addressed in this issue.
The Philosopher has always been a journal in which dialogue between academic and public philosophy is taken seriously, so in this spirit Timothy Williamson opens by offering an overview of his recent book Doing Philosophy followed by responses to four essays written by non-academic philosophers about different themes raised in his book: common sense, the nature of philosophical disputation, thought experiments, and the Enlightenment. This is then followed by extremely wide-ranging answers to the question of what it is to do philosophy from a number of academic philosophers. In these accounts, philosophy is a vocation to which the philosopher is inexorably drawn; it is motivated by hope; it is built around the art of questioning; it is constituted out of an oscillation between a desire for a God’s eye view of things and an acceptance of the necessary limits that it must face; it is both rigorous and elemental; it is broad in scope but narrow in practice. Finally, Socratic philosopher Joel Yoeli offers a handful of aphoristic insights into the central questions that motivate him as a philosopher, most of which could not be more different than those that motivate Timothy Williamson. And therein lies the drama (and beauty) of doing philosophy.
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