Many are the works of philosophy written by those who know, many the works of literature composed by those with style. Few combine the virtues of both. Where are the elegant works of learned minds? Where are the intellectually daring works, the exploratory, experimental, and creative works of literate philosophy? Where, in short, are the works of rigorous scholarship allied with art?
S.Ph. Press intends to provide a platform for philosophically imaginative works of nonfiction and fiction, written either by professional academics in search of an outlet for their creative or popularizing impulses, or by creative thinkers and writers with an academic’s training or independently acquired expertise. We envision works ranging from academic essays written with flair, unencumbered by the scholarly impedimenta demanded by the standard philosophy journals and academic publishers, to narrative fiction informed by and exploring serious philosophical subjects. That is to say, we mean to cultivate a genre of scholarly philosophical work intended for an audience of thoughtful readers who may or may not be professional scholars themselves, and who appreciate ideas and artistry both, especially in combination.
Scholarship is usually conducted from behind the walls of officially sanctioned academic disciplines. At S.Ph. we aim to undermine, or at least in our own work to disregard, the rigid distinctions between disciplines. We reject the contemporary conception of philosophy as a well-defined field of research-professionals employing a distinctive method, or drawing on a circumscribed set of methods, to solve a canonical set of problems. This conception is informed by the notion that philosophy is properly at home in the “philosophy profession,” which we also reject. Philosophy, as we at S.Ph. understand it, is an expansive intellectual mode of creating, exploring, and mapping worlds and worldviews, of generating creatively habitable thought-worlds. Problem-solving and truth-seeking have their roles to play, to be sure. But we should also make room for the creation of truth, or the setting aside of any concern with truth. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and this is not obviously identical to the pursuit of truth.
This is not to say that S.Ph. rejects the ideal of rigorous scholarship. To the contrary. We understand that academic norms related specifically to publishing are the products of the pursuit of admirable goals, not the least of these being a legitimate form of quality control. We believe, however, that the standards of quality generated by the recent trend of hyper-professionalization in philosophy have contracted, and thereby distorted, our conception of philosophy. In a formula: our obsession with logos has blinded us to the value of mythos. At S.Ph. we are committed to the idea that creativity, artistry, style, and beauty—of content and form alike—contribute essentially to the merit of a philosophical work.
There is much of value in the tradition of academic writing, and we mean to hold on to the valuable elements. But we also intend to subvert a handful of unsavory and oppressive intellectual and academic norms, oppressive to the extent that they stifle philosophical creativity and stylistic elegance. Yet far from rejecting all norms, S.Ph. introduces new norms, preeminent among them the mandate that philosophy be produced and transmitted with an eye to intellectual creativity, stylistic grace, richness and depth of insight. This follows from the idea that artistry is a necessary component of living, thinking, and writing philosophically. Our preference for creative substance and style is not a mere quirk of intellectual taste. It is essential to the conception of philosophy as something entirely other than a discipline or a profession, essential, in brief, to the conception of philosophy as a way of life expressing a sincere love of wisdom.