S.Ph. Essays and Explorations
Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall-Winter 2016
Introductory note from the editors
Welcome to the second issue of S.Ph. Essays and Explorations. We believe we have gathered together another fine collection of idiosyncratic and imaginative works of philosophical interest. The pieces range from logical analysis through philosophy of science and historical interpretive dialectic to philosophical fiction, but they share in common a strain of creativity, in style and substance alike. Therefore we expect these works to be both accessible and enjoyable while simultaneously maintaining intellectual rigor. To the extent that they succeed in this, we at S.Ph. have succeeded in furthering our mission to make of philosophy something besides a dry professional exercise.
Having said this, however, it is worth acknowledging the difficulty involved in putting an issue of our journal together. There simply is too little work being done in this vein. It’s a strange and sad question to be driven to, but we can’t help but wonder: Where in the field of contemporary professional philosophy are the philosophers among the professionals? Or has the distinction finally been effaced, and the love of wisdom replaced by the pursuit of tenure, status, and financial security? We hope not, and we urge those who desire to broaden the appeal of philosophy to contribute to our enterprise. Draw on your scholarship without writing as, and exclusively for, scholars. And perhaps we should direct this appeal especially to graduate students, or those among them still infused with the creative-intellectual inspiration that attracted them to philosophy to begin with, which inspiration it seems to be the sorry business of graduate training—which all too often amounts primarily to professional training—to eradicate.
We do not insist that the current mode of academic training in philosophy is to be deplored in its totality. At its boldest, this training promotes the pursuit of clarity in thought and presentation, and creative work is often too dim to enlighten the scholar. The scholar requires not only that the whole story be told up front, but also that it be presented in the language and style of his predecessors and the current scholarly community. The latter requirement privileges writing reference works, or referential works, the act of referencing being primarily an act of situating one’s work in a field according to agreement or dissent. This situating, as we have said, at its best promotes clarity. At its worst, however, it degenerates into empty formality.
The professional commitment to clarity above all else is, we suspect, at odds with art in philosophy, and it seems to be the principal reason for our having such a hard time finding material to include in our journal. If it ever turns out that we receive a profusion of contributions, we will assume that at least one thing has happened. Philosophers will have reconsidered their position on clarity, but in such a way that the profession will at last (or once again) have yielded place to the philosopher. This would represent a reversal of the mythos to logos narrative. The mythos, in its last breath, was a profound and respectable personal achievement. The contrasting logos is now in professional philosophy a social achievement. We suspect that submissions to our journal will rise when philosophy returns to its home in the individual.