Sunday, January 3, 2010

Publishing & Perishing

I've just started reading Josiah Royce's The Philosophy of Loyalty and love it.

I have a huge number of books I want to read, both fiction and non-fiction and am having a very difficult time deciding which to read.  Reading fiction during the day makes me feel guilty which takes me to the non-fiction.  But then I don't know where to start.  If I had some sort of clear cut research agenda, I suspect that the task would be a bit easier but given my approach of "I'll just keep reading stuff that's interesting to me and an idea worth pursuing in a paper will emerge" the choice of books is not easy.  So, instead of architecture, moral or intellectual development, neuro stuff or even philosophy of education, I've settled on Royce.  I've been wanting to read this book for a while and since nothing else was calling to me, I figured maybe this would give me some good 'soil' in which other ideas could be planted (yes, a dismal metaphor but nothing else is coming to me).

Anyway, so far a very interesting book.  But I am struck by the question of whether any of the books from the early 20th century American Philosophy would ever be published today - and I'm assuming that this material is still quite relevant today.  Given the conversational tone of most American Philosophy (at least that I like) and the interest in addressing everyone, not just professional philosophers, I can't imagine any contemporary philosophical journal accepting this stuff.  I'd love to have someone experiment and see how many journals turn down big name philosophers work because their arguments aren't clear, they haven't addressed the obvious criticiams to their positions, etc.

My suspicion, many of the most influential philosophers of the past would have never published and, thus, never been influential if they were needing to publish today....Oh, and just to make myself crystal clear, I am in no way, shape or form suggesting that anything that I don't get published comes even close to being of the same caliber of what these folks wrote.  I'm perfectly willing to accept that the world will not be much worse off if what I've written never sees the light of day, I'm not willing to say that of the folks I'm thinking of (James, Royce, Kant, Plato, etc,).

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