SORITES ISSN 1135-1349

Issue #01. April 1995. Pp. 1-12.

Editorial Pronouncement: In Defense of Analytical Philosophy

Copyright (C) by SORITES

Editorial Pronouncement:

In Defense of Analytical Philosophy

Section 1.-- The opposition between analytical and continental philosophy

As happens with so many things, contingent associations have led to what can be viewed as an ironic result. The analytical tradition in philosophy was started in the continent of Europe by a German philosopher, Frege; among its founders there is at least another German-speaking philosopher, Wittgenstein -- nothing to say of many closely related philosophers, especially in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, who directly or indirectly gave a powerful contribution to the formation of the analytical tradition: Brentano -- even Bolzano --, Meinong, the Vienna Circle, Lukasiewicz, Carnap, Gödel, etc.

No metaphysically necessary link exists between the Anglo-Saxon world and the analytical tradition in philosophy. In fact at the beginning of the 20th century the philosophical life in both England and the US was under the sway of tendencies whose affinity with analytical philosophy is far from obvious and which were definitely rejected and abhorred by Russell and Moore when they embarked on the analytical voyage (even if nowadays our assessment of Bradley, Bosanquet and co. Would be much less flippant).

The current situation is rather confusing. For whatever historical reasons, the philosophical tradition which uses the method of definitions-and-argument -- a method developed with an enormous rigour by the Scholastic philosophers in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and Baroque period -- goes by the name of `analytical'. Its opposite does not go by the name of `synthetical' (the misnomer would be outrageous and grotesque), but that of «continental», i.e. belonging to «the» continent. No need to be fussy here about what that continent is, whether it encompasses Calcutta, Peking and Teheran, or perhaps also Bamako and Maputo, or whether the Urals constitute a «natural» demarcation line. From our view-point it is more interesting to find out for how long and to what extent such philosophy as has been developed in France, and Germany, and the Netherlands, and Italy, and so on, has been «continental». Orthodox or quasi-orthodox Marxists (such as Lukács) were clearly non-continental in character and style. Nor is it easy to count as continental the philosophical output of thinkers such as Husserl and most members of his phenomenological school, Nicolai Hartmann, Maurice Blondel, Benedetto Croce. It is even unfair to look upon Bachelard, Ferdinand Gonseth and other French-speking thinkers much in favour until 1950 as really, truly «continental». Thus after all «continental» philosophy could be roughly characterized as such sort of philosophy as has prevailed since the end of the second world war in France, Germany, Italy ... And... (A purely enumerative stipulation here).

Unfortunately, what thus emerges is not a coherent trend. What is more: the picture is no longer accurate. Analytical philosophy has for many years hold a number of bridge-heads in continental Europe (in the Benelux countries, Switzerland and Austria, for instance), but it is now on the ascent everywhere. The disappearance of the third-party of orthodox Marxism may be one of the reasons, but there are many others. One of them may be shear fashion, or infatuation (which is really no explanation after all). Another reason may be the growing influence of whatever comes from the Anglo-Saxon world, good or bad. Probably, though, continental philosophy is in a much deeper crisis and trouble than analytical philosophy. When even watered-down rationalistic aspirations are dourly given up and all semblance of clarity is jettisoned, you can be sure people will soon begin to look after other paradigms.

And what about another third party, an independent third world philosophy? Much has been said about an indigenous African philosophy, or about a genuinely autochthonous Latin American philosophy; they would share neither the methods nor even the subjects of Western or European philosophy, and the very term `philosophy' would apply to them in an entirely irreducibly idiosyncratic sense. As far as we know, what little has come from such schemes has been an adaptation of this or that style of Euro-continental philosophy. Furthermore, such philosophical nationalisms seem to be on the decline.

Not that everybody has been happy with the choice of being either an analytical philosopher or a continental one. Neo-neo-Scholastics can look upon themselves as neither. Yet more often than not, either their style is so reminiscent of that of the Scholastics of yore, so close to that of analytical philosophers that the latter view them as close relatives, or on the contrary it is so suffused with «end-of-philosophy» or «post-metaphysical» style that they wouldn't be unwelcome in such continental circles as are not completely narrow-minded.

However, may people loathe such an enforced choice and endeavour to build bridges. We wish them good luck; we do, indeed! It would be so nice to be able to go into Jaspers's implicit arguments, to consider whether such or such a premise in one of them has been cogently argued for or how to improve on the argument or how to find another not entirely dissimilar to the same effect!

But ours is not an ecumenical enterprise. We feel committed to a strong analytical attachment. On the other hand, we find some residual justification for the continental's complaints about analytical trifles (more on that below). Suppose you are backing up Locke's theory of the legitimacy of private ownership through labour. That's very interesting -- even exciting and by no means nugatory. But, alas, a weakness emerges in the second premise of your sixth argument, which gives rise to a huge secondary literature. A minor item in that literature is also open to criticism, triggering a profusion of refutations, replies, counter-replies, and a bulky tertiary literature. And so on. That is a caricature, of course. But we do not like our now newborn journal to become a repository of such a kind of academic exercises. Not that discussion notes are ruled out -- quite the contrary is true. But we hope that the bulk of each issue of SORITES will be concerned with matters of substance. We want to show -- as do many well-established publications -- that «analyticity» in approach is compatible with a broad scope and importance of the subjects dealt with. Analytical philosophy is not «analytic» (or «un-synthetic») philosophy.

*** *** ***

Section 2.-- Analytical, not analytic, philosophy

Whether there is a dichotomy of analytic and synthetic statements, what in principle or initially those terms purportedly mean seems -- at least prima facie -- clear, namely: an analytic statement is one which performs or displays an analysis of the subject by finding the predicate as a part thereof. (The source of such ideas was Leibniz through Kant.)

It is no mere coincidence that analytical philosophy is so-called. In fact, a number of analytical philosophers have thought, and still think, that a major area of philosophical interest is something like conceptual analysis, and thus asserting analytic statements. That such a view gives rise to the paradox of the analysis is not our present concern. What we here want to emphasize is that analytical philosophy as a whole is by no means opposed to «synthetic philosophy». Analysis is no special method or feature of analytical philosophy. The school of conceptual analysis is just one among the very many flourishing schools within the broad domain of analytical philosophy. What is more, there are grounds to suspect that the days of glory of the school of conceptual analysis have been long past. We are not discouraging a resurgence of the school -- we are convinced that deeply motivated philosophical tendencies never die and that their renewal may be fruitful and stimulating. We go further than that in recognizing what probably all of us, analytical philosophers, owe much to the school of conceptual analysis. (Quine himself can be read as frequently indulging in conceptual analysis, and after all such is the case each time a philosopher claims that, unless such or such thesis is countenanced -- or alternatively withhold -- no sense can be made of the use of a certain word.)

Be it as it may, such «conceptual analysis» is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for membership in the analytical philosophy community. It is not necessary, since a staunch rejecter of the analytic/synthetic dichotomy will have no use for conceptual analysis (except perhaps as a quasi-rhetorical way of recalling certain pretty obvious truths without thereby renouncing his general view that even such sentences as we take to be the most obviously true may turn out to be false in the face of a recalcitrant experience). It is not sufficient either, since such ways of arguing are commonly resorted to in all schools of thought -- in so far, at least, as arguing is not entirely dismissed as a way of doing philosophy.

There seems to be only one feature making up the hard core of analytical philosophy: it is the argumentative way of doing philosophy. Nonanalytical philosophers may differ among themselves in their respective degree of argument-abhorrence. A few among them take themselves to pursue philosophical inquiry as a rational, argumentative task. Analytical philosophers are likely to find their attempts unconvincing in so much as their arguments are found fault with on count of obscurity or looseness -- with inference rules quietly left in the background, and the inferential structure either veiled or muddled or in some cases plainly wrong. However such charges are extremely recurrent within the analytical philosophy community itself. Withal, those drawbacks are matters of degree. Thus, in so far as a philosopher engages in something which may reasonably be looked upon as a genuine, if imperfect, argumentative kind of thought, he deserves to be welcome to the analytical philosophy community.

The design of limiting philosophy to what can be pursued as a rational, argumentative enterprise has been objected to on the ground that reason is not enough. Since to reason is to infer, a purely rational inquiry will be able to draw conclusions from premises, but will be constrained to resort to unproved premises, premises which are thus not secured or attained by reason but through insight, or «judgment» or perhaps rule-free meditation or the like.

Although Aristotle held some such views, it is doubtful that he fell back on «insight» as a method of philosophical inquiry. Be it as it may, we tend to think that philosophers are doing philosophy only when they are arguing, not when they are taking something for granted on the basis of their «intuition», or their «insight» or their [reasonless] meditation or anything of the sort. Not all a philosopher does is philosophy -- not even each process of thought he engages in when he goes about philosophizing.

When a philosopher argues «p1, ..., pn; hence q», his premises may fail to be philosophical or philosophically arrived-at, but the whole reasoning may count as philosophical all the same. After all each of us takes quite a lot for granted at any particular moment.

Yet, philosophizing analytically -- in that sense -- is compatible with doing grand philosophy in the old style. Philosophers have always been as good as humans can possibly be at casting doubt on their own enterprise -- or at least at undermining it. Self-immolation for the sake of taking the philosophical scrutinizing and criticism a step forward -- making it into self-criticism -- has been a hallmark of philosophy since time immemorial. Such a fanatical passion for reason has sometimes become irrational -- unreasonable. Probably the root of the suicidal fury has been the all-or-nothing rule. Anyway, even since Kant -- in some sort of way since Descartes -- certain outstanding philosophers and hosts of retainers and continuators have heralded the end of grand philosophy in the old style -- the end of metaphysics in particular, where `metaphysics' would be any intellectual inquiry beyond a sharply drawn boundary of licit research.

Although most members of the analytical community would nowadays consider Frege and Russell the founders of the «movement», it is true that for a number of years or decades the most influential analytical-philosophy schools were those of the Vienna Circle, neopositivism, logical empiricism, and antimetaphysical linguistic analysis -- under the influence of Moore and the latter Wittgenstein. It is ironic that, whereas outside analytical philosophy metaphysics have died down -- both in name and in word --, and even such ontological systems as Nicolai Hartmann's or Blondel's are no longer in favour at all, within analytical philosophy the opposite has happened: although positivistic mistrust towards too systematic constructions or towards raising «ultimate issues» has never disappeared -- and surfaces from time to time --, inquiry into metaphysical matters has become more and more popular and fashionable, with lots of discussions going on about the difference between necessary and contingent truth or existence, the reality of universals, individuation, identity, the structure of facts, the nature of space or time, whether there are or not categorial differences in the world, and so on. New ontological issues, such as supervenience, have become possible thanks to a development both of logic and of inquiry into modal metaphysics.

Likewise, theory of knowledge has also flourished in a way that positivism had endeavoured to thwart and banish. Both nonrealism and realism -- whether as a full-fledged metaphysical realism ir in some milder variety -- are vying for widespread acceptance within the community.

Nevertheless, we feel bound to give the devil his due. Unfortunately it is true that very often analytical philosophers focus on minutiae and lose sight of major issues. Such a rebuke is neither wholly baseless nor entirely fair. The analytical philosophy community can pride itself on having given birth to important philosophical systems -- e.g. modal realism, noneism (one of the neo-Meinongian schools), Quine's holism or Castañeda's system, to mention but four of them.

We fail to see any cogent reason why analytical philosophy cannot go on producing new grand systems of philosophy. Moreover, there is no reason why general philosophical systems cannot arise within the analytical philosophy community. In fact, as many analytical philosophers have stressed, different philosophical -- and even nonphilosophical -- fields are linked by deep inferential connections. Any approach in ethics or philosophy of law can be argued to rest on implicit or explicit metaphysical and epistemological assumptions. On the other hand, metaphysics and theory of knowledge are not as neutral on ethical or political issues as might appear at first sight -- a denial of identity through time may fail to be ethically innocuous or immaterial. Thus, it seems worth-while to set up wide-scope philosophical approaches. An approach of that kind considers all general fields of philosophical study and pursues the inquiry in each of them holistically taking into account what it has proposed or is going to propose in all the other fields. Thus, such an approach can reject identity through time on the ground that the thesis fails to explain our uneasiness concerning the [purported] right of everybody to wrong himself as he pleases (for, clearly, without identity through time there is no single continuing entity which both performs the wrong now and suffers from it later). This is a mere example, of course. Infinitely many inferential links can be established between different fields. All of them may be legitimate (we needn't share Hume's qualms over alleging in support of a claim that a denial thereof would entail practical dreary consequences -- provided we do not boast to have proved more than we have, and by the way remember that a person's modus tollens is another person's modus ponens).

*** *** ***

Section 3.-- Our tasks, goals and means as co-workers in the analytical-philosophy community

In a global society as the human collectivity is becoming nowadays, the overcoming of regional barriers and boundaries is increasingly compelling. Paradoxically, more often than not such overcoming as takes place leads to a hardening of the remaining frontiers, which thus tend to become impervious barriers, impassable walls. New regional blocs are organized with the less fortunate ones being let down in the ensuing jostling.

We think that the human collectivity needs global solutions the current difficulties it faces. From our modest philosophical perspective we hope we can contribute something of value to that end: (1) by spreading the good way of coping with theoretical issues in any field -- through reason; (2) by promoting world-wide cooperation and exchange in our own domain -- philosophy; (3) by broaching -- in our own rational, argumentative way -- hot issues in applied philosophy which are of concern to everybody; (4) by encouraging contributions from all continents and from any background compatible with our analytical standards of argumentative rigour and intelligibility.

What are those standards? We do not want to impose our own views of what is to count as analytical philosophy; still less to promulgate peculiar standards of analyticity which are as contentious and debatable as anything else. Nor are we, the editors, necessarily of one mind on such issues -- or on any other issue. Ours is a pluralistic enterprise. Nevertheless, we feel bound to outline three loose criteria on what papers we are going to regard as genuinely belonging to the analytical-philosophy line of the journal.

(1) Standards of clarity. As far as possible, use words people understand and use them with their ordinary sense and syntax. When departing from that rule, justify it and define the technical usage. If compelled to coin neologisms, justify the procedure and spell out their meaning as clearly as possible.

(2) Standards of argumentativity. Prove as much as possible. When arguing, tell the readers what inference rules you are relying on and how those rules support the cogency of your argument. Put forward your arguments in such a way that the inferential patterns are revealed. Justify the inference rules themselves, as far as possible. As far as possible, keep clear of appeals to intuition.

(3) Standards of scholarship. Take into account what other authors in the analytical tradition have written on the subject you are dealing with. Refer to [some part of] the relevant literature.

What's the rationale for choosing those standards rather than others? The philosopher starts doing philosophy out of a common lore, as does science. That common lore may be called `common sense'. There is no infallibility about common sense, of course. Many errors as well as many reasonable approaches to the truth are contained therein. Yet, the philosopher's whole enterprise is bound to be pointless and doomed to fail unless such a starting point is more or less acceptable in so much as it provides a language through which truth and reality can be accessed, however precariously or imperfectly. Also it must provide some rough criteria of proof or demonstration, which of course have to be polished, distilled and improved upon. Logical argumentation is nothing else but a refinement of customary ways of reasoning. Finally, scholarship is just a development of the usual requirement that more eyes see more than fewer eyes, and so that we are well advised to listen to what other people have had to say -- when they have been looking after the truth in a rational, argumentative way -- instead of turning a deaf ear on their arguments and proposals.

Thus analytical-philosophy standards are common-sense standards refined and developed. Unless such standards are, more or less, correct, our very starting point was confused or misleading and our whole philosophical enterprise is likely to lead either nowhere or to a sorry end, full of massive error or worse, to shear nonsense. Admittedly, that argument does not show that our enterprise is correct, or that its goals are worth pursuing. We may be in deep and wholesale error. Our philosophical enterprise may be fated. Or some other, nonrational, ways may be opening bright prospects.

However, since justification is perhaps relative, if the common lore out of which we start our philosophical inquiry is thoroughly misguided and wrong, all the odds are that any purported brilliant idea about a new method, a path of insight or intuition rather than reasoning, should be just an additional error. For, what may seem to be an emancipated idea, springing from an unpolluted source of insight, is likely to emerge, upon reflection, as just a continuation of an old procedure in a new guise -- a procedure rooted in our pre-theoretical ideas, and so in our common-sense views, at some remove. On the other hand, even though we cannot radically, or fundamentally, justify our ancestors' common lore, which has nurtured our philosophical enterprise, we can find partial justifications, we can continue our quest for justifications. And no other tool seems to come our way or to be open to public assessment and discussion except rational inquiry, i.e. a logical approach. (We are not excluding informal logic, nonclassical logics, nonmonotonic logics, and so on. We say `logic' taken in a broad sense. But not so broad that it can embrace anything whatsoever, with an astrological logic, a queasiness logic, a logic of emotions or feelings. Boundaries are fuzzy, but they exist, somehow.)

A possible continental rejoinder would be that there may be legitimate alternatives to reason, or to truth; or that there may exist other ways of reasoning, which may turn out to be more conducive to truth, or to whatever is deemed valuable for philosophers to look after; in other words, that logical ways of reasoning, endorsed by analytical philosophers, may be just contingencies, rooted in cultural particularities of the so-called `Western' world, or of the Greek civilization to which we still belong.

Maybe. Yet, it is hard for those who espouse such views to put them forward and endow them with plausibility unless they resort to that very same ways of reasoning they regard as contingent peculiarities of a certain civilization or of a particular tradition. Are they compelled to such a choice merely out of courtesy in order for us, analytical folk, to understand what they have to say? More probably, a sort of transcendental argument -- of which some continentals are fond -- may be developed. They have the choice of either depriving their proposals of cogency or plausibility altogether, or else arguing in the customary, logical sense. Insomuch as they fall back on argument, what they are doing is no longer continental thought; it does not sound continental, it does not bear the continental hallmark, it has lost the continental ring.

Our reply is not a knock-down argument. Only a few people nowadays cleave to the old foundationalistic hope of providing a secure, assumptionless, ground for our whole epistemic enterprise, through which our philosophical arguments could become perfectly conclusive, dispelling and refuting errors definitely and forever. Nevertheless, our argument shows that continentals face a very hard and unenviable task if they want to convince people, in a rational way, of the worth of what they are after.

Nor is much evidence in support of the so-called cultural relativity or contingency of reason, or of logical reasoning. Lévy-Bruhl's thesis of primitive peoples' pre-logical mentality can no longer be considered a good argument for such a relativity. Quite apart from the fact that such an anthropological view is not in much favour nowadays, the essential point is that, with the recent development of paraconsistent logics, we know for sure that a system of beliefs containing contradictions can yet be logically defensible, that people espousing such a body of beliefs can reason in the same way as other people do, with only a few -- and perhaps marginal or minor -- inference-rules being omitted, such as disjunctive syllogism. In fact there is no hard evidence in support of the Western monopoly of reason at all. More probably than not that monopoly was a colonialist fable, which today has ironically become a purportedly anti-establishment myth. (Purportedly, yes: we are aware of no evidence backing up the claim that analytical philosophy is socially conservative and that, against it, supporters of anti-establishment causes, such as gay movements, feminists, non-Western folk, and so on, have to resort to other ways of thinking, outside the pale of reason, or else to other ways of reasoning outside logic; we ask those who advocate such brash views to convince us, at the very least displaying some sort of statistical-inquiry results to the effect that nonconservative persuasions are more frequent among continentals than among analytical philosophers.)

Let us bring this section to a close by stressing that there is no clear-cut, sharp, crisp boundary between analytical philosophy and nonanalytical thought. Some analytical philosophers are as much relativists and truth-deniers as the most immoderate continentals may be. Far from assuming a well-established rational order out there or a logical pursuit of truth, they spurn truth altogether. They are likely to be considered iconoclasts; probably not many philosophers are prone to accept such proposals or to take them seriously into account except in order to refute them. Yet, their way of arguing is analytical -- they try to bear it up with logically well-constructed arguments. On the other hand, there are philosophers who are not usually taken to be analytical but whose writings are close to analytical standards, at least in a broad sense. And there are potentially infinite degrees between purely analytical reasoning and the kind of obscure prose -- bereft of arguments in any recognizable sense -- which is so characteristic of some outstanding continental writers.

*** *** ***

Section 4.-- A Balance between Theoretical and Practical Philosophy

Ours is a general philosophy journal. We intend to keep a balance between issues in theoretical and practical philosophy. We expect most of the articles will deal with metaphysics -- including regional ontologies (philosophy of nature, of mind, language, and so on) --, theory of knowledge and similar fields. No philosophical enterprise deserves the name unless it gives pride of place to first philosophy (not a philosophy which is necessarily «first» in a foundational sense -- something most philosophers do not believe in nowadays). Yet it is also certain that no philosophical enterprise is worthy of the name if it shrugs on practical matters. We feel committed to applied philosophy understood as a philosophical elucidation of matters of concern for the life of members of our species and other higher animals, particularly as such a life is regulated by publicly established rules or by political decisions. Philosophical elucidation can shed light on common assumptions, expose fallacious arguments, find out ontological implications of relevant proposals or even envisage courses of action rendered possible upon an abandonment or a qualification of certain logical or ontological assumptions.

This is why we welcome submissions on applied-philosophy issues such as: (1) bioethical issues (ranging from assisted suicide and euthanasia to abortion, genetic engineering, inter-species interbreeding, etc); (2) political matters (including paradoxes of self-reference in constitutional law, or conflicting principles constraining legitimacy); (3) juridical concerns (e.g. the nature of culpability, constraints on licit contracts, whether the law's empire is wishful thinking, etc); (4) environmental issues (what are the rightful claims -- if any -- of future generations against those now living, or how to reconcile a quality-of-life enhancement with environmental conservation); (4) third-world (and related) issues, such as the right to migration, the duty of the well-to-do to pay compensation for past wrongs (slavery, e.g.), reverse discrimination, meritocracy, the crisis of legitimacy in generalized-corruption situations, whether free-market mechanisms can yield the promised results of widespread prosperity, or the value and justification of existing boundaries.

This last subject can in a way epitomize all our concerns and purposes. We feel that a philosophical elucidation of the single issue of boundaries may be the core both -- perhaps -- of philosophical investigation, and anyway of philosophical concern today. We invite our potential contributors to submit papers dealing with: what boundaries are; how or where boundaries or demarcation lines can be drawn in a justified way; to what extent -- and for what purposes -- such boundaries are really or morally binding.

We refer to boundaries in all fields: in the application of words, in the geographical separation of collectivities, in the establishment of areas of inquiry, in laying down historical «periods», etc. We intend to honour what our journal's name has come to mean in the philosophical tradition -- a process through which boundaries are little by little eroded, pushed, shifted, until in the end they seem to have vanished into thin air -- or to be much less absolute than they used to be. Soritization is not going to solve all of our problems and difficulties at low cost -- still less at one fell swoop --, but it can turn out instrumental in the quest for adequate solutions.

Our allegiance to a combination of pure and applied philosophy is compatible with our viewing SORITES as a journal whose main audience is the multitude of people educated in academic philosophy as practised by the professional analytical community. Ours is neither an interdisciplinary publication nor a general-readership journal. All papers seriously considered for publication in SORITES will be written from a philosophical perspective by authors both acquainted with the philosophical techniques of argumentation and familiar with current debates in analytical philosophy. (We know there is no shortage of journals which follow opposite lines and which may welcome papers by those who want to put forward their ideas or proposals from backgrounds or view-points which do not conform to our guidelines.)

Having said that, we proceed to stress that no impassable frontier is going to enclose SORITES. No issue is ruled out once and for all, provided it turns out to be philosophically relevant and is brought up from a philosophical perspective with analytical rigour. Thus take, for instance, a domain which has been claimed to be a preserve of the «continentals», viz. the critical examination of the philosopher's nonphilosophical background. We are aware this is as thorny, formidable issue. Yet, any attempt at coping with it is welcome -- provided it is no facile, hollow claim lacking evidential support. We incline to think that what has caused analytical philosophers to keep clear of an issue like that is not a purported ignorance of the philosophizing person, a purely objectivistic concern or the like, but precisely the fact that hitherto rational discussion on those issues has not materialized. (Which means that mustering and displaying of evidence, assessed with publicly available criteria, has not emerged yet.) Whether or not biography can be incorporated into philosophical discussion is a question on which we want to remain open-minded, ruling nothing out. What we do not accept, in the absence of comparative induction, is that a biographical story explains anything about the philosopher's thought -- still less that it either bears out or discredits the philosopher's opinions.

*** *** ***

Section 5.-- Editorial Policy

There are many excellent printed publications in analytical philosophy. However the mass of outstanding, superb material which remains unpublished grows faster and faster each year. On the other hand, the computer revolution in communications is only just beginning to change the established or institutionalized patterns of cultural transmission. We tend to think that Gutenberg's revolution in the 14th century was small, almost insignificant, as compared with the telematic revolution at the end of the 20th century.

Paraphrasing a famous claim by Marx, we hereby assert that the means through which cultural exchange is pursued may become its fetters. There is a probable elitist objection to our view, namely that the replacement of printed paper by telematic channels may bring about such a multiplication of available material that our lives will only appear the more pitifully short; or that such an accumulation will lower the standards and let the noise in.

We think similar considerations could militate against Gutenberg's revolution. We must live with the new enhanced technology and learn to be the better-off thanks to it. Our species and our civilization are resilient enough to discharge the task successfully.

On the other hand, the new electronic means of expression are going to provide more opportunities to many authors and many manuscripts. When the ratio between published and unpublished manuscripts is 1/10 or less, rational selection becomes increasingly problematic and doubtful, with prejudice being resorted to by editors and referees, even if they honestly try to be fair. Prejudice may take many forms, and of course we all are prejudiced, to some extent or other.

We hope, though, that SORITES, an electronic philosophical journal dedicated to the crossing of boundaries -- along with many others which have already arisen or will arise soon --, is going to close the gap, thanks to which prejudice will become less deleterious. In particular, our journal, at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, will try to further philosophical exchange between both the Northern and Southern «blocs» or «banks», warmly welcoming submissions from third-world countries. If we attain success in that, we'll have at least do something good in our soritizating enterprise.

Having said that, we must make it quite clear that our procedures will be those which are standard in the academic community. Every submitted manuscript will -- unless the editors consider it unsuitable for publication in SORITES for reasons of content, or style, or language -- be refereed either by members of the Board of Advisors or by other specialists; as far as possible, each suitable manuscript will be refereed by philosophers not unsympathetic to the paper's philosophical outlook or orientation.

No manuscript can be submitted if it is being considered for publication elsewhere.

Once accepted, papers may not be printed without the previous consent of SORITES.

All submitted papers must be written in English. The author's local variety of English (including the spelling) will be respected -- be it Indian, Filipino, Australian, American, Western-African, British, Southern-African, Eastern-African, Jamaican, etc. All editorial material will be written in BBC English, which is the journal's «official» dialect.

There is no settled length limit for papers, but we expect our contributors to stand by usual editorial limitations. The editors may reject unreasonably long contributions.

We welcome submissions of in-depth articles as well as discussion notes.

Our «official» word-processor is WordPerfect 5.1, but everybody will have a fair opportunity of contributing to SORITES even without WordPerfect at all. Each issue of SORITES will be available in more than one format, i.e. at least in an ASCII format over and above the WordPerfect 5.1 format.

*** *** ***


David Cooper, «The Presidential Address: Analytical and Continental Philosophy», Proceedings of the Aristotelian society, vol. 94, 1994, pp. 1-18.

Stanley Rosen, The Limits of Analysis, Yale U.P., 1980.

Richard Sylvan, «What Limits to Thought, Inquiry and Philosophy?», typed manuscript, Canberra, 1994.