Jon Stewart


Ph.d., Dr. habil. theol. & phil.
Associate Professor
Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at the University of Copenhagen
Foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

 


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Søren Kierkegaard Research Center                    

Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen

Farvergade 27D, DK-1463 Copenhagen K


E-mail: js@sk.ku.dk



Jon Stewart




Current Events

The Conference, “The Registers of Philosophy II,” Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary, May 14, 2016.

http://www.phil-inst.hu/hu/esemenyek/esemenyek/635-the-registers-of-philosophy-ii


Description of the conference:

Jon Stewart has recently argued in his book The Unity of Content and Form in Philosophical Writing (2013) that the style of contemporary philosophy – particularly in its Anglo-American version – is extremely impoverished. This homogeneity, according to Stewart, has its roots in the scientific model of philosophy and philosophical writing, in the philosophy of language that was popular in the beginning of the last century and in the fact that during the professionalization of philosophy a particular mode of writing proved to be the most useful one. Noting the deep similarities of current philosophical pieces would of course not cause any surprise – but Stewart went on to argue that this kind of uniformity in philosophical writing causes much harm to philosophy itself. The standardization not only causes some thoughts to be only ineffectively expressible in philosophy, but shifts the attention of courses both at undergraduate and graduate level to the regular type of philosophical texts. Irregular genres or styles are left out from the curriculum at many places, their own characteristics and the messages encoded in philosophical styles do not gain attention. ‘By insisting on a single form of writing – Stewart emphasized –, professional philosophy implicitly imposes a certain notion about how to read philosophy.’ The ability to read some classics is fading away. And works falling outside of the scope of the writing which people are now accustomed to are deemed to be unphilosophical, lacking rigor and therefore uninteresting.

Nevertheless one might argue that even nowadays various philosophical genres and styles are flourishing, and not only in continental philosophy. Philosophical novels and poems are being published, philosophy is present in theatres and cinemas, not to mention the different web pages that are dedicated to philosophical topics. Even analytic writings do not always use the same style. Furthermore, as Keith Allen noted in his review of The Unity of Content and Form in Philosophical Writing, ‘Stewart’s selection of case studies to illustrate the diversity of forms that philosophical writing can take raises interesting questions about when it is appropriate to describe a work as a work of philosophy.’

Now how uniform really is today’s philosophy? Is the homogeneity of styles dangerous for philosophy itself? What are the themes that only fit well with some genres or styles? What is the exact connection between content and form? Should philosophers pay attention to genres practiced outside of academia? The aim of our series of conferences is to investigate these questions and more. We would like to look at the problems of content and form in philosophy both from historical and contemporary perspectives, from the viewpoint of analytic and continental philosophy as well as from the standpoint of styles that fall outside the scope of academic philosophy. Stewart claimed that questions of form, genre and style should be entertained not only at the literature departments but by professional philosophers too. As he argued: ‘To read philosophical texts as literature is to miss the specifically philosophical meaning that they contain.’ We would like to give a joint occasion for both of these disciplines to discuss the problems introduced above. Like Stewart, we would like to bring philosophers to the edges of conformity, to explore the various forms and the diverse ways of not only writing, reading and interpreting philosophy but teaching, discussing, presenting, popularizing or doing it.




Upcoming Speaking Engagements

“Humanities Education in a Globalized World and Our Modern Prejudices,” at the conference “Classical Education in the 21st Century: Challenges, Continuity, and Change,” Thales Academy, Rolesville, North Carolina, October 7, 2016.

“The Crisis of Religion and the Logic of the Gods: Hegel’s Interpretation of the Religions of the World,” Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, October 19, 2016.





    

 




Jon Stewart©2007-2016