Monday, February 07, 2011

Rejection letters of the ancient philosophers

I’m afraid that I cannot recommend the submission ‘Euthyphro, or On piety’ for publication in the Athenian Journal of the Pursuit of Wisdom. I come to this view despite the fact that there are lots of things to like about the submission. For example, there is a neat point here about the possible difficulties in relating ‘what is pious’ to ‘what the gods love’. However, even here at its best the submission is ultimately disappointing. Having raised an interesting question we find only a short and inconclusive discussion before the author moves on to something else. And that is the most important failing of the piece in its current form: no conclusion or positive thesis is advanced at all. This is most infuriating and I imagine your subscribers will find it very frustrating. After all, any philosophical thought worth taking seriously requires the assertion of, preferably, a very striking and surprising positive thesis from a clear standpoint of dogmatic authority. The present submission, on the other hand, neither claims support from divine revelation nor asserts as we would expect  at the outset of the submission that every other discussion of this subject is woefully misguided. Indeed, the author makes no personal assertion whatsoever and seems perversely excited at the thought of hiding his (I assume it is a male author) own views.

Indeed, I can see no reason whatsoever for the  unnecessary self-indulgence involved in concocting a conversation, at least one of whose participants is a well-known and controversial figure. Such a confusion of real figures and disguised authorship cannot fail to generate all manner of interpretative difficulties for your readers that seem to me to serve no useful purpose whatsoever. If the author would agree to recast his submission in a more usual form (some hundreds of lines of nice direct hexameter poetry perhaps)  then he would at least remove some of this unfortunate confusion. But even then it is not clear to me whether the author has any positive view of his own to offer. And until he does he should leave aside this kind of modern literary indulgence.

9 comments:

Bbenry said...

Too true...

RJR said...

Ever tempted to do it the other way round, and write an article as an after-dinner dialogue? Give each side of the argument a personality? Maybe when I write about palaeography I should demand it's published in a politically-appropriate font, or write the footnotes to discussions of Anglo-Latin book culture as interlinear glosses. Or when I write history I could decide on the meaning of the events and display them for the present's edification. (Actually, I think we all do that when we write history, though we try hard to pretend not to.)

Matthew Pianalto said...

Well done.

Charlie H said...

Nice! Plus, the author shows no awareness of the relevant literature.

John S. Wilkins said...

I am so very pleased that Plato and I have had the same reviewer.

soup said...

Oh, that is great!

Dr. Pratt said...

I enjoyed this.

tahlianewland.com said...

great idea for a post. At least the rejector graced the author with an in depth rejection.

Mark Bintuu said...

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