Frontiers of Philosophy in China Revises Mission

The Journal Frontiers of Philosophy in China, based at Beijing Normal University, has revised its mission. It is broadening its scope from publishing English translations of Chinese-laguage philosophical scholarship, to publishing English-language philosophical scholarship from all sources. Specifically:

Frontiers of Philosophy in China aims to disseminate new scholarly achievements in the field of broadly defined philosophy, and promote philosophical researches of the highest level by publishing peer-reviewed academic articles that facilitate intensive or extensive communication and cooperation between philosophers in China and abroad. It covers nearly all main branches of philosophy, with priorities given to original works on Chinese philosophy or in comparative studies of Chinese philosophy and other kinds of philosophy in the world.

For more informtion, including information on how to submit articles or book reviews, please see this brochure.

If anyone has any thoughts on ways in which this development is welcome or, perhaps, unwelcome, please share them. (I have to confess some mixed feelings myself, as I have found the previous mission of bringing Chinese-language scholarship to an English-reading audience to be valuable.)

9 replies on “Frontiers of Philosophy in China Revises Mission”

    • Hi Joshua,

      Yes, that’s my understanding. Since this change is new, I don’t know how much the “priorities given to original works on Chinese philosophy or in comparative studies of Chinese philosophy and other kinds of philosophy in the world” will dominate the contents. Previously, there have been plenty of articles that weren’t related to Chinese philosophy, but almost all of them were originally written in Chinese and published in China.

    • Good question, and I don’t know. I have only very recently become a member of the editorial board, and I gather that this decision had already been made, though not yet implemented, at the time I joined.

  1. Will there be any (political) censoring? Or do the Chinese censors think philosophy is apolitical? What happened to your “Human Rights” in this respect?

    • A legitimate question. So long as academic philosophical work does not explicitly advocate political change in China, there is usually no problem. I wouldn’t envision any difficulty with, say, typical philosophical arguments in favor of multi-party democracy. When China is discussed specifically, things can get more tricky. The initial translation of my human rights book was finished years ago, but as we were moving forward toward production, the press got cold feet and decided it was too “sensitive.” So, something to keep an eye on!

  2. I wanted to register my disappointment about this shift as well. Until now, Frontiers has answered a real need in Chinese and comparative philosophy, and I’m not sure it would answer much of a need under its new mission.

  3. As I’ve been on its editorial board from its inception, I would like to share a little more of its background. The journal is part of a series of journals, such as Frontiers of Physics in China, Frontiers of Chemistry in China, Frontiers of Economics in China…, originally a cooperation between China’s ministry of education and Springer but starting from this year it is published by Brill (the journal now is even more expensive than when it was with Springer). Previously it was a journal of translation of articles already published in Chinese. It was not limited to Chinese philosophy, but it was limited to philosophy done by scholars in China. The main change that took place a couple of years ago is that, instead of publishing English translations of articles already published in Chinese, they publish original articles. The main consideration is that they wanted to have it included in Arts and Humanities Citation Index. Apparently they learned that, a journal that just publishes translations of already published articles cannot be included in the index (I’m not quite sure about this; Contemporary Chinese Thought is just such a journal but is included in A&HCI). In any case, Chinese scholars can still submit their papers in Chinese, as long as they are not published yet, and the journal’s editorial office can arrange the English translation of them, if they are accepted for publication (the journal is run by China’s ministry of education and so I guess they have sufficient money to do the translation). Since it is moved to Brill, it seems that there are two additional changes: with an emphasis on Chinese philosophy and being more open to submissions from outside China [Keep in mind that the title of journal is “Frontiers of Philosophy in China”].

    • Thanks for the explanation!

      It is troubling to learn that the main consideration is something that seems not to be true.

      The main consideration is that … a journal that just publishes translations of already published articles cannot be included in the index

      Even if it is true, I wonder whether a journal that publishes some translations can be included, and if so, what the rule is.

      And I’m curious to know whether a Chinese philosopher who publishes in English in Frontiers will then face any analogous difficulties in publishing the same piece in Chinese in China later. If not, and if there is some reason why people would want to publish their best work in Frontiers, then perhaps the journal can continue to perform some of its ergon !

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