Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Publishing on the History of Chinese Philosophy


The recent discussion of the scope of “philosophy” reminded me of Amy Olberding’s excellent idea that those of us with tenure, at least, should make a point of endeavoring to publish in “general” philosophy journals, at least some of the time. (Just to be clear: this is no criticsm of existing journals focused on Chinese or comparative philosophy!) I am finishing up an essay on how to understand (and translate) tian in the context of Neo-Confucianism, and thought that it might make sense to try submitting it to a general history of philosophy journal. Which to choose? I decided to do a little research. I was pretty sure that Brian Leiter’s blog would have some sort of ranking of such journals, and sure enough, it does (from 2010). What surprised me was what I found when I started looking at the journals’ websites.

I will list below the ten journals chosen as the best from the poll conducted in 2010, as well as excerpts from what I found on the journals’ websites, and the occasional comment (emphasis in bold added by me). First, though, a summary of my observations:

  • Five of the ten explicitly limit their scope to the history of Western philosophy. In a way this is progress, since they are explicit about their narrow scope (I wonder if/when these statements were revised to include the qualifier “Western”?), but it is still disappointing.
  • Four of the five remaining journals, which may be more open in principle, have published little or nothing related to Chinese philosophy, though it is hard to judge to what degree this reflects a lack of submissions.
  • One journal, History of Philosophy Quarterly, has published several substantial articles on the history of Chinese philosophy.

The ten journals:

  1. Journal of the History of Philosophy
    1. “Founded in response to a motion passed by the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in December 1957 approving “the establishment of a journal devoted to the history of philosophy,” the Journal of the History of Philosophy is an internationally recognized quarterly that publishes peer-reviewed articles, notes, discussions, and book reviews devoted to the history of Western philosophy, broadly conceived.”
  2. Philosophical Review
    1. “The journal aims to publish original scholarly work in all areas of analytic philosophy, with an emphasis on material of general interest to academic philosophers, and is one of the few journals in the discipline to publish book reviews.”
    2. Searches on “Confucian” and “Chinese” in issues since 2000 provided only one real hit, a review of May Sim’s Remastering Morals with Aristotle and Confucius.
  3. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
    1. “From its founding, the journal has been open to a variety of methodologies and traditions. This may be seen in the list of outstanding contributors through the years, which includes: Edmund Husserl, Ernest Nagel, C.I. Lewis, Alfred Tarski, Martin Buber, Rudolf Carnap, Arthur Lovejoy, Gustav Bergmann, Nelson Goodman, Arthur Pap, Roy Wood Sellars, Wilfrid Sellars, C.J. Ducasse, Roderick M. Chisholm, Lewis White Beck, Brand Blanshard, John Findlay, Morton White, and J.J.C. Smart. This tradition of openness continues, as reflected by a statement appearing in every issue: “PPR publishes articles in a wide range of areas including philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophical history of philosophy. No specific methodology or philosophical orientation is required in submissions.””
    2. Given its stated openness, I tried a search for “Confucian,” and though I got a few hits, all but David Wong’s “Moral Reasons: Internal and External” date from the 1940s-1960s.
  4. British Journal for the History of Philosophy
    1. “The BJHP publishes articles and reviews on the history of philosophy from the ancient world to the end of the twentieth century. The journal is designed to foster understanding of the history of philosophy through studying the writings of past philosophers in their context and with sensitivity to issues of both philosophical argumentation and historical development. Although focusing on the recognized classics, a feature of the journal is to give attention to less major figures and to influences and relationships that are often overlooked. Articles cover the history of Western philosophy, although articles that explore connections to other traditions are also encouraged.”
  5. Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie
    1. “The journal publishes exceptional scholarship in all areas of western philosophy from antiquity up to contemporary philosophy.”
  6. History of Philosophy Quarterly
    1. “History of Philosophy Quarterly (HPQ) specializes in papers that cultivate philosophical history with a strong interaction between contemporary and historical concerns. Contributors regard work in the history of philosophy and in philosophy itself as parts of a seamless whole, treating the work of past philosophers not only in terms of historical inquiry, but also as a means of dealing with issues of ongoing philosophical concern. The journal favors the approach to philosophical history, increasingly prominent in recent years, that refuses to see the boundary between philosophy and its history as an impassable barrier.”
    2. A search on “Confucian” on issues from 2009 to the present turned up four substantiual articles (see here).
  7. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
    1. “The Aristotelian Society, founded in 1880, is one of the oldest and most prestigious philosophy societies. Content covers all areas of philosophy, including Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Meta-Ethics, and History of Western Philosophy.”
  8. European Journal of Philosophy
    1. “For much of its recent past, philosophy in Europe has been pursued in disparate schools. Even within a given school, exchanges between individuals in different European nations have been severely limited. In view of a growing desire to overcome current insularity, the European Journal of Philosophy aims to constitute a forum to which all philosophers, both inside and outside Europe, can turn to rediscover the diversity and variety of the European tradition. Maintaining a healthy respect for the existing variety, the European Journal of Philosophy sets also aims to constitute a forum that will enhance exchanges between individuals within a given tradition and encourage the exchange of ideas between traditions.”
  9. Canadian Journal of Philosophy
    1. “CJP aims to publish the best work in any area of philosophy in French or English.”
    2. Searches for “Confucian” and for “Chinese” failed to turn up any articles dealing substantially with Chinese philsoophy (its history or otherwise).
  10. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
    1. “Pacific Philosophical Quarterly publishes original research in all core areas of analytic philosophy including philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, metaethics, normative ethics, philosophy of action, philosophy of law, political philosophy, and aesthetics; as well as in history of philosophy.”
    2. Searches on “Confucian” and “Chinese” on issues since 1997 turned up one hit, Richard Kim’s article last spring on “Human Nature and Moral Sprouts: Mencius on the Pollyanna Problem.”


Leave a Reply to Amy Olberding Cancel reply

Required fields are marked *.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Switch to desktop version