A few months ago, I posted the idea to start a Society for Modern Philosophy. This post got some good responses and a lot of people expressed interest. Then, I promptly did nothing about it. Doing nothing about it kept me busy for quite some time, but now I am ready to take a break from doing nothing about it.
So, I hereby declare that this is going to happen. Step one would seem to be getting a list of people who would be interested in being in such a society. Those people should send me an e-mail (email@example.com), with “Society for Modern Philosophy” in the subject line (and while there’s nothing specific you have to say in the body of the email, it would be kind of weird to just send me a blank e-mail, I think, so put something in the body).
Here are some modest (and potentially less modest) proposals for what such a society might do.
Organize group-program sessions at the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association. Personally, my ideal format for these sessions would be to have papers by people who are somewhat more early-career, and commentary by people who are more established, but who knows if that is what would wind up happening. As a boorish American I know nothing of your international organizations, and how those conferences work, but plausibly, similar strategies could be pursued for big professional organization conferences all over the place.
A web-site hosting resources for modernists. This would include things like, recommendations of which editions are worth owning of various works for research purposes, listings of anthologies for use when teaching modern philosophy. Sample syllabi that help shake up the standard narrative (and, for instance, include more women philosophers from the period). Links to other assorted great things (like those graphical representations of the dependency relationships in Spinoza’s Ethics, and so on).
Assist in organizing (or at least connecting people) who are interested in doing skype-based reading groups. Because, if you are like me, even if you have some colleagues who would maybe be interested in talking about Hume or Descartes, you have a shortage of local colleagues who would be really excited about a Bayle’s Dictionary reading group or a reading group on Anne Conway, etc.
A Modern Philosophy Podcast! I love Peter Adamson’s History of Philosophy Podcast, but I may be retired by the time he gets anywhere near the 18th century. And besides, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to Modern Philosophy. (h/t Timothy Yenter for this idea)
And many more!
Ok, so, step one, as mentioned, is for people who are interested to get in touch with me. Membership will be free.
Step two is going to involve the creation of some organizational bureaucracy (I know, super exciting, right?)
We’ll worry about step three when we get there.