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04/05/2019

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A Philosopher

"It is often said – e.g. in the google search I’ve just done – that the first person is unacceptable for academic writing and appropriate only when one is conveying ‘personal information’. I don’t accept this dichotomy between the academic and the personal – think of Murdoch’s philosophical problems again – although this is not to deny that there are forms of academic writing for which an impersonal perspective is more appropriate."

I've always been baffled by this advice and don't see any reason behind it that's not confused. Let's assume there's some good distinction between an impartial academic or scientific perspective and a personal perspective. It's simply not the case that a first-person speaking voice is sufficient for, or characteristic of, the personal perspective. I can write from or of my personal perspective without using "I", and I can write from an academic perspective while using it. Easy example: "In the first part of this paper I shall".

Can't we all agree that this advice only sounds good on the mistaken (and simplistic) assumption that the first-person speaking voice is sufficient (and necessary) for a personal perspective?

Tom

Re: A philosopher

Quick quibble: can we please all stop saying `shall'? What's wrong with `will', other than the fact that it lacks pretentiousness?

A Philosopher

Tom: I was being descriptive. I tend to avoid "shall" myself, although I don't mind it. I do think there are a number of turns of phrase and other idiosyncratic prose-ticks which are becoming overused and tired within philosophy. If anything, I'd put "shall" into this category.

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