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09/23/2021

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better not say

I have a lot of sympathy for Matt's situation: a very good friend of mine had to drop out of grad school because of chronic illness, and while they never really cared about publishing, they cared a whole lot about being a teacher and were grievous that they could not have a career as a teacher. It's unfair, and there's not even someone you could blame for it.

I think that there is nothing inherently valuable about publishing in academic journals. The first time I got something published I was very happy for a day, but after that there was very little gratification that came from that process itself. I always liked the idea of engaging with others about philosophy, but the reality was that most of my publications got very little attention, even those that were in relatively good journals. If you have an academic career, you have to publish to get employed, but I wouldn't recommend chasing academic publications for their own sake.

I do understand the urge to continue doing philosophy though. And, personally, I do get a lot out of teaching, so my recommendation is not to just let it go. I think the idea of finding another outlet is a good one. I'd be worried that not a lot of people read blogs anymore, but if you're good at explaining things, a podcast or something like that might work. And aside from this kind of ambitious projects, why not try to find a reading group of like-minded people on Reddit... that can be very fulfilling.

All that said: if you are really intent on publishing in an academic journal, I think it's definitely possible. The crucial thing is not the training in a PhD program, but a support network: some peers and/or a mentor who will read your drafts and tell you honestly how to improve it. (If you think about it, grad school really just consists of a bunch of additional courses and then a time period in which you can develop your work and have access to a mentor.) So if you really want to get something published, my advice would be to find some people who are willing to help you out.

Thriller

I understand the OP's motives. I think all of us are brought to philosophy for different reasons. It seems that really valued the idea of publishing a philosophy article (or many). I think they could and should work towards that goal. But it is an up-hill struggle. You really do get a lot from being in a PhD program - you internalize (rather unreflectively) the norms of writing professional philosophy.
Further, contrary to what "better not say" says, I still get a thrill with each article published, and it last for days ... maybe weeks ... maybe longer. I have published books with a leader University Press, and I still find myself feeling the thrill with each article. People are different.

David

I was thinking of other outlets like medium.com, Philosopher's magazine, Hackernoon, Youtube, and so on. Some might be more blog-like than others.

Andrew

1. I don't think it's utterly impossible to publish without a higher degree. The main challenges are catching up to the current literature on the topic in question and mastering the tone and expectations of published work in the journal you want to publish in.

2. That being said the sort of "I want to publish in philosophy but don't have a degree" threads that I'm familiar with involve a generally confused understanding of what *publishing in philosophy* even means. (a) Lay people often imagine there's some sort of philosophical community that exists that wants to read their big important thoughts on things -- there isn't. (b) Similarly, they often imagine that philosophers will be chomping at the bit for new ideas -- in general, they're not. (c) sometimes they imagine there's great prestige in publishing in philosophy, granting one fame like Kant, Aristotle, Russell, or Wittgenstein now enjoy -- but "publishing in philosophy" doesn't grant this.

If the task is to successfully publish an article in a reputable philosophical journal, I think anyone of sufficient intelligence can do it if they approach it the right way.

If the task is like the latter confusions I mention, then I think there is no route to success. Unless you have the right sort of publicity-generating topic and the right employment at an R1, it ain't happening.

William Vanderburgh

The OP might find something like Public Philosophy more rewarding, and probably easier to break into. There are groups devoted to it, and from what I have seen they are welcoming and helpful.

If publishing in an academic journal is a bucket-list sort of thing, something you want to do in order to prove to yourself you can do it, or similar, then be sure that you are reading a LOT of journal articles in the area you intend to publish in, especially in your target journals. Books are less helpful than articles in this case because you need to learn the norms, style and content of the subfield you are trying to enter. Emulate the articles that get published in terms of type of approach, size of problem, references to existing literature, writing style, etc. The best chance would probably come from engaging an active topic of debate that several others in the subfield have been working on.

Paul Taborsky

As the subject of the 'recent entry' mentioned, I would like to encourage the OP to try to publish in an academic journal. Unlike book publishing nowadays, where nearly every serious publisher asks for a CV, journals don't yet require credentials to submit, and there are even a few places that triple-blind review, which means that (at least in theory) submissions are judged on merit (perceived merit) alone.

Things are changing, though. Many editorial submission management systems now require an institutional affiliation, which was not the case even a few years ago. But if the OP really wants to publish on 'Husserlian Time-Consciousness', I think an academic journal is the only appropriate venue. Blogs, public philosophy, podcasts etc. are great, for certain kinds of material, but these are really 'oral' venues, and the kind of arguments that I think the OP is contemplating are something that can only be done in long-form writing. And seeing as he has already been accepted at conferences, he probably has got more of the hang of it than he realizes. As for an audience, well, the OP is probably not going to find one, but that's exactly another reason to look to academic venues, which are not about finding audiences, but a kind of permanence that blogs and podcasts don't offer. It might take 20 years for someone to find your work, but with an academic publication at least you know it will still be there (barring a world catastrophe, of course.)

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