Journal of Italian Philosophy



At the beginning, a journal is little more than a space in which something might or might not happen. The arena opened up by a journal is a clearing in which truths may become public. They may then be developed or subjected to critique. Our intention with this journal, in particular, is to increase the space available in today’s academy and the extramural world for a discussion of Italian philosophy: its nature, its history, and the thinkers and writers who constitute it and continue to elaborate its potential.

A large part of a publication’s task is, therefore, exposure, and by these means we hope to foster an already burgeoning interest in the philosophy of Italy, and so to increase the likelihood of further studies, publications, and projects in the same area. Publishers, after all, tend to have economic matters uppermost in their minds, often of necessity, and without the promise of a ‘market’, they are sometimes unwilling to venture the translation of ‘unknowns’ or the publication of works concerning those who remain obscure. Similarly, in the university, one hears of doctoral students being discouraged from studying ‘obscure’ figures for the risk of failing to fit into any pre-existing ‘niche’ within the academic ‘job market’.

We regret the subordination of both publishing and academia to the market, but if we cannot yet destroy it, we may nevertheless intervene within it and help to create a new kind of ‘demand’, which the market should then feel it may not be entirely without profit to ‘supply’. We can, in other words, create new niches, and indeed use a journal such as this, in concert with other initiatives, to broaden them together with those that already exist, so as to make room for productive work in the pursuit of truth. As we began by saying, a journal in its ideal form is a space in which one writes so as to attempt, however slowly and partially, to allow truth to emerge, and purported truths to be contested by other writers and readers. It provides a — more or less public — space for thought.

In particular, we feel that Italian philosophy is today perhaps more worthy than any other of this kind of intervention, as Italian soil is proving to be an extraordinarily fertile ground for new concepts and innovative engagements between philosophy and those disciplines with which it proves itself capable of communicating, from law to theology, from linguistics to anthropology, politics, and beyond. It is even tempting to think that, if there were to be one single geographical and linguistic location for philosophy that would prolong the history that some have considered to run from Ancient Greece to Modern Germany, and finally to the France of the 1960’s, then it might be contemporary Italy.

An awareness of this possibility has already begun to dawn, and as testimony to this one need cite only the ever-increasing and in some cases long-standing prominence of such exceptional thinkers as Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito, Antonio Negri, and Gianni Vattimo, as well as certain figures who have perhaps in the last ten years gained increasing notice in Anglophone circles, such as Paolo Virno, Christian Marazzi, and Maurizio Lazzarato. This has been thanks to the noble efforts of publishers, editors, and, above all, translators.

And the number of these ventures is growing, for in addition to an already established series of books devoted to Italian thought by SUNY Press and Seagull Books, as well as notable work carried out for a long time now by Stanford University Press and Semiotext(e), we find new series from both MIT Press ('Insubordinations') and Bloomsbury, as well as a number of notable series published by the University of Minnesota Press. A Society of Italian Philosophy has also been established.

We wish to foster the expansion of all these initiatives, without any unnecessary limits. With so much happening, there is plenty to discuss. This ambition of limitlessness is assisted by the online status of the journal. We are not subject to any serious constraints of space, or any particular censorship; we make no binding promises of calendrical regularity which would demand a certain number of issues per year — no more, but also no less. One of our interventions in the marketplace of publication in particular, in which we are thankfully by no means alone, is to resist all of those features which make the experience of publishing in academic journals so increasingly frustrating and often unjust: the cost of accessing many journals, for libraries but much more so for individuals, particularly those outside of the academy; the quite irrational and needless demand for standardisation, often to an excruciating degree (formatting, punctuation, referencing….) even before the article has been accepted for publication in that particular journal; the properly staggering response times, partly consequent upon the immense pressure to publish in certain journals which have been elevated at least temporarily to the status of the ‘prestigious’; the constraints of a certain length, style, and easily identifiable genre of text, among many other things.

Being published online, in an ‘open-access’ form, we see no need automatically or in advance to impose these templates which function perhaps deliberately to discourage ‘speculative’ contributors, of whom there are — for certain journals — always ‘too many’, or simply as the expressions of a superficial desire for a veneer of ‘professionalism’ or an easily identifiable ‘brand’.

Of course, it would be unwise to imagine that we can free ourselves from these desires and necessities altogether, but we can try to minimise as far as possible the limitations they tend to impose, in terms of wasted time in particular, and the deleterious effects of such wastage upon authors and the quality and freedom of the work they produce. In other words, we should like to allow others to devote as much of their attention as we have the power to influence exclusively to philosophy.