CfP: Temporal Humanity: Essays in moral philosophy, philosophy of history, and the humanities. An edited collection

Call for papers: Temporal Humanity: Essays in moral philosophy, philosophy of history, and the humanities

An edited collection of peer-reviewed papers to be published in 2022.

Edited by Natan Elgabsi (Åbo Akademi) and Bennett Gilbert (Portland State University)

Our past is a part of all our knowledge and experience. We are bound by it from some points of view and yet utterly free to ignore it from other points of view. It is a puzzling, perhaps incomprehensible, combination of presence and absence. Our past is made even more complicated in so far as it is constituted by past persons and their actions, to whom we stand in relation and to whom we respond. These actors are lost to temporal change, and yet we confront their actions, feelings, and thoughts by living in a world in which they have lived.  In some respects we are free to ignore them, yet their real existences both cause us to act and motivate us in non-causal ways. These and other conflicts inherent in history and in the temporality of our being as both present and past reality form an approach to ethics.

The issues in our ethical relations to past persons and in our temporal life-world occupy a different zone from those of moral, historical, or  scientific epistemology; from those of prescriptive or practical ethics; from those of genealogy and genetic explanations of arguments; and from those of social, political, or juridicial ethics (in the strict senses of these terms).  They differ as well from the epistemological considerations in historiographic theory. Rather, they take up the ethical dimensions of our relationships to others as brought into focus by the ontological and ethical problems that our experience of the past, lived history, and reflections on history constitute in our present relations to all other persons. Most broadly, the ethical questions of our awareness of and confrontation with the other of past persons, as well as the otherness of the past, form a highly charged and in many ways an immediate, universal, and challenging part of our temporality and of our existence in a world of change.

In this collection we seek to analyze our attitude to past persons, including scientific or ordinary attitudes, from the starting-point of ethics. We hope to study how ethics and moral philosophy can be understood through the dependence, independence, and interdependence of the present with respect to the past. The anthology will aim to extend the philosophical search for the ethical importance of temporality in human existence within a society of others that traverses and connects past and present into directions that are insufficiently developed in current philosophy. It is intended to explore how the practical humanities, theoretical discourse in the human sciences, human self-understanding, and the historicity of our life-world can be understood through interdisciplinary inquiry into the relationship of the present with the past. Representing no one philosophical school, a volume of essays in this zone of the juncture of ethics and history will form an influential work of deep thinking about ethical meaning of temporality for human existence within a society of others that traverses and connects past and present. This is the zone we hope our contributors will explore.

We aim to include about 15 papers of 6,000–8,000 words each. We expect to receive contributors’ finished drafts by summer, 2021, and then proceed to peer-review and  editing, with publication in the first quarter of 2022.
Because this zone of interest is new, we think that contributions to this volume can follow fresh and creative paths. We encourage writers who are considering contributing to think these issues through on their own terms.  Some suggested topics for contributors include but are not limited to:
Moral attitude towards the persons of the past as model of our attitude toward persons of the present
The ontology of the past
Directionality and reversibility of time
Theories of historical change
Reason and history
Exemplarity in historiography
Analogy in historiography
How knowledge or experience of the past changes us
The intersections of historical theory and moral theory
Moral progress
Moral relativity and change
Narrativity and a diachronic approach to moral life and ethics
Moral intuition versus rational foundations
The relations between the principal forms of normative ethics and history
Types of historically-oriented philosophical ethics from non-Western traditions and religions
Problems of personhood in temporal and ethical dimensions
The otherness of past persons in moral, historical, or ontological dimensions
The nature of empathy and/or compassion in relation to past persons
Shame, remorse, and pride as relations to the past
Memory and issues in philosophical ethics and philosophy of history
Anthropocentrism and de-centralizing the human
The ethics of justice in the perspective of historiography and philosophy of history
Political justice in the perspective of historiography and philosophy of history
The place of moral philosophy in the future of the humanities
The relationship between ethics and epistemology in the idea of a human science
The relationship of the humanities and theology in terms of the ethics of the other
The relationship of the humanities and the sciences in terms of the ethics of the other

We welcome reflections on these and other relevant topics from any Western and non-Western philosophical tradition or school. And we welcome contributions to these and other relevant topics from affiliated and independent scholars in the fields of biology and environmental science, sociology, psychology anthropology, politics, literature, art, and the physical sciences.

Proposals should be 300–600 words long and submitted in .docx format by email.

Please submit your proposals by November 30, 2020. We expect too make final decisions on all proposals by January 31, 2021.  The first draft of the full-length papers will be due by July 31, 2021.

Contact Info: 

For submissions or inquiries by authors from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, please write to:
Natan Elgabsi      
For submissions or inquiries by authors from the United States and North and South America, please write to:
Bennett Gilbert

Posted: 06-10-2020 | Updated: 14-10-2022