By Anna Milioni
I started my PhD in Political Philosophy at King’s a year ago – roughly the same time that with a group of friends, we decided to found The Pamphlet (@the_Pamphlet_), a new philosophy magazine. The Pamphlet (https://www.the-pamphlet.com/) is an online platform for the publication of short, publicly accessible articles on philosophy which are broadly accessible to non-philosophers. Initially conceived as an online magazine, it now aspires to be much more: to contribute to the public dissemination of philosophy through the publication of articles that are topical and fun to read, but also to highlight the interactions between philosophy and other disciples, to host interviews and artistic projects with philosophical interest, to bring philosophers and non-philosophers in contact… Its main commitment, however, remains the creation or promotion of content that raises philosophical questions and is approachable to non-philosophers.
The idea was born out of a concern that is probably shared among many philosophers: while we are quite passionate about our research, and we believe that philosophy has an important role to play in society, few people read philosophy, or even know what philosophers do. As a PhD student in migration ethics at King’s, I have to contend with this in too many occasions, when people not familiar with philosophy ask me what I am doing in my life. In family reunions, family members were asking what a PhD in philosophy means. Fairly educated friends had no idea what it would mean to do philosophical research. When I explain to them my research, I keep getting the same incredulous reaction. It’s not that people don’t understand the details of my project. Most often, they simply don’t see the point in someone doing philosophical research.
Discussing this with other philosophy graduates, I realised how many of us are devastated by the thought that no one knows about all the inspiring ideas that we are studying. Therefore, with a group of friends – and philosophy graduates – we decided to take action. We thought that many people don’t read philosophy partly because of the way philosophy is written. Many academic philosophy papers are dry – maybe we could try to present their key ideas in a simpler manner, aiming not at addressing elaborate counterarguments and engaging in an advanced debate, but at demonstrating the social relevance of the work. We also decided to focus on raising questions, instead of answering them: the goal was to motivate our readers to think philosophically themselves, in a structured and organized way. Apart from me, the founders of the Pamphlet are Anita Ishaq (our Editor-in-chief), Nick Johnston, Anke Devyver, Oliver Sargeant, Casper Mullie, and Sercan Kiyak.
As our project is new but ambitious, we would love to have contributions or foster collaborations. For now, we mainly publish short articles (ideally 1000 words, max 2000 words), that go through a double-review process with an emphasis on clarity, approachability and engagement. But since we have a broader vision for our project, we would be very happy to consider publishing or sharing other kinds of content as well (we have dreams of making podcasts, videos, a forthcoming interviewing project, and much more). We also hope to expand our team with new members or Pamphlet affiliates, and we would love to hear from you if you feel that you would like to get involved in our project.
Just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing in some way.
For me, the Pamphlet was a great opportunity to think and write about questions that I often thought about, but never took the time to properly explore in an organized way. The contributions I’m most proud of is a series of articles that relate operas to contemporary social and political questions (so far I’ve written about Falstaff and enjoying life, Lucia di Lammermoor and feminism, and Dr Atomic and technocracy (forthcoming), and I plan to write on Carmen and femicide, and Macbeth and power).What I find most challenging is managing to write in an accessible and engaging way: when I first tried, I realised with horror that after years of university studies, I had lost the ability to write casually! I am now in the process of regaining this skill. But the fact that everyone who contributed to The Pamphlet faced this difficulty makes me think that training ourselves to communicate our ideas to non-academic philosophers is urgently needed, if philosophy is to remain socially relevant.
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