Guest Editor's Introduction

By Painter-Morland, Mollie | Philosophy Today, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Guest Editor's Introduction


Painter-Morland, Mollie, Philosophy Today


This issue of Philosophy Today on "Continental Philosophy and Organization" is intended to present an opportunity for at least two important conversations to take place. In the first place, it allows for a conversation between disciplines with distinct assumptions and preoccupations, to wit, the conversation between management or organization studies and continental philosophy. The second conversation to be had, implicitly part of the first, is that between teachers and scholars in philosophy and those in management or organizational studies departments. In working on this volume, I have come to the conclusion that the first conversation has always been taking place, and that it is perhaps the institutional dynamics of discrete disciplines, institutional silos, and prejudice that prevent the second conversation from taking place more explicitly. The first, inter-disciplinary conversation takes place wherever organizational analysis is pursued by individuals interested in and/or trained in philosophy. The conceptual frameworks, argumentative skills, and critical orientations, with which the study of or interest in philosophy furnishes its students and readers, inevitably shape the way they pursue their work, wherever they may find themselves. Many of the authors of the essays in this volume pursued PhD's in philosophy or interdisciplinary PhD's, and are now employed in interdisciplinary philosophy and management or business ethics positions. Their writing is clearly shaped by their training in philosophy, yet they hardly ever publish in journals like Philosophy Today or attend philosophy conferences like the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) or the American Philosophical Association. Even though some of the contributors to this issue are acknowledged experts in an area of philosophy or close-readers of well-known philosophers, they are often treated with suspicion by philosophers who do not engage directly with the organizational world. It seems even clearer, unfortunately, that the second set of conversations, i.e., that between scholars in different disciplines, academic departments, or business schools, does not regularly take place.

The reason for this, I would contend, might be something that anyone one trained in philosophy may easily understand, but that may be very difficult to change. It has to do with the structure-agency question, i.e., how who we are is always related to where we are. How what we know and choose to pursue in our research agendas come about over time, in interaction with colleagues, peers, and institutional pressures. It relates to the way in which institutional environments shape the way we talk about our subject matter. This includes everything from the level of tolerance for a certain kind of jargon to the type of questions that we think are interesting to pursue in our research. It is in these tacit assumptions about "rigor," "worthwhile theoretical questions," and the unspoken "rules of the game" that the second set of conversations call into question. And as such, this is where the need for an "introduction" or a "preamble" to a volume like this one arises. The main editor of Philosophy Today asked me to write a short introduction, or should we even call it an explanation, as to why this issue may read differently from other volumes of this journal. Why is this issue different from what readers have become accustomed to in Philosophy Today, but still is "philosophy, today"? I will try to speak to this question by offering a very brief discussion of what I think this collection of papers does, and what it does not do.

Let us start by what it does not try to do. This issue was not intended to be a set of papers about "applied work" in the way that this term is often understood. If it did do this kind of work, it would probably not "fit" the scope of Philosophy Today, which as far as my own experience as reviewer and reader of this journal goes, hardly ever publishes "applied work.

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