Working definition of philosophy
Although the term philosophy is derived from the Greek words usually translated to mean “love of wisdom,” there is reason to believe that the original usage was somewhat broader, connoting free play of the intellect over a wide range of human problems and even including such qualities as shrewdness, curiosity, and practicality. McLeish, in fact, suggests that the definition “love of knowledge acquired by the exercise of intellect” is more appropriate than the original meaning.
There has been a gradual narrowing of the meaning philosophy beginning in antiquity and proceeding in stages up through the present time. Socrates differentiated his activity from that of the sophists by stressing the raising of questions for clarification in arguments. This emphasis on critical examination of issues remained central to philosophic method in the succeeding centuries. Stanley Chodrow, in “Transformations in the Humanities,” states it more simply: “The one thing nearly all philosophers agree on is … that philosophical investigation rests on the making and analysis of arguments.”
The encyclopedic concepts of philosophy were shattered by the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century. First the natural sciences emerged as separate disciplines, then the social and behavioural sciences effected their separation from philosophy, and eventually the social sciences migrated into distinct scholarly and applied fields. The combination of philosophy and psychology that characterizes some reference tools produced at the beginning of the twentieth century is evidence of the relatively late departure of psychology and the other behavioural sciences from the broad field of philosophy.
Stripped of the natural and social sciences, what remains now of philosophy? First, there are questions about the nature of ultimate reality. Then there is the matter of knowledge as a whole as well as the interrelationships of the specialized branches of it. There are questions of methodology and presuppositions of the individual disciplines. (The phrase “philosophy of…” is often assigned to this type of endeavour: philosophy of science, philosophy of education, and the like.) Finally, there are those normative issues for which there are no scientifically verifiable answers.
It may be said, then, that philosophy is the discipline that is concerned with basic principles of reality; methods for investigation and study; and the logical structures, systems, and interrelationships among all fields of knowledge. For additional definitions of philosophy and discussions of some of the problems of defining the discipline, the reader should see Alan R. Lacy’s A Dictionary of Philosophy (3d ed., Routledge Kegan Paul, 1996) and Anthony Flew and Jennifer Speake’s A Dictionary of Philosophy (2d rev. ed., St. Martin’s Press, 1984). A more recent brief description of the field is Kenneth McLeith’s Key Ideas in Human Thoughts (Facts on File, 1993).
Major divisions of the field
Philosophy continues to be divided into five broad areas: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and aesthetics. Each of these broad areas, in turn, can be further subdivided.
Metaphysics may be further subdivided into ontology and cosmology. Ontology is concerned with the nature of ultimate reality, sometimes referred to as “being”. It includes consideration of whether reality has one, two, or many basic components (monism, dualism, or pluralism, respectively). Monistic philosophies consider whether reality is ultimately mental or spiritual (idealism) or physical (materialism). Dualistic philosophies commonly regard both matter and mind as irreducible ultimate components, while pluralistic philosophies allow for many possibilities. Pluralistic ideas are most often argued in the political realm.
Cosmology is concerned with questions of origins and processes. The nature of causality has been a frequent topic of debate. Although a few have argued for pure chance, more philosophers have emphasized antecedent causes (that is, preceding events that cause the event under consideration to happen) or final causes (ends or purposes that exert influence on the outcome of events). Many of the former persuasion are convinced that there is no room for either chance or freedom in the chain of causality. The determinists are called mechanists if they also believe that reality is ultimately physical. Those who emphasize final causes are known as teleologoists. P.F. Strawson’s Individuals (Metheun, 1959) is a recommended reading for cosmology.
Epistemology is concerned with the scope and limits of human knowledge. What can we know, and with what degree of certainty? Rationalists stress the role of human reason as the source of all knowledge, while empiricists believe that knowledge is derived from experience. It is generally agreed that there are two types of knowledge: a priori, which is knowable without reference to experience and which alone possesses theoretical certainty (for example, the principles of logic and mathematics); and a posteriori, which is derived from experience and possesses only approximate certainty (the findings of science, for example). T. E. Burke’s chapter, “What Can Be Known?,” in Davis and Park’s No Way: The Nature of the Impossible (W. H. Freeman, 1987), is an example of epistemological work.
Logical deals with the principles of correct reasoning or valid inference. It differs from psychology in that it does not describe how people actually think but rather prescribes certain canons to be followed if they would think correctly. Deductive logic (sometimes known as Aristotelian or traditional logic) is concerned with the process by which correct conclusions can be drawn from a set of axioms known or believed to be true. Its most familiar form is the syllogism, which consists of three parts: the major premise, the minor premise, and the conclusion.
Major premise: All men are mortal.
Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Inductive logic is a result of the development of modern scientific methods. It deals with the canons of valid inference, but it is concerned with probabilities rather than certainties and often involves the use of statistics. In a sense the opposite of deductive logic, inductive logic attempts to reach valid generalizations from an enumeration of particulars.
Although logic arose in antiquity and was summarized in Arisotelian works, few advances were made until the last half of the nineteenth century, when symbolic and Boolean logic provided forms of notation useful in mathematical reasoning and later in computer science and information retrieval.
In ethics, the questions relate to human nature and to matters of conduct. Can certain actions be considered morally right or wrong? If so, on what basis? Should the interests of self have priority (egotism) or should the interests of others be the driving principles (altruism)? Or is there some greater good to which both self- and-other-interest should be subordinate? Ethical theories may be classified by the manner in which criteria for right actions are established or by the nature of the highest good.
Andrew Jack suggests that ethics can be conveniently divided into three parts: “normative ethics, practical ethics, and meta-ethics.” The first deals with normative principles or moral rules such as “The Golden Rule”. Meta-ethics considers the nature of metaphysical issues that can arise for any moral principle. Practical ethics considers specific applications of ethical thinking to particular problems.
Discussions in the popular literature have brought the consideration of practical ethics to newspaper readers and viewers of the television evening news. Such issues as euthanasia, assisted suicide, the death penalty, abortion, equality of the sexes or races, and the use of animals for biomedical research are but a few topics. Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics, first published in 1979 and thoroughly revised in 1993 (Cambridge University Press), is a highly acclaimed work on the subject and includes chapters on equality and discrimination, treatment of animals, and environmental concerns, as well as an excellent discussion of the nature of ethics. Singer, now professor of bioethics at Princeton University, has recently been the focus of controversy in the popular press. See, for example, Paul Zielbauer, “Princeton Bioethics Professor Debates Views on Disability and Euthanasia,” New York Times (October 13, 1999) p. 8. An ethics Web site that will be of interest to both scholarly and lay readers is Lawrence Hitman’s Ethics, at http://ethics.sandiego.edu/ (accessed October 15, 2012). The site includes pages on both theoretical and applied ethics.
The nature of beauty is the subject matter of aesthics. The concern of the philosopher may be differentiated from those of the psychologist and those of the critic. The psychologist concentrates on human reactions to aesthetic objects. The critic focuses on individual works of art or on the general principle of criticism, usually within the confines of a particular discipline. The philosopher is broadly concerned with beauty per se, whether in art or in nature. Does beauty adhere in the beautiful object? Are there objective criteria by which it may be determined? Or is beauty a subjective experience, with no universally valid norms? Classical theories stress objectivity, while romantic theories emphasize individualism and subjectivity. Further, aesthetics explores the nature of the arts and considers similarities and differences between the visual and performing arts and questions concerning what art represents and expresses.
Section 1 of Alexander Dey’s Philosophy in Cyberspace, A Guide to Philosophy-Related Resources on the Internet [Online], available at http://web.archive.org/web/20050206045615/http://www-personal.monash.edu.au/~dey/phil/section1.htm (accessed October 15, 2012), lists the divisions of philosophy and online resources on them. (The Philosophy Documentation Center, Bowling Green State University, publishes the guide in print form as well.) Definitions of many subfields of philosophy also can be found in the guides listed at Thomas Ryan Stone’s comprehensive Episteme-Links.Com, at http://www.epistemelinks.com/index.asp (accessed October 15, 2012). This site is frequently updated, so it should be checked routinely for new material.
Helpful resources for students, librarians, and general readers
The reader needing a starting point in philosophy will find the Encyclopedia Britannica Online article, “History of Philosophy” to be most helpful. Available on the Web at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/456811/philosophy (accessed October 15, 2012) and follow the guides to “Schools and Doctrines” and “Branches”. Both offer insights into the divisions of the field, history of philosophical thought, and defining principles. The focus is on Western philosophy.
Still highly useful is John Passmore’s “Philosophy,” in the print Encyclopedia of Philosophy (reprint, Macmillan, 1996). Passmore’s “Philosophy, Historiography of,” in the same volume of the Encyclopedia provides historical perspectives. Another helpful work with brief signed articles on all manner of philosophical topics is Kenneth McLeish’s Key Ideas in Human Thought (Facts on File, 1993). And a promising recent addition to the literature is the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta and located at http://plato.stanford.edu/ (accessed May 23, 1999).
Several works are of particular importance to the librarian. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, referenced above, contains three articles by William Gerber: “Philosophical Bibliographies”, “Philosophical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias,” and “Philosophical Journals,” in volume 6 (reprint, 1996, pp. 166-216). The article on philosophy in Lester Asheim’s The Humanities and the Library (American Library Association, 1956, pp. 61-99), despite its age, is still a valuable description, and Martin Bermann’s Research Guide in Philosophy (General Learning, 1974) presents the literature of the field in a well-organized, practical manner. A more recent perspective is offered by Richard H. Lineback’s chapter on philosophy in Nena Couch and Nancy Allen’s The Humanities and the Library (2d ed., American Library Association, 1993, pp. 212-39). Finally, a recommended source for all librarians is Richard T. de George’s Philosopher’s Guide to Sources, Research Tools, Professional Life, and Related Fields (University of Kansas Press, 1980).
Many introductions and histories of philosophy are extremely technical and therefore forbidding to the layperson, but the librarian can guide readers to two classic popularizations: Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy (Simon & Schuster, 1945) and Will Durant’s ever-popular Story of Philosophy (Simon & Schuster, 1926). Bertman’s guide, mentioned earlier, contains an easy-to-read history. The reader needing only a synopsis of a particular work in in philosophy will find useful Masterpieces of World Philosophy, edited by Frank N. Magill (HarperCollins, 1990) or the more exhaustive five-volume World Philosophy: Essay Reviews of 225 Major Works (Salem Press, 1982).
Neither the reference librarian nor the collection development librarian should overlook Hans E. Bynagle’s Philosophy: A Guide to the Reference Librarian (2d ed., Libraries Unlimited, 1997). Andrew D. Scrimgeour, “Philosophy and Religion,” in Selection of Library Materials in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences, edited by Patricia A. McClung (American Library Association, 1985), also offers information useful to the selector.
To maintain currency, the selector of philosophical materials will need to consult articles such as “Forthcoming Philosophy and Religion Publications, 1998-1999,” Choice 36 (December 1998): 645-55 as they appear in the professional journals.
For the reader who wishes to read philosophy, rather than read about philosophy, texts of the works of many important philosophers can now be accessed on the Internet. For example, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by James Fieser, has links to many philosophical texts online. Access the “Philosophy Text Collection” at http://www.iep.utm.edu/ (accessed October 16, 2012).
Use and users of philosophy information
A thorough search of the literature of use and user studies indicates that very little research has been done on literature use by philosophers. There is other evidence, however, that the literature of the field is widely used and that particular authors are well-cited both within the humanities and by writers in the sciences and social sciences.
A listing of the 100 most cited authors from the 1977-1978 Arts and Humanities Citation Index (ISI Press, 1978) includes Plato and Aristotle, with over 1,200 citations each, as well as contemporary writers like Karl Popper, Paul Ricoeur, and John Rawls. The most cited author was Karl Marx, whose works received over 1,600 citations in the year under study (1977-1978), and half of the citations were in philosophy journals, according to Eugene Garfield, whose article is the source of these data.
Garfield has compiled a listing of the fifty twentieth-century books most cited in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index during the period 1976-1983. The field of philosophy is well represented on the list, as are criticism, linguistics, and fiction. In the philosophy area, the works of Wittgenstein, Popper, and Kuhn are among the most cited on the elite list.
Garfield has also identified the arts and humanities journals that were most cited in the ISI family of citation indexes in 1981. The second and seventh most highly cited journals were Journal of Philosophy and Philosophical Review, with 640 and 435 citations, respectively. Since citations in the sciences, the social sciences, and humanities were combined for the purposes of ranking, the influence of philosophy across all fields of knowledge is apparent.
Although the citation rankings are, of course, dependent on the coverage of ISI’s databases, they nonetheless indicate the relative impact of certain works as compared to all others referenced in the ISI-covered publications. Most important, citation does represent a quantitative measure of literature use.
Although carried out as a library collection evaluation, a study by Jean-Pierre V.M. Herubel at Purdue University (“Philosophy Dissertation Bibliographies and Citations in Serials Evaluation,” The Serials Librarian 20, nos 2/3 : 65-73) provides insight into the literature used by philosophy scholars in preparing dissertations in one university environment. Reflecting Garfield’s earlier findings, Journal of Philosophy and Philosophical Review were among the most highly cited journals (first and fourth) with sixty-three and forty-four citations respectively. The dissertations, which are dated between 1970 and 1988, reflect the humanist’s heavy reliance on monographs (71.3 percent of all references) and lesser use of the journal literature (28.7 percent).
The importance of monographs is reaffirmed in the more recent study by Ylva Lindholm-Romantschuk and Julian Warren, “The Role of Monographs in Scholarly Communication: A Empirical Study of Philosophy, Sociology and Economics,” Journal of Documentation 52 (December 1996): 389-404.
Studies of scholars’ information seeking for the Research Libraries Group (Constance Gould, “Philosophy,” Information Needs in the Humanities: An Assessment [Stanford, CA: RLG, 1988]) suggest that relatively few philosophers use traditional reference sources to stay current in their field, particularly when compared to researchers in other disciplines.
As for books, Henry J. Koren, in his still useful Research in Philosophy – A Bibliographical Introduction to Philosophy and a Few Suggestions for Dissertations (Duquesne University Press, 1966), divides philosophy books into “popularizing works, text books, and strictly scholarly works.”
Major Classification Schemes
Utilization of shelf arrangement as a tool for philosophical information retrieval must be considered secondary to other approaches, but some knowledge of the major library classification schemes will be advantageous. The two most frequently used schemes are the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and Library of Congress Classification (LC).
From the user’s standpoint, there are three principal approaches to the arrangement of philosophic writings: by individual philosophers, by specialized branches (subdivisions) of philosophy, and by interrelationships and influence groupings. The first approach is particularly helpful if one wishes to study a specific philosopher’s thought system or specific works of an individual. It is especially convenient if the library shelves secondary works, such as criticism and commentary, with the primary works.
The second approach to organizing philosophical materials, by subdivisions, would group together works on metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and aesthetics.
Finally, the interrelationships and influences approach would organize a collection of materials around the works attributed to a temporal period, language, school of thought, nationality grouping, and so forth.
Clearly, no truly useful classification system would follow a single approach to organizing. Hence, both DDC and LC attempt to balance the differing and sometimes conflicting approaches.
The DDC was first devised by Melvil Dewey in 1876, and although revised and expanded over the years, it still reflects a late nineteenth-century view of the world. Its handling of philosophy (100-199) has been frequently criticized for its separation of philosophical viewpoints from the period-specific sections, for placing aesthetics with the arts (in the 700s), and for its inclusion of psychology (150). In spite of these problems, however, the DDC is the most commonly used scheme, especially in public, school, and smaller academic libraries.
The major DDC subject divisions for philosophy and related disciplines are:
110 Metaphysics 120 Epistemology, Causation 130 Paranormal Phenomena and Arts 140 Specific Philosophical Viewpoints 150 Psychology 160 Logic 170 Ethics 180 Ancient, Medieval, Oriental Philosophy 190 Modern Western Philosophy
The Library of Congress (LC) schedule for philosophy was first published in 1910 and has also been revised. Although it, like the DDC, includes psychology, it is generally considered to be superior in its handling of philosophy. For example, LC includes aesthetics.
Subclass B is designed to keep the works of individual philosophers together and to place them in relation to periods, countries, and schools of thought. The general pattern for individual philosophers is 1) collected works, 2) separate works, 3) biography and criticism. LC also has sections for major divisions of the field. The principal divisions are:
B Philosophy (General)
Serials, Collections, etc.
History and systems
BC Logic BD Speculative philosophy
BH Aesthetics BJ Ethics
Social usages, Etiquette
Subject headings in philosophy
Searching library catalogs (whether in card, book, or computer form) continues to play an important role in the retrieval of philosophical information. Although many subject indexes in recent years have been constructed on the basis of keywords from document titles, or from text, most library catalogs use a controlled or standardized vocabulary embodied in a list of subject headings. Such lists usually include guidance on choice of main headings, methods of subdividing major topics, and cross-references to lead the user to the headings chosen or to related topics.
The majority of large American libraries today follow the Subject Headings Used in the Dictionary Catalogs of the Library of Congress, available in print, on microfiche, and on magnetic tape. The subject headings enable the reader looking for a specific topic to go directly to that heading. The disadvantage of this approach for this discipline is that philosophic topics are scattered throughout an entire alphabet sequence. This is true whether the library uses an integrated “dictionary” catalog or a divided catalog (in which the subject portion is separated from the author-title section). The subject headings are used in many online library catalogs, and thus some knowledge of them is helpful to the library user.
To use subject headings as a guide in the formulation of a search strategy, it is helpful to understand the basic forms subject headings may take:
- Simple noun headings. This form is the most direct, immediate, and uncomplicated. If adequate to the text, it is the preferred method. The most obvious example, in this context is “Philosophy”.
- Adjectival headings. These may be in natural or inverted form. An example of the natural form is “Philosophical anthropology,” while an example of the inverted form is “Philosophers, Ancient.” The choice is determined by the need to emphasize those search words of greatest importance to the intended user. In the first example, the term “philosophical” is more significant to the philosophy student than the word “anthropology”. In the second example, the term “American” would be of significant to the person seeking information on American philosophy, but the natural or der would bury the topic among dozens of other entries beginning with “American”. Because the prime topic is philosophy, with American philosophy as one variety, the inverted form is chosen.
- Phrase headings. These usually consist of nouns connected by a preposition. An example is “Philosophy in literature.” Another type of phrase heading is the so-called compound heading, made up of two or more coordinate elements connected by “and”. An example is “Philosophy and cognitive science.”
It often happens that the approaches described above do not result in headings that are sufficiently specific. In such cases, further division of the topic will be required. The techniques most frequently used for division are as follows:
- By form. The plan of the division is not based on the content of the work but on its manner of arrangement or the purpose it is intended to serve. Examples include “Philosophy – Bibliography;” “Philosophy – Dictionaries;” “Philosophy – Study and teaching”.
- By political or geographic area. Generally, this is not a consideration in the field of philosophy because the need for geographic subdivision is accomplished by the use of the inverted form of adjectival headings, such as “Philosophy, French” or “Philosophy, Chinese.”
- By period. This technique for subdivision can cause some confusion for the uninitiated, especially in a field like philosophy. This represents a departure from the customary alphabetical approach in that headings for different historical periods are arranged chronologically. In philosophy, the technique is used to divide under separate countries, as in “Philosophy, French – 17th century,” which precedes “Philosophy, French – 18th century.” (Notice that alphabetical presentation would put eighteenth ahead of seventeenth.) The situation is further complicated by the use of subject headings for broad periods of philosophy (for example, “Philosophers, Ancient”) that are arranged in the customary alphabetical way. The searcher will be wise to double check until thoroughly familiar with the subject matter and the approaches to its headings.
A subject heading system must make provisions for the user who may choose as the initial search term a word or phrase other than the one used in the system. The necessary connections have customarily been made by means of see references that direct readers from terms that are not used to those that are used. Similarly, the user has traditionally been provided access to other headings that might lead to relevant information by see also references. More recent subject headings use additional symbols for such cross references, for example:
USE UF (Used For) BT (Broader Term) NT (Narrower Term) RT (Related Term) SA (See Also)
This thesaurus-type approach eliminates the need for symbols indicating reverse patterns of see also references and other sometimes confusing notations.
Scope notes are sometimes, although not frequently, provided to remove doubt or confusion as to what may or may not be covered by certain subject headings. An example found under the heading “Philosophy, Ancient” in the LCSH is “Here are entered works dealing with ancient philosophy in general and with Greek and Roman philosophy in particular.”
In practice, many more subject headings are used than are enumerated on any list of subject headings. However, the headings are most often formed in accordance with the principles followed in the LCSH.
It should also be remembered that no subject heading list should be static, even in a field as stable as philosophy. New terms are constantly coming into use and older terms being revised or deleted. A comparison of the subject headings in various editions of the LCSH shows a dynamic, rather than a static list. Library of Congress Subject Headings in Philosophy, edited by Barbara Berman, is scheduled for publication by the Philosophy Documentation Center.
Searching in printed library catalogs and browsing machine readable catalogs are made considerably easier if the reader understands the filing system in use by the particular catalog. The dictionary catalog or subject portion of a divided catalog will most often follow an alphabetical arrangement, but a chronological arrangement may be used wherever a division by date seems more logical than a strictly alphabetical sequence.
Alphabetical filing arrangements usually follow one of two patterns. The first is the “letter-by-letter” method used by many reference tools, including several indexes and encyclopaedias. With this method, all the words in the heading are treated as parts of one unit. Filing proceeds strictly on the basis of the order of the letters in the unit as a whole, regardless of whether they are in separate short words or in a single long word. Thus, “Newark” would precede “New York”. Libraries have not favored this method because it tends to scatter closely related topics.
Most libraries have adopted the “word-by-word” or “nothing before something” approach, in which each word is treated as a separate unit for filing purposes. Using this method, “New York” would precede “Newark” in the catalog.
For the controlled indexing terms used in online and CD-ROM bibliographic databases, the user should consult the thesaurus for the database in question. The use of controlled subject terms will likely improve the search by complementing the use of keywords and enhancing precision. Many online thesauri have print counterparts that can be consulted in advance of the search in preparation for it. The area of online access is only one of the many areas in which computers influenced the way the work of the field was carried out in the late 1990s.
The advent of the Internet and World Wide Web brings new challenges to organizing materials. Methods of describing, indexing, and searching are rapidly changing to accommodate the enormous mass of information that is being made available electronically. Humanities librarians are involved in developing the systems by which philosophical materials can be organized for convenient access by users.
Computers in philosophy
Increasing use of computers by philosophy scholars is evidenced by the coverage in reviews of information systems in the humanities. The Annual Review of Information Science in 1972 (J. Raben and R. L. Widmann, “Information Systems Applications in the Humanities,” ARTIST 7 : 439-69), in 1981 (J. Raben and S. K. Burton, “Information Systems and Services in the Arts and Humanities,” ARTIST 16 : 247-66), and in 1991 (Helen R. Tibbo, “Information Systems, Services, and Technology for the Humanities,” ARTIST 26 : 287-346). In 1972 and 1981, philosophy was neither singled out, nor even mentioned, as a field in which computer applications deserved discussion. Tibbo, however, noted several applications of computers to the work of philosophers: word processing, text analysis, theorem proving, logic studies and teaching.
Preston K. Covey, “Formal Logic and Philosophic Analysis,” Teaching Philosophy 4 (July-October 1991): 277-301, and Larry Wos et al., Automated Reasoning: Introduction and Applications (Prentice-Hall, 1984), describe applications in logic. Donald Sievert and Maryellen Sievert, “Humanists and Technology: The Case of the Philosophers,” in Information and Technology: Planning for the Second 50 Years: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science 51st Annual Meeting v. 25 (1988), pp. 94-99, consider philosophy scholars’ earlier use of information technology.
Concordances and word indexes, among the primary applications of computers to literature, are also used for the analysis of philosophical works. The development of The Index Thomisticus, covering the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, is described in “The Annals of Humanities Computing: The Index Thomisticus,” Computers and the Humanities 14 (October 1989): 83-90. Many new thesauri have been developed with the assistance of computers; lists of them appear in the Web Thesaurus Compendium at http://web.archive.org/web/20030124083824/http://www-cui.darmstadt.gmd.de/~lutes/thesoecd.html (accessed October 22, 2012), but the reader should begin in the “literature” category because philosophy, to date, is not included as a category. A list of online concordances can be accessed at William A. Williams’s Concordances of Great Books at http://www.concordances.com/ (accessed February 28, 2000) or through the philosophy sites described elsewhere in this chapter.
Although there is no evidence that philosophers are heavy users of commercially available online and CD-ROM information resources, it has been reported that they are often aware of such resources as Philosopher’s Index (Sievert and Sievert, “Humanists and Technology: The Case of Philosophers,” in Information and Technology: Planning for the Second 50 Years: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science 51st Annual Meeting v. 25 , pp. 94-99).
The number of machine readable philosophy indexes and bibliographies is limited, but the availability of the Internet has resulted in tremendous growth in the number of resource lists and texts available electronically. A. Robert Rogers’s “A Comparison of Manual and Online Searches in the Preparation of Philosophy Pathfinders,” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 26 (Summer 1985): 54-55, which suggested that manual searching has not been replaced by the use of online services, might have a different conclusion today.
Two major online bibliographic resources in the field are Philosophers Index, published by the Philosophy Documentation Center at the Bowling Green State University, and the philosophy section of FRANCIS (Fichier de Recherches bibliographiques Automatisses sur Nouveautes, la Communication et l’Information Sciences sociales et humaines), which corresponds with the print Bulletin Signaletique—Sciences Humaines Section 519 Philosophie. Both databases include journals and other forms of publications, and coverage of both goes back to the 1940s. The latter has undergone several title changes, so the reader should consult Chapter 4 of this guide for the correct title to do a particular search.
There are many Internet sites providing access to texts of philosophical works. A few examples are listed here, but many more are available. James Fiesher edits the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, located at http://www.utm.edu.research.iep.philtexts.htm (accessed February 28, 2000), and includes inks to a modest number of texts; the Noesis Web site at http://noesis.evansville.edu/ (accessed October 22, 2012) leads the reader to hundreds of texts, indexed by philosopher and by collection; and Peter Suber’s resource list at http://earlham.edu/~peters/philinks.htm#etexts (accessed October 22, 2012) provides even more links to electronic texts. The reader should also consult the larger text collections for philosophical texts.
Electronic journals in philosophy are listed on several Web sites: Access lists through Peter Suber’s site at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/philinks.htm#journals (accessed October 22, 2012) or through the Philosophy Documentation Center’s Poiesis (Philosophy Online Serials) page at http://cas.pdcnet.org/mlp/login?service=http%3A%2F%2Fsecure.pdcnet.org%2Fpdc%2Faddons%2FDominoCAS.nsf%2Fcas-domino-login%3FopenAgent%26url%3Dpdc%252Fbvdb.nsf%252Fjournalbrowser%253Fopenform (accessed October 22, 2012). See also Project Muse at http://muse.jhu.edu/browse/ (accessed October 22, 2012) for additional journal titles. Print journals are also listed in online sources: the Philosophy Documentation Center’s page at http://www.pdcnet.org/ (accessed October 22, 2012) lists those for which the Center handles subscriptions.
Because of its very nature, philosophy is a field where interactive forms of scholarship appear especially likely to develop as more students and teachers become knowledgeable about communicating on the Internet. An extensive guide to discussion groups in philosophy can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20000520052933/http://web.syr.edu/~dhoracek/lists.html (accessed October 22, 2012). This resource, maintained by David Horacek, offers addresses and subscriber information for discussion groups on individual philosophers. Another extensive listing of mailing lists and discussion forums in philosophy can be found at Alexander Dey’s Philosophy in Cyberspace site, http://web.archive.org/web/20060127092440/http://www-personal.monash.edu.au/~dey/phil/section4.htm (accessed October 22, 2012).
Finally, the reader should note that the computer still makes it possible for researchers to access remote library catalogs worldwide. Most Internet guides list library catalogs that are available, methods of access, and sources of additional information. If, indeed, the library is the laboratory of the humanities, the Internet expands that laboratory by orders of magnitude.
Major societies, information centers and special collections in philosophy
It has become a truism to say that the competent librarian will employ information sources far beyond the collection of a single library. Indeed, since the last edition of this guide, emphasis has increasingly been on “access to” rather than “ownership of” information resources. The role of bibliographies, indexes, union catalogs, and remote library catalogs is familiar. Still, some discussion of supplementary library sources may be of help to the research. In philosophy, the supplementary resources may be grouped into three categories: philosophical societies, information centers, and print and electronic special collections. Following is a sampling of major sources of additional information; the list is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to jog the librarian or researcher’s memory and to suggest where to turn when other resources do not provide what is needed.
The Philosophy Documentation Center at Bowling Green State University publishes Directory of American Philosophers, now in its nineteenth edition. International philosophical societies and groups outside North America are listed in the latest edition of Directory of Philosophy and Philosophers (Bowling Green, OH: Philosophy Documentation Center).
Over the years, UNESCO has provided support for many international philosophical activities. In 1946 it recognized the International Council of Scientific Unions (The Hague) as coordinating body. One of its branches is the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, which maintains affiliations with both national and international organizations. The International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies, composed of many international non-governmental organizations, is also recognised by UNESCO, and has received funding for activities of its member organizations.
The most comprehensive philosophical society in the United States is the American Philosophical Association, founded in 1900 to promote the exchange of ideas among philosophers and to encourage scholarly and creative activity in the field. Membership is restricted to those qualified to teach philosophy at the college or university level, and national and regional groups elect officers and sponsor annual conferences and meetings. The Association publishes APA Bulletin, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Society, and several newsletters. The reader may learn more by contacting the Association at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. The Web address is http://www.amphilsoc.org/ (accessed October 23, 2012).
Phi Sigma Tau was founded in 1931 to promote ties between philosophy students and departments of philosophy. It is the publisher of Dialogue and a newsletter. The contact address for the organization is Department of Philosophy, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
The American Catholic Philosophical Association, an example of a more specialized association in the field, was founded in 1926. It publishes American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and its Proceedings, and has a membership of over 1,600. Write to the Association at American Catholic Philosophical Association at Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458. The organization has a Web site at http://www.acpaweb.org/ (accessed October 23, 2012).
Two associations address the interests of people working in the field as journalists and teachers. The first of these is the Association of Philosophy Journal Editors (Journal of Philosophy, Columbia University, 709 Philosophy Hall, New York, NY 10027). It was founded in 1971 and meets annually in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association. The International Association of Teachers of Philosophy promotes teaching of philosophy at the secondary and college levels and sponsors professional training for philosophy teachers. An international association founded in 1975, it holds a biennial conference and publishes its proceedings. The address is Am Schirroff 11, 32427 Minden, Germany.
Some associations are organized around a particular subdivision of philosophy. An example is the International Association of Ethicists, which acts as a clearinghouse for information in ethical studies worldwide and promotes “ethical and moral” studies. The Association publishes in the area of applied ethics. The address is 117 W. Harrison Bldg., Ste. I-104, Chicago, IL 60605.
The C. S. Pierce Society (State University of New York, Philosophy Department, Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14620) is but one example of the many societies organized around the work and influence of one single philosopher. The Pierce Society was founded in 1946 and publishes its Transactions quarterly. The Kant Society (Saarstrasse 21, 55122 Mainz, Germany) furthers the study of Immanuel Kant by conducting research and publishing studies of Kant and his work.
The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) was begun in 1972 to promote women in philosophy and their activities. The Society has a Web page at http://www.uh.edu/~cfreelan/SWIP/ (accessed October 23, 2012) that includes statistics on women philosophers, publications, courses, and special areas of philosophers related to women. Links to feminist sites and to other associations are provided. The International Association of Women Philosophers can be reached by mail (Ulrike Ramming, Schriftfuehrerin der IAPh, Kaecheleweg 4, D-70619 Stuttgart, Germany). The international association holds conferences and publishes its proceedings, and can be reached via the Web at http://www.iaph-philo.org/ (accessed October 23, 2012).
Lists and addresses of other philosophical societies may be found in the “Societies” section of the latest Directory of American Philosophers or on the Web at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/philinks.htm (accessed October 23, 2012).
Information centers in the United States and abroad continue to work on publication, indexing, and retrieval of information in philosophy. The previously mentioned Philosophy Documentation Centre (Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43404) collects, stores, and disseminates bibliographic data in the field. The Center publishes The Philosopher’s Index, which is available in print and online.
The Philosophy Information Center (University of Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany) cooperates with the publication of The Philosopher’s Index and produces other bibliographic indexes as well.
Over twenty-five national centers participate in the work of L’Institut International de Philosophie (8, Rue Jean Calvin, F75005, Paris, France) which publishes the quarterly bulletin Bibliographie de la Philosophie. L’Institut Superieure de Philosophie de l’universite Catholique de Louvain, like l’Institut International de Philosophie, has received funding from UNESCO; it publishes Repertoire bibliographique de la philosophie.
Special collections in philosophy may attempt to cover the discipline as a whole, a period of history, a special topic, or the works of a single philosopher. Many examples are listed in Subject Collections, compiled by Lee Ash and William G. Miller (7th ed., R. R . Bowker, 1993). A few special collections of note include the following:
- The House Library of Philosophy at the University of Southern California contains over 40,000 volumes and covers all time periods from medieval manuscripts to contemporary publications. A catalog of this collection was published by G. K. Hall.
- The Renaissance period is the topic of the Professor Don C. Allen Collection at the University of California, San Diego.
- The General Library of the University of Michigan has a large collection dealing with Arabic philosophy.
- The Weston College Library attempts to be comprehensive in collecting works of Catholic philosophy, and the Dominican College Library specializes in Thomist works and attempts to collect all works by Dominican authors.
- The Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania holds nearly 3,000 manuscripts of fifteenth- through nineteenth-century Hindu philosophy, religion and grammar.
- McMaster University Library in Hamilton, Ontario, holds the papers of Bertrand Russell, more than 250,000 items. Information is disseminated in Russell: The Journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives.
Blazek, Ron and Elizabeth Aversa. Humanities: a selective guide to information sources. 5th ed. Englewood, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 2000. pp. 27-39.