Accessing the Academic World

swmirskyswmirsky Writer
edited September 4 in General Discussions
Academia is kind of a closed community. If you want in you sort of have to be in it and go to the right conferences, hobnob with the right people at the right places and, generally, publish via academic journals. There are lots of them but not really many ways to get to them (or to academic publishers) if you aren't already in that milieu. But sometimes (and this is even so historically) people from outside that milieu have had an impact on various fields within it.

In philosophy, the area I am particularly interested in, there is even a long history of self-publishing (because traditional publishing channels weren't available for the works in question due to their lack of a "name" author or the perceived lack of a potential market to sell the books and enable the the publisher to earn something on the work). Of course, academic publishers (both of journals and books) are a separate niche existing to serve members of the academy per se and there are so many academics nowadays (with universities having proliferated beyond where they stood only 150 years ago) and so much demand for publishing in the field (since you can't make hay in the academic world without publishing) that there isn't very much room for outsiders to get a hearing from among those "in the know."

In subjects like philosophy getting a hearing is especially challenging since philosophy tends to demand readers with a background in that somewhat rarified field (you have to know the lingo and the issues and they aren't the sort you hear or talk about everyday). Such potential readers are almost entirely in academia, consisting of academics who are obliged to read so much already that they don't really have time to bother with stuff from the outside. Famous self-publishers in the world of philosophy include people like the German thinker Arthur Schopenhauer who only secured a readership late in life though he had self-funded much of his own work years before. Even established figures in the academy of their day, like Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead in the early twentieth century, had to self-fund publication of their then magnum opus Principia Mathematica which sought to ground mathematics in logic. Not an especially popular topic likely to command a general audience or even a sizeable philosophical one! (Martin Stokhof writes in his book Life and World as One: A Study of Ontology and Ethics in the Early Wittgenstein, that Wittgenstein's teacher, Russell, and his co-author, Whitehead, had to take their manuscript to the printer in a baby pram because it was too heavy to carry.)

Self-publishing, in fact, has a long, if not necessarily honored, history in fields like philosophy. It's one thing to self-publish fiction or memoirs, the kinds of material that might potentially find large audiences and which, while still facing obstacles to acceptance for publication, have a greater chance of acceptance by traditional publishers. But for things like philosophy the obstacles are even greater.

Now as I come close to releasing my own small contribution to that field I find myself wondering how it might reach the audience for which it's intended. Given the self-publishing provenance, it already starts life with a stain of sorts, despite the fact that self-publishing is hardly unknown in the field. Part of the reason is that in modern academia a culture demanding "peer review" has taken hold. Adopted from the sciences in which such review by others in the field serves to filter out unsupportable claims and misstatements of fact, it is now seen as the standard in academia in general. Naturally self-publication offers us an opportunity to publish without peer review and that is a problem in itself for credibility.

But philosophy is not science and while there are issues of credibility in philosophical work, too, which are addressable by so-called peer review (is the approach used academically sophisticated and professional?), it is not the same as with the sciences. Philosophy is about opinions and analyses, not facts and using reliable information gathering methods. Thus peer review is less valuable in philosophy than in other disciplines though the academic philosophical world has adopted it as a standard in order to assume the mantle of respectability science wears.

Thus, my impending release of a work of philosophy, without formal peer review, faces additional hurdles to its credibility over and above the fact of self-publication per se. So here's my question: To what extent can Lulu offer or develop an avenue which might enable its self-publishing authors, working in an academic field, the opportunity to secure some of the credibility which traditional publishing offers? Is there a way to find some sort of peer review in a self-publishing venue? How would that even work?  

Perhaps there is no way because, frankly, I haven't been able to figure this one out. But since I am getting to the point where I will be releasing Value and Representation: Three Essays Exploring the Implications of a Pragmatic Epistemology for Moral Thought shortly, I am now naturally thinking about this other little added problem.  
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Comments

  • If you were to find an academic who wished to write a forward for you, or even to be included as a co-author, you might be able to break into the arena through the side door.

    e.g., I strongly suspect that James Patterson is making use of his name to give lesser-known co-authors a leg up, so to speak. Only his Alex Cross books are written with his name as the sole author.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Academia is kind of a closed community.

    Perhaps only if you are not an academic, or know anyone who is. Basically it only means this >> relating to education and scholarship, which surely most people have at least the former?

     If you want in you sort of have to be in it and go to the right conferences, hobnob with the right people at the right places and, generally, publish via academic journals.

    Not really because it does not really mean what you think it means. All that happens is that some well educated people do what you assume they all do.

     There are lots of them but not really many ways to get to them (or to academic publishers)

    Well, like all publishers, they will only publish what they believe has a market. However, many publishers of academic works are universities, and often the only market are the students on the course the writer is the professor of. But I have known, and still know one or two, Uni lecturers and professors, and none have done what you assume they do.

     if you aren't already in that milieu. But sometimes (and this is even so historically) people from outside that milieu have had an impact on various fields within it.

    Possibly because you mistake what the word means. People do not have to be in some sort of 'club' in order to have ideas, but very often they do need to be well educated and know what they are talking about.

    In philosophy, the area I am particularly interested in, there is even a long history of self-publishing (because traditional publishing channels weren't available for the works in question due to their lack of a "name" author or the perceived lack of a potential market to sell the books and enable the the publisher to earn something on the work).

    There's a long history of self-publishing because once there was no other way to become published, in all fields, even fiction. Very often those who published were not only well educated, but also usually rich. Books that is. Some had cheap paperback booklets churned out instead.

    Of course, academic publishers (both of journals and books) are a separate niche existing to serve members of the academy per se and there are so many academics nowadays (with universities having proliferated beyond where they stood only 150 years ago)

    Most universities in the UK are far older than that, in fact in the whole of Europe they are.

    and so much demand for publishing in the field (since you can't make hay in the academic world without publishing)

    Can you not? How do you explain teachers, etc., then?

     that there isn't very much room for outsiders to get a hearing from among those "in the know."

    I don't know where you get your assumptions from,   https://www.amazon.com/academic-Books/s?page=1&rh=n:283155,k:academic

    In subjects like philosophy getting a hearing is especially challenging since philosophy tends to demand readers with a background in that somewhat rarified field

    Why does it?

     (you have to know the lingo

    What lingo?

     and the issues and they aren't the sort you hear or talk about everyday).

    That's just nonsense. Do you not own a TV? Do you not look on magazine racks on shops? Do you not even watch the news?

     Such potential readers are almost entirely in academia, consisting of academics

    Nonsense. You are bottling philosophy down so much there will be nothing left to discuss. All it really means is putting across one's ideas on Life, the Universe and Everything, just as the ancient Greeks did around some inn table once a week as they got drunk, based on the what they believed at the time (a lot of which was nonsense.) Granted some do specialise, hence the development of Freud.

     who are obliged to read so much already that they don't really have time to bother with stuff from the outside.

    Who says they are? Who is forcing them to?

     Famous self-publishers in the world of philosophy include people like the German thinker Arthur Schopenhauer who only secured a readership late in life though he had self-funded much of his own work years before.

    He died before the advent of publishing houses.

     Even established figures in the academy of their day, like Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead in the early twentieth century, had to self-fund publication of their then magnum opus Principia Mathematica which sought to ground mathematics in logic. Not an especially popular topic likely to command a general audience or even a sizeable philosophical one! (Martin Stokhof writes in his book Life and World as One: A Study of Ontology and Ethics in the Early Wittgenstein, that Wittgenstein's teacher, Russell, and his co-authorWhithead, had to take their manuscript to the printer in a baby pram because it was too heavy to carry.)

    I am not sure what you are getting at. Earl Russell was a jack of all trades, and master of most, he was very very well known for all manner of things, and also very rich. It was not unusual in those days for such people to pay to have books printed (at a printers, not a publishers) simply to give to any one they thought may be interested. Often to people they argued with a lot. 

    Self-publishing, in fact, has a long, if not necessarily honored, history in fields like philosophy.

    And many other subjects, too.

     It's one thing to self-publish fiction or memoirs, the kinds of material that might potentially find large audiences and which, while still facing obstacles to acceptance for publication, have a greater chance of acceptance by traditional publishers. But for things like philosophy the obstacles are even greater.

    Like the 90,000 books on philosophy on Amazon? Most of which are not self-published?

    Now as I come close to releasing my own small contribution to that field I find myself wondering how it might reach the audience for which it's intended.

    Well, this chap obviously believes that his audience is very wide  >> https://www.amazon.com/William-Irwin/e/B001H9PZG2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1535412379&sr=1-2-ent and perhaps that most humans are not uneducated.

    Given the self-publishing provenance, it already starts life with a stain of sorts, despite the fact that self-publishing is hardly unknown in the field.

    A  long time ago.

     Part of the reason is that in modern academia a culture demanding "peer review" has taken hold. Adopted from the sciences in which such review by others in the field serves to filter out unsupportable claims and misstatements of fact, it is now seen as the standard in academia in general. Naturally self-publication offers us an opportunity to publish without peer review and that is a problem in itself for credibility.

    Don't be daft. Philosophy is only about an individual's ideas and theories. One person's are just as valid (or not valid) as any one else's. 

    But philosophy is not science and while there are issues of credibility in philosophical work, too, which are addressable by so-called peer review (is the approach used academically sophisticated and professional?),

    So you are saying that when a person comes up with their ideas and theories, no one else is allowed to agree with them, or in fact refute them? But historically that's exactly what happens. Some used to meet in Victorian Paris bars and argue until the absinthe and opium knocked them out.

    it is not the same as with the sciences. Philosophy is about opinions and analyses, not facts and using reliable information gathering methods.

    Gosh, it's a shame you believe it's nothing other than a brain-storming session, where 99.99% if not 100%, is rubbish? Most if not all famous ones were very well educated, and used their knowledge to come up with new ideas. They really did not just pull ideas out of their bottoms. (Or they would not still be famous, and considered to be 'Great.')

     Thus peer review is less valuable in philosophy than in other disciplines though the academic philosophical world has adopted it as a standard in order to assume the mantle of respectability science wears.

    That really is not true. If you think that then do not publish.

    Thus, my impending release of a work of philosophy, without formal peer review, faces additional hurdles to its credibility over and above the fact of self-publication per se. So here's my question: To what extent can Lulu offer or develop an avenue which might enable its self-publishing authors, working in an academic field, the opportunity to secure some of the credibility which traditional publishing offers? Is there a way to find some sort of peer review in a self-publishing venue? How would that even work?  

    Er? What has it got to do with Lulu? Don't pass the buck, it's your baby.

    Perhaps there is no way because, frankly, I haven't been able to figure this one out. But since I am getting to the point where I will be releasing Value and Representation: Three Essays Exploring the Implications of a Pragmatic Epistemology for Moral Thought shortly, I am now naturally thinking about this other little added problem. 

    No matter what anyone publishes, they are faced with that, unless they are taken up by a major publishing house, them it's the latter's problem.

    I think you are missing the point about Self-Publishing. You are missing the Self. Self includes this >>   http://www.underdown.org/publisher-expertise.htm

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 28
    I don't even know where to begin in attempting a response to Kevin who seems to have missed just about every point I was making or to have deliberately misconstrued what I said. Either way, unhelpful. So I guess I'll pass.

    Skoob_ym, you make a decent point but the problem isn't that I don't know anyone in academia but that I am reluctant to impose on them. As I wrote above, they have so many things in their field to read already! My hope is that I will have proved able to navigate the narrow course between genuinely technical philosophy which is the concern of academia and a lighter more common touch approach that will resonate with at least a few thoughtful souls who are not technically oriented in the philosophical way! And so I may find a slight audience even beyond the confines of academia.

    Historically philosophy has found a broader readership than the universities though it has grown increasingly inward looking as it has developed in the academic world. At one time philosophers spoke to a broader audience. Indeed, the very idea of philosophy departments in universities and colleges was a late development as the field spawned its own specialists and they sought to carve out a unique domain for their subject matter. William James was a medical doctor by trade, C. S. Peirce various things including a mathematician and government worker. Bertrand Russell a mathematician and Ludwig Wittgenstein had his training in engineering and aeronautics. In other venues philosophers were writers, grounded in literature.

    In the late 19th century the formal study of philosophy took hold in Germany and spread abroad until now we have philosophers everywhere and they are busy trying to carve out niches for themselves, achieve tenure, etc. To do that (at least in America) one is expected to publish so they spend a lot of time developing material for publication and a small industry of university presses and academic publishers has grown up to serve this niche and, of course, the idea of peer review has spilled over into that industry from the scientific domain since the average editor isn't really going to be qualified to do any serious editing on a philosophical work -- which generally makes use of specialized terms (jargon that has developed in philosophical discourse, which differs from venue to venue, by the way, the Anglo-American being different from the European or "Continental" tradition -- the same is true of their areas of interest).

    To edit a work of philosophy the would-be editor has to be conversant with the terms and concepts they express as well as the issues they seek to address or he or she will not be able to make sense of what is being said. It's not like editing a piece of fiction or non-fiction for clarity, effective usage, style and the like. Many philosophical works take some time to acclimate to as the reader must gradually build up familiarity with the author's vocabulary. The reason for that, of course, is that philosophy, being about concepts, ideas (how we think about this or that) leads to some very difficult text. And the more rarified the concepts, the more abstract or unique the insights developed (assuming there are some)  and, therefore, the more idiosyncratic the usage of language in explicating the material.

    I have indeed thought of seeking a foreword or just feedback from philosophers I respect or admire but there are few I know directly and those I do I prefer to leave alone. Besides, up until now I have pretty much driven myself crazy trying to get my explication right. Every time I had thought it was done I came to the conclusion it wasn't. I did run a very early draft past one professional philosopher I know and he was kind in his response but his lack of serious comment told me that what I had written hadn't yet rung the bell, so to speak. So I went back to the drawing board and for the past two and a half years have been writing and revising, trying to make it better, get it right. I think I am pretty much there now, or as "there" as I am likely to get at this particular moment in my life so I hope to finalize and release the new book after seeing the most recent proof I have ordered (assuming it is satisfactory to my often self-critical eye). But I don't want to pester the guy again so I think this time I will just plunge in and release it and then maybe send him and a few others I know review copies to see if they want to say anything nice about it!

    There's always risk at this stage but the point is to offer something in a public way that may possibly contribute to the philosophical discussion going forward. And you have to start somewhere. And risk being told you've mucked it up! 
  • I think you might be surprised. It's always best to be prepared for your works to receive a chilly reception, but that's not necessarily the case. I was pleasantly surprised that one of my books had a spike in sales last month, even though I've done almost nothing to promote it.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I don't even know where to begin in attempting a response to Kevin who seems to have missed just about every point I was making or to have deliberately misconstrued what I said. Either way, unhelpful. So I guess I'll pass.

    That is because what I say does not fit in to your very rigid mind-set. All I say is very valid if you bothered to research it for yourself.

    Skoob_ym, you make a decent point but the problem isn't that I don't know anyone in academia but that I am reluctant to impose on them.

    But all he has said is what I have said. Expect a few bad responses. That's the way it works, especially on the internet. To not expect any, or even not be prepared for them, or even get depressed over them and blame everything on them,  is very blinkered.

     As I wrote above, they have so many things in their field to read already!

    I don't know why you assume they have the time or inclination to sit down and read every publication in their field, because they do not. However, the reason there may be so much stuff is >> because people keep publishing it! So assume that they don't think >> "no point publishing more because there's enough already." Then again, have you not been saying that there's not many books around on philosophy, that only professors etc., read them? Do you bother clicking my links that proves otherwise?

     My hope is that I will have proved able to navigate the narrow course between genuinely technical philosophy which is the concern of academia and a lighter more common touch approach that will resonate with at least a few thoughtful souls who are not technically oriented in the philosophical way! And so I may find a slight audience even beyond the confines of academia.

    What? You mean like this well-known writer? (Repeated link >  https://www.amazon.com/William-Irwin/e/B001H9PZG2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1535412379&sr=1-2-ent   )

    Historically philosophy has found a broader readership than the universities though it has grown increasingly inward looking as it has developed in the academic world.

    No it's not. Just because you insist on believing some things does not make them true.

    At one time philosophers spoke to a broader audience.

    No they did not. The mainly spoke to people who could afford books, and actually had the education to be able to read, which were very few.

    Indeed, the very idea of philosophy departments in universities and colleges was a late development as the field spawned its own specialists and they sought to carve out a unique domain for their subject matter. William James was a medical doctor by trade, C. S. Peirce various things including a mathematician and government worker. Bertrand Russell a mathematician and Ludwig Wittgenstein had his training in engineering and aeronautics. In other venues philosophers were writers, grounded in literature.

    In the late 19th century the formal study of philosophy took hold in Germany and spread abroad until now we have philosophers everywhere and they are busy trying to carve out niches for themselves, achieve tenure, etc.

    Are you joking? Look up British philosophers and the dates they were around. I will give you an example. https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/john-locke-134.php

     To do that (at least in America) one is expected to publish so they spend a lot of time developing material for publication and a small industry of university presses and academic publishers has grown up to serve this niche and, of course, the idea of peer review has spilled over into that industry from the scientific domain since the average editor isn't really going to be qualified to do any serious editing on a philosophical work -- which generally makes use of specialized terms (jargon that has developed in philosophical discourse, which differs from venue to venue, by the way, the Anglo-American being different from the European or "Continental" tradition -- the same is true of their areas of interest).

    To edit a work of philosophy the would-be editor has to be conversant with the terms and concepts they express as well as the issues they seek to address or he or she will not be able to make sense of what is being said. It's not like editing a piece of fiction or non-fiction for clarity, effective usage, style and the like. Many philosophical works take some time to acclimate to as the reader must gradually build up familiarity with the author's vocabulary. The reason for that, of course, is that philosophy, being about concepts, ideas (how we think about this or that) leads to some very difficult text. And the more rarified the concepts, the more abstract or unique the insights developed (assuming there are some)  and, therefore, the more idiosyncratic the usage of language in explicating the material.

    I have indeed thought of seeking a foreword or just feedback from philosophers I respect or admire but there are few I know directly and those I do I prefer to leave alone. Besides, up until now I have pretty much driven myself crazy trying to get my explication right. Every time I had thought it was done I came to the conclusion it wasn't. I did run a very early draft past one professional philosopher I know and he was kind in his response but his lack of serious comment told me that what I had written hadn't yet rung the bell, so to speak. So I went back to the drawing board and for the past two and a half years have been writing and revising, trying to make it better, get it right. I think I am pretty much there now, or as "there" as I am likely to get at this particular moment in my life so I hope to finalize and release the new book after seeing the most recent proof I have ordered (assuming it is satisfactory to my often self-critical eye). But I don't want to pester the guy again so I think this time I will just plunge in and release it and then maybe send him and a few others I know review copies to see if they want to say anything nice about it!

    There's always risk at this stage but the point is to offer something in a public way that may possibly contribute to the philosophical discussion going forward. And you have to start somewhere. And risk being told you've mucked it up! 

    Well, OK, although you say what I reply is not worth reading, you indeed do read it, because you actually slightly adjust what you type next to try to vindicate what you believe, but also partly to agree with me. Anyway Last word from me. "No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience."

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 29
    Yes, Skoob_ym, not everything we write is going to be met with applause. There are also disdain, sharp criticisms and total indifference. For philosophy I would say the latter is the worst (as my first effort in the field showed me!). Also pretty bad is a complete missing of the point coupled with uncomprehending criticisms. I don't have especially high hopes for this new one but perhaps you know how it is, sometimes we need to get stuff off our chests!

    In this case I had played around for years after leaving college with adding something to the philosophical corpus. I chose not to go on in philosophy because, frankly, I wasn't sure I was good enough and doubted I would ever have a genuine contribution to make. So I went to work as a low level field worker and wrote fiction in my spare time which went nowhere. One day my wife said I had to stop mucking around. It was clear I was never going to make it as a writer so I better do something else to make a decent living. So I bought a few suits, upped my game, and slowly rose up in the bureaucracy until, in my later years, I was running a department of around 450 people in a major municipal agency. When I retired I decided to try my hand at the writing game again and kvs was my first go at it (although I had actually written and published it while still working but its surprising small success encouraged me to keep at it). As you know by now, I couldn't find a publisher for kvs and after two years of trying I decided to do it myself (because the advent of POD and internet book selling made that economical). To my surprise I had some decent results and so, in retirement,  I have continued to pursue my writing objectives.

    Nothing I've written since (and I'm not terribly prolific) has had the impact kvs did though, partly because I haven't really completed a second project of the same scope and partly because I am just a slow writer -- somewhat of a perfectionist I fear. But before going back to the second major historical novel I have wanted to write I decided to get some of my old philosophical stuff off my chest. The first philosophy book made no ripples at all, probably because it didn't deserve to. It was just a compilation of a bunch of essays I had written on similar themes over the preceding decade, many for online sites where I had a presence. But when I looked back at it I realized that I never did give a full and detailed account of my sense of the ethical which was what the bulk of the second book was about. I explored the issues in those essays, touched on what I took to be the salient points and came to some general conclusions. But all of that still seemed to me to have basically been beating around the bush.

    And so I decided a couple of years ago that, before trying to complete my second historical novel (the one that had been prematurely aborted by the flood that swamped our area in 2012, destroying all my manuscripts, files, back up drives and research), I would have another go at explaining myself vis a vis the matter of moral theory. I think I really do, finally, have something worthwhile to say on this particular philosophical subject, but I go into this recognizing that, as an outsider, I will continue to lack visibility in the world of professional philosophy and that, because I am taking on a fairly technical philosophical subject in a technical way, the new book is also unlikely to appeal to a general audience. It's technical philosophy, not self-help or feel-good boosterism.

    So yes, I have no illusions on this score, but sometimes you just have to say what's on your mind and to hell with whether anyone else cares or not. But, of course, that will not be the case with my hopefully soon-to-be-completed new historical novel nor was I especially indifferent to how the first one was received!   
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Kevin hit upon probably the biggest hurdle you have to face in being taken seriously by academia: credentials. I hadn’t the time or patience to wade through the mass of correspondence in this thread to know whether or not you have addressed this. And by credentials, I should add, I mean both education and prior publications. If you don’t have an academic background in philosophy or previous publications that have met with at least some respect if not acceptance, you have an uphill battle ahead of you,

    By the way, you are not entirely correct in your fears regarding editors of philosophical works. First of all, these editors are familiar with the subject—it’s why they get assigned these books—and they will, if necessary, request independent expert review of a MS.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 31
    Thanks for your suggestions, Ron Miller. Credentials matter but I'm too old these days to want to spend a lot of time building entry into the world of academia from the ground up so I will just do as I have done before and publish once I am satisfied I have produced a decent book which is to say that the ideas are clear and, to my mind, correct, and that I have purged as many typos and poorly structured sentences as I can. Having now re-read and re-done the manuscript multiple times over the past two plus years and having ordered more proofs than I am prepared to count, I think, if the last proof looks okay (I probably won't go over it cover to cover again), I will just pull the proverbial trigger and see what happens.

    I would certainly have liked entre to the academic world where the audience for this sort of work exists, but I am prepared to forego that in order to put my ideas into publicly available printed form. I don't expect to sell lots of copies of this book, only to make it available in the hope that some day some who have a philosophical inclination will find this work and maybe recognize that I have left a substantive contribution to the discussion. I will leave off any hope for sales and broader opportunities to the fiction I hope to get back to next.

    By the way, I do have an academic background in philosophy though I quit grad school before taking a degree in that subject, so it's not as if I'm a complete tyro in the field. And I am fairly well read and have had numerous online discussions with various individuals from the grad school level to the professorial, so I'm not too worried about not having an understanding of the issues. My only concern is whether or not what I have to say will add something to the discourse. I obviously think it will, of course, or I would not be bothering with publishing this work now

    Oh and my reference to editors in this case is to the run-of the-mill editor-for-hire that we usually have recourse to in POD. Obviously editors in the service of publishers who are in the business of putting out works of academic philosophy would be a different kettle of fish.

    But since I am skipping that whole business those editors are not available to me, you see.  
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Given what you just wrote I must have completely misunderstood the concern expressed in the title of this thread—“Accessing the Academic World”—since this appears to be in fact the least of your concerns.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 30
    Not at all. But it is ancillary to my decision to publish the book. The point of the initial post was to raise the issue in order to discover if there is a way, VIA Lulu, to get some exposure in the academic world. I am already well aware of what's needed following the usual methods.
  • I can understand your point, having spent my years of youth and strength in less glorious pursuits. I thought then to make my way as a writer, but I found that I lacked the voice and the experience to make my stories ring true. Now, looking back, I see that my seemingly vain youth has formed a foundation upon which I may build.

    Philosophy -- The Love of Wisdom -- is built upon experience. Talent in philosophy may fall to the young, but an older man has not only that talent, but wisdom and skill as well. Or perhaps I should say, "some older men have."

    When I read, in high school, of Camus' Stranger, I knew immediately why he had shot the Arab five times. But just as Mersault could not explain it to the judge, I could not have explained it myself until many decades of contemplation filled out my understanding. You see, in the heat of the moment, with the sun in his eyes, and the threat still palpable in his mind, it was the only thing he could possibly have done. And experience also teaches us why the court could not understand; not only were they not there when it happened, they reasoned as those who have never felt the heat of the moment -- "C'etait chaud..."

    I think you will find this true with yourself as well. While in your youth, you might not have been qualified to write philosophy and to add to the corpus, you now stand on a different plateau, with decades of experience. You have scrutinized the decisions of your fellow humans, subjected them in your mind to the tests you think most fair, and have derived from that your own observations on the ability to know right from wrong. This wisdom deserves to be shared.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 31
    Well, as to "wisdom" I dunno, Skoob_ym. But maybe something worth adding to the discussion re: what underlies our moral beliefs and judgments and how we come to make them (and why we take doing some things to be better than doing others vis a vis our fellow human beings and, more broadly, all creatures at some level. My goals are modest). I just want to add something substantive to the conversation. But wisdom is probably beyond me.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited August 31
    swmirsky said:
    Not at all. But it is ancillary to my decision to publish the book. The point of the initial post was to raise the issue in order to discover if there is a way, VIA Lulu, to get some exposure in the academic world. I am already well aware of what's needed following the usual methods.
    Given the issues already attached to self-published books—whether through Lulu or any other venue—I would think that the difficulties in getting a book accepted by the academic world would only be exacerbated. Especially since, as you yourself have explained, you have “skipped the whole business” of having independent, objective editorial input and have instead opted to self-edit...with the attending lack of objectivity and expert input. I can’t think of anything Lulu offers that would overcome this barrier you have created. The only thing you might do that I can think of has already been suggested: find someone with a known and respected name in the field to provide a foreword, preface or introduction...or at the very least, a favorable quote. For instance, in the past I have gotten forewords or introductions by people such as Ray Bradbury, Arthur Schlesinger and Arthur C. Clarke, which I am sure added credibility to my work. The only other possibility would be to try to get your book reviewed in respected journals and other publications.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Well, as to "wisdom" I dunno, Skoob_ym. But maybe something worth adding to the discussion re: what underlies our     moral beliefs and judgments and how we come to make them (and why we take doing some things to be better than doing others vis a vis our fellow human beings and, more broadly, all creatures at some level.    My goals are modest. I just want to add something substantive to the conversation. But wisdom is probably beyond me.

    Unless you have done a massive amount of  expert studies on 10,000s of people, as some experts indeed have, over the centuries, then you can only write about your (see above Bold.) In fact you are not considering philosophy, but Sociology, which is a skilled science requiring years of training, as one of my sons can testify.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    A lot of the advice, and even information, given in this thread is being shrugged off or totally ignored out of hand. The OP seems to be typing so much here that I wonder if it's just procrastination? I would suggest that if he thinks he can write his book, he should just get on with it, and unfortunately, not one will help him write, publish, or 'break' in to the market unless he pays them.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited August 31
    Well, if there's nothing Lulu has that can do anything like what I was suggesting and no one here has any suggestions (other than go the usual, non-self-publishing route OR try to appeal to people in the field for some support which I've already considered) then I guess this particular line of inquiry is a bust. It was worth a try though.

    As to Kevin's points, he apparently misunderstands the distinction between philosophy and sociology (as he had previously imagined that philosophy is just a matter of expressing any old opinion we happen to hold about stuff) but, given past experience, I doubt there is much to be gained by trying to explain it further here. I will note one thing though: The term "philosophy," as with so many words, has more than one meaning though its various uses are related to one another.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies," which Hamlet tells his friend, recounting his encounter with the apparition of his dead father, may be read as referring to one's general beliefs and attitudes towards life. We may have a philosophy of live and let live, for instance, or "do as I say." But it could also refer to a general outlook any of us may have about the world, much of it not consciously expressed or to more formal thinking on Horatio's part about how things are in the world (since we are given to understand that Hamlet and he are students and have studied in the university of their day).

    Philosophy in this academic sense descends from the first efforts of the ancient Greeks to explain their world, picked up in the Middle Ages when Christian scholars and religious teachers sought to reconcile the works of Aristotle (one of the premier philosophers of the ancient Greeks, whose work just happened to have been preserved in part in Muslim lands and then brought to the attention of European Christendom as a result of the Crusades) with Christian doctrine. Philosophy then took off in the Enlightenment era in Europe with a series of philosophers (Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hume, Berkeley and Kant) who sought to reconcile the older Greek/Christian tradition with the emerging sciences in the West, giving rise to the modern philosophical tradition we have today about which much more can be said, of course.

    So philosophy, while quite diverse in form and content (see the modern split between the Anglo-American Empiricist tradition, which harks back to Locke and Hume and the so-called Continental tradition, which harks back to Kant and the German Idealists who followed him and morphed into Phenomenology, Existentialism, Structuralism and Deconstructionism). Anyway, none of this is sociology which is not to imply sociology isn't up to snuff. It's just not philosophy (though we can have a philosophy of sociology just as we have philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, etc.).  

    Thanks again for all the feedback -- though I guess, under the circumstances, I'll just proceed as planned.
  • To add on: even the sciences have a philosophy behind them. Any approach to science can be considered a philosophy, whether it is the "matchless method" per se, or falsification, or meta-studies, &c.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Well, if there's nothing Lulu has that can do anything like what I was suggesting and no one here has any suggestions

    Lulu is a portal for Self-Publishers. It's not operate as an Agent.

    (other than go the usual, non-self-publishing route OR try to appeal to people in the field for some support which I've already considered)

    Then why have you not done so, rather than procrastinating in here for months?

     then I guess this particular line of inquiry is a bust. It was worth a try though.

    What's that saying? "God helps those that helps themselves."

    As to Kevin's points, he apparently misunderstands the distinction between philosophy and sociology

    No, you do not know the difference. What you described as wishing to write about is exactly Sociology.

    Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and culture. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. Many sociologists aim to conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
    Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
    If you cannot see the distinction then you are not the person to write such a book.

    (as he had previously imagined that philosophy is just a matter of expressing any old opinion we happen to hold about stuff)

    No, I did not say any old opinion. Many  were/are very well educated people with deep understanding of life. All the same they were/are, only using educated guesses with no scientific research at all. Expressing an opinion. Now, and they have been able to do for decades, they can use scientific methods to actually work out if their theories are correct, there's no need to try to guess. I have no idea what philosophers even do nowadays.

    but, given past experience, I doubt there is much to be gained by trying to explain it further here.

    Indeed not, because you are simply single minded and will not except other opinions, that are even proven to be facts!

     I will note one thing though: The term "philosophy," as with so many words, has more than one meaning though its various uses are related to one another.

    Not really it has not, it generally means the pursuit of wisdom. To that end, once it was possible to actually use research methods, including instruments, it developed in to many fields of actual science.

    Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about life the universe and everything.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies," which Hamlet tells his friend, recounting his encounter with the apparition of his dead father, may be read as referring to one's general beliefs and attitudes towards life.

    Not really, he was just calling him stupid.

     We may have a philosophy of live and let live, for instance, or "do as I say." But it could also refer to a general outlook any of us may have about the world, much of it not consciously expressed or to more formal thinking on Horatio's part about how things are in the world (since we are given to understand that Hamlet and he are students and have studied in the university of their day).

    Er, only you understand it as that ...

    Philosophy in this academic sense descends from the first efforts of the ancient Greeks to explain their world, picked up in the Middle Ages when Christian scholars and religious teachers sought to reconcile the works of Aristotle (one of the premier philosophers of the ancient Greeks, whose work just happened to have been preserved in part in Muslim lands and then brought to the attention of European Christendom as a result of the Crusades) with Christian doctrine.

    What about the other 356 ancient Greek philosophers? You are also assuming that communication between areas and cultures even in Plato's time was very limited, it was not. Knowledge, news and stories from far off lands were very tradable. You are also forgetting that the Romans trundled across the continent taking their learning with them.

     Philosophy then took off

    Did it go away then? Although the Roman Catholic Church did have the habit of killing anyone who had ideas that contradicted them. Having ideas in those days was very dangerous.

     in the Enlightenment era in Europe with a series of philosophers (Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hume, Berkeley and Kant) who sought to reconcile the older Greek/Christian tradition with the emerging sciences in the West, giving rise to the modern philosophical tradition we have today about which much more can be said, of course.

    It's somewhat telling that 'Modern Philosophy' refers to it 200 years ago. What does it do now?

    So philosophy, while quite diverse in form and content (see the modern split between the Anglo-American Empiricist tradition,

    It's just an old word for the beginning of  the science of Sociology.

     which harks back to Locke and Hume and the so-called Continental tradition, which harks back to Kant and the German Idealists who followed him and morphed into Phenomenology, Existentialism, Structuralism and Deconstructionism). Anyway, none of this is sociology which is not to imply sociology isn't up to snuff. It's just not philosophy (though we can have a philosophy of sociology just as we have philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, etc.).  

    The thing is though, what do YOU think? Did you not say in another thread that all those prior to you were wrong? Just as you say I am wrong? Gosh.

    Thanks again for all the feedback -- though I guess, under the circumstances, I'll just proceed as planned.

    Indeed, I have no idea what you expect from other people. It's your bag, open it. 

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited September 3
    In response to the question, "What does Philosophy do today then?"
    What is commonly thought of as the most modern philosophical movement (not modernism, which is entirely different) begins with existentialism, which arose after WW1 and is generally embodied by the feeling that "what you see is what you get," that is to say, one can only rely upon the tangible things. Existentialism expanded after WW2, and dominated much of the literary thought of the 50s and 60s.
    Two classic existential works (if you are inclined to know more, rather than pontificating blindly) would be The Seventh Seal, a 1957 film by Ingmar Bergman, and The Stranger, by Albert Camus. In both cases, we are presented with an unsolvable issue. In the first, Bergman raises the problem of death, that is, "Seeing that we are all going to die, and that our human works are therefore mortal and futile as well, and that we know it, how then should we live?" The answers range the gamut: The Knight proposes to make a pact with the Bishop; The Squire attempts to live bravely and morally despite his mortality; Others engage in hedonism or in religiosity as antidotes for their fear of dying.
    The problem is never resolved.*
    In The Stranger, (1942) Albert Camus addresses the issue of human justice and impartiality. He particularly addresses the issue that we cannot fully understand other humans and their motivations; how then can we judge them fairly? We see in the trial of Mersault, first that he is accused of killing an Arab, but is actually on trial for not loving his mother enough; and second that he did not merely shoot the Arab once, but five times, and the final four bullets suggest not self-defense but instead passionate hatred (malice aforethought) even though Mersault tells them that "C'etait chaud," that is, in the oppressive Algerian heat, he could do nothing else in that moment. Vonnegut would say that "The moment was structured that way."
    Existential thought has moved into the current time period through writings such as Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1969) and Breakfast of Champions, (1973) to name two examples. In these books, Vonnegut takes up the mantle of Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924), drawing examples of absurd things done in various causes, and looking in vain for a higher meaning. He suggests, as did Kafka, that our highest and most glorious aspirations are actually founded in our more base desires. Both writers (Kafka with subtlety, and Vonnegut with brazen lampoons) illustrate that few humans are ever fully rational, even for brief periods.
    Existentialism, with its underlying (but unstated, and often masked) question of the ultimate meaning of life, is slowly fading in the post-millennial period, and is being replaced with a new form of hedonism. This new form often takes on a crusade of some sort as its driving force, using that as an assumed (but unstated) meaning of life. The principal error here is the (perhaps deliberate) conflation of "a meaningful life" (i.e. having a temporal meaning in the historical context of this period) and "The meaning of Life" (i.e. the ultimate and enduring purpose for which the human race, and any individual human specifically, exists and should exist).
    That is what Philosophy is doing these days.
    ____________________________

    * While Bergman leaves the question unanswered, I did address the question in one of my books, The Atheist's Tale, in which a young lady envisions a television talk show panel consisting of Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Solomon of Jerusalem, and C. S. Lewis. Solomon raises the problem of human mortality, and from there, the fun begins.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited September 3
    Well not all philosophy is doing that, Skoob_ym. But yes, that is some of what philosophy is engaged in. But even Existentialism, which is the tradition that directs philosophical considerations to the conditions of our lives, to the status of being alive and embedded in a world that is ultimately more than we are, in which we may feel lost or abandoned, is fading today. Philosophy in Europe has moved on to structuralism and post-structuralism and deconstructionism, methods that hinge on finding the societal tethers that bind us culturally and individually and trying to use philosophy to break them loose. Someone like Derrida argued that EVERYTHING is "text" and that text is created and enforced by men.

    I am not from that philosophical tradition, however, but from the Anglo-American analytical tradition which is more science oriented and more empiricist in approach. In the analytical traditions (I pluralize it because there are more than one when you think about it), philosophy is more interested in piecemeal work rather than grand design philosophy. Analytic and post-Analytic thinkers focus on small problems (or, if they are in the Wittgensteinian camp, reject the idea of specifically philosophical problems entirely). Analytic thinkers are more interested in how language structures our thought about things while Continental thinkers (including Existentialists) are more interested in how language structures our lives, how we see ourselves and what we do in the world.

    The Continental tradition is famous for its difficult and highly idiosyncratic vocabularies, its grand themes and its focus on selfhood while the Analytic tradition is famous for its narrow scope, its vision of language as constraining our understanding and its focus on tightly structured research directed at resolving small problems about what things mean and so forth. Continental philosophers tend to favor great master works and are often accused of obscurantism. Analytic philosophers favor more manageable books of lesser scope and are often accused of triviality, of saying things that are already obvious.

    This doesn't give a complete account of the two traditions, of course, because on the analytic side we have people like Robert Brandom who write huge books and essay massive theories but for the most part the great systematizers of the past (like Hegel, Schelling, Fichte, Schopenhauer and even Husserl)  have their descendants primarily on the Continental side of the philosophical divide. The English Empiricists (like Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Berkeley and Mill) have their descendants in the likes of Russell and Moore and the later analytical school which includes Wittgenstein, though in many ways he is more like some of the great Continental thinkers of the past than the Empiricists within whose tradition he was trained.

    By the way, I'm just about ready to go with my own small contribution and small it is, deliberately so, as I wanted to avoid writing a massive tome which no one is going to read anyway. If no one's going to read it why do a 500 page magnum opus, eh? Besides, given the issues with POD, a major tome would have been prohibitively expensive even on amazon!

    (Thanks for weighing in on the philosophical question though. I at least enjoy such exchanges!)   
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    In response to the question, "What does Philosophy do today then?"
    What is commonly thought of as the most modern philosophical movement (not modernism, which is entirely different) begins with existentialism, which arose after WW1 and is generally embodied by the feeling that "what you see is what you get," that is to say, one can only rely upon the tangible things. Existentialism expanded after WW2, and dominated much of the literary thought of the 50s and 60s.

    So did LSD ... But you are spreading Philosophy a bit thin, there, but I suppose it has to be, since actual  real Science took it over. Perhaps I should have said, what practical use is Philosophy today?

     
    Two classic existential works (if you are inclined to know more, rather than pontificating blindly)

    Did you mean me there?! Well how rude. As I have said before, we are both sat on the internet, where it's easy to instantly look up the actual meaning of words, and the history of all types of beliefs and disciplines.

     would be The Seventh Seal, a 1957 film by Ingmar Bergman, and The Stranger, by Albert Camus. In both cases, we are presented with an unsolvable issue. In the first, Bergman raises the problem of death, that is, "Seeing that we are all going to die, and that our human works are therefore mortal and futile as well, and that we know it, how then should we live?" The answers range the gamut: The Knight proposes to make a pact with the Bishop; The Squire attempts to live bravely and morally despite his mortality; Others engage in hedonism or in religiosity as antidotes for their fear of dying.
    The problem is never resolved.*

    And so?


    In The Stranger, (1942) Albert Camus addresses the issue of human justice and impartiality. He particularly addresses the issue that we cannot fully understand other humans and their motivations; how then can we judge them fairly? We see in the trial of Mersault, first that he is accused of killing an Arab, but is actually on trial for not loving his mother enough; and second that he did not merely shoot the Arab once, but five times, and the final four bullets suggest not self-defense but instead passionate hatred (malice aforethought) even though Mersault tells them that "C'etait chaud," that is, in the oppressive Algerian heat, he could do nothing else in that moment. Vonnegut would say that "The moment was structured that way."

    So it's just like I said then (a few times) It's really Psychology, the scientific study of the human mind, and not Philosophy guessing what goes on in it.


    Existential thought has moved into the current time period through writings such as Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1969) and Breakfast of Champions, (1973) to name two examples.

    1973 is hardly current.

     In these books, Vonnegut takes up the mantle of Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924), drawing examples of absurd things done in various causes, and looking in vain for a higher meaning. He suggests, as did Kafka, that our highest and most glorious aspirations are actually founded in our more base desires.

    Indeed, I did that in college in the 1980s, It's called the human needs pyramid, which if I recall rightly, is an inverted one and starts off with a basic need then slowly moves up the levels to wants.

     Both writers (Kafka with subtlety, and Vonnegut with brazen lampoons) illustrate that few humans are ever fully rational, even for brief periods.
    Existentialism, with its underlying (but unstated, and often masked) question of the ultimate meaning of life, is slowly fading in the post-millennial period, and is being replaced with a new form of hedonism. This new form often takes on a crusade of some sort as its driving force, using that as an assumed (but unstated) meaning of life. The principal error here is the (perhaps deliberate) conflation of "a meaningful life" (i.e. having a temporal meaning in the historical context of this period) and "The meaning of Life" (i.e. the ultimate and enduring purpose for which the human race, and any individual human specifically, exists and should exist).
    That is what Philosophy is doing these days.

    No, the sciences of Psychology and Sociology are, not to mention watching how the mind actually works using scanning technology.

    The bottom line of humans is that they are just vessels for passing on immortal DNA.
    ____________________________

    * While Bergman leaves the question unanswered, I did address the question in one of my books, The Atheist's Tale, in which a young lady envisions a television talk show panel consisting of Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Solomon of Jerusalem, and C. S. Lewis. Solomon raises the problem of human mortality, and from there, the fun begins.

    I recall a BBC documentary in which they did exactly that, but including a few Greeks too. (All actors, obviously.) They spent most of the time disagreeing with each other.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Anyway, it's a real shame that no one else is involved in this discussion. The forums are dying.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • The bottom line of humans is that they are just vessels for passing on immortal DNA.

    That, in itself, is a philosophy. And if you wanted to know what was wrong with it, you'd read Solomon's Ecclesiastes.
  • (Thanks for weighing in on the philosophical question though. I at least enjoy such exchanges!)  In the words of Vonnegut, the moment was structured that way. :)

    I have given some thought to the idea of trying to wrap my head around Godel one of these days, but I've been hesitant to commit so much time and work. His philosophy is largely buried in mathematics, though, like Russell and sometimes Dodgson, he can rise out of it into pure philosophy per se.


  • swmirskyswmirsky Writer
    edited September 4
    You might like Alfred North Whitehead then. A collaborator of Russell on Principia Ethica, he moved in an entirely different direction, embracing a form of speculative metaphysics which Russell increasingly rejected despite his Logical Atomism, itself an excursion into the rarified fields of the metaphysical!

    https://www.amazon.com/Process-Lectures-Delivered-University-Edinburgh/dp/0029345707
  • "Whitehead's background was an unusual one for a speculative philosopher. Educated as a mathematician, he became, through his coauthorship and 1913 publication of Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell, a major logician. Later he wrote extensively on physics and its philosophy, proposing a theory of gravity in Minkowski space as a logically possible alternative to Einstein's general theory of relativity. Whitehead's Process and Reality[1] is perhaps his philosophical master work."

    He's interesting though not my particular cup of tea!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_and_Reality
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    That, in itself, is a philosophy. And if you wanted to know what was wrong with it, you'd read Solomon's Ecclesiastes.

    No it's not. It's a biological fact. Hence  one of humans' basic Needs.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I think you two should get a room.


    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Some people have to be shown, because discourse alone isn't enough. Here are nine definitions of "philosophy." None of them confuse the practice of philosophy with what we now call the sciences (including social science contra Kevin), even if it is common knowledge that the sciences (including social science) as we have them today grew out of the early efforts of philosophers to think about their world:

    https://www.philosophybasics.com/general_whatis.html

    Why so many variations in the definition?

    Aside from the fact that words, generally, lend themselves to variant descriptions of their meanings (how we use them),  the specific word "philosophy," because of its subject matter (see the link), deals with a more abstract level of thought than disciplines which concern themselves with things like how do we get to the moon or cure diseases?

    Kevin asked what was the practical point of philosophical musings anyway as he proceeded to conflate it all with the sciences. Well the answer is that philosophy, while it may study the practical (e.g., science, ethics), isn't intended to be practical itself. Its aim is not to build bridges or airplanes or MRIs. It's to understand what goes into gathering and applying the knowledge needed to do those kinds of things.

    Our practices are part of our forms of life and it is these, our forms of life (see Wittgenstein), that determine how and what we come to think about things.

    Philosophy, in its many forms, concerns itself with how and what we think about stuff whether that's the getting of knowledge about the physical world or just living in it and/or wondering how and why it came to be.

    Philosophy ain't science even if, at one time, the distinction between these types of discipline was less clear -- and if you go back far enough no such distinction existed at all.
  • I think you two should get a room.

    Kevin, I would agree with you sometimes if only you were not wrong all the time. It might serve you well to question your assumptions.

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