Editorial Introduction to the First Edition of Cosmos and History

Arran Gare and Paul Ashton

This first edition of Cosmos and History fulfils the intention of its editors to provide a forum for philosophically oriented thinkers from all disciplines to grapple with the broader questions of who we are, what is society, what is life and what is the nature of the cosmos, and to show the implications of such questions for how we set about creating the future. The very diversity of the papers in this edition should signify to potential contributors the existence of a journal that does not accept the normal disciplinary boundaries, boundaries which are increasingly closing off channels of inquiry, insulating prevailing assumptions from questioning and leaving those who dare to cross these boundaries without an audience and without a place to publish. At the same time this ambition has exposed the editors to some problems. The most important is getting referees for papers. The effect of dividing up research in academia between one thousand five hundred disciplines and sub-disciplines is that it is difficult to find scholars to judge the work that does transcend these divisions. For this reason some excellent papers submitted for the first edition will have to be published in the second edition. As part of this project we will also be accepting a limited number of articles that appear in languages other than English, provided we can secure appropriate reviewers.

At this stage, it is difficult to identify any unifying theme in the papers published, although I believe that a careful reading of them indicates an underlying commonality of interest. There is a common appreciation of the need to develop radically new ways of thinking. As the journal evolves and people respond to those papers that have been published, however, I believe themes will emerge. I hope these themes will open new horizons and embolden contributors to relate such fundamental thinking to major ethical, political and social conflicts. That is, the journal will overcome the strange view that ethical and political disputes can be understood without considering fundamental conceptions about the place of humanity in the cosmos and the dynamics of history. It is my own conviction that there is an intimate relationship between fundamental philosophical issues, science and social praxis, and that it is when these relations are appreciated that intellectual inquiry, empirical research and political praxis are at their most vigorous and creative. This is illustrated by periods of great intellectual achievement, as in Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, and late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany. The divorce of intellectual inquiry from political and practical concerns in the long run leads to intellectual stagnation, although this may take some time.

While it is the intention of the editors to give at least some place in each edition to papers on any topic, in the future it is likely that we will have special editions concentrating on particular topics. In such cases we will announce this beforehand and call for papers. In this way we hope to reach a different audience for contributors by publishing anthologies based on these topics. In the meantime, the future of the journal remains open.

Dr. Arran Gare
Philosophy and Cultural Inquiry
Swinburne University
PO Box 218
Hawthorn, 3122

Paul Ashton
Liberal Arts/Philosophy
Victoria and LaTrobe University