What is “new”?

from www.waitbutwhy.com

from www.waitbutwhy.com The blue vertical line on the right represents the CE

Did you just put in your research statement that you wrote a “new” argument in favour of Free Will, that your book offers a “new and fresh” perspective on the philosophy of history or even just that your interpretation of Plato is “completely new and compelling”? Consider reformulating.Even if Mīmāṃsā authors are not completely right and there has been a single beginning in the history of humanity, this beginning is way too far from us. Recorder history is less than the tip of the iceberg represented by human history. Furthermore, people have been thinking and questioning about philosophical subjects all over the planet, in forms which are mostly unaccessible to us even today, be it because they did not write them down or because they wrote them down in  forms we do not recognise as being philosophical (e.g., in songs) or in languages we do not understand.

Thus, there is literally no chance that you have been the first one to think about an elaborate way to rescue free will, and not even that no one before you thought of Plato in the same way you did. Saying it just makes you sound arrogant or naïve or both. Instead, just say what you want to say, e.g. “I wrote a defense of Free Will which is grounded in our common-sense feeling of being free and tries to make sense of it”, or “I think of Plato as primarily a paedagogist”.

Saying that what you did is “new” will not make it  “better” and might even harm you (if your reader happens to share my view).


Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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