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  • Keeping the Journal Alive
  • David Fate Norton (bio)

I have been asked to say a few words about the founding of the Journal of the History of Philosophy, to reflect on my editorship, and to comment on “how the Journal has developed and changed over the years.” I will have space to say very little about the last item, and so I have confined my essay to three sometimes overlapping parts:

  1. 1. The Founding of the Journal and its Early Years at the University of California, San Diego.

  2. 2. My Years as Executive Editor.

  3. 3. My Years as Editor.

1. The Founding of the Journal and Its Early Years at UCSD

A detailed account of “the Founding of the Journal of the History of Philosophy” has been provided in Ed Strong’s article with exactly that title in JHP 25.1: 178–83.1 But some routinely overlooked details found in that article bear repeating here. The first Editors of the Journal were two Co-Editors, Wallace Matson of the University of California, Berkeley, and Richard H. Popkin, then at the Claremont Colleges. “Unfortunately,” Strong reported, “co-equal authority produced more conflict than concurrence in judging papers and in deciding on editorial policies and objectives.” In order to “escape from this impasse,” Benson Mates (also of UC Berkeley) was appointed Editor, and Popkin made Associate Editor. Near the end of 1962, “at Mates’ request, the roles were reversed and their names appeared in this order when the JHP began publishing in 1963” (JHP 25.1: 182–83).2 [End Page 153]

In the fall of 1963, UCSD, previously devoted entirely to science and mathematics, welcomed the first of four humanities departments: History, Literature, Linguistics and Languages, and Philosophy. Richard Popkin, Chairman of the new Philosophy Department, had established the editorial office of the Journal within the precincts of his new department. For my part, during the previous two years I had taken four history of philosophy seminars with Popkin while completing an M.A. at Claremont Graduate School. At Popkin’s invitation, I moved to UCSD to do my Ph.D. Once there I was offered and quickly accepted a Research Assistantship associated with the Journal as an Editorial Assistant. I continued in this position through the end of 1964. In 1965, as the Journal expanded from a biannual to a quarterly, I became the first Assistant Editor in its short history. This position I held for six years, during one of which, 1966/67, I served as Acting Editor while Popkin was on sabbatical leave.

2. My Five Years as Executive Editor

Unlike those who have been chosen as Journal Editors because they were well-established scholars, I think the record shows that I became Editor of the Journal in large part because of my experience with it.

During the first two years of my move to McGill University (first, from January–April, 1971, and then permanently in January, 1972), I served as one of several Book Review Editors of the Journal. In 1973 I succeeded Mates as Associate Editor and was appointed to the Board of Directors. As a member of the Board I was present at the meeting during which Popkin requested that he be given, beginning in 1975, a leave of indeterminate length, and that during this leave an Executive Editor carry out the day-to-day work of editing the Journal. I was also present at the Board meeting during which the well-known scholar who had agreed to accept this position announced that he had changed his mind, that he would not accept the position of Executive Editor. Following this show-stopping announcement, seeing that both Popkin and the Journal were left in a difficult situation, I rashly offered to take on the role of Executive Editor. This offer was approved by the remaining Board members present.

My offer was rash because, as is obvious, I had had no opportunity to prepare for support from McGill, and in the long run I was never able to gain from Mc-Gill adequate financial support for my work as Executive Editor or, later, Editor. Throughout its early years (indeed, as Popkin has pointed out, for something...


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pp. 153-158
Launched on MUSE
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