Procrastinating? Hesitating as engaging in conversation

Great timing… While most of you are on holiday, I’m starting a blog on (writing) philosophy. Yes, I know! There are so many blogs, even on philosophy, and we don’t really need another one… Actually, I’m just finalising a book, but since that’s rather scary and torturous, I thought about my new book project called Handling Ideas: it’s supposed to be a (fairly popular, yes!) book about understanding, expressing and applying ideas. And since that is scary, too, why not start by writing about writing instead? Also, it’s 37 degrees in Groningen.

On a more serious note (don’t think you can skip this!), I think that the practice of philosophy and writing are intimately connected. You all know how long the distance between the thought in your head and the page or screen in front of you really is. And you already know that before you actually finish this damn sentence that you started crafting yesterday, you’ll soon rush to the delete button to change a few words again…

Writing, that is amongst other things: deciding on the ultimate way of expressing a thought, is scary for many of us, but I think that it is an integral part of an important process: when we rush to change a word before we settle on a formulation, we actually engage in a conversation with our readers and former selves. You might think something along the lines of “you won’t like this, so…” or “why did I come up with that?” or “no, I should have put this differently.” – But what is actually going on in these moments? – I think that what we often call procrastination or hesitation is part of a conversational exchange or thought process: it’s part of practising philosophy. It’s all the back and forth that you might remember from Plato’s dialogues. Just a little less elaborate perhaps, but certainly just as interesting.

More often than not, these conversations are suppressed, though. They might seem imperfect or whatever. So in many of the following posts I would like to invite you and myself to bring these conversations to the fore. There are excellent guides on writing and philosophy, but most of them aim at good products. I’m more interested in the doubtful stages that all too often fall through the cracks. This concerns both the writing and the actual philosophy.

In keeping with the conversational spirit, I not only hope for comments on posts but for many guest posts. Enjoy the summer and see you around!


PS. I’d like to thank my former student assistant César Reigosa. It was in conversation with him that I decided to settle on the title “Handling Ideas”.