As with wealth, so, too, ideas: some people have more than they know what to do with.
Academics: I am curious–many of us (I do at least) have far more ideas than we can ever develop in papers etc. How do you decide what remains just a thought (or a blogpost, or tweet?) and what becomes a paper or a book?
That’s a reasonable question, and you can check out the Twitter thread for a discussion of it. But another question is: what do you do with the ideas you decide not to write up yourself? That seemed to be the question Jonathan Weisberg (Toronto) was answering when he tweeted in reply:
if i had more ideas than i could use i would simply donate some
But to where? You could tweet them out, but would they be sufficiently noticed in the torrent of Twitter by those who might benefit them? You could tell your students (as professors sometimes do, prefacing with “this would be a good idea for a dissertation”), but is that a large enough audience to make it likely the idea will be picked up?
What we need is a place where people can post ideas they have but are not planning on working up, and where others can browse them: a depository for surplus philosophical ideas.
It could also serve as a kind of philosophical wishlist: ideas you hope others take up and develop. Suppose the soundness of an argument of yours seems to turn on the truth of one particular premise that you’re not in a position to provide further argumentative support for (maybe it is beyond your area of expertise, for example). You might wish someone else would do this work. Letting others know about this wish would be to “donate” an idea.
So let’s try this out. Have a philosophical donation or wish to make? Post it in the comments here (one donation/wish per comment please). If you know of work that seems to develop the donation or wish mentioned, please reply to the comment saying so.
If there’s sufficient activity on this post, I can create a link to it in the header menu so it’s easy to find.
And thanks, Professor Weisberg, for the founding donation!