At the beginning of ‘Philosophy as Humanistic Discipline’ (Philosophy 75, 2000, p. 477-496), Bernard Williams raises the following question: “what models or ideals or analogies should we look to in thinking about the ways in which philosophy should be done?” (idem, p. 477) Three answers are subsequently explored:
1 Philosophy should look for inspiration in the way natural science is practiced.
2. Philosophy should look for inspiration in the practice of art, literature and history.
3 Philosophy should be conceived of as a rather autonomous discipline.
Williams rejects (1) and (3), but subscribes to (2), which, in turn, picks up the specific sense in which philosophy is presented as a humanistic discipline. Rejection of (1) must not, though, be confused with the claim that acquaintance with the practices and deliverances of natural sciences is irrelevant to philosophy. The point is just to stress that philosophy should not so much guide scientists in the production of further scientific knowledge, but try to make sense of our outlook and our practices. And, to that purpose, a certain degree of contact with scientific practices and theories is indeed required, but also with other aspects of our culture. I Nomos Meeting Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline? (Valencia, October 22-23, 2007) was organized to set up a group of research inspired by this kind of interest.
A Nomos Network for Applied Philosophy was, as a result, created and a series of Nomos Meetings proposed. It was agreed that in such Meetings philosophical issues will connected with our practical concerns and examined in a rather open-minded manner. To this end, it was suggested that materials for the discussion should be drawn not only for the current scholar debates on the matter, but also from other humanistic disciplines, social and political issues of the day and, indeed, current scientific research. New formats will be explored in order to enhance the openness of the discussion which should not go in detriment of clarity to the degree and ways that each subject matter may demand.