Professor’s commentary appears in ‘Janus Head’

Professors commentary appears in Janus Head

by Rachel GullStaff Writer

In the summer of 2007, “Janus Head,” an internationally acclaimed online journal, published an article titled “Agency, Identity, and Technology: The Concealment of the Contingent in American Culture.” This article was written by Simpson’s own John Pauley, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Pauley’s article turns a critical eye towards modern American society, addressing the way we relate to each other within our world, how our world relates to us and the effect that these relationships have on us. These are fairly common philosophical, psychological and environmental topics, but while many other researchers are most concerned with interpersonal relationships, Pauley focuses more on humans in relation to the unpredictable world we live in.

“The set of relations that are most fundamental [to human identity] is our relationship to the world,” Pauley said.

Pauley considers three aspects of this relationship–mortality, contingency, and spirituality–to be the most influential upon our identities. He believes that they are all interrelated, and without each of these parts, people would be unable to obtain any sort of identity. The article delves into several different arenas, discussing philosophy, theology, psychology and even ecology.

When he decided to publish this piece, Pauley was uncertain about where to submit it, and even worried about whether the article would ever be published.

“This paper is interdisciplinary and it involves some new ideas which are not always welcome,” Pauley said.

However, Pauley’s colleague, Mark Gammon, assistant professor of religion, knew just the place.

Gammon had some friends from graduate school who were very interested in the type of interdisciplinary ideas that Pauley’s article dealt with. Gammon introduced Pauley to “Janus Head.” The publication was exactly what Pauley was searching for.

“Janus Head” is an online magazine that publishes twice each year. The magazine focuses on the connections found between many different concentrations and promotes innovative thinking and academic discussion.

The magazine’s Web site is accessed about 30,000 times each month and since bound subscriptions are also available, circulation is even higher. Through, Pauley’s article is readily available to readers all over the world.

Pauley has had three other articles published since 2003, and says that this is not uncommon. In fact, Gammon has also recently had his work published. Gammon wrote a chapter for “Church-State Issues in America Today,” a book that was just released in December, and he said that he and Pauley are not the only faculty members who have had their work recognized.

“Publishing is part of a professor’s job,” Gammon said.

Pauley is certainly not done with this job. Pauley recently wrote an article dealing with the conundrum of bad things happening to good people. The piece references William Faulkner’s fiction and has been submitted for review.

The professor is also in the midst of writing an article dealing with suicide that relates closely to his “Janus Head” piece.

“Sometimes when you start writing things, it’s inevitable that one paper connects to another,” Pauley said.