Raison d'Etre

The chief goal of Animus is to engage the contemporary critique of the Western tradition by situating that critique within the history of Western thought. We are concerned not only to investigate this history from the standpoint of the contemporary world but likewise to examine this world and its contribution to Western philosophy. In our view understanding the tradition is an integral part of understanding contemporary philosophy and the world to which it belongs, for several reasons: First, only with an accurate view of past thinkers can we distinguish what is enduringly true in their thought from what has been superceded. Second, older forms of thought are enduring elements in our own present self-understanding, though often in uncomprehended ways – and understanding the origins of our contemporary perspectives helps to make both the strengths and the limits of these perspectives more explicit. The full significance and justification of a philosophical view can be lost without graspingphilosopher in meditation its historical origin. Third, identifying how and why a previous philosophical position cannot be accurately accounted for from some contemporary standpoint is often instructive of the limitations of that standpoint. Fourth, understanding the genuine movement of philosophy’s history can also help us understand our own contemporary viewpoint as itself a passing moment belonging to that history, and can open up insights into the direction that future thought might take. Finally, the history of philosophy is not simply a history of positive progress: often important philosophical possibilities of an age are ignored, forgotten, or inaccessible to subsequent periods. Recovering an understanding of our intellectual tradition can thus open up philosophical questions and answers otherwise absent from the contemporary landscape.


Animus thus sees itself as a journal which belongs to the post-modern world, but studies the intellectual history of this world as a means of critically evaluating its presuppositions. Post-modernity expresses both a preservation of modernity and its critique. Positively, there is present a deeper sense of how political rights and human rights must be extended to all human beings, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or religion, as well as a liberation from the sectarian religious and moral presuppositions of modernity. Yet at the same time there is for contemporary thought the difficult task of giving philosophical form to these new found liberations and a paradoxical attempt to overcome the past while presupposing it at every turn. This intellectual struggle involves the post-modern in the extraordinary task of investigating a standpoint that its very foundations presuppose as other, all the while knowing that standpoint as its own. Post-modern skepticism, like all forms of skepticism, is itself a knowing, but a knowing of what? It is the attempt to uncover the elusive but substantive content of post-modernity and to express that content in positive relation to the Western philosophical tradition that animates this journal.


Animus is a philosophy journal conceived in its broadest sense as inclusive of the rational spirit of all discourses in the Humanities, as in dialogue with all Humanities disciplines. What distinguishes Animus from other philosophy journals is the attention it devotes to other forms in which humans express their thoughts: art, literature, natural science, and theology. At the historical origin of philosophical reflection, the distinction between these spheres was fluid. Even once these disciplines become clearly demarcated areas of study, philosophy expresses in a more universal form the same thoughts expressed in these other disciplines, and these modes of thought constitute the content upon which philosophy must reflect. The philosophy of an age is more fully grasped in relation to its contemporaneous artistic, scientific and theological products, and conversely these works are often clarified through philosophical reflection. Animus is a journal of philosophy and humanities, and so we welcome philosophical reflection upon these other expressions of the tradition. Animus aims for a comprehensive philosophical engagement beyond disciplinary and ideological divisions which distort a common intellectual life. In its most speculative ambition Animus would give expression to the universality which animates the Canadian spirit.