4 January 2024

In keeping with my expectations, albeït not with my hopes, during this morning I received a desk-rejection from the first journal to which I submitted my paper on Sraffa. The editor wrote

I read your paper with interest. I appreciate the ambition and breadth of the work as well as the care you put in writing the paper in an accessible and engaging way. However, the contribution is more appropriate for a journal that specializes in the history of economic thought, rather than for a journal that focuses on modern contributions to economic theory.

Two conceptions of modernity seem to be confused here. If the editor were to say that Sraffa's work were not at or near the cutting edge, then I would completely agree with the editor. On the other hand, only if the applicability of that work were without living controversy would discussion properly be restricted to history-of-thought, yet Sraffa's work is at-or-near the center of thought for academically active schools.

Mind you that something could reasonably be treated as within the scope of history-of-thought without being restricted to that scope, so I may indeed submit the paper to a journal on the history of economic thought. But, before taking that route, this evening I submitted the paper to a different journal of economic theory. Yes, I do expect another rejection, and probably another desk-rejection. Still, I gambled on a hope of acceptance.

If-and-when I submit to a journal of history of economic thought, I face some threat of my paper being rejected as too mathematic for the readership. (One reason that I have not submitted the paper to The Cambridge Journal of Economics is that their guidelines for authors suggest that they would reject the paper with the excuse that the exposition relies too heavily upon mathematics.)

Before receiving the rejection, I had effected some minor revisions to the paper. I corrected a typographic error, replaced adjectival -ical with -ic wherever the latter would do, and removed most of my expletive uses of it and of there.

Although expletive uses are grammatic and I've not seen them condemned in any book of style, after I first completed a draft of that paper I became uncomfortable with those uses. That discomfort is part of a prior trend of my becoming uncomfortable with expressions that facilitate conceptual illusions. Saying or writing it is X suggests that something is X; sometimes something is X, as when we say it is sad that you couldn't come, in which case the something is that you couldn't come. Even then, it is a forward reference, and forward references are generally very bad things. But sometimes the it is just a way of satisfying the grammatic need for a subject, as in it's raining. Saying or writing there is X or there are X suggests that X is-or-are at a specific location, but likewise is often just a way of satisfying the grammatic need for a subject.

Usually, one can easily do without these expletive uses, but I acknowledge that sometimes they actually produce more easily understood sentences. Indeed, I left two such uses in the paper because no alternative occurred to me that did not create ambiguity.

[Up-Date (2024:01/07):Alas, I have found more expletive uses in my paper. My search string was naïve, and missed cases with modal auxiliaries. I don't know when or even if I will eliminate those further cases.]

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