I've been reconsidering my earlier attempt to characterize the distinction between philosophical interests and extra-philosophical ones. I'm finding my initial stab at it more than inadequate. I sought at one point to say that it lies in one's appreciation of res singulares, of singular things, and that, though natural philosophers in the past would have disagreed, one handy criterion we have today for distinguishing between the philosophical and the non- is to accept as philosophical only that which doesn't directly concern itself with this particular plant or country or river or planet, but always stays far enough away from the abundance of singular things to, so to speak, maintain its dignity.
There is something to that, but I think, at least historically, another more significant line of demarcation, one that extends back to Aristotle and that remains perfectly relevant today in making snap judgments about whether a blog is a philosophy blog or not, is the collaboration between the metaphysics of substance and the law of the excluded middle that compels all of us following in the tradition of Western philosophy to affirm that any given thing can only be the thing it is. This sounds easy enough to accept, and at little cost, yet it leaves us ill-equipped to deal, for example, with Ovid, or the Grimms, or Saxo Grammaticus (about whom more in a second). We are familiar with Aristotle's distinction between poetry and history, as between that which ranges over the possible and that which relates the actual (and the fault of Herodotus, unlike Thucydides, had been to fail to grasp this distinction), but there is an even more fundamental distinction between different conceptions of possibility, depending on which 'laws' one starts with, and here you could say that philosophy and poetry are both subdivisions of the sort of thinking that ranges over the possible, and the crucial difference has to do with each subdivision's stance on the identity of things over time. Philosophy wants fixed things, substances; poetry --a significant portion of which we now call 'mythology'-- allows metamorphoses.
This is not at all a new observation; I am simply recalling it from my culture's storehouse of received wisdom in order to come to a clearer explanation than I was able to offer previously of why this is not a philosophy blog. It struck me last night as I was reading Saxo Grammaticus's Gesta danorum, a 12th-century compendium of Danish history and lore. In one incident recounted there, Hardgrep seeks the embraces of her foster son, Hadding. But she is descended from giants, and he complains that "the size of her body [is] unwieldy for the embraces of a mortal." Hardgrep assures him:
Youth, fear not the converse of my bed. I change my bodily outline in twofold wise, and am wont to enjoin a double law upon my sinews. For I conform to shapes of different figure in turn, and am altered at my own sweet will: now my neck is star-high, and soars nigh to the lofty Thunderer; then it falls and declines to human strength, and plants again on earth that head which was near the firmament. Thus I lightly shift my body into diverse phases, and am beheld in varying wise; for changefully now cramped stiffness draws in my limbs, now the virtue of my tall body unfolds them, and suffers them to touch the cloud-tops. Now I am short and straitened, now stretch out with loosened knee; and I have mutably changed myself like wax into strange aspects. He who knows of Proteus should not marvel at me. My shape never stays the same, and my aspect is twofold: at one time it contrasts its outstretched limbs, at another shoots them out when closed; now disentangling the members and now rolling them back into a coil. I dart out my ingathered limbs, and presently, while they are strained, I wrinkle them up, dividing my countenance between shapes twain, and adopting two forms; with the greater of these I daunt the fierce, while with the shorter I seek the embraces of men.
This kind of thing goes on more or less constantly in the world Saxo describes: humans coupling with relatives, with giants, with bears; being born from monstrous black seed, being kept alive by corrupt matter rather than blood. But none of this is ever really so damaging, since forms change freely, and there are advantages to being monstrous just as there are advantages to being comely.
Now Saxo is a Christian, writing in Latin, and he wavers between denying that such transformations are possible, and affirming that they are possible, but denouncing them as sinful. As for me, I definitely do not believe they are possible, but I also think it is extremely important for a humanist to reflect on why, in the majority of times and places in human history, people have spoken as if they were possible. There is one tradition in human history --descending from Greece, reaching Denmark by the 12th century CE (even as it retains its memory of pre-contact ways of thinking) and now dictating the range of things that can be said at academic conferences, and in polite society, in Java, the Amazon, and the Arctic-- in which such transformations are explicitly not possible, and this is the tradition I work in. These transformations do seep back into this tradition at different times and places, but usually more as a threat or a taunt than as anything like a conceptual revolution; thus the natural philosopher Richard Lower allowed a brief whiff of Ovidian metamorphoses into philosophical debate in 17th century England by succeeding in transfusing blood between species; and arguably much of what seems so outré about figures like Deleuze comes down in the end to their daring to chicken-walk at the boundary between the two subdivisions I've described. But for the most part, philosophy continues to define itself as the tradition that can take no interest in Ovid or Saxo and their flights into the impossible.
And anyway, to get back to the distinction I was attempting inadequately to make the other day: here I am very interested in giant women who wax into strange aspects, gods who appear as swans, &c. Which --and this is the key point-- seems pretty close to just another way of saying that this is not a philosophy blog.