Greetings students!

The CSS CONTRARIWISE philosophy journal has been around since 2013 and is now compiling its sixth edition. That means that from now until December 21st, 2018, you can submit philosophical writing and art, which might become one of the 30 to 40 pieces selected by our editorial board to be in the journal. You will want to give yourself as much time as possible to brainstorm, and then to revise and edit. Here is exactly what you can submit (for how to submit and FAQs, scroll to the bottom):

OPEN CALL — Writing (open to all middle / high school students)

Every year we have an open call so you can submit whatever kind of philosophical writing that you want. You can write about a topic that you are really passionate about, something that really had you thinking in your favorite book, movie, TV show, video game, comic book, etc., or something that you wrote for school which connects to philosophy that you think others would enjoy. To make it in to the journal, your piece should be enjoyable and inspiring to read, and present or suggest a new perspective on life in either the questions or the answers it proposes (for a more specific definition of philosophy, see FAQs). The writing can also be in whatever kind of form you want — essay, poetry, memoir, song, thought experiment, stream-of-consciousness, or absolutely anything else that you can think of. That same rule of flexibility applies to everything else you will see below.

OPEN CALL — Art (open to all middle / high school students)

While we also have a specifically themed art contest further below, the open call for art is for people who want more freedom in how to theme their philosophical pieces. Once again, any mode of visual art that can fit on a page in a journal will be accepted. As long as you believe it connects to philosophical themes or is going to make the people who see it think or feel something different, and you put your best effort in, is it very likely that it will make it into the journal. If you want to pair your art piece with an article by you or a friend, then you can make that request in the email for your submission.

NATIONAL CONTEST (open to all middle / high school students in the US)

This is open to all CSS students and also those from other schools in the US who know about the journal. This year, the prompt for our national writing contest is:

Among us mortals, we often hear the phrase being tossed around, “__ is dead.” “____” in this case being something that we personify with having a life. So the question is, can an idea, culture, or phenomenon ever be dead? Can it ever be alive? Here are some further questions that you could explore (remember, in whatever form of writing you want): How has the “death” of a culture or idea in my life or in history personally affected me? When do we say that something has a life to begin with? How does personality connect to calling things dead or alive? Does our use of the term say anything about our current culture? Is it overall helpful or not to call things dead or alive? Can you kill a city, and has it happened? You can answer none of these questions or all of them and still have a great entry, as long as it’s creative, makes your readers think, and relates to the topic.

INTERNATIONAL CONTEST (open to all middle / high school students outside of the US)

This contest open to all students outside of the United States. We host these contests to see how creative you all can get with approaching a particular philosophical topic. This year our international contest prompt is:

Can you experience happiness without having experienced sadness? Emotions are widely regarded as the defining trait of humanity. To what extent do emotions exist on a spectrum in which they are relative to each other? Or, are emotions absolute and objective? Also, how did emotions come to be? Are they facts of reality, like elements on a periodic table, or are they purely constructions that we made up? How does our language used to describe emotions affect how we feel about them? You may consider as many or as few of these questions in your response; additionally you may write in whatever medium you want that can suggest a way of thinking about these questions.

ART CONTEST (open to all middle / high school students)

There are a lot of really talented visual artists in CSS and beyond, so we encourage you all to give us your best! Artistic beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Here is your inspiration:

Modern society is often considered as obsessed with technology, the same technology that was created to be used as a tool of society. However, as technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, one may argue that we have become slaves of our technology, and no longer have control over our life. Make a piece of visual art elucidating the power dynamic between individuals and their technology.

COVER CONTEST (open to all middle / high school students in CSS)

This is a very specialized art contest, for the cover of the journal. It has to feature two animals, preferably ones not featured in any other volumes. The primary color of the piece should also not be exactly one that was featured in any other volumes. To see covers of other volumes, go to and scroll down a bit. You may want to look to those images to approximate the artistic style you should be working with, but if you want to try something new we would welcome that by all means.

Now, here is how to submit WRITING (you can submit more than one thing if you’d like):

Write it.

If you haven’t already, enter it into a Google Doc.

Click File and then Download As in the upper left corner, and then click PDF Document (.pdf).

Send an email to with the subject “Contrariwise Submission [Insert my Name]”.

IMPORTANT: Don’t put your name in the piece, just in the email subject. We have a blind editing process, so don’t screw it up please.

Submissions are due on or before December 21st, 2018.

Here is how to submit ART (you can submit more than one thing for this as well):

Make it.

If it is on paper, drop it off in Prof. Beletsky’s mailbox in room 506, and put a paper above it saying your name and “Contrariwise Submission.”

If it is digital, convert it to .png or .jpg and send an email to with the subject “Contrariwise Submission [Insert my Name]”.

NOTE: If you are submitting something on paper from outside of CSS, you will need to scan or take a high quality picture of your art piece to send it.

Submissions are due on or before December 21st, 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I submit something I wrote for a class in school?

Yes, you can by all means. In fact, the journal started just for articles written by Prof. Senechal’s philosophy students. However, you should make sure that it is worthwhile to read for someone who has no knowledge of the class, so include necessary context. The standard is definitely higher as well for pieces written for class, so make sure it is your best work.

Can I submit a collaboration?

Yes, but maximum three please.

Who runs the journal?

Amogh Dimri and Theo Frye Yanos are the journal’s editors-in-chief and Prof. Beletsky is the journal’s faculty advisor.

How do I know if what I’m writing is philosophy or not?

Theo is going to submit something about what he thinks about what “philosophy” is in this year’s edition, but for now we can summarize. Philosophy is anything that gives people a new way to see their life by questioning what they thought they had known, reminding them of what they thought they had forgotten, or showing them life where they had thought nothing lived. Take, for example, a book you like. If you liked reading it, that is great. But if you remember that book long after you finished reading it, it is probably because of philosophy. There must have been something about how the characters faced situations, or how the world struck you as so different, that made you see something new in life, and that is why you keep remembering it to this day. Because the philosophy of that book has now become a part of you. So that’s pretty much philosophy. It has always existed, everywhere, it was not invented by the Ancient Greeks, and to be a philosopher you need not have read any philosophy in your life — but reading Contrariwise can definitely give you a starting point.

This sounds really cool. How can I buy Contrariwise volumes?

The next opportunity to buy Contrariwise volumes will be at the CSS musical!

NOTE: Any inspiration, imitation, or inclusion of someone else's art or writing in your own art or writing must be given credit.


The open calls and art contest are available for all middle and high school students anywhere in the world. The international contest is available only for middle and high school students outside of the US. The national contest is available for all middle and high school students inside the US. The cover contest is available only for CSS students. Additionally, those who have graduated from CSS are permitted to make entries into open calls or contests that would be available to CSS students.

Have any other questions? Email