I’m Really Enjoying “The Reason of Things”

When Julie was at the Edinburgh Book Festival, she picked up a copy of A. C. Grayling’s The Reason of Things. She really liked it, so I’ve started reading it. I’m really digging it.

The book’s sub-title is “Living with Philosophy”, and it’s comprised of short essays on broad topics like “Safety” or “Remembrance”. Grayling is a professor of philosophy, wrote columns for The Guardian, and apparently still contributes to one of their blogs.

The essays are probably 1000 to 1500 words, and so it’s a joy to read two or three at a time and let them percolate in my brain. Grayling is an excellent thinker and extremely well-read. Consider this from his essay “Conservation”:

An egregious example often cited is the rebuilding of the old centre of Warsaw – ‘dov’era, com’era’, as was said of the collapsed campanile of Venice: ‘where it was, as it was’ – as an exact replica of its former self. Walking through it makes one uncomfortable; it is ersatz, and feels like a mistaken gesture, a refusal to face facts and move on.

I’m reminded of the Stari most, a 16th-century bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina that was destroyed during the conflict there. They rebuilt the bridge exactly as it was, using a combination of salvaged material and new stone. Is it the same bridge or not? A philosophical question that might fit in Grayling’s book.

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