(Caspar David Friedrich/ Wikimedia Commons)
There is no point in denying it. Calling a blog “The Republic of Letters” is pretentious. I’m unmoved by that objection, however. For, I love the name and, even more so, I love what it betokens. Historian Robert Darnton explains:
The eighteenth century imagined the Republic of Letters as a realm with no police, no boundaries, and no inequalities other than those determined by talent. Anyone could join it by exercising the two main attributes of citizenship, writing and reading. Writers formulated ideas, and readers judged them. Thanks to the power of the printed word, the judgments spread in widening circles, and the strongest arguments won. (The Case for Books, p.4)
What’s not to love? A realm where no heed is paid to an argument’s pedigree or any other vain dint of contingency, but what carries the day are arguments which are cogent, sound, logical and sage. Such a realm should be prized and this blog exists to realize this ideal. Argument is relished on this blog, not for it’s own sake nor for the sake of any petite and pointless game of one-ups-man-ship, but–as quaint it may sound–for wisdom. So, as the title of this inaugural post, inspired by the prophet Isaiah, implores: Come let us reason, let us talk of many things.