As we go to press, alarming stories fill the news. Notre Dame cathedral was partially destroyed in a fire. Yet another black man in the US was killed by police officers. A father asked police to check on his son in State College Pennsylvania — he had mental illness and was wielding a knife. Minutes into the police visit, the son was dead. Newspapers are filled with predictions that climate change is speeding up and changing our world.
Perhaps philosophy can’t tell us exactly what to do about our most vexing problems, but it can certainly help us be vexed in the right way and occasionally it can console. In this issue we feature a review of Carolyn Korsmeyer’s new book Things: In Touch with the Past. While many commentators on the Notre Dame fire want to soothe grievers with notion that it’s normal for gems of architecture to be repeatedly rebuilt, Korsmeyer’s message is the opposite. Art and architecture put us in touch with the past only if they are the originals actually constructed in the past. Our reviewer, Erich Hatala Mathes, appreciated her very complex discussion of “the thrill of genuineness”.
Michael Huemer positively reviews Jason Brennan’s latest book When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice, a defence of a citizen’s right to intervene to stop injustices committed by agents of the state. There’s no immunity from such interventions, Brennan argues, based on government authority or other special features that police officers have and private citizens lack. Huemer says the book has the perfect combination of “edginess” and “academic respectability”.
Jean Kazez recounts a visit to a “green” night of art and ideas on the campus of Rice University in Houston, a night replete with music, dance, visual arts, food, champagne, and lots of philosophical thinking about climate change and other environmental problems. The evening was vexing, but also consoling — in fact, it was downright festive.