Regular readers may recall that on August 17th last, I posted a tribute to an old friend, Hugo A. Bedau, who passed away at the age of 85. Like many scholars of an earlier era, Hugo amassed over the years a number of complete runs of philosophy journals in his fields of interest. His widow, Constance Putnam, a scholar in her own right, has now very generously donated Hugo's complete library of philosophy journals to Bennett College. On Tuesday, I took the last set of boxes out to Greensboro and transferred them to the Bennett College library. Young people being what they are, I have no idea how many of them will actually consult a physical journal, as opposed to finding an article on-line, but I like to think that now and then, a young woman interested in ethical theory or political philosophy will go to the library and find there Hugo's journals, which she can pick up, hold in her hand, and page through in the old way.
I have very powerful sensory associations with specific books and journals. The Journal of Philosophy feels and smells very different from Mind, and neither of them is quite like Ethics, which always seemed to me physically pedestrian [even though I did publish in it at least once, if memory serves.] One of my favorite physical books is my stubby black copy of Hume's Treatise, edited by Selby-Bigge. The row of Oxford University Press translations of the works of Aristotle, sitting high on my shelves here in my study, breathes of England.
All of this is hideously retro, I know. I am sure there were many late Renaissance monks, fingers stained from the ink of their endless copying chores, who looked askance at printing presses. But then, there must have been reflective Neanderthals who scoffed at the new-fangled bows and arrows of their high-domed, gracile Cro Magnon neighbors.