Books February 2021
And everything in its place
A review of A Place for Everything by Judith Flanders.
So accustomed are we to alphabetical order, and so much do we take it for granted, that we assume it is an entirely natural way of ordering things rather than a means of classification that had to be invented. A moment’s reflection, though, ought to be sufficient to persuade us that alphabetical order is not a synthetic a priori judgment, à la Kant. In addition to the fact that people whose system of writing is not alphabetic have nevertheless managed to order things successfully, to judge by their level of civilization, it is obvious that alphabetical order is something that we have to learn to employ rather than know by instinct, though I admit to having no recollection whatever of how or when I learned to employ it.
Such order has since become second nature to me, as it is to everyone else of my acquaintance, which is why, before reading this book, I...
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