A Note on Grayling

Though we at small-d would like to think of ourselves as an obvious destination for internationally-recognized thinkers as they meander through the world wide web, the time sometimes comes to put delusion aside and hold to our commitment to historical and objective truth. Recently, a comment was posted to the site in response to my partner-in-thought-crime’s entry on Terry Eagelton’s put-down of Richard Dawkins (the delicately entitled “Intellectual Bitchslap“), its author purporting to be renowned philosopher A.C. Grayling. Suffice it to say that we were puzzled and skeptical, not least because the e-mail address provided was similar, but did not match, that provided on Grayling’s faculty page for the School of Philosophy at Birbeck, University of London, and we’ve received far too many e-mail notices of impending fabulous wealth from exiled Nigerian presidents to take such things on trust.

We therefore contacted Professor Grayling, who maintains a fabulous picture of himself on his website (see above) in which he rather resembles one of the incarnations of Doctor Who from the 1970s (those of you who didn’t grow up in England like your humble correspondent or didn’t eschew social functionality in favour of an obsession with science fiction during your teenage years, see here), and who graciously informed us that while the words contained in the comment were indeed his, they had been published a week or so ago in the London Review of Books in direct response to Terry Eagelton’s article and he had not been the one who posted those words on small-d. Why anyone would attempt to impersonate Professor Grayling in this way is something of a mystery but we felt duty-bound to make a note for the record. Had we been dealing with an intellectual figure such as Jacques Derrida, who holds that meaning (though perhaps not mortality) is an unstable concept, we may have had to find some other way to resolve the matter. Thankfully though, the good Professor has given us an opportunity to uphold the integrity of our text. We regret the imposture and hope its author regrets it too.

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