chapter  9
20 Pages

PHILOSOPHY OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITIES, 1200–1400

In an Introduction such as this, it is the custom for the writer to assume an attitude of anonymous omniscience, handing down his chapters like the tablets of the Decalogue, as if they had been conceived in a timeless realm, far removed from everyday contingencies. Readers usually, apart from some occasions of particular annoyance, accept this pretence. They do not believe it – they know that the author, like themselves, lives in a world of deadlines and word-limits, of limited abilities and unlimited distractions – but they suspend their disbelief. But it is time now to pull aside for a moment this veil of fiction. Here I am, at the beginning of Chapter 9. I have few words left from my word-limit and even less time from my deadline-to-end-all-deadlines. And, if these are contingencies which might seem as if they admitted of some easy solution, given the publisher’s cooperation, there is one more important factor to which there can be no speedy remedy: my ignorance.