As I began writing this, Notre Dame Cathedral was burning. I visited and attended mass at the cathedral just this past June, while on a trip to France to do manuscript research in Paris and present at a logic conference in Vichy. I broke down in tears upon coming home as I tried to tell my wife what had happened.
Inevitably, one comes to question the meaning of all of this. This, in turn, prompts the question of whether the question ‘what is the meaning of all this’, referring to this or any event, is even a sensible one. As many would have it, asking for the meaning of an event is a senseless question, like asking for the weight of pi.
To think through this question requires one to begin by taking the data given in these sorts of common phrases seriously. This is not to say that every question is ultimately a meaningful one. But it is to say that advancement on any given issue, even to the conclusion that the issue at hand is meaningless, is only made by following a path of inquiry. This, in turn, requires a kind of fidelity to the matter that presents itself which is incompatible with naysaying. Blessed is he who sits not in the seat of the scoffers.