Monday, January 4, 2010

The Ontology of G. K. Chesterton



"The word 'heresy' not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word 'orthodoxy' not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter I: Introductory Remarks on the Importance of Orthodoxy, 1905

"Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter XX: Concluding Remarks About Orthodoxy, 1905

"The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know they are dogmas." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter XX: Concluding Remarks About Orthodoxy, 1905

"We all believe in fairy-tales, and live in them." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter XX: Concluding Remarks About Orthodoxy, 1905

"Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter XX: Concluding Remarks About Orthodoxy, 1905

"A man cannot be wise enough to be a great artist without being wise enough to wish to be a philosopher. A man cannot have the energy to produce good art without having the energy to wish to pass beyond it." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Heretics, Chapter XX: Concluding Remarks About Orthodoxy, 1905

"Without education, we are in a horrible danger of taking educated people seriously." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Illustrated London News, ~1905-1907

"I met a man the other day who did not believe in fairy tales. I do not mean that he did not believe in the incidents narrated in them--that he did not believe that a pumpkin could turn into a coach. He did, indeed, entertain this curious disbelief. And, like all the other people I have ever met who entertained it, he was wholly unable to give me an intelligent reason for it. He tried the laws of nature, but he soon dropped that. Then he said that pumpkins were unalterable in ordinary experience, and that we all reckoned on their infinitely protracted pumpkinity. But I pointed out to him that this was not an attitude we adopt specially towards impossible marvels, but simply the attitude we adopt towards all unusual occurrences." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Dragon's Grandmother, The Illustrated London News, Dec 1906, reprinted in Tremendous Trifles, 1909

"... the view that fairy tales cannot really have happened, though crazy, is common." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Dragon's Grandmother, The Illustrated London News, Dec 1906, reprinted in Tremendous Trifles, 1909

"It is much easier to believe in a million fairy tales than to believe in one man who does not like fairy tales." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Dragon's Grandmother, The Illustrated London News, Dec 1906, reprinted in Tremendous Trifles, 1909

"Can you not see that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its nature essentially incredible?" -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Dragon's Grandmother, The Illustrated London News, Dec 1906, reprinted in Tremendous Trifles, 1909

"... the chief object of education is to unlearn things." --G.K. Chesterton, philosopher, All Things Considered, 'An Essay on Two Cities', 1908

"When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven't got any." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Illustrated London News, November 7th 1908

"I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter II: The Maniac, 1909

"Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter III: The Suicide of Thought, 1909

"It is the reality that is often a fraud." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"I would always trust the old wives' fables against the old maids' facts." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery. ... The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales. They seem to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not fantasies: compared with them other things that are fantastic. ... Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"In fairy land we avoid the word 'law'; but in the land of science they are singularly fond of it." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the 'Laws of Nature.' When we are asked why eggs turn into birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned into horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o'clock. We must answer that it is MAGIC. It is not a 'law,' for we do not understand it's general formula." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"All the terms used in the science books, 'law,' 'necessity,' 'order,' 'tendency,' and so on, are really unintellectual .... The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a MAGIC tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched. I deny altogether that this is fantastic or even mystical. We may have some mysticism later on; but this fairy-tale language about things is simply rational and agnostic." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"But the cool rationalist from fairyland does not see why, in the abstract, the apple tree should not grow crimson tulips; it sometimes does in his country." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"... we forget that we have forgotten." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

"All roads lead to Rome; which is one reason why many people never get there." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Orthodoxy, Chapter VI: The Paradoxes of Christianity, 1909

"The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Tremendous Trifles, The Red Angel, 1909

"... men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, What's Wrong With The World, Chapter IV: The Fear of the Past, 1910

"The future is a refuge from the fierce competition of our forefathers." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, What's Wrong With The World, Chapter IV: The Fear of the Past, 1910

"... all the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed on the past. I need not mention the Renaissance, the very word proves my case. The originality of Michael Angelo and Shakespeare began with the digging up of old vases and manuscripts." -- -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, What's Wrong With The World, Chapter IV: The Fear of the Past, 1910

"... If I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, What's Wrong With The World, Chapter IV: The Fear of the Past, 1910

"As for science and religion, the known and admitted facts are few and plain enough. All that the parsons say is unproved. All that the doctors say is disproved. That's the only difference between science and religion there's ever been, or will be." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Manalive, 1912

"... to me existence is a perpetual fairy tale, because I have forgotten all about it." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The New Jerusalem, 1920

"If there were no God, there would be no atheists." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, Where All Roads Lead, 1922

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." -- G. K. Chesterton, philosopher, The Illustrated London News, April 19th 1930

6 comments:

KV said...

Thanks OIM for letting us know that Chesterson was a heretic.

Fungus FitzJuggler III said...

If you like Chesterton, you will love H L Mencken. He is a gringo too!

Jeffery Keown said...

"If there were no God, there would be no atheists." -- G. K. Chesterton, writer, Where All Roads Lead, 1922

How is this statement meaningful at all?

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"How is this statement meaningful at all?"

Think about it.

KV said...

JK,

How about this?

Because of atheists, God left the Universe and stopped meddling in stuff it did not know from the begining.

Jeffery Keown said...

If there were no God, the universe wouldn't be any different. A non-existant god wouldn't leave evidence of absence, thus you'd have the same level of faith and atheism as in the real world.