A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)


"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Their final blunder was indeed, inevitable; if not from the beginning of the world, at least from the beginning of the argument."

It really does seem that a certain old habit has so gone out of fashion as to leave men like me almost alone with it: a mind that moves to the ultimate and inevitable conclusion of any argument, or train of thought, rather more rapidly than is common with many people in many ways cleverer than I am. I can at least vaguely see where people will find themselves if they go on reasoning; though I admit they often escape, with great dexterity, by suddenly ceasing to reason.

A worthy though wealthy Capitalist, compelled to argue in favour of men doing more work for less wages, said to me: "They ought to regard themselves as servants of the public, and not merely of the company." I quite naturally answered; "You mean to say you are a Socialist, and think they should be public servants paid by the public authority." I was quite startled at the start this gave him. He nearly jumped out of his skin with horror, merely because I had seen the next step in his own argument, and supposed that he saw it too. In the same way a Socialist, in the days of the great Clarion campaign of Determinism, said: "It is abominable of the parsons to abuse human beings for what is only due to their heredity and environment." I replied, equally innocently: "If you are really going to leave off abusing people, I suppose you are going to leave off calling them abominable." The Socialist recoiled like the Capitalist, with the same start and stagger as of one leaping back from a precipice. Yet it seemed to me quite obvious that that particular path led to that particular precipice. Now, neither of these men was a fool; I should have been a fool in comparison, in dealing with many of their affairs....But they were quite incapable of seeing where their own line of argument was leading them....

...I attribute [my own skill to] having argued with old-fashioned atheists and studied old-fashioned theologians. Even if the atheists were determinists, their determinism was in every since determined. That is, it began at the beginning and endured to the end. Even if the theologians were Calvinists, they had in the same sense the gift of final perseverance. Their final blunder was, indeed, inevitable; if not from the beginning of the world, at least from the beginning of the argument. They also had the power of passing rapidly from the beginning of the argument to the end of the argument. And if it ended in an extravagant extreme, that was at least better than breaking down in the middle or not having the courage to begin at the beginning. It is this latter weakness which most often appears in the general discussions of today. Recent speculation seems to be entirely a sort of guessing or groping; a progress of which even the next step is doubtful and therefore daring. It does not look straight down a long perspective to a visible end. In short, it has all the character of people living in a London fog.

-June 21, 1930, Illustrated London News

No comments: