Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schall on Chesterton

Our humble magazine, Gilbert, is priviledged to have Father James Schall grace our pages each issue.

I met Father Schall at a Chesterton conference, and he is so good. He gave a thoughtful talk, said Mass for the group, and also mingled and answered questions. A humble man.

His latest contribution in the July/August 2007 issue, titled "Four Philosophies" was, as usual, a good thing to read. Fr. Schall obviously understand Chesterton's point of view.

Fr. Schall explains how Chesterton described four ways of looking at life.
1. Atheist or materialist view--doesn't explain everything
2. The normal man, the natural man--sane, but you could justify anything
3. Buddhist view--the opposite of what people really want
4. Mystic or poetic view--the pagan view

None of these is all wrong, but an effort must be made to find what truth there is in them, and what falsehood.

And why didn't Chesterton include revelation in his list of philosophies? Well, read Father Schall--and Chesterton--to find out.


  1. Interesting. I just read Heretics and Orthodoxy( backwards apparently) and the main thing I got from it is the only satisfying philosophy is a romantic one, but some philosophy is ( generally )better than none.

  2. Eric, if you read Chesterton more closely you will see that it is impossilbe to have "no philosophy". Therefore it is impossible that "some philosphy is better than none".

    As Dale Ahlquist points out, "Chesterton says that we can’t get away from the fact that we have a general view of existence, whether we like it or not. It affects and involves everything we say or do, whether we like it or not. And our general view of things is based on our ultimate view of things. Religion is never irrelevant."

    And Chesterton was not interested in a "satisfying" philosophy, or a "romantic" philosophy. He was interested in a true philosophy, which is the only kind that really could satisfy.

    Keep reading! Join the revolution!

  3. By the way, Chestertonians, check out Eric's blog. Very impressive illustrations and photographs.

  4. Indeed - GKC's best take on this is in his book on Aquinas:

    "[Thomism] is the only working philosophy. Of nearly all other philosophies it is strictly true that their followers work in spite of them, or do not work at all. No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work fatalistically; all without exception work on the principle that it is possible to assume what it is not possible to believe. No materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective."
    [GKC, St. Thomas Aquinas Cw2:542-3]

    Yes, every philosopher, no matter how stupid, how dull, how wrong, how insane, how sick, how distorted, how full of hate for God and Man, suddenly becomes a Real Thomist... as soon as it's time for his (or HER) book to be printed, or journal article to appear, or department paycheck to arrive.

    And, of course, when it's time to sit down at the table for dinner.

    --Dr. Thursday


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