Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Surprise

As you will have seen by now, Father Jaki died yesterday in Madrid. He belongs to the ages, like GKC and FBC - and Duhem and Buridan and Aquinas... and it is now up to us to continue his work. (Yes, I know this is Wednesday, but I am sitting in for Nancy for a little while.)

Now I hear you whine: Doc, do you mean this blogg is going to be the "Blogg of the American Jaki Society" from now on?

Oh, no. But, as a kind of memorial, we'll examine a little of Jaki's work - he was a Chestertonian too, you know - and see how that will help us know a little more about GKC.

The simplest way of putting it is that you are in for a Surprise...

(( to open your surprise, click here))

The simplest way of putting it is that Jaki "discovered" that Chesterton had some very powerful insights into science, and so he took advantage of it whenever he could. You can find out for yourself by getting Chesterton a Seer of Science, which is just four chapters long (with an introduction) and gives a very careful study of GKC's work as it touches science. And there are five or six essays which examine various interesting things about GKC and his work.

But the surprise is that you can pick up almost any of Jaki's books - and there are about 50 major ones, and several dozen smaller ones - and find Chesterton mentioned or quoted!

Indeed, it is quite funny. Jaki's books are heavily footnoted - one chapter might have fifty or more, giving bibliographic details on sources and all the good healthy things that academics wish for in a scholarly work. But every so often GKC gets quoted, or alluded to, and - no footnote. (Hee hee. It's a kind of payback for the many quotes of other authors GKC made, though without attribution!) Actually those lapses are quite rare, but they do exist; most of the time all Jaki's GKC quotes are attributed. (As you know I try to do the same.)

Perhaps you'd like to see an example:
The first to phrase in terms of such a question the dynamic of human inquiry, though without noting its universal relevance, was Leibniz, a philosopher, a scientist, a theologian, a historian - all in one. Of these the historian was most at a loss, partly because history is so full of all sorts of suchness that, as Chesterton once noted, they can be mined to demonstrate any case of progression or retrogression. The scientist is far more fortunate because the items of suchness he notices are all quantitative ones. Compared with all other items of suchness, or patterns, they are the most
straightforward, whatever the complexity of the mathematics they invite. The theologian too looks at peculiar facts (the facts of salvation history, for instance) and tries to find in them an overarching pattern or principle. The case of the philosopher, unless he has cast his lot with a phenomenology that tries to make do without ontology, is, of course, the most fundamental: For in asking the question - why such and not something else? - he looks for the ontological ground that explains that suchness.
[Jaki, "The Power and Poverty of Science" in Numbers Decide and Other Essays 52]
Ah... but look Ma, no footnote! I asked AMBER, and here you go.
Human history is so rich and complicated that you can make out a
case for any course of improvement or retrogression.
[GKC ILN Aug 18 1906 CW27:260. Also see ILN Sept 28 1907 CW27:560]

May GKC and SLJ and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

More surprises to come...

Also - some information about the funeral and some recent photos can be found here. Thanks, Sean!

1 comment:

  1. "Journalism largely consists in saying 'Lord Jones Dead' to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive." -The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914) The Purple Wig

    I just learned about Fr. Jaki today, lol. It was through the blog I have linked below:

    I'm going to check my university's library to see if they have 'Chesterton a Seer of Science'. Hopefully, they do. And if not, well, I can just buy it. I'm interested in what he's written now.


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