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3 comments | Monday, June 05, 2006

I recently downloaded G.K. Chesterton’s, Orthodoxy. The second section (II) is amusingly called “The Maniac.” While I was freshly beginning to read it, this piece jumped out at me:

[I]f the great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners….Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humor or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity in this respect is a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

I can’t help but be of the same opinion with Chesterton. It’s no wonder that some of the most brilliant people are reclusive and can’t tie their shoes. It seems today that reason is put on such a high pedestal (sometimes even to idolatry) that all else is secondary and diminished by it. What Chesterton sees quite clearly is that reason cannot be virtuous in it of itself and those who operate by it and no other become exasperating to communicate with.

As Chesterton stated, “if you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it”; because the madman does not take notice to the complementing features of humor, charity, experience etc…

I have just recently started to read this work, and I can already tell that it is going to be an excellent book. For those who are interested, you can actually download the book for free in pdf format here: G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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Blogger The Intolerant One said...

You know, that makes alot of sense to me. Obviously alot of us do not see it from that perspective.

6/11/2006 2:02 PM

Blogger Paul said...

Chesterton is great not only because he is a deeply insightful thinker, but because his observations are so different from what you will find in the contemporary apologists. Reading him is a great way to put into practice C.S. Lewis' advice when he wrote these words:

"Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook - even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united - united with each other and against earlier and later ages - by a great mass of common assumptions. . . . None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books."

7/13/2006 11:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saint Bonaventure said, "A person who finds fault with everything is a mad-man." (Collations on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Conference eight,5)

9/18/2016 5:47 AM


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