Tuesday, January 23, 2007

G.K. Chesterton

I randomly stumbled across this man's profile while browsing Wikipedia. Quite an incredible person. He never graduated college yet he wrote "around 80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays and several plays" and was critically acclaimed. He's known for his witty remarks and his "Uncommon Sense" approach to philosophy:

Thus when Mr. H. G. Wells says (as he did somewhere), "All chairs are quite different," he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them "all chairs."

Is he right? My position is that "chair" is a logical (linguistic) construction. It is an approximation. Classifying all chairs together under a concept doesn't mean that they are all the same empirically.

The wild worship of lawlessness and the materialist worship of law end in the same void. Nietzsche scales staggering mountains, but he turns up ultimately in Tibet. He sits down beside Tolstoy in the land of nothing and Nirvana. They are both helpless—one because he must not grasp anything, and the other because he must not let go of anything. The Tolstoyan’s will is frozen by a Buddhist instinct that all special actions are evil. But the Nietzscheite’s will is quite equally frozen by his view that all special actions are good; for if all special actions are good, none of them are special. They stand at the crossroads, and one hates all the roads and the other likes all the roads. The result is—well, some things are not hard to calculate. They stand at the cross-roads.[14]

Again, I disagree. I've never read anything by Tolstoy but I don't agree that Nietzsche is ultimately a Buddhist. (That is what he's saying, isn't it?)

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.

He also came up with an economic theory called distributism, in which the ownership of large companies is distributed among a large group of people. Sounds good to me.


James Stratton-Crawley said...

The author of the above likely based his/her comments about Tibet and Nietzsche on his 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' who is a prophet come down from the mountains after many years to teach enlightenment.

However, I find the same passage to be needlessly post-modern nonsense. The goal of writing is to communicate something, and although I am highly literate, the passage communicates to me very little, if anything.

undergroundman said...

You find Nietzsche's passage to be needlessly postmodern?

It's called symbolism. And Nietzsche predates postmodernism by at least seventy years.

Writing is art. There's more to life (and literature) than communication; communication is a means to an end. What end might that be? Could it be -- beauty? Sex? Accomplishment? Enlightenment? Any number of things, perhaps?

Roy F. Moore said...

Undergroundman, this is Roy F. Moore, one of the contributors to the news and opinion weblog "The Distributist Review". I wanted to thank you for your nice remarks about G. K. Chesterton and Distributism.

There is much more to learn about Chesterton, his wit and wisdom. Permit me to direct you to the website of the American Chesterton Society - www.chesterton.org - which will give you some substantial information about this giant of the 20th Century.

Also there is a Distributism Yahoo Group as well as a couple of weblogs that speak about and promote this alternative to BOTH Socialism and Capitalism. The one I contribute to is at - distributism.blogspot.com - and another is the ChesterBelloc Mandate at - distributist.blogspot.com.

I hope this will whet your appetite to learn more about these subjects. Thank you for your time and attention. Have a great rest of the week!

undergroundman said...

Hey, thanks. I'm heading over to check it out. I'm fairly interested in economics. It's a shame these alternative ideas don't get much attention, eh?