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Thread: can't sleep and it is still a long way before getting up?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusmeister View Post
    I hope you see what GK is saying about legends and myth here. When I read him, I feel like I'm at a university where they really teach you, you really, learn, but you need a library and encyclopedia handy (nowadays, google and wikipedia, insofar as they can be trusted). And that's part of the rub. The man was a walking Wikipedia before there was ever any Wikipedia. He remembered, if not photographically, then darn close, everything he had ever read, so keeping up with him is a rewarding chore. When he died, George Bernard Shaw, a close friend and philosophical foe, atheist, socialist, and vegetarian, said, "The world is not thankful enough for Chesterton."
    I see it. Chesterton was a clever dude. Imagine being in a debate session with him. I've tried tearing apart his arguments...no small task. He says legends should be treated more respectfully than history. However, he doesn’t call for less emphasis on history itself. If someone were to argue against his view, he’s got the common man’s belief in legends as a trump card. He also uses analogy after analogy. If you say, more story telling, he’d be likely to take the opposite view and extol history.

    So, now I get your point. The dumbing down of history is pretty bad. I see it often in the US. What a shame.

    Lepanto did stop the capture of Rome by the Ottoman empire and its advancement into Europe. After Lepanto, Venice ended up handing Albania, Bosnia and Cyprus to the Turks. The Turks quickly rebuilt their fleet and took Tunis from Spain who was helpless to stop them. And Venice quickly signed a new treaty, eager to begin trading.

    I’m reading a book now about the crusades, told from both sides of the conflict. Quite good. It is mostly about the many battles that were fought. Not popular fiction, but worth reading, the book is The Crusades by Asbridge. At the same time, I’m reading a historical novel by Michelen called “The Source”. It’s sensationalist, plenty of gratuitous violence and sex but that is what Michelen novel is for. It’s mixed in with some interesting history, mostly about the Jews. Michelen tends to drone on from time to time, though. I started another book called Muhammed The World Changer, written as a work of history which it isn’t. Very simplistic. Don’t bother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xt-tsi View Post
    I see it. Chesterton was a clever dude. Imagine being in a debate session with him. I've tried tearing apart his arguments...no small task. He says legends should be treated more respectfully than history. However, he doesn’t call for less emphasis on history itself. If someone were to argue against his view, he’s got the common man’s belief in legends as a trump card. He also uses analogy after analogy. If you say, more story telling, he’d be likely to take the opposite view and extol history.

    So, now I get your point. The dumbing down of history is pretty bad. I see it often in the US. What a shame.

    Lepanto did stop the capture of Rome by the Ottoman empire and its advancement into Europe. After Lepanto, Venice ended up handing Albania, Bosnia and Cyprus to the Turks. The Turks quickly rebuilt their fleet and took Tunis from Spain who was helpless to stop them. And Venice quickly signed a new treaty, eager to begin trading.

    I’m reading a book now about the crusades, told from both sides of the conflict. Quite good. It is mostly about the many battles that were fought. Not popular fiction, but worth reading, the book is The Crusades by Asbridge. At the same time, I’m reading a historical novel by Michelen called “The Source”. It’s sensationalist, plenty of gratuitous violence and sex but that is what Michelen novel is for. It’s mixed in with some interesting history, mostly about the Jews. Michelen tends to drone on from time to time, though. I started another book called Muhammed The World Changer, written as a work of history which it isn’t. Very simplistic. Don’t bother.
    I'm sorry the "thank" button doesn't work.

    But Chesterton was more than clever. He was a genius of the sort encountered only once or twice in a millennium. He was world-famous in his time, and later suppressed by the people controlling the public education curriculum, who, unlike the enemies of his own time, whom he befriended, never knew him personally, only hated his ideas, but they got to set the curriculum in the schools. If you want an example of genuine bona-fide genius, although it permeates all of his vast work that I have been studying for nearly twenty years now, you need look no further than the story of how he wrote his book on St Thomas Aquinas, which caused all of the Thomist scholars to bow before him.
    https://www.chesterton.org/lecture-67/
    The fact that his enemies in his lifetime praised him ought to be, at the very least, a clue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rusmeister View Post
    I'm sorry the "thank" button doesn't work.

    But Chesterton was more than clever. He was a genius of the sort encountered only once or twice in a millennium. He was world-famous in his time, and later suppressed by the people controlling the public education curriculum, who, unlike the enemies of his own time, whom he befriended, never knew him personally, only hated his ideas, but they got to set the curriculum in the schools. If you want an example of genuine bona-fide genius, although it permeates all of his vast work that I have been studying for nearly twenty years now, you need look no further than the story of how he wrote his book on St Thomas Aquinas, which caused all of the Thomist scholars to bow before him.
    https://www.chesterton.org/lecture-67/
    The fact that his enemies in his lifetime praised him ought to be, at the very least, a clue.
    Yes, Chesterton was a master. Saying he was clever was tongue in cheek. It's a disadvantage of these comments on line. In person, you'd have picked that up. His writing is one masterpiece after another and he knows how to hedge his bets. This is one of my favorites: “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.” Something there for everybody.

    I see Chesterton brought up more and more lately. What do you like about him? Would you care to send one of his opinions and I will try to disagree with it?

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    If you trust the government you obviously failed history class. " George Carlin"

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    Quote Originally Posted by xt-tsi View Post
    Yes, Chesterton was a master. Saying he was clever was tongue in cheek. It's a disadvantage of these comments on line. In person, you'd have picked that up. His writing is one masterpiece after another and he knows how to hedge his bets. This is one of my favorites: “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.” Something there for everybody.

    I see Chesterton brought up more and more lately. What do you like about him? Would you care to send one of his opinions and I will try to disagree with it?
    In a way, it's hard to talk about what I have found in Chesterton. He was a man, with flaws, and yes, I can criticize him. I think he was wrong about a few pretty big things.
    And from the other side, there is the problem that he was internationally famous in his lifetime, and completely forgotten shortly afterwards - kind of like Charles Dickens was. (Of course, WW2 was quite a distraction). And that "forgetfulness" was aided by his philosophical enemies, who came to control the public educations system, hated him, and had the power to set curriculum. So people understandably ask, "If he was so great, why have I never heard of him?" So more than any other writer in the English language, he is something to be discovered, and little by little, because there is so much to discover.
    Dale Ahlquist has said, "To argue with Chesterton is to lose." While that proposition can be debated, of course, I think the great discovery is his charity and magnanimity towards those who disagreed, and the effect, in his lifetime, was, if not to convert his enemies, at least to win their admiration. From GB Shaw, to HG Wells, to Clarence Darrow, they all said, "Gosh, I would like to be friends with this guy", and Wells famously said that if he was wrong and GK right, he hoped he would be admitted into heaven on the basis of being GK's friend. And I think you might agree that friendliness in strong disagreement over important issues , kindness, and the ability to both stand firmly for a position AND appreciate everything that is right in one's opponent, are qualities that are sorely lacking in our time. If we could turn our enemies into our friends, the world would be a better place. And his influence on Tolkien and Lewis, and many others, was immense.

    So I think that, rather than looking for something to disagree with, it would be better just to encounter him and see what exactly you both agree and disagree with. To see his bubbling humor and gigantic humility and self-effacement is a balm in an age when most people are selling themselves.

    You can both have fun and feel your brain actually working a little while reading the short quotes you can find in such a search. When you get that the thoughts are interconnected with other thoughts into a holistic way of seeing things, it becomes clear that you are dealing with genius, and not mere cleverness.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=GK+...ges&iax=images

    And for a fun introduction to a book I am working on translating now, here is the whole of chapter one:

    " PART ONE

    THE HOMELESSNESS OF MAN

    * * *

    THE MEDICAL MISTAKE

    A book of modern social inquiry has a shape that is somewhat sharply defined. It begins as a rule with an analysis, with statistics, tables of population, decrease of crime among Congregationalists, growth of hysteria among policemen, and similar ascertained facts; it ends with a chapter that is generally called "The Remedy." It is almost wholly due to this careful, solid, and scientific method that "The Remedy" is never found. For this scheme of medical question and answer is a blunder; the first great blunder of sociology. It is always called stating the disease before we find the cure. But it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease .

    The fallacy is one of the fifty fallacies that come from the modern madness for biological or bodily metaphors. It is convenient to speak of the Social Organism, just as it is convenient to speak of the British Lion. But Britain is no more an organism than Britain is a lion. The moment we begin to give a nation the unity and simplicity of an animal, we begin to think wildly. Because every man is a biped, fifty men are not a centipede. This has produced, for instance, the gaping absurdity of perpetually talking about "young nations" and "dying nations," as if a nation had a fixed and physical span of life. Thus people will say that Spain has entered a final senility; they might as well say that Spain is losing all her teeth. Or people will say that Canada should soon produce a literature; which is like saying that Canada must soon grow a new moustache. Nations consist of people; the first generation may be decrepit, or the ten thousandth may be vigorous. Similar applications of the fallacy are made by those who see in the increasing size of national possessions, a simple increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. These people, indeed, even fall short in subtlety of the parallel of a human body. They do not even ask whether an empire is growing taller in its youth, or only growing fatter in its old age. But of all the instances of error arising from this physical fancy, the worst is that we have before us: the habit of exhaustively describing a social sickness, and then propounding a social drug.

    Now we do talk first about the disease in cases of bodily breakdown; and that for an excellent reason. Because, though there may be doubt about the way in which the body broke down, there is no doubt at all about the shape in which it should be built up again. No doctor proposes to produce a new kind of man, with a new arrangement of eyes or limbs. The hospital, by necessity, may send a man home with one leg less: but it will not (in a creative rapture) send him home with one leg extra. Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it.

    But social science is by no means always content with the normal human soul; it has all sorts of fancy souls for sale. Man as a social idealist will say "I am tired of being a Puritan; I want to be a Pagan," or "Beyond this dark probation of Individualism I see the shining paradise of Collectivism." Now in bodily ills there is none of this difference about the ultimate ideal. The patient may or may not want quinine; but he certainly wants health. No one says "I am tired of this headache; I want some toothache," or "The only thing for this Russian influenza is a few German measles," or "Through this dark probation of catarrh I see the shining paradise of rheumatism." But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. Mr. Belloc once said that he would no more part with the idea of property than with his teeth; yet to Mr. Bernard Shaw property is not a tooth, but a toothache. Lord Milner has sincerely attempted to introduce German efficiency; and many of us would as soon welcome German measles. Dr. Saleeby would honestly like to have Eugenics; but I would rather have rheumatics.

    This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other's eyes out. We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing. We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one. Everyone is indignant if our army is weak, including the people who would be even more indignant if it were strong. The social case is exactly the opposite of the medical case. We do not disagree, like doctors, about the precise nature of the illness, while agreeing about the nature of health. On the contrary, we all agree that England is unhealthy, but half of us would not look at her in what the other half would call blooming health . Public abuses are so prominent and pestilent that they sweep all generous people into a sort of fictitious unanimity. We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them. Mr. Cadbury and I would agree about the bad public house. It would be precisely in front of the good public-house that our painful personal fracas would occur.

    I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right."
    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/whats_wrong.html

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusmeister View Post
    In a way, it's hard to talk about what I have found in Chesterton. He was a man, with flaws, and yes, I can criticize him. I think he was wrong about a few pretty big things.
    And from the other side, there is the problem that he was internationally famous in his lifetime, and completely forgotten shortly afterwards - kind of like Charles Dickens was. (Of course, WW2 was quite a distraction). And that "forgetfulness" was aided by his philosophical enemies, who came to control the public educations system, hated him, and had the power to set curriculum. So people understandably ask, "If he was so great, why have I never heard of him?" So more than any other writer in the English language, he is something to be discovered, and little by little, because there is so much to discover.
    Dale Ahlquist has said, "To argue with Chesterton is to lose." While that proposition can be debated, of course, I think the great discovery is his charity and magnanimity towards those who disagreed, and the effect, in his lifetime, was, if not to convert his enemies, at least to win their admiration. From GB Shaw, to HG Wells, to Clarence Darrow, they all said, "Gosh, I would like to be friends with this guy", and Wells famously said that if he was wrong and GK right, he hoped he would be admitted into heaven on the basis of being GK's friend. And I think you might agree that friendliness in strong disagreement over important issues , kindness, and the ability to both stand firmly for a position AND appreciate everything that is right in one's opponent, are qualities that are sorely lacking in our time. If we could turn our enemies into our friends, the world would be a better place. And his influence on Tolkien and Lewis, and many others, was immense.

    So I think that, rather than looking for something to disagree with, it would be better just to encounter him and see what exactly you both agree and disagree with. To see his bubbling humor and gigantic humility and self-effacement is a balm in an age when most people are selling themselves.

    You can both have fun and feel your brain actually working a little while reading the short quotes you can find in such a search. When you get that the thoughts are interconnected with other thoughts into a holistic way of seeing things, it becomes clear that you are dealing with genius, and not mere cleverness.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=GK+...ges&iax=images

    And for a fun introduction to a book I am working on translating now, here is the whole of chapter one:

    " PART ONE

    THE HOMELESSNESS OF MAN

    * * *

    THE MEDICAL MISTAKE

    A book of modern social inquiry has a shape that is somewhat sharply defined. It begins as a rule with an analysis, with statistics, tables of population, decrease of crime among Congregationalists, growth of hysteria among policemen, and similar ascertained facts; it ends with a chapter that is generally called "The Remedy." It is almost wholly due to this careful, solid, and scientific method that "The Remedy" is never found. For this scheme of medical question and answer is a blunder; the first great blunder of sociology. It is always called stating the disease before we find the cure. But it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease .

    The fallacy is one of the fifty fallacies that come from the modern madness for biological or bodily metaphors. It is convenient to speak of the Social Organism, just as it is convenient to speak of the British Lion. But Britain is no more an organism than Britain is a lion. The moment we begin to give a nation the unity and simplicity of an animal, we begin to think wildly. Because every man is a biped, fifty men are not a centipede. This has produced, for instance, the gaping absurdity of perpetually talking about "young nations" and "dying nations," as if a nation had a fixed and physical span of life. Thus people will say that Spain has entered a final senility; they might as well say that Spain is losing all her teeth. Or people will say that Canada should soon produce a literature; which is like saying that Canada must soon grow a new moustache. Nations consist of people; the first generation may be decrepit, or the ten thousandth may be vigorous. Similar applications of the fallacy are made by those who see in the increasing size of national possessions, a simple increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. These people, indeed, even fall short in subtlety of the parallel of a human body. They do not even ask whether an empire is growing taller in its youth, or only growing fatter in its old age. But of all the instances of error arising from this physical fancy, the worst is that we have before us: the habit of exhaustively describing a social sickness, and then propounding a social drug.

    Now we do talk first about the disease in cases of bodily breakdown; and that for an excellent reason. Because, though there may be doubt about the way in which the body broke down, there is no doubt at all about the shape in which it should be built up again. No doctor proposes to produce a new kind of man, with a new arrangement of eyes or limbs. The hospital, by necessity, may send a man home with one leg less: but it will not (in a creative rapture) send him home with one leg extra. Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it.

    But social science is by no means always content with the normal human soul; it has all sorts of fancy souls for sale. Man as a social idealist will say "I am tired of being a Puritan; I want to be a Pagan," or "Beyond this dark probation of Individualism I see the shining paradise of Collectivism." Now in bodily ills there is none of this difference about the ultimate ideal. The patient may or may not want quinine; but he certainly wants health. No one says "I am tired of this headache; I want some toothache," or "The only thing for this Russian influenza is a few German measles," or "Through this dark probation of catarrh I see the shining paradise of rheumatism." But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. Mr. Belloc once said that he would no more part with the idea of property than with his teeth; yet to Mr. Bernard Shaw property is not a tooth, but a toothache. Lord Milner has sincerely attempted to introduce German efficiency; and many of us would as soon welcome German measles. Dr. Saleeby would honestly like to have Eugenics; but I would rather have rheumatics.

    This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other's eyes out. We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing. We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one. Everyone is indignant if our army is weak, including the people who would be even more indignant if it were strong. The social case is exactly the opposite of the medical case. We do not disagree, like doctors, about the precise nature of the illness, while agreeing about the nature of health. On the contrary, we all agree that England is unhealthy, but half of us would not look at her in what the other half would call blooming health . Public abuses are so prominent and pestilent that they sweep all generous people into a sort of fictitious unanimity. We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them. Mr. Cadbury and I would agree about the bad public house. It would be precisely in front of the good public-house that our painful personal fracas would occur.

    I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right."
    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/whats_wrong.html
    Chesterton uses a tactic I ran into during my corporate days. While presenting a business plan, someone yahoo from management would ask me to define my strategy. This usually came from a finance guy who wasn’t happy with my profit outlook. By burrowing down into a dissected definition of my strategy, a discussion of the plan itself could be minimized or better yet, discredited. Chesterton is doing the same thing by saying that the “social ideal” should be discussed before examining the “social evil”. In this way, Chesterton avoids discussing the social evil entirely. It isn’t even given the light of day.

    Another Chesterton approach is to use analogies that seem to show people’s beliefs are contradictory. It’s vague, but well written and quotable. Take the sentence “We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty”. I think both have merit. Poverty should be disliked, and an independent and dignified poverty should be discussed. Chesterton seems to think otherwise, although he doesn’t come right out and say it. Instead, he likes the dignified poverty business, apparently. This seems to be intended to discredit something…sociology? Chesterton makes it vague so anything you say can be denied. He goes on to say, “We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity”. Shouldn’t prostitution be disapproved of, whether someone approves of purity or not? Do people have to approve of purity entirely to disapprove of certain actions? If that were true, nothing could be disapproved since no one is pure. These are only two sentences of many. Chesterton is skilled at pouring on the quotable sentences that indicate something profound. Arguing against one or two of these statements is difficult, against all of them, impossible. And at the end of the day, the original premise, Chesterton’s disdain for sociology, is forgotten. Debate won.

    I’m left wondering how Chesterton’s logic shows that “the common sociological method is quite useless” when he hasn’t talked about the common sociological method at all. What I can see is that Chesterton has masterfully changed the subject. And his individual sentences are works of art. He is someone who would make you enjoy losing a debate, even if he hasn’t changed your mind about anything. He hasn’t changed mine, but I enjoy reading what he has to say.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusmeister View Post
    In a way, it's hard to talk about what I have found in Chesterton. He was a man, with flaws, and yes, I can criticize him. I think he was wrong about a few pretty big things.
    And from the other side, there is the problem that he was internationally famous in his lifetime, and completely forgotten shortly afterwards - kind of like Charles Dickens was. (Of course, WW2 was quite a distraction). And that "forgetfulness" was aided by his philosophical enemies, who came to control the public educations system, hated him, and had the power to set curriculum. So people understandably ask, "If he was so great, why have I never heard of him?" So more than any other writer in the English language, he is something to be discovered, and little by little, because there is so much to discover.
    Dale Ahlquist has said, "To argue with Chesterton is to lose." While that proposition can be debated, of course, I think the great discovery is his charity and magnanimity towards those who disagreed, and the effect, in his lifetime, was, if not to convert his enemies, at least to win their admiration. From GB Shaw, to HG Wells, to Clarence Darrow, they all said, "Gosh, I would like to be friends with this guy", and Wells famously said that if he was wrong and GK right, he hoped he would be admitted into heaven on the basis of being GK's friend. And I think you might agree that friendliness in strong disagreement over important issues , kindness, and the ability to both stand firmly for a position AND appreciate everything that is right in one's opponent, are qualities that are sorely lacking in our time. If we could turn our enemies into our friends, the world would be a better place. And his influence on Tolkien and Lewis, and many others, was immense.

    So I think that, rather than looking for something to disagree with, it would be better just to encounter him and see what exactly you both agree and disagree with. To see his bubbling humor and gigantic humility and self-effacement is a balm in an age when most people are selling themselves.

    You can both have fun and feel your brain actually working a little while reading the short quotes you can find in such a search. When you get that the thoughts are interconnected with other thoughts into a holistic way of seeing things, it becomes clear that you are dealing with genius, and not mere cleverness.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=GK+...ges&iax=images

    And for a fun introduction to a book I am working on translating now, here is the whole of chapter one:

    " PART ONE

    THE HOMELESSNESS OF MAN

    * * *

    THE MEDICAL MISTAKE

    A book of modern social inquiry has a shape that is somewhat sharply defined. It begins as a rule with an analysis, with statistics, tables of population, decrease of crime among Congregationalists, growth of hysteria among policemen, and similar ascertained facts; it ends with a chapter that is generally called "The Remedy." It is almost wholly due to this careful, solid, and scientific method that "The Remedy" is never found. For this scheme of medical question and answer is a blunder; the first great blunder of sociology. It is always called stating the disease before we find the cure. But it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease .

    The fallacy is one of the fifty fallacies that come from the modern madness for biological or bodily metaphors. It is convenient to speak of the Social Organism, just as it is convenient to speak of the British Lion. But Britain is no more an organism than Britain is a lion. The moment we begin to give a nation the unity and simplicity of an animal, we begin to think wildly. Because every man is a biped, fifty men are not a centipede. This has produced, for instance, the gaping absurdity of perpetually talking about "young nations" and "dying nations," as if a nation had a fixed and physical span of life. Thus people will say that Spain has entered a final senility; they might as well say that Spain is losing all her teeth. Or people will say that Canada should soon produce a literature; which is like saying that Canada must soon grow a new moustache. Nations consist of people; the first generation may be decrepit, or the ten thousandth may be vigorous. Similar applications of the fallacy are made by those who see in the increasing size of national possessions, a simple increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. These people, indeed, even fall short in subtlety of the parallel of a human body. They do not even ask whether an empire is growing taller in its youth, or only growing fatter in its old age. But of all the instances of error arising from this physical fancy, the worst is that we have before us: the habit of exhaustively describing a social sickness, and then propounding a social drug.

    Now we do talk first about the disease in cases of bodily breakdown; and that for an excellent reason. Because, though there may be doubt about the way in which the body broke down, there is no doubt at all about the shape in which it should be built up again. No doctor proposes to produce a new kind of man, with a new arrangement of eyes or limbs. The hospital, by necessity, may send a man home with one leg less: but it will not (in a creative rapture) send him home with one leg extra. Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it.

    But social science is by no means always content with the normal human soul; it has all sorts of fancy souls for sale. Man as a social idealist will say "I am tired of being a Puritan; I want to be a Pagan," or "Beyond this dark probation of Individualism I see the shining paradise of Collectivism." Now in bodily ills there is none of this difference about the ultimate ideal. The patient may or may not want quinine; but he certainly wants health. No one says "I am tired of this headache; I want some toothache," or "The only thing for this Russian influenza is a few German measles," or "Through this dark probation of catarrh I see the shining paradise of rheumatism." But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. Mr. Belloc once said that he would no more part with the idea of property than with his teeth; yet to Mr. Bernard Shaw property is not a tooth, but a toothache. Lord Milner has sincerely attempted to introduce German efficiency; and many of us would as soon welcome German measles. Dr. Saleeby would honestly like to have Eugenics; but I would rather have rheumatics.

    This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other's eyes out. We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing. We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one. Everyone is indignant if our army is weak, including the people who would be even more indignant if it were strong. The social case is exactly the opposite of the medical case. We do not disagree, like doctors, about the precise nature of the illness, while agreeing about the nature of health. On the contrary, we all agree that England is unhealthy, but half of us would not look at her in what the other half would call blooming health . Public abuses are so prominent and pestilent that they sweep all generous people into a sort of fictitious unanimity. We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them. Mr. Cadbury and I would agree about the bad public house. It would be precisely in front of the good public-house that our painful personal fracas would occur.

    I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right."
    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/whats_wrong.html
    Chesterton uses a tactic I ran into during my corporate days. While presenting a business plan, someone yahoo from management would ask me to define my strategy. This usually came from a finance guy who wasn’t happy with my profit outlook. By burrowing down into a dissected definition of my strategy, a discussion of the plan itself could be minimized or better yet, discredited. Chesterton is doing the same thing by saying that the “social ideal” should be discussed before examining the “social evil”. In this way, Chesterton avoids discussing the social evil entirely. It isn’t even given the light of day.

    Another Chesterton approach is to use analogies that seem to show people’s beliefs are contradictory. It’s vague, but well written and quotable. Take the sentence “We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty”. I think both have merit. Poverty should be disliked, and an independent and dignified poverty should be discussed. Chesterton seems to think otherwise, although he doesn’t come right out and say it. Instead, he likes the dignified poverty business, apparently. This seems to be intended to discredit something…sociology? Chesterton makes it vague so anything you say can be denied. He goes on to say, “We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity”. Shouldn’t prostitution be disapproved of, whether someone approves of purity or not? Do people have to approve of purity entirely to disapprove of certain actions? If that were true, nothing could be disapproved since no one is pure. These are only two sentences of many. Chesterton is skilled at pouring on the quotable sentences that indicate something profound. Arguing against one or two of these statements is difficult, against all of them, impossible. And at the end of the day, the original premise, Chesterton’s disdain for sociology, is forgotten. Debate won.

    I’m left wondering how Chesterton’s logic shows that “the common sociological method is quite useless” when he hasn’t talked about the common sociological method at all. What I can see is that Chesterton has masterfully changed the subject. And his individual sentences are works of art. He is someone who would make you enjoy losing a debate, even if he hasn’t changed your mind about anything. He hasn’t changed mine, but I enjoy reading what he has to say.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by xt-tsi View Post
    Chesterton uses a tactic I ran into during my corporate days. While presenting a business plan, someone yahoo from management would ask me to define my strategy. This usually came from a finance guy who wasn’t happy with my profit outlook. By burrowing down into a dissected definition of my strategy, a discussion of the plan itself could be minimized or better yet, discredited. Chesterton is doing the same thing by saying that the “social ideal” should be discussed before examining the “social evil”. In this way, Chesterton avoids discussing the social evil entirely. It isn’t even given the light of day.

    Another Chesterton approach is to use analogies that seem to show people’s beliefs are contradictory. It’s vague, but well written and quotable. Take the sentence “We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty”. I think both have merit. Poverty should be disliked, and an independent and dignified poverty should be discussed. Chesterton seems to think otherwise, although he doesn’t come right out and say it. Instead, he likes the dignified poverty business, apparently. This seems to be intended to discredit something…sociology? Chesterton makes it vague so anything you say can be denied. He goes on to say, “We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity”. Shouldn’t prostitution be disapproved of, whether someone approves of purity or not? Do people have to approve of purity entirely to disapprove of certain actions? If that were true, nothing could be disapproved since no one is pure. These are only two sentences of many. Chesterton is skilled at pouring on the quotable sentences that indicate something profound. Arguing against one or two of these statements is difficult, against all of them, impossible. And at the end of the day, the original premise, Chesterton’s disdain for sociology, is forgotten. Debate won.

    I’m left wondering how Chesterton’s logic shows that “the common sociological method is quite useless” when he hasn’t talked about the common sociological method at all. What I can see is that Chesterton has masterfully changed the subject. And his individual sentences are works of art. He is someone who would make you enjoy losing a debate, even if he hasn’t changed your mind about anything. He hasn’t changed mine, but I enjoy reading what he has to say.
    Hi!
    What strikes me about your response is that you immediately sought to argue what was said rather than appreciate it. It doesn't seem from your response that you have sought to understand what he is trying to say, only to debunk it. That hardly seems like a fair hearing to me. All the more when he begins with the thesis that we do not agree on what the evil is, and that is only the first 1% of the book. I get that you appreciate his amiability, but don't seem to see that you need a thesis statement establishing that there is a problem before you can even begin to deal with the problem. That is only the introductory chapter. You're looking for the conclusion already without giving the thesis a hearing, treating the introductory statement like the whole thesis.

    Of COURSE he discusses the social evil in the book. But how on earth could he get you to consider even whether he is right or wrong except by first establishing that we do not in fact agree? It's not vague. It's thorough.

    " Chesterton seems to think otherwise, although he doesn’t come right out and say it."
    Not in the least. He DOES think both propositions, and said so. It's not vague. If something seems vague, you could ask me to reword it according to 21st century sensibilities.
    In Chesterton's time, the populace DID disapprove of prostitution (and rightly so, and it is a highly defensible stand), and in 1908, nobody disputed this. The people who used the women (like meat, for their pleasure, to the shame of the women) did so in secret.

    Just as an example of how his words can be rephrased while retaining the meaning, yes, you DO have to approve of purity, you have to know moral right from wrong, and think right right, and wrong wrong, in order to disapprove of certain actions, that is, declare them wrong. The whole truth of the human condition is that we know what is right, yet we do wrong. We know we ought to be good, selfless, give up our seat in the metro for one who needs it more than we do, and yet we don't. We take the bigger piece of pie, we cut off others in traffic. In a word, we sin, even though we DO approve of goodness, because we still know what is right, even when we don't do it.

    Chesterton rightly attacks sociology. And you don't ask why. I can defend that. The problem is that the social scientist is trying to examine himself from the outside, and looking at humans as if they were alien bugs, as if one were to take out one's own eyeballs to look at oneself. There are reasons sociology ought to be at least a little suspect, not the least of which, is the tendency of fallen man to attempt to control and manipulate others through the behavioral sciences (insofar as they ARE sciences). But his overarching premise is NOT that sociology is bad, but that we do not agree on what is good and right.

    So maybe you could try to hold the swift judgements in abeyance until you get the whole picture he is trying to communicate. You may disagree with him even then, but you could not fail, like Shaw before you did, to like him. It took me a few books to get his drift, but when I did, I was astounded. I could see vistas more vast than I had ever seen, and realized that I had clambered on the shoulders of someone much bigger than me.

    Here's the whole book, even the dedication is fun.

    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/whats_wrong.html

    You could even look up Masterman and GK's relation to him. The Maisie Ward biography is really great, full of details that only a close family friend could know, plenty of research and correspondence with Shaw and Wells, etc.

    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/18707-8.txt

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    Quote Originally Posted by xt-tsi View Post
    He goes on to say, “We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity”. Shouldn’t prostitution be disapproved of, whether someone approves of purity or not? Do people have to approve of purity entirely to disapprove of certain actions? If that were true, nothing could be disapproved since no one is pure.
    Hi, again!
    In an effort to give YOU a fair hearing, I’ve reread your words and see that I was “barking up the wrong tree” and didn’t really pay attention to one sentence of yours here, having read your “Shouldn’t” as “should”. My apologies! I went off on a wrong tangent through quick reading and carelessness of my own. Mea culpa!

    By “purity”, he does not mean “perfection in everything”, or “sinless”. He means “chastity”, which in Russian is “целомудрие». So some people might disapprove of prostitution as such, but approve of, or at least, not disapprove of “dalliances”, men “sewing their wild oats” among young women (fornication), and “affairs” (the euphemism for adultery).

    But again, his disdain for sociology is NOT the main idea of the book. It only establishes that sociology generally fails to solve the problems it offers to solve because it does not approach the problem rightly, by asking “What is right?”, “What is the ideal?”, “What good end SHOULD we be aiming at?”

    Quote Originally Posted by xt-tsi View Post
    I’m left wondering how Chesterton’s logic shows that “the common sociological method is quite useless” when he hasn’t talked about the common sociological method at all. What I can see is that Chesterton has masterfully changed the subject. And his individual sentences are works of art. He is someone who would make you enjoy losing a debate, even if he hasn’t changed your mind about anything. He hasn’t changed mine, but I enjoy reading what he has to say.
    I would add here that he is speaking in general, and assumes the reader has some familiarity with books, articles and speeches addressing sociological issues, identifying problems, and offering solutions, as nearly all of us must have some familiarity, some exposure, to efforts to deal with public education, gun violence, the admittance of sexual anarchy in society, etc., and I think it hard to deny that such efforts generally identify problems and offer solutions, but do not generally, as a rule, identify what the social ideal ought to be and attain agreement on that. We DON’T agree on the social ideal. For some people, the anti-utopia is a utopia. Many dream of a world (and even write fiction, science fiction, and fantasy stories about a world) in which everyone can “have sex” with whomever or whatever one wishes with no consequences or responsibilities. Some believe in enforced socialism, or enforced capitalism, across the globe, some believe that borders ought not exist, others, that they are essential, and so on. Rivers of media address these issues, but hardly ever identify what the right picture ought to look like, and when they ever do, it turns out that we don’t agree on what the right picture looks like. That is his premise, and it is made crystal clear in the final sentence of the chapter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Wally View Post
    The US is not a Democracy, it's an Ogilarchy.
    They may try to make you think you have a vote, a say in your government but you don't.
    readup one of my posts what the american PUBLIC thinks of their democracy...
    There is no greater treasure then pleasure....

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