Thursday, March 27, 2014

On the value of philosophy.

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good --”

At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily.

Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the streets, no man knowing whom he strikes.

So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

-- G.K. Chesterton in Heretics

Linking up to Weekends With Chesterton, hosted by Mary this week.

7 comments:

Lisa Richards said...

Ah, yes. I'm looking forward to getting into my stash of GKC books on my Kindle! Thanks for again whetting my appetite! :)

Jeannette said...

Such a powerful analogy for our day. Thank you for lighting up this passage with your attention and your candle of faith.

Sara said...

Succinct and powerful!

Farm Girl said...

Very good thoughts. How is it with you and new additions. :) (Code words.)

Anna Yager said...

What a great quote! GKC strikes again...

M.K. said...

What an excellent passage!

GretchenJoanna said...

M.K., You can now read these older posts on my new blog, you know! <3