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 Post subject: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:02 pm 
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The title is a play on the words :D

"These are not, of course, reasons for believing that Christianity is actually true; they are simply reasons for wishing it were true (or being glad that it is). The view that one ought to believe what it would be useful to believe is Pragmatism, and that of course is totally opposed to the objective view of truth at the heart of Orthodox Christianity"


"My second major problem is GKC’s enthusiasm for democracy. He is a great supporter of democracy, because he believes in the wisdom of the ‘ordinary’ man... This is simply a secular political version of the Protestant rejection of tradition in religion."

" He applies this general view both to physics, saying that it is astonishing that the sun should rise each morning, and only does so thanks to God, and also to morality, saying that the basic principles of human action could so easily have been completely different (in a chapter appropriately title ‘The Ethics of Elfland’).
It tells us a lot about the state of Catholic education in the 20th Century that this attitude of GKC has apparently never troubled his Catholic supporters—either of his own day or of ours. GKC’s view here is based, whether he realises it or not, on the twin Protestant principles (usually regarded as rather extreme, on the scale of Protestantism) of Occasionalism (the heat from the fire may be the occasion for the bread toasting, but really it is God making it toast), and Divine Command Ethics (the obligation not to kill doesn’t follow from the objective moral importance of human life, but merely from the fact that God has chosen to forbid killing). "

From Joseph Shaw http://casuistrycentral.blogspot.com/20 ... erton.html

What are we to make of this?

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:19 am 
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I guess we can discern that you're quoting from a remarkably bad book 'review'.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:21 am 
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It's from Joseph Shaw, involved with the Extraordinary Form of your rite, and in something in defense of doctrine in the Amoris controversies.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:48 am 
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That doesn’t make it correct.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:54 am 
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First, the book under review here was written early in Chesterton's career, relatively shortly after his conversion, or I guess reversion to Anglicanism. Is absolutely everything in Orthodoxy fully reflective of Catholic teaching? Maybe or maybe not, and that raises reasons for a certain hesitation over the work, like the hesitation we might have over Lewis's works. But the point is that it's early stuff and not written by a Catholic.

Jack3 wrote:
"These are not, of course, reasons for believing that Christianity is actually true; they are simply reasons for wishing it were true (or being glad that it is). The view that one ought to believe what it would be useful to believe is Pragmatism, and that of course is totally opposed to the objective view of truth at the heart of Orthodox Christianity"

This is an absurd take on Orthodoxy. (1) As Shaw himself notes, Orthodoxy isn't really a work of apologetics, it's a 'slovenly autobiography' that presents some of Chesterton's road to orthodoxy. There is no Catholic teaching that says everyone who comes to Christ must have come there via the kinds of arguments or presuppositions that Shaw prefers. (2) There is nothing pragmatist about the idea that Chesterton actually presents, which is complicated, but sort of breaks down to a couple of things: first, that after years of struggle and thought, Chesterton found that he had developed a philosophy of his own and that it turns out that philosophy was basically orthodoxy,; and second, that orthodoxy is the best philosophical framework for the kind of life that the ordinary man wants to live. He doesn't ever say this is how to come to orthodoxy. He says this is how I came to it. (see 1 above). (3) The transcendental argument is a perfectly legitimate and objective philosophical tool. If you identify the only conditions under which X may obtain, and then you are able to establish that X obtains, then you can reasonably infer that those conditions also obtain. I'm not going to say that Orthodoxy represents a transcendental argument for orthodoxy, but I will say this: the claim that it does is more plausible than the claim that it presupposes or establishes (or whatever) pragmatism!


Quote:
"My second major problem is GKC’s enthusiasm for democracy. He is a great supporter of democracy, because he believes in the wisdom of the ‘ordinary’ man... This is simply a secular political version of the Protestant rejection of tradition in religion."

Careful with your cut. Shaw doesn't actually accuse Chesterton of the bit after the ellipses. He accuses Rousseau (or someone later but influenced by him--I read it quickly) of that. The argument here that Chesterton fails to grasp the connection between democracy and tradition because he's ignorant of Rousseau may, for all I know, involve a true premise. I do not right at the moment remember Chesterton ever writing about Rousseau, though I could be forgetting. But how irrelevant! Chesterton is making a conceptual point, not a historical one. Shaw's rebuttal is off the point.

Quote:
" He applies this general view both to physics, saying that it is astonishing that the sun should rise each morning, and only does so thanks to God, and also to morality, saying that the basic principles of human action could so easily have been completely different (in a chapter appropriately title ‘The Ethics of Elfland’).
It tells us a lot about the state of Catholic education in the 20th Century that this attitude of GKC has apparently never troubled his Catholic supporters—either of his own day or of ours. GKC’s view here is based, whether he realises it or not, on the twin Protestant principles (usually regarded as rather extreme, on the scale of Protestantism) of Occasionalism (the heat from the fire may be the occasion for the bread toasting, but really it is God making it toast), and Divine Command Ethics (the obligation not to kill doesn’t follow from the objective moral importance of human life, but merely from the fact that God has chosen to forbid killing). "

Gross misunderstandings all around. First, there's a falsehood here. It doesn't take a ton of philosophical background to see that the passages about, say, causation in the Ethics of Elfland raise some questions. I had a smart college junior ask me last semester whether Chesterton wasn't endorsing Humeanism in these passages. (Hume, after all, is just an occasionalist without God.) My own view is that Chesterton is not, but this is an interpretive leap. You can see his more mature views about this in an article called "the Revival of Philosophy: Why?" In the Ethics of Elfland, he really can sound like a Humean, and maybe he was one at that point. He wasn't, later.

What Chesterton is attacking in this chapter (among other things) is a then-dominant 'scientific' determinism which makes claims about what 'must' happen, as though the scientists (learned men with spectacles) were witnesses to these alleged necessities. In fact, these learned men were seeing repetitions and claiming necessities. But there is no law here.

GKC wrote:
All the terms used in the science books, 'law,' 'necessity,' 'order,' 'tendency,' and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess. The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree.


(The mention of the inner synthesis is the part where it lies easily open to deny any kind of humeanism to GKC here, and that point is drawn out a bit more fully in the other essay I mentioned earlier.)

The point here isn't a denial of natural law, it's simply a profound observation that the learned men with spectacles are making claims they're not entitled to. And we of course know all this is true. Given the laws of nature and given God's concurrence with the present operations of those laws, we might say the apple blossom that has been pollinated properly must produce an apple. The learned men with spectacles ignore entirely the second part there, and they misunderstand the first part. We know that the second part must obtain and at any point might not--the fire in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace did not consume the three young me, despite being real fire, and despite being able to kill the guards: God simply did not concur with the fire's operation as applied to the three young men. And we know that the first part is contingent. The 'laws of nature' are what they are because God chose them. They could be otherwise. So there are two sources of spontaneity that we orthodox folks recognize, that the learned men with spectacles deny. This is Chesterton's main point here.

But there's nothing in the Ethics of Elfland that supports divine command ethics. This completely misses the point. The 'general sentiment of revolt' that Chesterton find all around him--the attitude of the young people of his time: show me why I ought to _____!" never attracted him, because of his fairyland philosophy. Someone with the proper attitude toward the world won't approach it rebelliously, but gratefully and loyally. "If the miller's third son said to the fairy, 'explain why I must not stand on my head in the fairy palace,' the other might fairly reply, 'Well, if it comes to that, explain the fairy palace.'"

Does this suggest that Chesterton believes morality is all arbitrary? Certainly not. As he writes, "I should have resisted, let us hope, any rules that were evil, and with these and their definition I shall deal in another chapter. But I did not feel disposed to resist any rule merely because it was mysterious." There's the point.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:10 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
The title is a play on the words :D

"These are not, of course, reasons for believing that Christianity is actually true; they are simply reasons for wishing it were true (or being glad that it is). The view that one ought to believe what it would be useful to believe is Pragmatism, and that of course is totally opposed to the objective view of truth at the heart of Orthodox Christianity"


"My second major problem is GKC’s enthusiasm for democracy. He is a great supporter of democracy, because he believes in the wisdom of the ‘ordinary’ man... This is simply a secular political version of the Protestant rejection of tradition in religion."

" He applies this general view both to physics, saying that it is astonishing that the sun should rise each morning, and only does so thanks to God, and also to morality, saying that the basic principles of human action could so easily have been completely different (in a chapter appropriately title ‘The Ethics of Elfland’).
It tells us a lot about the state of Catholic education in the 20th Century that this attitude of GKC has apparently never troubled his Catholic supporters—either of his own day or of ours. GKC’s view here is based, whether he realises it or not, on the twin Protestant principles (usually regarded as rather extreme, on the scale of Protestantism) of Occasionalism (the heat from the fire may be the occasion for the bread toasting, but really it is God making it toast), and Divine Command Ethics (the obligation not to kill doesn’t follow from the objective moral importance of human life, but merely from the fact that God has chosen to forbid killing). "

From Joseph Shaw http://casuistrycentral.blogspot.com/20 ... erton.html

What are we to make of this?


I would never attempt to tell any RC what he/she should make of anything GKC said, wrote, or did, especially something written to serve as a personal spiritual autobiography, and produced roughly 13 years before he submitted to the RCC, but at the point in his life when he had determined that eventually he would do so. As I have said, I myself am personally fond of GKC, without subscribing to each and every of his crusades. And this sort of thing reminds me of the extreme reformed writers who struggle to prove that C. S. Lewis was not a Christian (by their definitions).

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:15 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
It's from Joseph Shaw, involved with the Extraordinary Form of your rite, and in something in defense of doctrine in the Amoris controversies.

Shaw seems to be a serious dude, and I am sorry to have to write about how bad this review is, but it really is very bad.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:21 am 
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He doesn't appear to know what Occasionalism is either.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:22 am 
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Shaw is right, though, that Orthodoxy is viewed by some Catholics as a great work of apologetics and it's often recommended to Catholics.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:24 am 
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Also, I think gherkin has done a really nifty job here. And if he wants to find references to Rousseau in GKC, I can supply at least passing mention in 20 of his titles.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:27 am 
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Banned for agreeing with gherkin.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:31 am 
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gherkin wrote:
First, the book under review here was written early in Chesterton's career, relatively shortly after his conversion, or I guess reversion to Anglicanism. Is absolutely everything in Orthodoxy fully reflective of Catholic teaching? Maybe or maybe not, and that raises reasons for a certain hesitation over the work, like the hesitation we might have over Lewis's works. But the point is that it's early stuff and not written by a Catholic.

Jack3 wrote:
"These are not, of course, reasons for believing that Christianity is actually true; they are simply reasons for wishing it were true (or being glad that it is). The view that one ought to believe what it would be useful to believe is Pragmatism, and that of course is totally opposed to the objective view of truth at the heart of Orthodox Christianity"

This is an absurd take on Orthodoxy. (1) As Shaw himself notes, Orthodoxy isn't really a work of apologetics, it's a 'slovenly autobiography' that presents some of Chesterton's road to orthodoxy. There is no Catholic teaching that says everyone who comes to Christ must have come there via the kinds of arguments or presuppositions that Shaw prefers. (2) There is nothing pragmatist about the idea that Chesterton actually presents, which is complicated, but sort of breaks down to a couple of things: first, that after years of struggle and thought, Chesterton found that he had developed a philosophy of his own and that it turns out that philosophy was basically orthodoxy,; and second, that orthodoxy is the best philosophical framework for the kind of life that the ordinary man wants to live. He doesn't ever say this is how to come to orthodoxy. He says this is how I came to it. (see 1 above). (3) The transcendental argument is a perfectly legitimate and objective philosophical tool. If you identify the only conditions under which X may obtain, and then you are able to establish that X obtains, then you can reasonably infer that those conditions also obtain. I'm not going to say that Orthodoxy represents a transcendental argument for orthodoxy, but I will say this: the claim that it does is more plausible than the claim that it presupposes or establishes (or whatever) pragmatism!


Quote:
"My second major problem is GKC’s enthusiasm for democracy. He is a great supporter of democracy, because he believes in the wisdom of the ‘ordinary’ man... This is simply a secular political version of the Protestant rejection of tradition in religion."

Careful with your cut. Shaw doesn't actually accuse Chesterton of the bit after the ellipses. He accuses Rousseau (or someone later but influenced by him--I read it quickly) of that. The argument here that Chesterton fails to grasp the connection between democracy and tradition because he's ignorant of Rousseau may, for all I know, involve a true premise. I do not right at the moment remember Chesterton ever writing about Rousseau, though I could be forgetting. But how irrelevant! Chesterton is making a conceptual point, not a historical one. Shaw's rebuttal is off the point.

Quote:
" He applies this general view both to physics, saying that it is astonishing that the sun should rise each morning, and only does so thanks to God, and also to morality, saying that the basic principles of human action could so easily have been completely different (in a chapter appropriately title ‘The Ethics of Elfland’).
It tells us a lot about the state of Catholic education in the 20th Century that this attitude of GKC has apparently never troubled his Catholic supporters—either of his own day or of ours. GKC’s view here is based, whether he realises it or not, on the twin Protestant principles (usually regarded as rather extreme, on the scale of Protestantism) of Occasionalism (the heat from the fire may be the occasion for the bread toasting, but really it is God making it toast), and Divine Command Ethics (the obligation not to kill doesn’t follow from the objective moral importance of human life, but merely from the fact that God has chosen to forbid killing). "

Gross misunderstandings all around. First, there's a falsehood here. It doesn't take a ton of philosophical background to see that the passages about, say, causation in the Ethics of Elfland raise some questions. I had a smart college junior ask me last semester whether Chesterton wasn't endorsing Humeanism in these passages. (Hume, after all, is just an occasionalist without God.) My own view is that Chesterton is not, but this is an interpretive leap. You can see his more mature views about this in an article called "the Revival of Philosophy: Why?" In the Ethics of Elfland, he really can sound like a Humean, and maybe he was one at that point. He wasn't, later.

What Chesterton is attacking in this chapter (among other things) is a then-dominant 'scientific' determinism which makes claims about what 'must' happen, as though the scientists (learned men with spectacles) were witnesses to these alleged necessities. In fact, these learned men were seeing repetitions and claiming necessities. But there is no law here.

GKC wrote:
All the terms used in the science books, 'law,' 'necessity,' 'order,' 'tendency,' and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess. The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree.


(The mention of the inner synthesis is the part where it lies easily open to deny any kind of humeanism to GKC here, and that point is drawn out a bit more fully in the other essay I mentioned earlier.)

The point here isn't a denial of natural law, it's simply a profound observation that the learned men with spectacles are making claims they're not entitled to. And we of course know all this is true. Given the laws of nature and given God's concurrence with the present operations of those laws, we might say the apple blossom that has been pollinated properly must produce an apple. The learned men with spectacles ignore entirely the second part there, and they misunderstand the first part. We know that the second part must obtain and at any point might not--the fire in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace did not consume the three young me, despite being real fire, and despite being able to kill the guards: God simply did not concur with the fire's operation as applied to the three young men. And we know that the first part is contingent. The 'laws of nature' are what they are because God chose them. They could be otherwise. So there are two sources of spontaneity that we orthodox folks recognize, that the learned men with spectacles deny. This is Chesterton's main point here.

But there's nothing in the Ethics of Elfland that supports divine command ethics. This completely misses the point. The 'general sentiment of revolt' that Chesterton find all around him--the attitude of the young people of his time: show me why I ought to _____!" never attracted him, because of his fairyland philosophy. Someone with the proper attitude toward the world won't approach it rebelliously, but gratefully and loyally. "If the miller's third son said to the fairy, 'explain why I must not stand on my head in the fairy palace,' the other might fairly reply, 'Well, if it comes to that, explain the fairy palace.'"

Does this suggest that Chesterton believes morality is all arbitrary? Certainly not. As he writes, "I should have resisted, let us hope, any rules that were evil, and with these and their definition I shall deal in another chapter. But I did not feel disposed to resist any rule merely because it was mysterious." There's the point.

Thank you very much

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:31 am 
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Peregrinator wrote:
Shaw is right, though, that Orthodoxy is viewed by some Catholics as a great work of apologetics and it's often recommended to Catholics.

Does it serve as a great work of apologetics?

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:46 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Banned for agreeing with gherkin.



It's happened before. Does this mean double secret banning, this time?

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:51 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
Peregrinator wrote:
Shaw is right, though, that Orthodoxy is viewed by some Catholics as a great work of apologetics and it's often recommended to Catholics.

Does it serve as a great work of apologetics?

Yes and no. It's an argument for orthodoxy in an extended sense, and can certainly make an impression! But largely it's a work of philosophy that presents a picture with an attractive power--the attractive power of the good and the beautiful; and, of course, the true. Still, the way that Chesterton is able to continually overthrow modern prejudices is astonishing to behold, and I believe many people have had obstacles to belief removed by the dozens by this book. In that sense, maybe it's more a kind of pre-evangelization. It was that way for me. Took awhile to work.

Because Chesterton is a saint and will one day be a Doctor of the Church, it is highly appropriate to recommend his works to Catholics.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:51 am 
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GKC wrote:
Also, I think gherkin has done a really nifty job here. And if he wants to find references to Rousseau in GKC, I can supply at least passing mention in 20 of his titles.

Thanks, and no! :D

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:26 am 
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gherkin wrote:
Because Chesterton is a saint and will one day be a Doctor of the Church, it is highly appropriate to recommend his works to Catholics.

He won't even be canonized let alone made a Doctor of the Church.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:46 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Banned for agreeing with gherkin.


:arrow: thataway, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 9:47 am 
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There was an investigation for his cause and it was turned down. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170791

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 Post subject: Re: GKC's orthodoxy?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:10 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
There was an investigation for his cause and it was turned down. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170791

For bogus cowardly reasons of political correctness, principally. This, too, shall pass.

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