Monday, February 25, 2008

Philosophy of St. Thomas - Chesterton

I bumped into this great passage from Chesterton's biography of St. Thomas elsewhere and simply had to blog it here, too :-)
Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality; to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense (p. 134).
Against all this the philosophy of St. Thomas stands founded on the universal common conviction that eggs are eggs. The Hegelian may say that an egg is really a hen, because it is a part of an endless process of Becoming; the Berkeleian may hold that poached eggs only exist as a dream exists; since it is quite as easy to call the dream the cause of the eggs as the eggs the cause of the dream; the Pragmatist may believe that we get the best out of scrambled eggs by forgetting that they ever were eggs, and only remembering the scramble. But no pupil of St. Thomas needs to addle his brains in order adequately to addle his eggs; to put his head at any peculiar angle in looking at eggs, or squinting at eggs, or winking the other eye in order to see a new simplification of eggs. The Thomist stands in the broad daylight of the brotherhood of men, in their common consciousness that eggs are not hens or dreams or mere practical assumptions; but things attested by the Authority of the Senses, which is from God (p. 135-136; emphasis added).
I am going to have to read this book again. :-)


Mike Burgess said...

Love that quote. I remember reading that when I was studying Scottish Common Sense philosophy. Things had sort of coalesced around that time (and before) which led me to seriously undertake the study of Aquinas and reinvestigate Catholicism. Glad I did.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Mike,

By "reinvestigate" mean you're a convert, or a revert?

I've got Hume lying about on my shelf to read someday...but more likely I'll read Aristotle and St. Thomas again first :-)

-- RdP

Mike Burgess said...

It's a long story: pre-VII Catholic mom who took us to Mass when we were kids, Presbyterian dad who insisted on Reformed upbringing later, Campbellite wife... revert, I guess is the best way to say it.

In re: Scottish Common Sense philosophy, I was thinking of Thomas Reid and Francis Hutcheson, et alia, who had reacted to Hume and Kant and influenced Charles Sanders Peirce, whom I was concentrating on in my as-yet-unfinished bachelor's in philosophy.