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The Modern World

 

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The special feature of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. - G.K. Chesterton

SourceIllustrated London News, March 5, 1919

Full quote:

"The special feature of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of the ancient devotees, that they believed without knowing why they believed. But modern people believe without knowing what they believe - and without even knowing that they believe it. Their freedom consists in first taking a creed completely freely and then freely forgetting that they are taking it. In short, they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice. They are the dullest and deadliest ritualists who merely recite their beliefs in their subconscious, as if they were repeating their beliefs in their sleep. A man who is awake must know what he is saying and why he is saying it - that is, he must have a fixed creed and relate it to a first principle. This is what most modernists will never agree with. Their thoughts will work out the most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about where they started. They always take away the number they first thought of. They have always forgotten the fact or the fancy on which their whole theory depends."

Original text:

"The special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of the old devotees, that they believed without knowing why they believed. But the moderns believe without knowing what they believe - and without even knowing that they do believe it. Their freedom consists in first freely assuming a creed, and then freely forgetting that they are assuming it. In short, they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice. They are the dullest and deadest of ritualists who merely recite their creed in their subconsciousness, as if they repeated their creed in their sleep. A man who is awake should know what he is saying, and why he is saying it - that is, he should have a fixed creed and relate it to a first principle. This is what most moderns will never consent to do. Their thoughts will work out to most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about their beginnings. They have always taken away the number they first thought of. They have always forgotten the very fact or fancy on which their whole theory depends."

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Erwin de Ruiter

"One man tries to express himself in books, another in boots; both are likely to fail." - G.K. Chesterton

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