Wednesday, July 7, 2010

News: Angelo speaks at Chesterton Day

Ah - you read that title and wonder: Why is Dr. Thursday talking about Chesterton on the Duhem Society blogg?

For two - or three - reasons. First, Chesterton deserves to be included among our Great Teachers, with Duhem and Jaki. His humour and steadfast pursuit of truth and love of God are axiomatic for us. He gives us the necessary balance, the warm heart which - no, I should write the BURNING HEART - which keeps our brains tempered and accurate.

Second, because Jaki was a great student of Chesterton. If you wish an excellent introduction to Jaki's writing, start with his little volume, Chesterton a Seer of Science. It is just as true the other way: if you know Jaki and want an excellent introduction to Chesterton, you should start with that same book. We can speculate whether Duhem had known of Chesterton: there is this interesting bit in SLJ's book on Hélène:
Hélène, who by then had many opportunities watch her father draw impressive landscapes, must have seen him refer to the enormous difference between a good drawing and a snapshot of the same scenery. Undoubtedly it was this graphic vividness and richness of detail that drew Duhem toward Dickens whom he used to read aloud at home in I evenings when Hélène was a child. Duhem's attachment to Dickens around the turn of the century was not a vote for novelty. Dickens' works had been in eclipse even in his own land for several decades before Chesterton threw a powerful light on his perennial value in 1908.
[SLJ "Reluctant Heroine: the Life and Word of Hélène Duhem" 59]
And there is also a curious suggestion that Chesterton may have known of Duhem's work - a suggestion which I do not think Father Jaki observed. This excerpt is from the dialog between MacIan, a Catholic, and Turnbull, an atheist:
[MacIan said:] "...there are only two things that really progress; and they both accept accumulations of authority. They may be progressing uphill or down; they may be growing steadily better or steadily worse; but they have steadily increased in certain definable matters; they have steadily advanced in a certain definable direction; they are the only two things, it seems, that ever can progress. The first is strictly physical science. The second is the Catholic Church."

"Physical science and the Catholic Church!" said Turnbull sarcastically; "and no doubt the first owes a great deal to the second."

"If you pressed that point I might reply that it was very probable," answered MacIan calmly. "I often fancy that your historical generalizations rest frequently on random instances; I should not be surprised if your vague notions of the Church as the persecutor of science was a generalization from Galileo. I should not be at all surprised if, when you counted the scientific investigations and discoveries since the fall of Rome, you found that a great mass of them had been made by monks.
[GKC The Ball and the Cross]
Another time we can explore this more fully - it certainly seems to be a strong suggestion - indeed a handy synopsis - of Duhem's Systeme du Monde and Jaki's Science and Creation (see especially chapter 8, "The Leaven of Confidence" and chapter 10 "The Sighting of New Horizons". But let us defer it for today.

For there is a third reason I have for mentioning Chesterton here. Simply because Angelo, one of our members, recently spoke at the Chesterton Day activities in Italy - and he is also involved in the foundation of the
Irish Chesterton Society.

We should all look forward to hearing more about this. Chesterton and Jaki are irrevocably interlinked; Jaki and Duhem are irrevocably interlinked. We who seek truth should take advantage of their light - which is a reflection of the One Light.

1 comment:

Maolsheachlann said...

Thank you so much for the mention, Dr. Thursday!