Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Awaits at the End of Thought?

You guessed it folks: more Chesterton. Been reading tons of him (for thesis work) lately and there is no end to the quotes I could pass along. This one, however, is a little insight into his own conversion which I find fascinating. It comes from his Autobiography.

"At a very early age I had thought my way back to thought itself. It is a very dreadful thing to do; for it may lead to thinking there is nothing but thought. At this time I did not very clearly distinguish between dreaming and waking; not only as a mood, but as a metaphysical doubt, I felt as if everything might be a dream. It was as if I had myself projected the universe from within, with all its trees and stars; and that is so near to the notion of being God that it is manifestly even nearer to going mad. Yet I was not mad, in any medical or physical sense; I was simply carrying the scepticism of my time as far as it would go. And I soon found it would go a great deal further than most of my sceptics went.

While dull atheists came and explained to me that there was nothing but matter, I listened with a sort of calm horror of detachment, suspecting that there was nothing but mind. . . . The atheist told me so pompously that he did not believe there was any God; and there were moments when I did not even believe there was any atheist."

Enclosed by his own rationality Chesterton made a conscious decision to try to think outside of thought. To dream as well as ponder and to let each inform the other. In Orthodoxy he said:

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is the head that splits."

No comments: