September 25, 2010

Modern Thought = Thoughtlessness

From 97 years ago:
CONCERNING THOSE WHO CANNOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE
G.K Chesterton, 1913

Why do people think it intelligent to say, "I can see no difference!" It is nowadays quite a mark of culture to say that one can see no difference between a man and a woman, or a man and an angel, or a man and an animal. If a man cannot see the difference between a horse and a cow across a large field, we do not call him cultured; we call him short-sighted. Now, there are really interesting differences between angels and women; nay, even between men and beasts, and all such things. They are differences which most people know instinctively, as most people know a cow is not a horse without looking for its mane; or most people know a horse is not a cow without looking for horns. Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter, but it ought not really to be so difficult simply to see the difference.

... modern thought means modern thoughtlessness.


70 comments:

Jim O said...

I wish that, somehow, we could find out what ol' G.K. would of thought of what's going on a century later.

David said...

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Resist not evil.

Turn the other cheek.

Don't look, don't observe, don't think.

= The mantras imposed by the elites from time immemorial.

If Johnny Lunchbucket got to judging, look out - the world would be upended. Worse, profits would go down.

Kylie said...

The modern thoughtlessness of Chesterton's era has led to the modern mindlessness of ours.

Witness the change in how people have come to view of concept of discrimination.

I'm not sure how much further we can devolve before we implode.

Dutch Boy said...

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

- G. K. Chesterton

(apropos of modern America)

KissTheGoat said...

You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it.

ricpic said...

Modern Thought = Thoughtlessness?

It's much worse than that.

Modern Thought = The Denial Of The Obvious

Severn said...

The scientific term is sexual dimorphism. Humans are moderately sexually dimorphic.



The basal metabolic rate is about 6 percent higher in adolescent males than females and increases to about 10 percent higher after puberty. Females tend to convert more food into fat, while men convert more into muscle and expendable circulating energy reserves. Females (on average) are about 52 percent as strong as males in the upper body, and about 66 percent as strong in the lower. Males, on average, have denser, stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments.

Males dissipate heat faster than females through their sweat glands.[citation needed] Females have a greater insulation and energy reserves stored in subcutaneous fat, absorbing exothermic heat less and retaining endothermic heat to a greater degree.[citation needed]

Males typically have larger tracheae and branching bronchi, with about 30 percent greater lung volume per body mass. They have larger hearts, 10 percent higher red blood cell count, higher haemoglobin, hence greater oxygen-carrying capacity. They also have higher circulating clotting factors (vitamin K, prothrombin and platelets). These differences lead to faster healing of wounds and higher peripheral pain tolerance.

Females typically have more white blood cells (stored and circulating), more granulocytes and B and T lymphocytes. Additionally, they produce more antibodies at a faster rate than males. Hence they develop fewer infectious diseases and succumb for shorter periods. Ethologists argue that females, interacting with other females and multiple offspring in social groups, have experienced such traits as a selective advantage.


Women are more resistant to disease, men to wounds. It's to be expected that these sort of differences would extend to the human brain, with men and women having relatively greater or lesser aptitude for different mind-oriented tasks. It would be rather surprising if somebody were to prove that the sexes have identical brains.

Anonymous said...

"Witness the change in how people have come to view of concept of discrimination."

Yea. Back then, black people had sit in the back of the bus. Now, they don't! =(

icr said...

G.K. was a Germanophoboic warmonger. Look it up.

Kylie said...

Dutch Boy said..."The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

- G. K. Chesterton

(apropos of modern America)"


Good fences make good neighbors.

17th century proverb, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

(even more apropos of modern America)

Justin W Smith said...

Google Books shows the original essay by Chesterton (from December 1912):
http://books.google.com/books?id=JxrSBgp7nhsC&lpg=PA403&dq=%22G.K.%20Chesterton%22%20%22cannot%20see%20the%20difference%22&pg=PA402#v=onepage&q&f=false

jack strocchi said...

Hardly a day goes by when I dont have the uncomfortable feeling that what passes for thought in the social sciences and humanities is going backward. The liberal mind is at its wits end and does not even know it.

A huge investment in liberal education has generated negative returns. The business pages celebrate frauds and con-men. The op-eds peddle clapped out versions of liberalism.

Muggeridge was right, there is a Great Liberal Death Wish which incessantly demands fulfillment. Whenever liberals are asked for a conscience vote on an issue they invariably opt for abortion and euthanasia.

That oughta tell you something about their priorities.

Karl R. said...

Just wait for the G.O.P surge.

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Matt Ridley on golf and shopping -- the latest in a long, long line of unacknowledged "borrowers" from the Steveosphere?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703904304575497770688974464.html

Anonymous said...

Do liberals really not see the differences between things ? Or do they see the differences but pretend not to ? This has been an open question for me for years. I have told myself that they're either liars or they're insane, or maybe they have a birth defect in their brains or their eyes. It's as if they are born morally and intellectually color-blind. In any case, I feel like I shouldn't have to live in the same country with people that are this defective.

asdfasdfasdf said...

Not seeing the difference sure made a lot of difference.

Topiary Utopia said...

Chesternton is wrong. Obliviousness to difference is actually a measure of intellectual progress.

For example, one of the effects of Darwin's insight was blurring the difference, so dear to Chesterton, "between men and beasts".

Modern theoretical physics advances by blurring the differences between fundamental forces.

Progress in mathematics often comes from realizing that two apparently unrelated structures are actually the same.

Conversely, irrational beliefs often create bogus differences. For example, belief in supernatural souls requires belief in a fundamental difference between mind and matter.

But where Chesterton goes most wrong is in the following: "Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter".

Actually, the existence or not of a difference depends on the question. Differences do not exist separated from the criteria you are using to find them.

Kijkfaas McGee said...

So much for the 1960s....

Go back almost a hundred years. Take a look at James Fitzjames Stephen's reply to John Stuart Mill in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity from the 1870s. The former was a classical liberal (conservative by today's standards) and the latter was a liberal-cum-socialist technocrat.

Most of contemporary social debate may be discerned between their works, including premonitions of multiculturalism.

Anonymous said...

Political correctness only makes one stupid insofar as they are White and believe the propaganda. The rest of us politically correct Whites are either seething or resigned inside. Whites who "buy the hype" seem happier-go-luckier and less prone to depression to me.

SFG said...

"I wish that, somehow, we could find out what ol' G.K. would of thought of what's going on a century later."

I don't think he would have been surprised. He'd probably enjoy the increased variety of food (ever seen pictures of him?) but dislike most other things. I don't think he would have liked the way we go driving everywhere (small is good!). He probably would have been a big fan of Pat Buchanan and the 'alternative right'--he was socially conservative and economically liberal, after all.

ThoughtfulIndian said...

I followed the debate on your Asian surnames post (waded through the 296 comments there!). Posting here because the thread has died there.

Background: I come from Southern India, high achiever, made a pile as they would say, so broadening my attention to study these subjects to understand the cause of our underdevelopment and what we can do about it. I only have experience with Southern India, where I live and travel extensively; I also get to travel the world extensively so I can give detailed comparisons. While I obviously do want to help my country, I am of the "Face Reality As It Is" persuasion, so I don't worry about political correctness of any discussion here.

First, the good news: thanks to better nutrition, I have witnessed IQ go up substantially in the past 30 years. The typical South Indian immigrant you see in the US today (and they do seem to come mostly from the South these days) comes from a vastly lower social scale than the one you saw 40 years ago. The typical immigrant has parents or grandparents who would not be able to function well in Western society, because they lack the cognitive skills. So the Flynn effect seems very visible to me, from my vantage point in South India.

Second, there are even more gains to be had. Malnutrition is slowly going away in the South, but in the North, it is still very very prevalent - we are talking more than 50% of kids malnourished.

Third, a pacific temperament and a traditional respect for authority keeps lower IQ populations from the pervasive social breakdown you see in the US in similarly situated communities. Families are staying intact; if that changes in India in any large scale, I would write India off, because collectively, we Indians are still too dumb to handle "sophisticated" mating behavior (though I think even the Swedish men stay together with their mates to support their kids, in spite of the promiscuous reputation of their society) - I hope our Hindu Gods literally save us on this one!

Now the bad news. Democracy empowers the dumb, probably true everywhere, but truer in India. The elected need to be skillful at manipulating the dumb, so they tend to be smarter than those electing them. Still, all this manipulating exacts a toll. One of the manipulating they do is jobs-for-dumb-constituents, which begets appallingly bad government, particularly at local levels.

This has all sort of bad effects. With such bad local governance, much of India looks like an ungoverned mess - your senses get physically assaulted in almost any urban space in India, disgusting levels of filth and squalor. This is the result of the utter inability to plan, explained by the IQ of those in charge at local levels.

This is more serious than even that. As India urbanizes, we risk going back on Flynn effect, because poor sanitation leads to *urban* malnutrition - not lack of food, but gastrointestinal illness among kids - which lowers IQ. So not having functional lower levels of government puts India's progress at risk. This, I attribute, directly to democracy.

Given these two opposing forces, which was is it going to go? I believe the good edges out the bad, but that would be a hard case to make when you see the filth.

Only good news I can gather is that London and Hong Kong and so on were extremely filthy at a point in their development too.

ThoughtfulIndian said...

I followed the debate on your Asian surnames post (waded through the 296 comments there!). Posting here because the thread has died there.

Background: I come from Southern India, high achiever, made a pile as they would say, so broadening my attention to study these subjects to understand the cause of our underdevelopment and what we can do about it. I only have experience with Southern India, where I live and travel extensively; I also get to travel the world extensively so I can give detailed comparisons. While I obviously do want to help my country, I am of the "Face Reality As It Is" persuasion, so I don't worry about political correctness of any discussion here.

First, the good news: thanks to better nutrition, I have witnessed IQ go up substantially in the past 30 years. The typical South Indian immigrant you see in the US today (and they do seem to come mostly from the South these days) comes from a vastly lower social scale than the one you saw 40 years ago. The typical immigrant has parents or grandparents who would not be able to function well in Western society, because they lack the cognitive skills. So the Flynn effect seems very visible to me, from my vantage point in South India.

Second, there are even more gains to be had. Malnutrition is slowly going away in the South, but in the North, it is still very very prevalent - we are talking more than 50% of kids malnourished.

Third, a pacific temperament and a traditional respect for authority keeps lower IQ populations from the pervasive social breakdown you see in the US in similarly situated communities. Families are staying intact; if that changes in India in any large scale, I would write India off, because collectively, we Indians are still too dumb to handle "sophisticated" mating behavior (though I think even the Swedish men stay together with their mates to support their kids, in spite of the promiscuous reputation of their society) - I hope our Hindu Gods literally save us on this one!

Bad news on next comment.

ThoughtfulIndian said...

(continuation) Now the bad news on India. Democracy empowers the dumb, probably true everywhere, but truer in India. The elected need to be skillful at manipulating the dumb, so they tend to be smarter than those electing them. Still, all this manipulating exacts a toll. One of the manipulating they do is jobs-for-dumb-constituents, which begets appallingly bad government, particularly at local levels.

This has all sort of bad effects. With such bad local governance, much of India looks like an ungoverned mess - your senses get physically assaulted in almost any urban space in India, disgusting levels of filth and squalor. This is the result of the utter inability to plan, explained by the IQ of those in charge at local levels.

This is more serious than even that. As India urbanizes, we risk going back on Flynn effect, because poor sanitation leads to *urban* malnutrition - not lack of food, but gastrointestinal illness among kids - which lowers IQ. So not having functional lower levels of government puts India's progress at risk. This, I attribute, directly to democracy.

Given these two opposing forces, which was is it going to go? I believe the good edges out the bad, but that would be a hard case to make when you see the filth.

Only good news I can gather is that London and Hong Kong and so on were extremely filthy at a point in their development too.

Robert said...

"Chesterton was a Germanophobic warmonger.."

Right. That's why he opposed the Boer War so strongly. GK wasn't stupid or simplistic. Some of his critics are. Why, he could even distinguish between different types of Germans and support some while attacking others.

sabril said...

"Do liberals really not see the differences between things ? Or do they see the differences but pretend not to ? This has been an open question for me for years"

It's an interesting question, and I think you need to approach it from the premise that the human mind is capable of simultaneously believing contradictory things.

For the most part, Leftists simultaeneously believe in both blank slate egalitarianism AND HBD. They simultaneously believe in free speech absolutism AND restrictions on free speech. They simultaneously believe that Western Civilization is great AND that it sucks. They simultaneously believe that women are the same as men and must be treated equally AND that women are different from men and must be given special treatment.

And so on.

When you point out these contradictions to Leftists, they generally start getting angry and usually try to silence you. The mechanism in play is what's known as "cognitive dissonance."

And that's pretty much all there is to it.

Kylie said...

Anonymous said...""Witness the change in how people have come to view of concept of discrimination."

Yea. Back then, black people had sit in the back of the bus. Now, they don't!"

You're so mindless you confuse distinguishing between good and bad with bigotry and racism. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." He didn't say, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged no matter what they do because that would be racist."

I wonder how the families of the black people killed by Wayne Williams and the Beltway snipers feel about the law enforcement's reluctance to consider that the murderers were black?

Unfair discrimination means an unjust society. But the refusal to discriminate results in a chaotic one. Failure to discriminate is failure to protect.

In your case, failure to discrimnate means failure to think clearly--mindlessness. Thanks for proving my point for me.

So sure you got one over on the HBD racist, weren't you?

Idiot.

.

G K Chesterton said...

I wish that, somehow, we could find out what ol' G.K. would of thought of what's going on a century later.

Trust me: Ignorance is bliss.

.

SFG said...

Let me correct that: Chesterton wasn't economically liberal in the modern sense of socialism, he was Distributist, with the 'small is good' principle of subsidiarity described in Rerum Novarum. He probably would have disliked the banks and globalization, I think.

Probably he would have been a Reagan Democrat--many Catholics were. Anyone else care to opine?

Anonymous said...

Obliviousness to difference is actually a measure of intellectual progress.


We must be at the very pinnacle of intellectual progress then.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

One of the most enjoyable examples of this is when one gets to hear exquisitely progressive SWPLs justify sending their kid to private school.

Anonymous said...

Off topic

Any thoughts on the maps of US cities color coded by race?

Albertosaurus

helene edwards said...

That word "ought" Chesterton uses - isn't that the one word you never hear from a SWPL mouth?

Severn said...

You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it.



Decentralization. Segregation. Subsidiarity.

People have always been innately unequal, and up until recently their societies were designed to reflect that fact. It is modern liberalism and libertarianism which are predicated on the assumption that all people are functionally equivalent.

not a hacker said...

Yo Strocchi: In his '79 Imprimis piece, Muggeridge opens with the claim that there were 50 million abortions (or combo abortion/euthenizations), the previous year alone. Can this be close to right?

jackdog said...

Noticing difference is a sign of intelligence, but so is noticing similarity.

alonzo portfolio said...

I feel like Chesterton was describing something that really had little on-the-ground social significance when he was writing. After all, Edwardian England may have had lots of snobbery and ridiculous barriers to success for the not-so-well-born, but it didn't have ubiquitous street crime or a regnant media or political class whose philosophy obstructed attempts to deal with it. What Chesterton never saw was a generalized properity that imbued its recipients with an undeserved sense of guilt. The firs person I read who put his finger on this was Joe Queenan in "Balsamic Dreams." The boomers were the generation who promised not to sell out ... and then sold out. Combine this with the circumstance that they were too young to participate in the civil rights revolution, and they had to do penance for their good fortune. The way they found was to adopt a philosophy that facts don't exist. This way they could prevent any speculation that the southerners were right all along. Chesterton had no clue about any of this.

Anonymous said...

Topiary Utopia,

You're joking right? Or trolling? Either way your post proves the point.

Which ever side you started from, good job.

tommy said...

You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it.

Yes, HBDers, why can't you just fix this vast social problem whose existence goes unacknowledged by the public? Lol.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating observations about India. Isn't it wonderful when human beings can look at themselves, their families, their communities, their countries, and their world and be honest with themselves and others about what they see?

Anonymous said...

Robert said...

"Chesterton was a Germanophobic warmonger.."

Right. That's why he opposed the Boer War so strongly. GK wasn't stupid or simplistic. Some of his critics are. Why, he could even distinguish between different types of Germans and support some while attacking others.


How silly of me. I thought the Boers were of Dutch descent. Of course, Dutch and German are related languages I guess, more closely related than German and English ... but they spell funny.

David said...

Topiary just gave us a glimpse into the "liberal" "mind." Egad - simply hideous.

Allow me to clear up those issues.

Thought requires both analysis and synthesis. Taking apart and putting together. Not just one or the other. If all mental activity consisted only of putting together new wholes, for example, then thought would break down, because you would not know the nature of the parts you're integrating into the new whole, having never distinguished among them in order to study them.

And not every particular part can be blended with every other part. Some things don't fit, per their natures. Some integrations work, some do not. In the ancient world, the three basic elements were earth, wind, and fire. We have come a long way since then precisely by distinguishing among similars as well as well noting similarities in varieties.

Topiary continues his mental blurring:

>where Chesterton goes most wrong is in the following: "Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter".

>Actually, the existence or not of a difference depends on the question. Differences do not exist separated from the criteria you are using to find them.<

Jesus H. Christ.

This is an extreme form of philosophical subjectivism, and not merely a statement of the importance of point of view or of value selection within a context. Here Tope's postulating whim as the meta-value (criteria). If my or another's whim dictates a certain view on a (say) political question, then we're supposed to direct and reset our eyes and ears accordingly. For example, in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes," the meta-value or criterion is the vanity of the king. Given this criterion, the question of whether he is or is not wearing clothes "is not even a question." Lying eyes be damned.

Here we see the root shared by religion and political correctness. "Right and wrong" comes first: it determines what is or isn't. Or (another formulation) the principle is: first you decide what is good or proper, then you look at the facts and make them fit your preconceived value goal. Thus: God created the world in 7 days, therefore modern geology is blasphemy. Updated to 2010: it is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG to say racial differences exist, therefore real scientists don't say they do. That's the practical meaning of the sentence: "the existence or not of a difference [i.e. of a fact] depends on the question. Differences [facts] do not exist separated from the criteria you are using to find them [i.e., from what your preconceived notions of value are]."

[cont'd]

David said...

[cont'd from previous]

Here we see the root shared by religion and political correctness. "Right and wrong" comes first: it determines what is or isn't. Or (another formulation) the principle is: first you decide what is good or proper, then you look at the facts and make them fit your preconceived value goal. Thus: God created the world in 7 days, therefore modern geology is blasphemy. Updated to 2010: it is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG to say racial differences exist, therefore real scientists don't say they do. That's the practical meaning of the sentence: "the existence or not of a difference [i.e. of a fact] depends on the question. Differences [facts] do not exist separated from the criteria you are using to find them [i.e., from what your preconceived notions of value are]."

You can have values, choosing among factual alternatives, but first you have to establish the facts without fear or favor as best you can. Facts exist independently of values; if otherwise, then values are not based on facts - instead facts would originate in values, i.e. would originate in fact-challenged values, i.e. in whims (aka "emotional commitments" etc.). This is formal subjectivism: feelings determine facts.

Today's "liberals" are deformed versions of Kant. Whereas Kant said he wanted to limit the claims of science in order to preserve the preconceived values of freedom, dignity and God, the modern "liberal" limits science to the preservation of egalitarianism et al. Across the centuries, Tertullian (I believe it because it is absurd), Kant (the categorical imperative), Lysenko (socialism determines science), and Rawls (the original position) - and everyone else who believes feelings determine reality - join hands. And use them to clap over our eyes. [end]

Anonymous said...

G.K. was a Germanophoboic warmonger.

Is there such a thing as a Germanophile pacifist?

David said...

Another way of looking at this: both the religious fanatic and the PC fanatic believe piety comes first. They are pious: we're here to do good, as handed down to us by God or whomever. They acknowledge facts (or more often refuse to acknowledge them) only within this framework. If an idea or observation goes against the belief system, it's "false.": If it fits, it's "true." The goal is not to determine what is or isn't, but to get into Heaven. Or to be "one of the good guys."

Life is a sort of fantasy to these folks. Like children, they're role-playing. You're not a Southern Baptist? Then you're a villain! You noticed that Sam's skin is black? Then you're a racist - you're wrong, wrong, wrong!

Children feel their way through the world, responding primarily to emotional cues, until the light clicks on and they realize the world exists apart from feelings. Religionists and PC'ers never reach that stage; they're in arrested development. The world, to them, works according to the beautiful (or other) feelings in the Bible, or To Kill a Mockingbird, or Left Behind, or Atlas Shrugged etc. If we strictly obey God or Ayn Rand or Anti-Racism, and punish the heterodox, then the millennium will occur and we'll all eat from candy trees and drink from lemonade rivers in Galt's Gulch while holding hands with Jesus and people of all colors as the state withers away. The idea of science is unknown to these people; and trying to teach it to them is a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

"You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it."

Why so?

Previous to the 60s, every kid and his parents understood whether he was one of the few "smart ones" or if he had no such abilities but instead an aptitude or interest in something else, like fixing cars or building things with his hands and so wound up a carpenter, a mason, a mechanic, etc.

Ask most parents about their kids and their abilities and deficiencies, even from a fairly early age, and you'll get a pretty honest answer. It's the pimping advocacy groups (and they exist for all groups) that live in Never Never Land, and our failure as a society has been in letting their verbal crap be spewed all over the media. We should have yelled from the beginning, "Full of bull."

There is no more shock to a parent of the average kid who is told, "Sorry, your kid cannot comprehend higher mathematics, and she'll never become a vet simply because she loves animals" than I am shocked that the idiot Al Davis' horrendous waste of a first round draft pick on a head-case, inconsistent place kicker has once again bit him in the ass.

mnl said...

@Kijkfaas McGee...

Links or it didn't happen!

(i.e., would you mind posting the links to the John Stuart Mill debate?)

a different anon. said...

***"Chesterton was a Germanophobic warmonger.."

Right. That's why he opposed the Boer War so strongly. GK wasn't stupid or simplistic. Some of his critics are. Why, he could even distinguish between different types of Germans and support some while attacking others.***


The Boers weren't Germans.

The problem with evaluating Chesterton is the Chesterbelloc problem. Difficult sometimes to distinguish Chesterton's ideas from Belloc's.

Yes Chesterbelloc was Germanophobic; this was a result of their classical liberal phobia of militarisim, which they identified with Prussia and with the united Germany that Prussia created, and also of their Catholic phobia of Protestantism, which they identified with modernism and socialism and all forms of liberalism which differed from their own form of liberalism.

No Chesterbelloc were not "warmongers" at least not compared to their contemporaries. Their Germanophobia (as a result of their other phobias) made them vulnerable to the appeal of warmongers in regards to certain wars, however.

Chesterbelloc had a lot of weird ideas which are not supported by the facts; this never bothers their fan club, though. Chesterbelloc collectively, and Chesterton and Belloc individually, were quite capable of being "stupid or simplistic" when it suited them. Belloc probably more so than Chesterton, as Belloc was more systematic in his thinking, and thus more susceptible to refutation, whereas Chesterton was more vague and paradoxical and thus harder to pin down.

As Chesterton once replied to George Bernard Shaw, when Shaw was justifiably accusing Chesterton of avoiding the point: Chesterton replied that he was supposed to avoid the point, for "consider the history of fencing". I don't recall the whole quote; Google is no help; it was quoted in an obscure book I found in my university library once while researching Chesterbelloc, from an eyewitness who was present when Shaw angrily confronted Chesterton about his conversion to Catholicism.

(cont...)

a different anon. said...

(cont...)

Point being, Chesterton could be quite flip and irrational when he wanted to be. Simply being clever is not the same thing as actually addressing the point; far too often Chesterton is a fencer, avoiding the point. Even when he makes a point, it can be quite banal and overused or misused by his fan club. For example the famous "when people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything" quote is idiotic; Chesterton is right that atheists don't "believe in nothing" (a frequent accusation from people who don't understand what atheism is), but he is wrong in that atheists don't in fact "believe in anything"; quite the opposite (the only people who might "believe in anything" are New Age types who do in fact believe in God - just not the God Chesterton believes in - and once you can believe in one thing "on faith" and without evidence, belief in "anything" on faith and without evidence becomes that much easier) - and the quotation is rather absurd coming from people who believe in talking snakes and bodies rising from the dead and walking on water and such. It, like many of Chesterton's ideas, means less and less the more you think about it. The idea of course is not to think about it. Chesterton used paradoxical language deliberately for this reason - it sounds clever and makes it impossible to pin him down on anything, unlike Belloc.

Chesterton can offer some amusing bon mots and such, but his essentially conservative insight about not removing fences before first considering why the fence was put up in the first place, was made earlier and better by Edmund Burke. You don't have to be a Traditionalist or a Catholic or offer up defenses of anti-modern irrationalism in order to rationally critique modern irrationalism.

Chesterbelloc is best thought of as a somewhat more intelligent, or at least more clever, version of Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces - a "more Catholic than the Pope" fatbody who hates modernism, sexuality, sensualism, socialism, all kinds of liberalism that differ from his own, Protestantism, atheism, etc. A very amusing character to read about, but not someone you would necessarily want to deal with for long periods of time in real life. Just because they offer up a critique of modern insanities does not mean that what they have to offer is the only, or best, alternative.

Anonymous said...

"You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it."

Amen.

One of the biggest reasons why HBD is not making the inroads that one would logically expect is for the reasons that Stephen Pinker points out here:

“[T]he power to uncover genetic and evolutionary roots of group differences in psychological traits is both more likely to materialize and more incendiary in its consequences. And it is a prospect that we are, intellectually and emotionally, very poorly equipped to confront.”

Find ways to make the implications of HBD less threatening to the average Ivy League intellectual and NYT columnist and more people will be willing to consider it.

a Secret Person said...

SFG said...

Let me correct that: Chesterton wasn't economically liberal in the modern sense of socialism, he was Distributist, with the 'small is good' principle of subsidiarity described in Rerum Novarum. He probably would have disliked the banks and globalization, I think.


Yes, I think he would have disliked the banks:

Haply the lords that hire and lend
The lowest of all men's lords,
Who sell their kind like kine at a fair,
Will find no head of their cattle there;
But faces of men where cattle were:
Faces of men--and Swords.


That poem is at the start of Chesterton's book Utopia of Userers:

http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=1448037&pageno=3

As is this:

Now I have said again and again (and I shall continue to say again and again on all the most inappropriate occasions) that we must hit Capitalism, and hit it hard, for the plain and definite reason that it is growing stronger. Most of the excuses which serve the capitalists as masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites. They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen. They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability. They generally have to pay men to organise the mine, exactly as they pay men to go down it. They often lie about the present wealth, as they generally lie about their past poverty. But when they say that they are going in for a "constructive social policy," they do not lie. They really are going in for a constructive social policy. And we must go in for an equally destructive social policy; and destroy, while it is still half-constructed, the accursed thing which they construct.

If Aaron Russo's allegation that Rockefeller admitted to funding and backing feminism in order to break up the family is true: “You wanna know why?
There were two primary reasons.
And one reason was we couldn’t tax half the population before Women’s Lib and the second reason was now we get the kids in school at an early age.. we can indoctrinate kids on how to think and with it break up their family. The kids start looking at the state as the family.. As the schools as the officials as their family.. not the parents teaching them. And so those were the two primary reasons for Women’s Lib.”


This would fit in nicely with G K Chesterton's mate Hilaire Belloch's prediction of the re-emergence of slavery in his book The Servile State

Not to mention of course that Kinsey was funded by the Rockefeller foundation. I haven't read any of Dr. Judith Reisman's books on Kinsey and how his fraudulent 'research' screwed up Western Civilization but they are on my hit list to do so at some point.

So, yeah, I think G K Chesterton had a pretty low opinion of the banks and also pretty much predicted where we are now.

Henry Canaday said...

Differences? Each morning, as I walk out the door, I see my neighbor Gordon. Gordon emigrated from India to America 30 years ago, has never gone back and works as a travel agent for the International Monetary Fund.


Gordon from India always wears clean, pressed blue jeans, which were adopted by American cowboys in the 19th Century. I, a 10th- generation American on my father’s side, always wear khaki pants, which were adapted from local fabrics by British troops in India in the 19th Century. I never wear blue jeans, and Gordon never wears khaki. Somehow it works.

Former marketing researcher Steve Sailer could probably get a book out of this: “Blue Jeans and Khakis: Pants That Shaped the Modern World.” It would be prominently displayed at Borders and enable Steve to move up the LA auto hierarchy to a Lexus, at least.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Find ways to make the implications of HBD less threatening to the average Ivy League intellectual and NYT columnist and more people will be willing to consider it."

If he doesn't face up to it, he might end up poor or dead. Non-threatening enough?

More importantly - to hell with ivy league intellectuals and NYT columnists. Why should we coddle them, and hold thier hands while they have an anxiety attack? It is possible that the future holds no place for either, anyway.

Anonymous said...

If HBD is true, I don;t see why we have to "do " anything about it. What do we do about the makeup of professional basketball teams, the US olympic running team, or the majority of diamond dealers on 54th street? I suppose the one thing we should "do" is recognize, as Thomas Sowell points out, that if one group grabs more rewards it does not necessairly mean the society is unjust.

Anonymous said...

The recently deceased Mitchell Heisman, in his 1900 page suicide note, argues that "a tradition of Puritan hang ups on the issue of race stems from the political Anglo-Saxon inferiority complex that the Normans bestowed upon them in the bald fact of hereditary Norman rule over England. The Norman genius for internalizing a sense of collective ethnic inferiority in the Anglo-Saxons made individualism appear to be the only cogent escape."

I had always thought that these attitudes had a much more recent origin (beginning in radical religious communities, getting boosts from anti-Southern and later, anti-Nazi sentiment), but I think he makes a strong case.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it.

In varying forms, this has already been said twice on the thread: do nothing. Humans are social and hierarchical beings and will organize their societies accordingly. Numerous and awful consequences attend our efforts to eliminate inequality. At bottom, the end result of affirmative action, anti-discrimination, welfare, etc. is to eliminate incentives for self-improvement. Or, if you like, to eliminate incentives for people to adopt the behavioral patterns and culture of the market-dominant majority.

Anonymous said...

To add to that previous comment, a quick glance at Chesterton's "A Short History of England" shows him to be at least a little pro-Norman. Does anybody here know more about his opinions re: Normans and Anglo-Saxons? And what is his provenance anyway?

Truth said...

"Ask most parents about their kids and their abilities and deficiencies, even from a fairly early age, and you'll get a pretty honest answer."

I have yet to meet the mom who will admit to her 5-year old being "a complete and total idiot with no future."

Anonymous said...

ou know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next.

Charles Murray is the guy on this.
Also, immigration restriction is a pro-lower half of the bell curve measure.

Anonymous said...

a Germanophile pacifist

Wasn't it Orwell who observed that if you were the latter, you were objectively the former?

SFG said...

a Germanophile pacifist

Wasn't it Orwell who observed that if you were the latter, you were objectively the former?


More or less. One of the reasons the Midwest was so pacifist in WWI and WWII was all the German-Americans over there who didn't want to kill Uncle Fritz, as Steve puts it.

Still, Eisenhower did a pretty good job...

Svigor said...

Of course, the guys with the bullhorn don't want to stop seeing differences; they want you to stop seeing differences.

Otherwise how would they know to hurl charges of "racism" at anyone guilty of gathering while white?

They police whites waaaaaaaaay too closely for anyone with sense to buy the color-blind thing.

Svigor said...

You know, HBDers should think of solutions; what to do about innate inequality, what to do next. Without it, it's just an ugly truth that, were we to acknowledge it, would open cans of worms. No wonder no-one wants to acknowledge or think about it.

Wrong. HBD is in itself a solution. The usual suspects blame whitey for black "failure." Whitey uses HBD to point out blacks were already "failures." Case dismissed, worms back in can.

So HBD is in and of itself a solution to at least one problem.

DJ Apocryphal GKC said...

"Chesterton replied that he was supposed to avoid the point, for "consider the history of fencing". I don't recall the whole quote; Google is no help; it was quoted in an obscure book I found in my university library once while researching Chesterbelloc, from an eyewitness who was present when Shaw angrily confronted Chesterton about his conversion to Catholicism."

I recall the same passage. Its apocryphal nature is one reason for its obscurity.

It was in fact a writer's fictional version of an imaginary encounter between Shaw and GKC which the editors of GKC's collected works mistook for a factual account and included without clarification (or they clarified this in the intro, I forget).

Don't recall where I learned this, but I too mistook the passage as authentic until I learned otherwise. It was very well written, don't you think? It certainly advanced the stereotype of GKC you advocate.

Tom said...

I thought this was effing brilliant.

“That’s not a very good example of rule of law,” he said. “Maybe it is the nature of these people that needs to be changed.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25kite.html?_r=1

Hat tip to David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy.

Kevin said...

59 comments because you used a G.K. Chesterton quote to say that people are different...That'll learn ya....

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

wasn't it Orwell

I know nothing about Chesterton, am no Orwell scholar, and don't know if this is the latter's definitive take on the former, but Orwell certainly address Chesterson in his Notes on Nationalism

Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Its most outstanding exponent — though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one — was G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who whose to suppress both his sensibilities and his intellectual honesty in the cause of Roman Catholic propaganda. During the last twenty years or so of his life, his entire output was in reality an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians.’ Every book that he wrote, every scrap of dialogue, had to demonstrate beyond the possibility of mistake the superiority of the Catholic over the Protestant or the pagan.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was effing brilliant. “That’s not a very good example of rule of law,” he said. “Maybe it is the nature of these people that needs to be changed.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25kite.html Hat tip to David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy.

From that article:

The law and justice comic books were also a big hit. Some of the boys snatched them up and hid them under their shirts so they could come back for more. At one point, fed-up policemen, most of whom cannot read, just tossed piles of them in the dirt.

Lynn & Vanhanen guesstimate an average IQ for Afghanistan of 83 to 84.

So it would be insane to expect the average Afghani policeman to be literate.

In a nation like Afghanistan, you'd be lucky if the lawyers and judges and legislators were literate.

James Kabala said...

Orwell was not always right. (It is pleasant to be reminded, however, of a time when non-Christian writers could make use of obscure biblical allusions that would surely go over the heads of Hitchens or Dawkins. See Acts 19.)

DJ Apocryphal GKC said...

Chesterton was easily Orwell's equal, but spread himself across too many styles of writing.

Too many Catholics read GKC only because he is one of theirs, and too many don't read GKC because he is Catholic. Don't neglect him just because you liked Orwell in high school.

Unlike Orwell, I don't recall GKC bashing pagans much. GKC's target was neo-pagans like his friend Shaw. As in:

The Song of the Strange Ascetic

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have crowned Neaera's curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

(more)

Mr. Anon said...

@DJ Apocryphal GKC said...

Thanks for posting the G.K. Chesterton poem. I very much liked it. I will have to give some of his works a read.