Hypocrisy of the Modern World

“The special mark of the modern world is not that it is sceptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. It says, in mockery of 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.” -G.K. Chesterton

Comments 4

  1. I’m not sure in what context G.K. Chesterton made the above comment, but I found it amusing. Because it is true, many so called “modernist” have no clue as to what they believe. It made me think of Francis Bacon. As I’m sure you know, Bacon was one of the earliest philosophers of the modern era. In fact in some ways his work ushered in modernity. Bacon attacked past ways of thinking, in his work the “distempers of learning.” He named three of these: fantastical learning, contentious learning, and delicate learning. In fantastical learning, people concern themselves with words, emphasizing texts, languages, and style, and “hunt more after words than matter, and more after choiceness of phrase…than after the weight of matter.” Contentious learning is even worse, he said, because it beings with the fixed positions or points of view taken by earlier thinkers, and these views are used as the starting point in the conteious argumentation. Finally, there is delicate learning, wherein earlier authors, who claimed more knowledge than can be proved, are accepted by readers as knowing as much as they claim. These three diseases, he argued, must be cured in order to relive the mind of the errors they create. Bacon’s observations about the way people thought helped to usher in the modern era. G.K. Chesterton’s (A.K.A. The Prince of paradox) comment just goes to show that we have come full circle.

  2. The thing that I always admired in Chesterton is that he wouldn’t spare Christians from the same criticism.

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