Friday’s Mini-Blog – Current Chrestomathy

From time to time, I will post quotes from books and authors I am currently reading or have read in the past.  Happy Friday!

“The modern man says, ‘Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty.’ This is, logically rendered, ‘Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good to not decide it.’ He says, ‘Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress.’ This, logically stated, means, ‘Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.’ He says, ‘Neither religion nor morality, my friend, lie in the hope of the race, but in education.’ This, clearly expressed, means, ‘We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.’ … As enunciated today, ‘progress’ is simply a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative. We meet every ideal of religion, patriotism, beauty, or brute pleasure with the alternative ideal of progress–that is to say, we meet every proposal of getting something that we know about, with an alternative proposal of getting a great deal more of nobody knows what. Progress, properly understood, has, indeed, a most dignified and legitimate meaning. But as used in opposition to precise morals, it is ludicrous… For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word ‘progress’ than we… I do not, therefore, say that the word ‘progress’ is unmeaning; I say it is unmeaning without the previous definition of moral doctrine, and that it can only be applied to groups of persons who hold that doctrine in common. Progress is not an illegitimate word, but it is logically evident that it is illegitimate for us. It is a sacred word, a word which could only be rightly used by rigid believers and in the ages of faith.” (Heretics, G.K. Chesterton)

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