The Corner

A Disagreement with TSE on Chesterton


In that same work, by the way, Eliot does get off a memorable zinger at the expense of G. K. Chesterton: “Mr. Chesterton’s brain swarms with ideas; I see no evidence that it thinks.” I must object that Eliot’s definition here of what constitutes thinking is rather too narrow for practical purposes. It’s true that Chesterton’s writing is not of the kind that syllogistically “proves” important conclusions; but neither, for that matter, are the works of most of the apologists (atheist, Christian, or other) who pride themselves on their mastery of logic. The most important truths are not often vivified in the mind by syllogism; they are made present, much more often, by insight. And the flashes of insight in Chesterton are frequently brilliant: They have helped illuminate the minds of hundreds of thousands — if not, by now, millions — of people. I am not an uncritical admirer of Chesterton — he was, in religion, something of what in sports broadcasting would be called a “homer” — but he was not only a great stylist, he also communicated some very important truths. He used his intellect in the service of truth, as best he could discern what the truth was; and that’s “thinking,” by any reasonable definition.

Most Popular


A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: A Hostage Situation

‘It has to stop,” says Representative Ilhan Omar. No, it does not. Representative Omar, the Jew-hating Minnesota Democrat, is engaged in one of her usual games of misdirection, a pattern of hers that by now is familiar enough to be predicted: She says something outrageously stupid, offensive, ... Read More

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More