Science and the Savages

A permanent disadvantage of the study of folk-lore and kindred subjects is that the man of science can hardly be in the nature of things very frequently a man of the world. He is a student of nature; he is scarcely ever a student of human nature. And even where this difficulty is overcome, and [...]

The Revival of Philosophy – Why?

The best reason for a revival of philosophy is that unless a man has a philosophy certain horrible things will happen to him. He will be practical; he will be progressive; he will cultivate efficiency; he will trust in evolution; he will do the work that lies nearest; he will devote himself to deeds, not [...]

The Philosophy of Islands

Suppose that in some convulsion of the planets there fell upon this earth from Mars, a creature of a shape totally unfamiliar, a creature about whose actual structure we were of necessity so dark that we could not tell which was creature and which was clothes. We could see that it had, say, six red [...]

Philosophy for the Schoolroom

What modern people want to be made to understand is simply that all argument begins with an assumption; that is, with something that you do not doubt. You can, of course, if you like, doubt the assumption at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another [...]

On Thoughtless Remarks

It is doubtless disrespectful both to the reader, nor indeed does it tend greatly to the aggrandisement or dignity of the writer, to say that my occupation in life is catching flies. And when I recently referred to a certain type of Feminist as a wasp, I received remonstrances from one who doubtless considered her [...]

Child Psychology and Nonsense

In this age of child-psychology nobody pays any attention to the actual psychology of the child. All that seems to matter is the psychology of the psychologist and the particular theory or train of thought that he is maintaining against another psychologist. Most of the art and literature now magnificently manufactured for children is not [...]

The Approach To Thomism

The fact that Thomism is the philosophy of common sense is itself a matter of common sense. Yet it wants a word of explanation, because we have so long taken such matters in a very uncommon sense. For good or evil, Europe since the Reformation, and most especially England since the Reformation, has been in [...]

The Orthodoxy of Hamlet

I am sometimes tempted to think (like every other person who does think) that the people would always be right if only they were not educated. But this is, of course, quite the wrong way of putting it. The truth is that there is no such thing as education; there is only this education and [...]

Pickwick Papers

There are those who deny with enthusiasm the existence of a God and are happy in a hobby which they call the Mistakes of Moses. I have not studied their labours in detail, but it seems that the chief mistake of Moses was that he neglected to write the Pentateuch. The lesser errors, apparently, were [...]

Oscar Wilde

The time has certainly come when this extraordinary man, Oscar Wilde, may be considered merely as a man of letters. He sometimes pretended that art was more important than morality, but that was mere play-acting. Morality or immorality was more important than art to him and everyone else. But the very cloud of tragedy that [...]

George MacDonald

Certain magazines have symposiums (I will call them ‘symposia’ if I am allowed to call the two separate South Kensington collections ‘musea’) in which persons are asked to name ‘Books that have Influenced Me’, on the lines of ‘Hymns that have Helped Me’. It is not a very realistic process as a rule, for our [...]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The greatest of Shakespeare’s comedies is also, from a certain point of view, the greatest of his plays. No one would maintain that it occupied this position in the matter of psychological study if by psychological study we mean the study of individual characters in a play. No one would maintain that Puck was a [...]

History Versus the Historians

In my innocent and ardent youth I had a fixed fancy. I held that children in a school ought to be taught history, and ought to be taught nothing else. The story of human society is the only fundamental framework outside of religion in which everything can fall into its place. A boy cannot see [...]

Getting to Know the Middle Ages

It is quite natural that the prosperous people in our time should know no history. If they did know it, they would know the highly unedifying history of how they became prosperous. It is quite natural, I say, that they should not know history: but why do they think they do? Here is a sentence [...]

Anti-Religious Thought In The Eighteenth Century

The eclipse of Christian theology during the rationalist advance of the eighteenth century is one of the most interesting of historical episodes. In order to see it clearly, we must first realize that it was an episode and that it is now historical. It may be stating it too strongly to say that it is [...]

The Meaning of the Crusade

There are three examples of Western work on the great eastern slope of the Mount of Olives; and they form a sort of triangle illustrating the truth about the different influences of the West on the East. At the foot of the hill is the garden kept by the Franciscans on the alleged site of [...]

Government and the Rights of Man

I could never see why a man who is not free to open his mouth to drink should be free to open it to talk. Talking does far more direct harm to other people. The village suffers less directly from the village drunkard than it might from the village tale bearer, or the village tub-thumper, [...]

Democracy and Industrialism

From the essay “On Industrialism” from All I Survey; the original essay appeared as a column in the Illustrated London News, July 16, 1932. It grows plainer, every day, that those of us who cling to crumbling creeds and dogmas, and defend the dying traditions of the Dark Ages, will soon be left alone defending [...]

The Common Man

The explanation, or excuse, for this essay is to be found in a certain notion, which seems to me very obvious, but which I have never, as it happens, seen stated by anybody else. It happens rather to cut across the common frontiers of current controversy. It can be used for or against Democracy, according [...]

Sex and Property

In the dull, dusty, stale, stiff-jointed and lumbering language, to which most modern discussion is limited, it is necessary to say that there is at this moment the same fashionable fallacy about Sex and about Property. In the older and freer language, in which men could both speak and sing, it is truer to say [...]

Reflections on a Rotten Apple

Our age is obviously the Nonsense Age; the wiser sort of nonsense being provided for the children and the sillier sort of nonsense for the grown-up people. The eighteenth century has been called the Age of Reason; I suppose there is no doubt that the twentieth century is the Age of Unreason. But even that [...]

A Misunderstanding about Method

Before I go any further with this sketch, I find I must pause upon a parenthesis touching the nature of my task, without which the rest of it may be misunderstood. As a matter of fact, without pretending to any official or commercial experience, I am here doing a great deal more than has ever [...]