January 9, 2008


Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

Most of the modern controversies arise out of a complete inability to grasp the idea of human fraternity.  We talk a huge amount of rhetoric about mankind and manhood and man as man; but we always contrive to forget the manhood of anybody who can contrive to get mentioned under any other special description.

We constantly say for instance, that So-and-So will certainly be exact, impartial, and veracious because he is a man of science . But we only remember the word “science” and forget the word  “man.”  In so far as he is of science he will doubtless be exact, impartial, and veracious.  In os far as he is a man of science he will be loose, partial, and a liar.

So in the same way we speak of a military man, and say that if he is a military man he will be firm, masculine, and indomitable.  In so far as he is military he is liable to have these merits.  In so far as he is a man he is liable to run away.  So again we speak of a medical man, and do not adequately reflect that he is a man, however medical.

Even of the more attractive word “gentleman” the same principle is true.  The man is inside the gentleman as certainly as the word “man” is inside the word “gentleman.”  The gentleman means only the man who is gentle.  And the man is not always gentle.  — G. K. Chesterton, “Ladies, Women, and Human Beings,” Collected Works 27: The Illustrated London News 1905-1907, pp. 110-111 (paragraph breaks added in spite of Chesterton’s preference for writing everything in one long paragraph).

Posted by John Barach @ 2:54 pm | Discuss (0)

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